Games & Best Friends Featuring Anna Priemaza

Hello Readers & Writers,

I had the pleasure of interviewing Anna Priemaza, author of Kat and Meg Conquer the World releasing November 2017 from HarperTeen. This is a book I’ve been excited for and I was even more thrilled when Anna agreed to talk with me about the book. She raises some really strong points about friendship and identity.

Before I kick off the interview, here is a synopsis of Kat and Meg Conquer the World:

33877998Kat and Meg couldn’t be more different.

Kat’s anxiety makes it hard for her to talk to new people. The only place she feels safe is in front of her computer, playing her favorite video game.

Meg hates being alone, but her ADHD keeps pushing people away. Friends. Her boyfriend. Even the stepfather who raised her.

But when the two girls are thrown together for a year-long science project, they discover they do have one thing in common: their obsession with the online gaming star LumberLegs and his hilarious videos.

Meg’s pretty sure this is fate. Kat doesn’t know how to deal with someone who talks faster than she thinks. But if they can stick together and stay out of their heads, they might figure out how to help each other—and build the kind of friendship Kat never knew she wanted and Meg never believed she’d find.

Q1: Where did the idea for Kat and Meg Conquer the World come from?

Anna: When I’m brainstorming a book, I don’t think about plot, I think about people. My ideas notebook is full of characters and their relationship to each other. Kat and Meg Conquer the World stemmed from the concept of best friends who are opposites.


Q2: Did you grow up playing video games? If so, what did you love to play and on what gaming system?

Anna: I owe everything I am to the computer game Math Rabbit, which I played for hours and hours and hours when I was a kid. You don’t know joy until you’ve saved up enough e-tickets to buy the rollerskating poodle from the prize tent.

Also:

Gameboy – Super Mario Land, Kirby’s Dreamland, Yoshi, Rolan’s Curse, Tetris

N64 – MarioKart, Smash Brothers, Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Computer – Daggerfall, Heroes of Might and Magic, Jagged Alliance

We had only one computer and one console, so I spent a ton of time watching my sister play Zelda or my brother play some dungeon crawler game I can’t remember the name of. (How old do I sound? I swear I’m not that old. Technology changes quickly, kids!)


Q3: Do you share any traits with the characters you’ve created?

Anna: Well, like both of them, I’m a fangirling nerd and gamer who values friendship fiercely. I am also intimately acquainted with panic attacks and anxiety, like Kat, though some of the things that trigger my anxiety are different than hers.


Q4: What was it like getting into the headset of both Kat and Meg? Did you have an easier time with one character versus the other?

Anna: Kat came alive for me from the moment I set pen to the page. I have a vivid memory of writing the first few paragraphs of her first scene and thinking, “Oh! Hello, Kat! You’re here! It’s so nice to meet you!”

Meg took a bit longer to show herself, but once she did, I had a complete blast getting into her head. Meg is impulsive and gregarious and hilarious and although she is so very different from me, I adore her with my whole heart, and I love being in her head.


Q5: ADHD and anxiety are both important issues that need to be discussed in literature, but can also be complicated to write about given how they affect people differently. Did you do any research for these issues and what was that like?

Anna: Let me say first of all that I don’t consider Kat and Meg to be an “issue book.” It’s not a book about anxiety or about ADHD. It is a book about friendship, fandom, video games, and how people can be rocks for each other even when they themselves feel like quicksand.

I like to make this distinction because my own disabilities and mental health diagnoses feel similar to the fact that I have size 9 feet (okay, okay, size 9.5).

(Wait, what?

Bear with me, I have a point. You’ll see. I hope.)

The size of my feet is an unchangeable, defined part of me that impacts me in obvious (what shoes I can buy or wear) and not-as-obvious (how I walk or stand or balance) ways. I can’t wear the shoes of someone who has different sized feet than me–at least, I can’t wear them and be comfortable. My foot/shoe size impacts me on a day-to-day basis.

At the same time, though, if someone painted a picture of me, and it turned out all they painted was my feet… that’d be upsetting (not to mention creepy). I am more than my feet. I am more than my handicapped arm. I am more than my anxiety. I am more than my dermatillomania. I am more than my sensory processing disorder. (Though these things are all still a core part of me and impact me every day.)

Kat has severe anxiety, and that impacts everything she does throughout the whole book. But so does the fact that she is clever and thoughtful and ambitious and witty and completely badass at video games.

Meg has ADHD, and that impacts everything she does throughout the whole book. But so does the fact that she is fearless and brimming with ideas and passionate and hilarious.

All of this is to say that yes, I did a crap-ton of research for the aspects of Kat’s and Meg’s lives that are outside of my own experience–from reading through forums to watching YouTube videos to asking friends hundreds of questions to having numerous sensitivity readers. But my research did not define who they are, it just helped me paint various parts of their portraits with a bit more precision.


Q6: Describe Kat and Meg Conquer the World in three words.

Anna: Gamer girl BFFs


Q7: What do you want readers to take away from your book?

Anna: Friendship is badass and just as swoon-worthy as romance.


Q8: What is something you nerd out about?

Anna: I fangirl over YouTube gamers so much that I dressed as one for Halloween. I own at least 20 articles of Doctor Who-related clothing. At home, I live in my Hufflepuff hoodie. My husband and I own over 200 board games. I am…oh, wait, you said just one.


Q9:  Do you have plans for future books and if so, will they be a genre similar to Kat and Meg or a new one all together?

Anna: I’m currently working on my first round of edits for book two, which will come out from HarperTeen a year or so after Kat and Meg. It’s also a contemporary YA, about a girl who travels across Canada to search for her missing sister, accompanied by her sister’s best friend and the cultist accused of her murder.

As you can probably tell from that description, it’s a lot darker than Kat and Meg, but it still has a lot in common with my debut. It’s about relationships–friendship and family–and is still woven with nerd references and humour.

One thing you can expect from all my books is a primary focus on non-romantic relationships. Romance is great, but it’s only one of the thousands of ties that bind us to the people around us. We can have our heart broken by a friend, be supported by a rival, learn something from a younger sibling, be betrayed by a celebrity, be profoundly impacted by a stranger…*trails off, picks up ideas notebook, and starts writing frantically*


Author Bio: 

_DSC5200 v3 webAnna Priemaza is a contemporary young adult author and a practicing family and immigration lawyer in Edmonton, Alberta, where she lives with her husband. She can never quite remember how old she is, as she knits like an old lady, practices law like an adult, fangirls over YouTubers like a teen, and dreams like a child.

 

If you’d like to follow Anna and her work, which I highly recommend, see all these lovely links:

Website: http://annapriemaza.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33877998-kat-and-meg-conquer-the-world

Twitter: https://twitter.com/annab311a

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annapriemaza/

Amazon (US): http://a.co/3Egl2G7

Amazon (CA): http://a.co/7XifUqO

Once again, a big thank you to Anna for joining me today.  Be sure to preorder/pick up a copy of Kat and Meg Conquer the World. I sure will be. To see more book related posts on my end, keep an eye on the blog.

Xx

Megan

 

Queens of Geek: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Last night I finished Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde and all I can say is this book is both adorable and powerful.

20170418_092619

Taken from my instagram: Written-Infinities.

It follows three friends who go to SupaCon, which is a big gathering of movie, YouTube, and television stars. These friends are moving on to college within a couple of months and this is their way of treating themselves for making it through their education. Not to mention it has been something they wanted to do for a long time as a group. Many events happen at SupaCon, leading to self-discovery, love, and beating back some demons each of them have been holding onto.

This is a dual POV book following the characters Charlie and Taylor. Charlie is a famous YouTube star who had a terrible breakup from her co-star of a recent film, Reese. She is long since over him, but she spent the last few months piecing herself back together and finding out what it means to not be tied together with her ex in the public limelight. She has to deal with fans who want to see her back together with her ex and her entertainment company that wants her to be nice to Reese for publicity. She also identifies as bisexual and there is a fantastic scene in the book where she challenges her ex about sexuality. He asks a question bisexuals get too often: how can you be bisexual when you’re dating a guy?

The answer that Charlie gives, my dear readers, is a good one. There doesn’t need to be proof of bisexuality through dating a woman. Rather, she knew she was bisexual the same way her ex knew he was straight. What I love that the author does is she constantly reinforces there is nothing wrong with being bisexual.  She has also made Charlie a strong character, not afraid of talking about her sexuality, showing her confidence, or noting her mixed race heritage.

The second character, Taylor has anxiety. Throughout this book, I constantly found myself nodding my head in agreement with the descriptions Jen gives about anxiety. Between the fears Taylor has and how she worries how other people will read her anxiety (as her being stuck up or bossy), I too have gone through similar experiences. The portrayal was honest and real and all I wanted was for Taylor to push past her anxiety and find the happiness she deserved. Taylor, an amazing well rounded character, does not only challenge stereotypes about anxiety, but also challenges fat-shaming and misconceptions about being on the spectrum. There is so much to love and learn from Taylor’s chapters as well as so much to connect with.

This isn’t a difficult or long read. It is very much fluff and friendship and feeling good after reading it. Most of the plots are predictable, but I didn’t mind. You have a solid friendship, romances to root for, and wonderful representation. From the second I picked up this book, I went yes, this is what I need to be reading.

Note: The references in the book to all things Geek are A+.

I’m giving it 5/5 SupaCon passes.

Xx

Megan

This is Our Story: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Let me start off by saying this book had me hooked. I needed to know what happened, which made reading it on the commute to work very stressful. It was the kind of book that constantly tugged at my mind, drawing me towards it. I wound up having to come home and read the rest of it so I could unravel the mystery.

20170218_124756The story opens up with the death of Grant Perkins. He was out hunting with four of his friends, also known as The River Point Boys. All of them were either high or drunk and no charges have been able to be placed on either one of the boys. Being from a small town, the death of a teenager makes front page news. It draws protesters, obsessed fanatics, and deals being made behind closed doors. Throw in families with wealthy business ties and the case moves further away from being solved.

There are two point of views: the main character Kate who works for the law office that gets the Perkins case and one of The River Point Boys. You don’t know the POV of the latter until the end. Together, these perspectives create an immensely engaging story. On the one hand, you have Kate who gets herself heavily wrapped up in the murder case, desperate to find out who killed Grant Perkins – a boy who she believed to be falling for. On the other hand, you have a River Point Boy who wants to prevent the bond between his friends from severing. He also wants to make sure none of them go to jail. His goals shift as the plot thickens and his relationships are put to the test.

I haven’t read a thriller in a long time and Ashley Elston did a great job of creating tension and reward. Just when you as the reader think you may have solved the puzzle, she throws another curve-ball at you. Each of The River Point Boys have their own secrets that shatter initial thoughts about them. They become strangers in a way the mystery does.

The writing style wasn’t over the top or littered with imagery in the way some of the other books I reviewed are. Note: this is not a bad thing; I’m merely noting difference in author style and creativity. Elston utilizes a straight forward style that works with the plot. It guides you from point A to point B and so on until we reach the end.

Lastly, I enjoyed Kate as a main character. I like that most of the story is told from her perspective. We don’t get inside The River Point Boys’ heads and know everything right away. We get bits and pieces that change and get disproved. We get pieces that don’t make sense. We get glimpses of humanity within these boys. We learn an insane amount about them through the evidence used in the case and Kate’s interpretation of the evidence. Elston creates a duality between real life and personas – who The River Point Boys actually are versus how they act in order to avoid trouble. It is only through Kate that we could have had this opportunity. It allows us as readers to call into question behavior and what people do when they think no one is watching. It also shows us how desperate some people will be to cover up their mistakes.

Overall, if you’re looking for an edge of your seat read, this is it.

I’m giving it 5/5 photographs.

Xx

Megan

Resolutions for 2016

Before I begin this post, I’d like to say HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! We’ve made it to another year and I hope it will be a good one. 2015 ended on a high for me between positive holiday celebrations as well as a three day get away. Though it is six days into the New Year, I still have a bit of a vacation mindset. Oops.

I will come back to reality in order to write my resolutions, mostly writing and reading based, for 2016.

  1. Read As Many Books As Possible
    Reading is both escape and inspiration. The more I read, the more ideas I tend to have. I’ve already finished my first book of the New Year and plan on starting the second book I have on my shelf today. I don’t want to set a number of books to read for I feel like it’ll put pressure on reading and the last thing I would want to do is feel like I have to rush something I love. I commute to and from school as well as work which is prime reading time. I finish books within a few days, shocking both my friends and family. I want to keep up this trend, picking up whichever books I can get my hands on. So many books, so little time.
  2. Get A Short Story Published
    I’ve been setting this goal every year since 2013 and I’ve been fortunate to accomplish it each time around, last year being a record of two short stories receiving a home. I’m not going to shoot for higher because of a successful year. I’m going to shoot for my goal of one and hope I’m able to accomplish that. I have a young adult story I want to get picked up for I feel it’s one of my best works. Though the publishing industry doesn’t always work that way. I got stories published which I didn’t expect would be picked up. It’s kind of like throwing a dart at a board when you’re blindfolded and forced to jump on one leg. You never know if it’ll be a hit or miss.
  3. Write More Short Stories
    I’ve been in the muse gutter since the end of last year. I have ideas and drafted stories I want to continue, but my brain has resolved to screaming no at the top of its lungs and then pout in the corner . I’m thinking the vacation I have from school will loosen up these tightly bound thoughts. The likelier option however: thoughts coming to life at five in the morning with no choice other than to sacrifice sleep and write. It’s happened to me several times before.
  4. Spend Time With Friends and Family
    I’ve realized over the past year how much my family and friends meant to me. I want to keep these bonds as strong as possible. I spent a lot of time with them last year, including impromptu trips to houses and late night talks. I realized how much I enjoyed this and I would like to keep the trend going. The same goes for my friends. I have a small knit group and this was one of the years we all hung together and it went seamlessly. I want more of those laugh out loud crazy days.
  5.  Be More Active On Social Media
    A large part of writing is networking which is weird considering writing is often a private and solitary action until it goes to an editor. I think I had a successful year on twitter, which I would like to continue. I would perhaps like to increase my author posts and my blog posts, even invite a few more guests to leave their mark behind. I say this before life gets crazy and school starts up again, but I’m going to be optimistic. Whenever I have an idea, or see something worth posting, I’ll do it. The more engagement I have with my followers, the better it will be for me and my future writing goals.

I think those are my main goals for 2016. Feel free to tell me yours in the comments.

Until next time,

xx Megan

Winding Down

Hello Fellow Bloggers,

It has been a little while since I’ve posted. FantasyCon and my lovely guest authors have shone in the spotlight for the past month. With such in depth and engaging posts, it was an honor to have them on my blog.

Moving past that however, I can’t believe 2015 is almost over. I feel as if everyone is surprised by how fast a year passes, especially when it feels like it just began. I can say for me, this year has been a good one, positive for my personal relationships and my writing career.

I am thankful for gaining experience in the publishing industry with both an internship at Distinguished Press as well as employment at Fantasy Works Publishing.

I am thankful for my two short stories which got picked up this year. My goal is to publish one per year and the fact I got two was more than I could ask for. I still recall screaming in the middle of a hallway when getting an email from Maudlin House. It took a few minutes for me to calm down and say a sentence in a language that was comprehensible.

I am thankful for my family and friends. I feel like I’ve gotten closer to a lot of them this year. 2015 guided us through some grown up decisions and adventures and I am happy to have been given the opportunities. It’s reassuring to know I let go of the wrong people and kept the right ones at my side.

I am thankful for being able to travel to Montreal this summer. It was an eye opening and beautiful trip. There were quite a few mishaps in the preparations, a lost passport and a flat tire just two days before we were going to leave. We managed to find solutions to these problems and go to Canada. I have over six hundred pictures to prove it.

I am thankful for the success of my brother and sister in law who are having their books published. Hopefully, I’ll be able to join them one day if my brain would get itself together and pour my ideas onto a page. Muse is one of the most stubborn things for a writer.

I am thankful for being close to graduating. I have one semester left and I look forward to what comes after. It’s terrifying, yes, but I think I’ll be okay. I want to explore what is outside of the classroom and I’m happy my hard work has paid off. The finish line is closer than it was four years ago, not to mention less daunting.

Lastly, I am grateful for my health and being able to say I am nearing the end of 2015. Since we are all moving towards the end of 2015 together, I ask you my fellow readers and writers, what have been some highlights of your year? Leave them in the comments.

Xx,

Megan