Hello Readers & Writers,
I’m so excited to be featuring another debut author, Katy Loutzenhiser, with her book If You’re Out There. You can expect to see it on shelves from Balzer + Bray in March of 2019. If you’re looking for a contemporary YA with a mysterious twist, this may be the fit for you.
Before we jump into the interview, here’s a synopsis:
After Zan’s best friend moves to California, she’s baffled and crushed when Priya suddenly ghosts. Worse, Priya’s social media has turned into a stream of ungrammatical posts chronicling a sunny, vapid new life that doesn’t sound like her at all. Everyone tells Zan not to be an idiot: Let Priya do her reinvention thing, and move on. But until Zan hears Priya say it, she won’t be able to admit that the friendship is finished.
It’s only when she meets Logan, the charming new guy in Spanish class, that Zan begins to open up about her sadness, her insecurity, her sense of total betrayal. And he’s just as willing to throw himself into the investigation when everyone else thinks her suspicions are crazy.
Then a clue hidden in Priya’s latest selfie introduces a new, deeply disturbing possibility. Maybe Priya isn’t just not answering Zan’s emails. Maybe she can’t.
- Before we get into the first question, I want to thank you so much Katy for joining me! I’m so excited to have you. How does it feel knowing your book will be out in the world in only a few months?
Katy: Well, first of all, thank YOU for having me! And to answer your question, it feels… somewhat hypothetical still. Like maybe this is all an elaborate misunderstanding? I’ll believe it when I have a hardback in my hands.
- From the summary of If You’re Out There, it seems like this is a contemporary novel with mystery involved. What drew you to that genre?
Katy: In this case, the story arrived, and the genre just sort of followed. I still struggle with how to categorize this book, but another author recently referred to it as a “mystery-love-story-friendship-thriller-comedy” and I thought that pretty well summed it up. I enjoy stories that genre-bend, or don’t fit into a specific mold, so I suppose it makes sense that I wrote one!
- Tell us a bit more about how you incorporated social media in your story as well as which social media app you use the most.
Katy: Instagram is fairly key to the story, with post captions scattered throughout. The main character, Zan, has been ghosted by her dearest friend, and watching Priya move on through these #bestlife snippets applies constant salt to the wound. This is one element of the story that readers have consistently told me they find relatable. It’s difficult to let go of someone when they’re only a few clicks away.
- Describe your book in three words.
Katy: Ghosted? Or worse?
- What are some themes that your book explores?
Katy: At its core, IF YOU’RE OUT THERE is about intense friendship and all the things that come with it: codependence, independence, history, what it means to know a person, and how to decide if it’s time to let that person go. As I was writing, I was also sort of shooting for “fun feminism,” in that the book showcases the myriad ways women can be strong and awesome and hilarious, and how guys can have their backs.
- If you and Zan were to meet, would you get along?
Katy: I think so, although she might hurt my feelings if she was having a bad day. I’m pretty sensitive, and she’s a bit snappy. If we met at the right moment, though, I think we’d pretty much be BFFLs.
- What do you want readers to take away from your book?
Katy: My hope, at the risk of sounding like that “open hearts” collection Kay Jewelers lady, is that readers reflect on the idea that it’s worth living your life in a vulnerable way—to really care about people, even if sometimes that means getting hurt.
- Who/What were some of your biggest inspirations for writing?
Katy: So many, from books to plays, TV to movies. Nora Ephron (You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, etc. etc. forever), Amy Poehler (Parks and Rec is perfect), Mindy Kaling (still waiting to be best friends—call me, Mindy!) Tina Fey (my not-so-original, original career goal was to *be* her), Nick Hornby (Funny Girl, About a Boy, among others), most so-bad-they’re-good romcoms—especially ones with numbers in them (10 Things I Hate About You, 13 Going on 30, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days… I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE!) Jenny Han, Rainbow Rowell, Liane Moriarty, Matthew Quick. And good old Jane Austen and Shakespeare!
- Do you have any fun facts or things you learned from writing this book?
Katy: Actually, yes! I forced myself to learn Instagram so that I could write about it in the story! (Am I losing coolness points by admitting that?) EPILOGUE: I now love Instagram, which is probably a sure sign that it’s on its way to becoming irrelevant.
About the Author
Katy Loutzenhiser is the YA author of IF YOU’RE OUT THERE (Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins 2019). Katy grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, attended Bowdoin College, and trained in comedy at the iO and Second City theaters in Chicago. She now lives in Brooklyn with her husband.
I hope you’re all ready for this book because I definitely am! And if you’d like to learn more about upcoming novels and their authors, stick around.