TFFOS: Kathy McCullough -- Interview & Giveaway

Before beginning, I want to say thank you to everyone for the enthusiastic response! It may not look like it, but I'm reading all of your comments even though I don't have the time to reply. ): Hope you guys continue to enjoy the remaining two weeks! (I think I'm going to have to go on many un-book-related tangents after this event is over. I need randomness in my life. ;_;)

To find out more about The Four Flavors of Summer and to view a master-list of all features and giveaways, click HERE.

 We're kicking off contemporary week with KATHY MCCULLOUGH! She's a 2k11 author debuting in November with her novel DON'T EXPECT MAGIC, a book based on, say what? FAIRY GODMOTHERS. You know, those badass wish-granters made famous by Cinderella and a certain grandmotherly lady? Kathy's here to shed some more light on these "F.G.s," so read on!

Very Clickable Links: {website} · {character Delaney's website} · {goodreads} · {amazon} · {book depository}


1.Tell us about DON'T EXPECT MAGIC! To describe your book, name 5 ways you would fill
    in this blank: Don’t Expect_____.
 Don't Expect a violent fight for survival.
Don’t Expect a completely reliable narrator.
Don’t Expect that the characters are exactly what they seem on the surface.
(Since I can’t think of any other “don’t”s, I thought I’d switch to “do”s. ;) )
 Do Expect sarcasm.
 Do Expect redemption.

2. Where did you get the inspiration for this twist on the traditional fairy godmother?
 It’s always hard for me to trace the genesis of a story completely because the ideas always evolve over time, often changing without me being aware of it. I can tell you that the original idea had Delaney’s grandmother being the fairy godmother, and the ability skipping a generation. However, that idea didn’t have a lot of humor in it, and that’s when I thought of making it her father. Having Delaney accept the skill willingly lacked conflict, so it was a natural development to make her someone for whom this is not a good thing: she’s a loner and this forces her to interact with people; she’s dark and sullen, and so the typical image of a sparkly, cheery fairy godmother goes completely against how she views herself.

3. On her website, "New Jersey tough girl" Delaney lists that her favorite poems are:
"Fire and Ice" by Robert Frost
"Portrait of a Girl with a Comic Book" by Phyllis McGinley
"A Tale of the Thirteenth Floor" by Ogden Nash
"Sonic Boom" by John Updike
"Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver
 Are there any reasons that these poems "speak" to her?
 They all contain elements of darkness as well as anger and pain, which I think a lot of teenagers relate to since they tend to feel things very deeply. Having been abandoned by her father and later losing her mother intensifies these feelings for Delaney. The way poetry has of cutting to the emotional chase can make it feel as if the poet is speaking directly to the reader, and Delaney feels that with these poems (less so with the Ogden Nash, which is more about creating a dark world that appeals to Delaney’s sensibilities than evoking emotion). Although Delaney would never admit it, “Wild Geese” does contain an element of hope, very subtle, that gives Delaney something to cling to (if only subconsciously); a suggestion that things can get better.

And being from New Jersey myself (though I love Philadelphia), I have to ask: how do you pronounce "New Jersey?"
I’m originally from Michigan and moved around a lot as a kid, so I don’t really have an accent. Delaney does but she’s not from the northern part of the state (near New York), where people supposedly say “New Joisey.” (Although is this true? Or is this just in the movies?? I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone in real life say it this way.) Her accent is similar to that of native Philadelphians, since she grew up closer to that area, but I’m not sure how to write it phonetically. I’d say that her vowels are flat and her way of speaking is a bit harsh: very hard on the “Jer” – New JURsey. (How do you say it, Jenn?)

4. Can you give us the inside scoop on Delaney's boots fetish? And do you have any fetishes?
 That’s another thing that evolved, but I’m not sure exactly how. I always pictured her wearing boots, ones that had been funked up in some way. I think when I was rewriting the opening scene, very early in the process, I suddenly saw her sketching the boots herself. It seemed like something she would do – she wants her boots to look a certain way and the only way this will happen is if she designs them herself.

As for me, I love, love, love old movies (of the black and white, Turner Classics type) and also Broadway musicals.

5. So, any hints on romance in DON'T EXPECT MAGIC?
There is indeed a romance, or two, but to say more would give the plot away. 

alec baldwin... do you see the fairy aura? :3
 Which celebrities (singers, actresses, models, etc.) do you envision playing the main characters?
Hmm. Although he is perhaps not the right age, I always had Alec Baldwin in mind for Hank when I was writing the book. There are so many great young actresses out there, it’s hard to narrow it down for Delaney. I do like Hailee Steinfeld a lot and think she would be great. I'm not sure about the other characters. It would be interesting if readers ended up having casting ideas...

6. If you were given a fairy godmother, what would your wish be?
So easy: to make a (good) living as a writer without ever having to go back to the day job.

7. In your bio, you mentioned that prior to writing YA, you did some screenwriting and studied film in college. What was the transition like? Any regrets?
I still write screenplays (and may be adapting the book soon), and I hope to always do so, although fiction has become a stronger passion for me. It really was an evolution. My interests changed and I find I really like writing books for teens and kids, because I think a writer has a greater opportunity in this world to explore issues that are important to him or her.

8. Also in your bio, you said that you love experimenting with food, even though it results in some strange dishes. Can you recall your worst experiment and your best? 
The worst was this citrus risotto dish that was supposed to be sweet, but I decided (why???) to use this garlic-flavored wine I had bought when visiting Gilroy, California (the garlic capital of the world). I also used jasmine rice, which I had bought and never could find anything to put it in. The result was seriously nasty and I still have a horrible sense memory of it, even years later. It was the one thing that was so bad, I threw it out (and I never throw out anything if I can choke it down).

The best was inspired by a suggestion from a friend which I tweaked a lot and got published in Cooking Light!: brown rice, black beans, cherry tomatoes and sliced avocado. It’s the perfect meal. I could eat it every day.

9. If you could be any fictional character in the world, who would you be?
 I think I’d enjoy being Elizabeth Bennet from “Pride and Prejudice.”

kiera knightley as lizzie. i'm not such a fan of this P&P rendition though...

10. Finally, if you were a fairy godmother and had an awesome superhero-esque alias, what would it be?
I’m not sure this is appropriate for a fairy godmother, but I think it would be cool and it sounds like a superhero: Dream Weaver.

P.S. Thanks, Jenn, for these fantastic questions and for interviewing me for your great blog.

Thanks, Kathy! And I say New Jur-sey too, since I used to live really close to Philly and went there all the time. NOT a Jersey Shore girl, sorry. :P



Delaney Collins doesn’t believe in fairy tales. And why should she? Her mom is dead, her best friend is across the country, and she’s stuck in California with “Dr. Hank,” her famous life-coach father—a man she barely knows. Happily ever after? Yeah, right.

Then Dr. Hank tells her an outrageous secret: he’s a fairy godmother—an f.g.—and he can prove it. And by the way? The f.g. gene is hereditary. Meaning there’s a good chance that New Jersey tough girl Delaney is someone’s fairy godmother.

But what happens when a fairy godmother needs a wish of her own?


Courtesy of Marissa at JKS Communications, I have one ARC of DON'T EXPECT MAGIC to giveaway (will be shipped when available). For an extra entry, tell me your strange fetish. Delaney likes boots, what do you like? (I like collecting pretty, shiny crystal and glass things. Among many other strange, strange things.)

To enter, fill out the form below. Open to U.S. addresses only. (There's an awesome international contest tomorrow!)