Friday, September 3, 2010

THE DUFF by Kody Keplinger

Kody Keplinger has one of the most amazing publishing stories we've heard to date. She seriously landed an incredible agent and an incredible book deal in days. DAYS, people! Oh, and she's 19--she was 17 when she wrote THE DUFF! Now, if this had been us at 18 or 19 our heads would have quadrupled in size. Not the case with Kody. She is seriously one of the most down to earth, humble, kind-hearted, talented writers we know. She has a super-sucessful career ahead of her and we can't wait to tell our kids that we knew Kody way back when. Now for the goods...

A bit about the book:
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Lila's Take:
We have had a draft in Blogger since March with a list of things we wanted to remember about THE DUFF when the time came to review. At its core, THE DUFF is about empowerment and it will be a great conversation-starter among girls. We've all been The Duff at one point or another and it really doesn't feel good. In fact, I recently went to a Bachelorette party and came home whining to Lisa about being just that (worse, I'm a MOM-Duff. Brutal.)

I've made a solemn promise to myself to give this book to my daughter as soon as she's old enough for the big "sex talk." Although right now, I think we'll be sticking with Good Night, Good Knight. Kody handles teen sex realistically and responsibly. I love that she didn't punish her characters for having sex and I love that they actually enjoyed it. I mean, sex feels good, right? Why do so many YA books make it into this horrible, awkward exercise in morality?

Bianca learns and grows throughout the narrative and comes to terms with her sexuality and the labels our society slaps on women as a result. I think the conclusions that Bianca draws at the end of the book will surprise and enlighten teen readers. Smart parents will use this book as a way to talk to their kids about sex and to educate and empower their daughters. I hope to be one of them someday.

Despite the fact that Kody is getting settled for her second year of college and oh, I don't know, trying to promote a book that releases September 7th (have you ordered yet?!), she agreed to answer our questions. She's awesome like that.

1. Tell us about your book in 140 characters or less.

A girl uses a boy to distract herself from bigger issues. It's an edgy, sexy romantic comedy for older teens.

2. Where did you get the idea for THE DUFF (as the official idea whores, we have a vested interest here.)

Well, I was introduced to the word "DUFF" my senior year, and my reactions towards the word varied from horror to amusement. I knew, though, that I was the DUFF of my group. I joked that I wanted to write a book called the DUFF where the heroine didn't pull down her ponytail and take off her glasses and suddenly become beautiful. Nor would she be an angel who the antagonists would later see as their savior in some way. No. I joked that I wanted to have a Duff that was a "total bitch."

I never actually planned to write the book, but I was plotting this idea that featured an enemies-with-benefits relationship at the time. I say plotting, but I really mean saying "I really want to write something like this because love hate romances are awesome - thanks for showing me this Chuck and Blair!!" But I had no ideas. None.

Then my friends and I had a convo about "DUFFs" and they all said I wasn't the DUFF, they were. Then it hit me that we ALL feel like DUFFs sometimes, and my joke of writing the book became a little more serious.

And then, one night while I was in the SHOWER, I heard the song "I Can't Stay Away" and it just hit me like BAM that my enemies-with-benefits story and THE DUFF were meant to be the same book. That's when Bianca and Wesley took shape for me, and I started writing right away.

Seven months later, my agent sold THE DUFF to Poppy. And the rest is history!

3. Someone has a pair of scissors to your head (oooh, SCARY!) and you have to choose: Awesome title or gorgeous book cover?

Awesome title.

I have picked up bad covers because I saw the title and went "WHOA, that is fabo." So I"m going to go with my gut on this. Title title title

*hides from scissors*

4. When did you know you had to be a writer?

Never. I still don't think I "have" to be a writer. I've always LOVED writing, but I'm painfully realistic, so to me, I HAD to have other options with better chances. I don't have to be a writer - I WANT to be one. It's not something I'm forced to do. It's something I enjoy, I love, and I chased. I still plan to have other jobs outside of writing, too. And I hope my WANT never goes away and becomes a HAVE TO.

5. Twizzlers or M&Ms?

Wait, is this a real question?

Who WOULDN'T pick M&Ms?

Don't forget today is the last day to leave a comment for a chance to win all of the amazing books we featured this week! Good luck and we'll see you Monday!

37 comments:

Matthew Rush said...

Great interview as usual ladies! Thanks LiLa (and Kody), this really sounds like an important book for young women. I absolutely intend to have my daughters read it.

Today's guest blogger is Emilia Plater!

salarsenッ said...

Great interview. Congrats, Kody. You definitely seem to have your head on straight and the book sounds wonderful.

Megan said...

Great interview.

I'm really interested to read this - I've been stalking Kody for some time and it seems like a fantastic read!

kiri said...

I've heard a lot about this book from Niki, even though neither of us has read it yet, and I really would love to see how I like it. I am so sick of the ugly-duckling-to-swan-type characters, so this sounds really refreshingly different.

Loretta Nyhan said...

I love THE DUFF!

It's a book that definitely sparks amazing conversations!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Can't wait to read the book. Fortunately Chapter's just sent out my copy of MOCKINGJAY, which I had pre-ordered at the same time as THE DUFF. Now I won't have to decide which to read first. Phew!

rae said...

I'm really interested in this one. I hope there's a Kindle version...

Kara Mustafa said...

I can't wait to read the DUFF. I heard rumors it was in the wild already. Maybe I'll check out Borders later :)

Danielle said...

A friend of mine (who actually knows Kody!) lent me her ARC of The DUFF after hearing about how excited I was to read it. Last night, I picked it up and read it all in one sitting! It was freaking awesome! I have to agree with everything you guys said in this review. I love how Kody handled the sex - it's realistic, and the way Bianca reacts to it at different points is something that I could totally relate to.

I saw a copy at B&N last night, and I think that I'll have to go back and get one for myself - this one's going to be a re-read for me!

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

I ADORED this book! You guys have to read it! I admit I had to read the whole thing in a day.

middle grade ninja said...

Love this book! Great interview.

Stephanie said...

GREAT interview!!! I love love love reading interviews with Kody...she is so awesome!! And I cannot wait to read The Duff!!

storyqueen said...

I am so excited for the DUFF!!

(And thanks for the shout out about Good Knight! I've got a new one, the 7th GK book coming out in the Spring.....A Good Knight's Rest.)

You Guys Rock!!

Shelley

Laura Marcella said...

I totally agree with you about #3, Kody! There are so many amazing stories trapped within lackluster covers. An awesome title is what makes me pick up a book.

With that said, your novel has both an awesome title and an amazing cover! Go you!!!

squinto said...

Awesome interview! Now I'm even more psyched to read The DUFF!

Fact of the matter is, it releases on the first day of school for me.

And If I were the type to, you know, ditch school for a legitimate reason (because, ahem, I am not that type at all) , I just might take this as a legitimate excuse.

Woops, I totally forgot that there was a mom in the building. Oh well. :D

Katherine Longshore said...

I've been waiting for this book! Only a few days more...Thanks for the great interview.

Llehn said...

I'm hearing good things about this book! Can't wait to get my hands on it!

Becky said...

Would love to read this book like almost everyone else who posted I have been hearing/reading a lot of good comments about it. :)

Kelly Bryson said...

I'm hearing so many good things about this book. But written in 7 months? agented in 17 days? I didn't need to know that! Seriously, that's awesome. Good job Kody. Thanks for the interview, L&L!

Alexander Bennett (Tales of a Teenage Book Lover) said...

I absolutely adore this book!

Mia said...

As always, Kody is funny and full of awesome. The Duff has been on my TBR list for...well, too long actually. I want to read it now! /whining

Seriously, The Duff sounds amazing. I really can't wait to read it and I've been recommending it to anyone who will listen.

Marsha Sigman said...

It's official. I love her.

SWK said...

Great interview. CAN NOT WAIT TO READ THE DUFF!!! Totally with Kody on the M&M's issue, too :) - Stasia

Fi-chan (Bookish-Escape) said...

!!!!!!!!!!!!! SHE SOLD IT IN DAYS?! *impressed* wow! Anyway, I discovered this the DUFF thing because of this book.

Lisa Potts said...

I hope Kody will do some signings in Northern Kentucky or Southern Indiana so I can meet her. Can't wait to read this book.

Krispy said...

Another book I've been waiting for (along with Paranormalcy and The Replacement)! Kody sounds lovely, smart, and funny. Thanks ladies!

Erica Chapman said...

Fantastic interview on both ends. I've been wanting to read this one for a few months now! Can't wait to get my hands on it ;o)

Thanks so much! Enjoy your weekend everyone ;o)

Jemi Fraser said...

This book sounds so good - realistic and deals with tough stuff that tons of girls go through. Sounds awesome :)

Cara said...

I loved the interview and the authors openess. What a gift to be so young and so talented. I'm looking forward to the book. I have been an avid reader since I was 14 and find the novels for young readers refreshing and enjoyable.

Kody Keplinger said...

Thanks for the support LiLa! And thanks for all the comments everyone!

To clarify - I wrote THE DUFF in just under 2 months.I spent another revising and then about a month querying. After signing, I spent some time editing with my agent before going on submission. All in all, from writing hte opening line to it selling, equaled seven months. I've just been INSANELY lucky to have the right book at the right time really.

Katie said...

Fantastic interview Lila! I loved this one! LOVED it!

Aleeza said...

ive been wanting to read this book for so long now! kody's an incredible, inspirational person!

Lisa B. said...

I'm so excited about The DUFF! I've heard so many great things about it.

Lola Sharp said...

I love the concept of this book, and the openness Kody in this interview. I look forward to reading this book.

And, again, M & M's. Duh.

I hope you ladies are having a wonderful family vacation...and no babies were birthed during said vacation.

Daisy Whitney said...

Fun interview, guys. I've read this book and talked to Kody about it but I still learned more about the genesis of the book from your questions. And I agree -- The Duff is a terrific, unapologetic, and refreshing look at teen sexuality.

Jared Larson said...

Good interview ladies. Sounds like an awesome and important book. Cool! We need more of them.

Elana Johnson said...

Love the stuff about HAVING TO and WANTING TO. Great stuff, Kody! (And LiLa!) The Duff is fantastic. :)