Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Interview with young adult novelist Jocelyn Bly Karney

Welcome, Readers. My special guest today is YA author Jocelyn Bly Karney. She’s chatting with me about her new young adult fantasy, Priela.

Jocelyn Bly Karney, the author of Priela, has a background in finance working for Wells Fargo, TD Ameritrade, and AccessData, where she's always viewed her role as something of a fortuneteller. Although, when you use spreadsheets instead of a crystal ball and wear dark suits instead of a colorful headscarf, people take you far more seriously.

Jocelyn graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University and received her MBA from the Marshall School of Business at USC. She also has two strong, confident daughters and a husband who loosely inspired the character of Daniel, particularly that part about not being able to dance.

Welcome, Jocelyn. Please tell us about your current release.
Priela is the story of a teenaged girl who doesn't fit in at high school. Then one day she turns invisible, grows wings, and figures out she’s not even human, but a muse. She hopes to escape humanity and delve into the muse realm, but quickly discovers that she’s a misfit there too. How can Priela live her life being no one and nowhere? How can she hope to inspire others when she doesn’t even understand herself? Ultimately, her journey is a coming of age tale where Priela must reexamine everything she thought she knew in order to find her place in the world.

What inspired you to write this book?
With a background in finance, I’ve often been asked, "How do we teach young people about financial literacy?" The book, Priela, is my attempt to answer that question. The novel is young-adult fantasy fiction, but it also has an educational message that's woven throughout the story in what I hope is a subtle, nuanced way. Specifically, the goal of the book was to teach young people about the importance of education, the hazards of debt and unrestrained spending, and the notion that financial decisions made today can have an impact far into the future.

Back of book excerpt:
Priela had always had this heightened insight. She knew things about people she simply shouldn’t know, like their plans to ditch school, or to buy an essay online, or to cheat on a boyfriend. Her abilities went beyond empathy, beyond well-honed intuition, as if Priela could genuinely hear people’s thoughts and sense their emotions. She’d mostly succeeded in hiding her clairvoyance, but then she learned the truth about who she really was and everything changed.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always loved writing and I’ve always written for pleasure, but it’s only recently that I’ve started to introduce myself as a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I work full time in financial planning and analysis and I’m also a mom. But I can’t stop myself from writing. It’s the activity that I delve into whenever I’m having insomnia, or when I’m on a long airplane flight, or when I’m feeling overwhelmed and simply need an escape.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to color-code my fonts as I write. Green might mean, ‘this section needs editing,’ while purple might mean, ‘this section is in good shape.’ It’s a way for me to jump around a file and still keep track of my progress without having to write in a linear fashion.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be different things at different times – a gymnast, an actress, an architect, a writer. I definitely never saw myself working in finance, but today I’d encourage young people to consider it as a career path. It may not be glamorous, but you never know what you’ll enjoy until you give it a try.

Thank you for joining me today, Jocelyn.

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