Author Crush Friday with Krystal Sutherland
Glitter girls, you have pressing questions for your favorite authors and we have their answers. Welcome to our weekly segment, Author Crush Fridays.
We love asking questions and we love the answers from some of our favorite authors. Today we’re talking to Krystal Sutherland, the author of the contemporary YA, A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares (September 5, 2017; G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers). This novel has been touted by Amazon as an Amazon Editor’s Favorite YA Book for Fall 2017 . Thank you for talking to us today, Krystal! We’re honored!
GLITTER: Tell us five random things about yourself.
KRYSTAL: I’ve lived on four continents, I’m obsessed with baking videos on Instagram, I grew up in the tropical north of Australia and thus can’t stand the cold, I’m deaf in one ear, and I wanted to be a florist when I was a kid.
GLITTER: For those not familiar with your writing, how would you describe it?
KRYSTAL: Contemporary and filled with pop culture references, but also with hints of magic and darkness and humour in equal measure. I like taking some of the popular tropes of YA and twisting them in unexpected ways.
GLITTER: Tell us more about A SEMI-DEFINITIVE LIST OF WORST NIGHTMARES. What is it about?
KRYSTAL: It’s about a girl who believes her family is cursed by Death to each suffer one great fear in their lifetime, a fear that will eventually kill them. The main character, Esther, doesn’t know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), so she carries a list of all the things that she’s even remotely afraid of and then avoids them at all cost. That is until she reconnects with an old friend, and he sets a challenge for them: every Sunday for a year, they’ll go out together to face one of her fears, and hopefully break the curse.
GLITTER: Was any of it based on your own experiences growing up?
KRYSTAL: Surprisingly, yes. Esther’s brother, Eugene, is terrified of the dark – as was I for a large part of my childhood. I slept with the light on every night for a solid decade. Mental illness also impacted my family in a big way, so I wanted to tackle the topics of depression and anxiety and self-harm, because they’re all things I’ve seen up close and personal.
GLITTER: What is your worst nightmare?
KRYSTAL: The Handmaid’s Tale coming true. That… that would be bad. In terms of a literal nightmare though, I frequently dream of being in a house, and there’s someone outside, trying to get in. I have to run around and lock all the doors and windows before they reach them.
GLITTER: What are your greatest fears in life?
KRYSTAL: Caves, heights, and (perhaps worst of all)… frogs!
GLITTER: What has been your favorite scene to write?
KRYSTAL: Probably the last scene in my first book, Our Chemical Hearts. It was the first scene in the book that I wrote, and I wrote it during a bad breakup. It remains, almost word for word, exactly the same as it was that first day I put it on paper.
GLITTER: Did you always want to be an author?
KRYSTAL: For most of my high school years, I wanted to be an actress – I was good at writing, and I loved constructing stories and characters and worlds in my head, but it never clicked for me that that was what I was going to do. Not until the last day of senior year, when my English teacher encouraged me to think about writing as a career. Six months later, I started drafting my first (terrible) book.
GLITTER: Did you ever feel like giving up?
KRYSTAL: Feeling like I should give up is, I swear to you, a solid 80% of my life! Even now, after writing two books, there are days when I read what I’ve written and just think to myself, “You are literally the worst writer on the planet.” It’s something all writers grapple with I think. As soon as you realise that self-doubt is part of the process, it’s much easier to identify and overcome.
GLITTER: Did you receive rejection letters in the beginning? How did you get over them?
KRYSTAL: Of course! It would so abnormal if you didn’t receive a bunch of rejections. I just kept reading other writers’ stories about how many rejection letters they’d received. When each one came through, I thought, “Here’s another letter to frame when I eventually get a yes.” I never did end up framing them, but I did get a yes, and one yes is all you need.
GLITTER: Do you have any crazy writing rituals?
KRYSTAL: I drink an unhealthy amount of tea… does that count?
GLITTER: One thing you can’t write without?
KRYSTAL: My laptop. I like to take notes by hand, but when it comes time to actually construct sentences for the story, I need a keyboard.
GLITTER: What are you working on next?
KRYSTAL: My third book! It’s in the very early stages, so I can’t say too much, but it’s inspired by several podcasts I’ve been listening to over the past couple of years, and will center around a disastrous road trip and a disappeared Hollywood celebrity.
Krystal Sutherland was born and raised in Townsville, Australia—an inhospitable land where crocodiles, snakes, and jellyfish are always on the prowl. She grew up living directly across the road from the local library and spent almost every day after school (and weekends, too) having adventures between the pages of books (mainly because it was too dangerous to go outside). She moved to Sydney for college (and safety), where she cut her writing teeth as the editor of the student magazine at the University of New South Wales. She kept gathering tales as an exchange student in Hong Kong and as a foreign correspondent in Amsterdam. Her first book, Our Chemical Hearts, was released in 2016, and was published in over twenty countries. Her three greatest fears are heights, dark caves …and (perhaps worst of all) frogs.