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Ally Carter is spying on your family - well at least on your teenagers. She must have some kind of secret connection to American youth, otherwise how could she write such engrossing YA thriller novels that teen girls everywhere go bonkers over?
In case you're not familiar with Ms. Carter, here's the unclassified dossier:
Ally Carter writes books about spies, thieves, and teenagers. She is the New York Times Best-selling author of Heist Society, Uncommon Criminals, and the popular Gallagher Girls series, including I'd Tell You I Love You but Then I'd Have to Kill You, Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy, Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover, and Only the Good Spy Young. She lives in the Midwest where her life is either very ordinary or the best deep-cover legend ever. She'd tell you more, but...well...you know...
Recently, Ally was kind enough to come out of hiding and answer a few questions for FamilyFans.com. Read on to discover more of her secrets!
FamilyFans: How did you get started writing spy and heist novels for teens? Tell that story.
Ally Carter: I got started in this business writing for adults. My first two novels were technically “chick lit”, but one day my agent emailed and said that she was beginning to hear from a lot of editors looking for the same types of books, just geared toward a teen audience, and I immediately wanted to give it a shot. That night I had the idea for what would eventually become the Gallagher Girls series, and the rest—as they say—is history.
FamilyFans: What do you like best and least about writing for teens? Explain.
Ally: I love how open and honest teen readers are. Their emotions are so raw and close to the surface, so that when you hit a nerve it reverberates all the way through them, their friends, their classmates, and everyone they’ve ever met. That is why they are such great ambassadors for books they love and why word of mouth is so crucial for developing a teen reader base. My least favorite thing is that time seems to move differently for teens. Asking a teenager to wait six months for a new book is like asking someone else to wait six years. It wouldn’t be a problem if I could write the books as quickly as they can read them, but sadly that just isn’t the case and likely never will be.
FamilyFans: Why do you think your readers relate so easily to your teenage heroines, Cammie Morgan and Kat Bishop?
Ally: I think it’s probably slightly different for every reader. At least I hope it is. When I talk to fans of the series, they seem to talk more about the worlds than any individual character. I truly hope they love Cammie and Kat (like I do), but ultimately I think most girls just want to go to spy school or be a professional teen thief more than they want to be those individual characters.
FamilyFans: What do you think parents should know about your books? And about encouraging the literary lives of their teens?
Ally: I’m certainly not an expert on literacy or getting kids to read, but I was a reluctant reader myself as a teen, and I know that, personally, it was never fun to pick up a book until it became okay to put down a book. When I was engaged in a story I’d fly through it, but if my mind was ever given the chance to stray, it did. And then I had a hard time coming back. It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I learned that was okay—that I wasn’t a failure for not finishing a book. Realizing that freed me up to try more books, searching out the ones that captivated my attention and didn’t let me go.
Now, as a writer, those are very much the books I try to write and the audience I try to reach.
FamilyFans: My 15-year-old niece, Brianna, is a big Ally Carter fan. What would you like to say to Bri and other teen girls like her?
Ally: Thank you so much for reading and choosing to read my books! I’m blessed with the smartest, sweetest, most enthusiastic readers in the world, and it is an absolute privilege to get to write for Brianna and other teens like her.
FamilyFans: What’s the best way for fans like Brianna to contact you?
Ally: It feels some days like I absolutely live on Twitter. Also, I read every single comment that is posted to my blog at allycarter.com.
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