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Interview with Amelia Kahaney, author of “The Brokenhearted”

AmeliaAuthorPhotoSome of yinz might remember an interview published here about a year ago with one of my college roommates who is now a big-time teen author.  Well, lo and behold, yet another person from my college circle of friends has published an amazing, new book for teens that is sure to become the next big thing!  “The Brokenhearted” by Amelia Kahaney is a completely original, dark, gritty novel with a strong female protagonist and a superhero twist.  Amelia was kind enough to take a moment out of her crazy, busy book tour schedule to answer some questions for CLPTeensburgh.

What inspired your book “The Brokenhearted”?

I knew I wanted to write about a girl superhero, but the details of that took forever for me to flesh out. When I began to think about what kind of world she would need to save, I looked around my city (New York). The banking crisis had hit recently and Occupy Wall Street was just becoming a huge movement. I took a ton of inspiration for the city of Bedlam from the headlines, many of which were grappling with the stark and shocking differences between rich and poor in New York and in the country overall. Bedlam is just an extreme version of what I was seeing all around me – corruption and greed on one side, and needless suffering on the other.

As far as Anthem’s heart, I was reading a book called The Wet Engine, which is sort of a poetic meditation on the heart as an organ and a symbol. In it, the author, Brian Doyle, writes beautifully about animal hearts, from whales to hummingbirds. I was fascinated by how fast hummingbird hearts beat, and by how close hummingbirds are to death if they become too still or go too long without food. Their hearts are high-powered, delicate machines. So I gave Anthem’s new heart some hummingbird DNA.

What interested you in writing for a teen audience?

I started writing for teens a few years ago, after landing a ghostwriting job for a popular tween series. It was so fun to play with plot, so different from the writing I’d done before. Once I caught the bug, I couldn’t stop at ghostwriting.

When did you start writing?

I took my first creative writing class in high school, but I was writing long before that. I still have an epic poem about burning my homework that I wrote when I was six or seven. There’s a talking cat in it.

What’s the coolest thing about being the author of a published book?

Once you’re published, there’s a chance you can get published again. Right now, I’m really enjoying thinking about future projects and trying to envision a life for myself as a writer. The prospect of continuing to write is intoxicating to any writer, but publication has made it that much easier to envision this as a long career and not just this weird thing I do when I find the time.

What were your teen years like?

Alienated, broody, moody, a little bit wild. I was shy and introverted one year, a maniac who sang in the hallways the next. That’s the great and scary thing about the teen years – you don’t really know who you are, and tbrokenheartedhings can change so quickly if you let them.

What was your favorite book/author when you were a teen?

I loved 1984, Brave New World, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Lord of the Flies, so maybe it makes sense that I’ve written something that’s been called dystopian. I also went through a huge Stephen King phase in junior high and high school. But I liked most every novel I got my hands on, from trashy romances to The Bell Jar to Kafka’s short stories, which I read constantly all through junior and senior year of high school.

Will you share some secrets from the follow up to “The Brokenhearted”?

Book two in the series features a new villain I’m a little in love with, while also exploring Anthem’s roots. We learn where her name comes from, and a dark secret in her family is revealed over the course of the book. I just finished a draft, and I’m so excited about this secret that it’s all I can do not to spill the beans right here. Alas, you’ll have to read the book to find out more.

If your book was made into a movie, what actors and actresses do you like to see playing the characters in your story?

The failed boxer Ford was written with Taylor Lautner in mind, so I’d be okay with him doing it, or whoever the new version of Taylor Lautner is these days. Someone beefy and sweet-looking. Gavin would be played by Ezra Miller, who is a phenomenal actor, or by Richard Harmon, who did a great job as the creepy ex-boyfriend in The Killing. As for Anthem, I’d love a fresh, undiscovered actress. And if not a total newbie, Chloe Grace Moretz, who I loved as Hit-Girl in the movie Kick-Ass, will soon be exactly the right age to do the job.

What is your favorite memory from when we were young adults in college together?

I’m going to go with the fact that there was a year or two where we all—a group of maybe eight or ten of us college girls, spanning three or four or our shared houses—had the exact same haircut. I know you remember our A-line bob haircuts, Abby. A few of us learned to do that haircut in our living rooms and then there was a period of years where we all cut one another’s hair. In my memory, we were a formidable, even semi-intimidating gang of bookish, ironic liberal arts majors, and that A-line bob was like our gang hazing ritual.

Learn more about Amelia by following her on Twitter and check out The Brokenhearted book trailer below!

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