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ger-eating, patriarchy-smashing...." /><"" />
Author of the VIVIAN APPLE series. Fiction-writing, cheeseburger-eating, patriarchy-smashing. Twitter/Instagram: @krcoyle
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You should be embarrassed to like Young Adult novels.

You should be embarrassed to like novels at all. You should be embarrassed to know how to read. You should be embarrassed to take pleasure in words, arranged into sentences, arranged into paragraphs, arranged into scenes, arranged into books. It’s unnatural, and you should be embarrassed.

You should be embarrassed to have once been a teenager. You should be embarrassed if you remember that time. If you are doing anything but strenuous behavioral therapy to erase your memories and feelings about having once been a teenager, you are embarrassing. You should be embarrassed to have been a pre-teen, a child, and most especially a baby. Babies are loud and irrational and have no control over their bladders. You were that way once and if you are not currently embarrassed about it, you are wrong not to be embarrassed.

You should be embarrassed to wake up each day. You should be embarrassed to put on a pair of pants. Have you ever really looked at a pair of p ants? They are very weird and embarrassing and you should feel embarrassed about them. You should be embarrassed to breathe. Why are you doing that? It’s odd and embarrassing!

You should be embarrassed to converse with other people, because other people may have different opinions than you and think less of your opinions and that makes you embarrassing. You should be embarrassed to have ever formed tastes and opinions. Who are you to believe that you have the right to tastes and opinions? You are an embarrassment.

Life is long and fun and easy, and that is all the more reason to feel worse about yourself and the things that make you happy. Deny yourself pleasure. If you ever feel it, even for a fraction of a second, make sure you immediately subsume that pleasure into your all-encompassing perpetual embarrassment–the simple existence of which is, as you know all too well, soooo embarrassing.


Right on the Button, film created by Department of Treasury (circa 1960s - 1970s)

Summer in San Francisco

means sweaters, sweaters, sweaters. A resolution to eat fruit in the morning that quickly devolves into lying in bed, shoveling handfuls of chocolate chips into your mouth. Putting on a leather jacket and red lipstick and packing a flask of whiskey to go see The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with your husband; he hates it but concedes that it would have been much worse had the stars been Shia LeBeouf and Brooklyn Decker. “Brooklyn Decker,” says Kevin. “Is that a person? Or a bus.” My best friend is in love. I’m writing a new book. Writing maybe three new books at once. All of them kind of terrible. All of them kind of wonderful. Taking vitamins! In the comic book shop on Castro Street, the clerk receives a text and gasps. “Ann B. Davis is dead,” he announces. “Another nail in the coffin of my childhood.” I am sick of self-promoting; I have to self-promote to live. Sick of myself in general, to be honest, but s till I’m reading old journals and checking my Twitter notifications and my Goodreads rating and writing this blog post and generally feeding into my own crazy. I tell myself it will stop once I have a dog, once I have a child, but who can say for sure. Hopefully it will at least slow down. The diner of Kevin’s youth burned down–the diner in which we sat with all our friends the Sunday morning after we first kissed, smiling shyly at each other over plates of pancakes. My sense of time was feeling very loose, quickly unraveling, but I think I’ve pulled myself together. I taught myself how to poach an egg.  

What I Read This Month: May 2014

  • Brick Lane, Monica Ali. I’m not sure if it was the book itself or just the period of time over which I read it, but it was a bit of a slog.
  • Short stories: “Fox 8,” George Saunders, “The Relive Box,” T.C. Boyle,” and “Astonish Me,” Maggie Shipstead. This last is an excerpt from a novel I very much want to read, because it’s loosely inspired by Mikhail Baryshnikov, whom I once dreamed of marrying, divorcing, and re-marrying, so that my name could be Katie Coyle-Baryshnikov-Baryshnikov (#normaldreams). 
  • It’s not published yet (I don’t think), but Helen McClory e-mailed me her story “That Time You Cut Off My Hand and Then Prepared It, Pretending It Was Ham,” and it was every bit as wonderful as the title made me think it would be.
  • We Were Liars, E. Lockhart. What a spooky twisty summery dream of a YA novel this is. It made me want to jump into lakes, eat barbecue, and distrust my friends. Avoid all plot descriptions and spoilers and just read it on a hot day near a body of water. 
  • Ms. Marvel #1-2, G. Willow Wilson. These are the first comic books I ever walked into a comic book store and bought, and they paid off one thousandfold because 1) they’re delightful, and 2) the clerk was like, “Yes! Great choice! These are so fun!” and I got to walk out feeling like A TOTAL BALLER. (I’ve got a slightly skewed perception of what a total baller is, guys, don’t worry abou t it.)
  • The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer. I enjoyed this so much for the first 300 pages, then it began to drag a bit. But I do recommend: it’s warm and funny and expansive, and it involves summer camp! Kinda funny to me though that Wolitzer was a part of that likable characters dust-up last year, as these were easily among the most likable characters I’ve ever read. 

This is the same person. I don’t know why we aren’t talking about the fact that this is all the same person.

My issue of One Story is out and about for public consumption and I could not be giddier. This is my personal favorite of all the things I’ve ever written, involving as it does wax demons, ex-presidents, teen girls, sexting, and allusions to The Crucible. Consider getting your hands on it and reading it at some point in the future! Here are some nice things Hannah Tinti, editor/genius, said about it on One Story’s blog:

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Vincent Price’s classic horror film House of Wax  on late night TV. In the climactic scene, the young heroine discovers that the museum’s wax figurines are made from real corpses, including her best friend, who has been transformed into Joan of Arc. Trapped between a young Charles Bronson (Igor) and Vincent Price (the museum curator), she beats Vincent Price’s face, which falls apart, revealing a monster hidden behind a wax mask. I was reminded of the movie the first time I picked up our marvelously strange new issue, “Fear Itself” by Katie Coyle. Not only because of the wax museum setting, but because both stories center ar ound identity and false appearances. The teenaged heroines of “Fear Itself”—Kara, Ruthie & Olive—are best friends, but find themselves grating against their assigned categories (the ugly one, the caretaker, the prude). The girls’ internal frustrations bubble to the surface on a class trip to a presidential wax museum, and soon overflow. Jealousy, love, courage and hate all come into play as these three friends search for ways to find new ground, eventually standing together against the forces of darkness (and in this case, also bad boyfriends).

And I think that there is nothing wrong with loving what you love; I do think it’s important to be able to critique problematic narratives, or stories that are pushing forward flawed representations (of gender, of race, of sexuality, of size or ability, etc.), and to be open to critique of your own work and of work that you enjoy — but at the same time I’m uncomfortable with a lot of the disdain for certain elements of commercial fiction and, especially, commercial YA. Certain conventions get employed so often because a lot of people want to read them, primarily women, and a blanket contempt for “cliche” more often than not looks to me like a blanket contempt for stories produced and consumed by women. That, to me, is often more problematic than the individual narratives themselves. You’d have a hard time convincing me that that kind of scrutiny and dismissal doesn’t get applied much more intensely to female writers and female readers than male writers and male readers.

And honestly, I’m not sure that those conventions are so much a problem — I think it’s doing teenagers (and especially teenage girls, who bear the brunt of our cultural concern-trolling) a pretty big disservice to suggest that, for example, reading Twilight is going to turn them all into brain-dead girl-zombies in abusive relationships (I grew up obsessed with Flowers in the Attic, which makes Twilight look like the S.C.U.M. Manifesto, and I turned out pretty okay). If we want girls to be growing up self-reliant and making good decisions, that’s our job as a culture, not my job (or Stephenie Meyer’s job, or anybody’s job) as a writer.

(Source: docmuerte, via elloellenoh)

She recognized that that is how friendships begin: one person reveals a moment of strangeness, and the other person decides just to listen and not exploit it.

The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer (via everythingiread)

When Holden Met Katniss: The 40 Best YA Novels: Katie Coyle, 'Vivian Versus the Apocalypse' | Rolling Stone →

MY FRIENDS. Rolling Stone (ROLLING FUCKING STONE) just listed Vivian Versus the Apocalypse in its top 40 YA novels OF ALL TIME. Catcher in the Rye is on this list. Harry Potter is on this list. A book I wrote is on this list. This is literally me right now.

Here is what they said about it:

You would be forgiven for missing this quiet but powerful book about a Westboro Baptist-style cult by first-time novelist Katie Coyle. Released last year in the U.K., this book will hit the U.S. next year under the name V ivian Apple at the End of the World. (Though author Coyle is herself American – got it?) When a so-called rapture causes the disappearance of her parents (along with most of the adults in her neighborhood), Vivian and her best friend set out on a road trip across America to seek out answers. 

Nobody flirted with me, but that’s probably because I’m always reading books and rarely ever smiling.

— This is a sentence I just found in a journal I kept the summer I was 19, but in a lot of ways it’s my life story.


What’s next, Kamala?

The stunning issue #5 cover, on sale June 2014

I have fallen in love with Ms. Marvel.

Wake up on the day after you finish copy-edits on your second book (technically wake up on the day you finish copy-edits on your second book, approximately four hours after you fell asleep). You have stood your ground and not let the amount of time your main characters kiss each other be reduced. It remains, even during sequences of extreme tension, one hour. “Time flies when you’re makin’ out,” you’ve explained to the proofreader, like a professional author. Now you’re awake and it’s done or thereabouts. There is sun and a forthcoming Peggy Carter TV sh ow and a list of the words you overused sitting on the notepad like a reproach (everything is grim, all emotions flicker or flutter, everyone is always rolling or narrowing their eyes, too many things done breathlessly or apologetically, too many lurches of the heart and stomach). There are books on the bedside table calling out to you–The Interestings has waited patiently there for weeks to be read. You listen to songs that sound like what you’d listen to if you were younger and tanner and driving in a convertible to your parents’ beach house with all your friends. You think about how much time it took you to figure out how to get a crucial key into Vivian’s pocket (“VIVIAN STILL NEEDS TO GET THAT KEY!” scream your notes to yourself), what an embarrassing amount of time; in the end, someone just handed it to her. The book is not perfect but it’s done. It’s about friendships and sisters and building eternal families with the beautiful geniuses that surround you. It contains (at least) one full hour of making out. Good job, you. Even if everybody who ends up reading it hates it with a burning passion, right now it feels like a pretty good job. Go eat a bagel. 

My writing group did a prompt about crushes today, and I wrote about my junior prom date, whom I have not seen in maybe eight years. He looked like James Dean and once hit me in the head with a two-by-four. Matthew James Reardon, where are you?

What I Read This Month: April 2014

  • Mr. Fox, Helen Oyeyemi. “You would read a book like that,” said Kevin when I told him the plot of this one (which is, a male author’s female character comes to life and exacts revenge on him! [sort of]). “Has anyone else ever even read that book?”
  • A Se ries of Unfortunate Events #7-#9, Lemony Snicket. These are a pleasantly sinister way to totally dominate your Goodreads reading challenge, as they take approximately twenty minutes each to complete.
  • Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen. Toxic friendships! Meta commentary! Fangirling! Spooky cabinets! Henry Tilney! This is the only Jane Austen book I had yet to read and I thought it was pretty rad. Was it tough for me to go twenty-seven years believing I was a Lizzie Bennet only to find out that I am in fact a Catherine Morland? Only at first. 
  • Violets,” Laura Ender, which I loved. &ldqu o;A Good Problem to Have,” B.J. Novak, which I wanted to resent but couldn’t. “Moonlit Landscape With Bridge,” Zadie Smith, which helped me solve something in my novel revision. Plus: “Proper Girls,” Lisa Ko; “Marlinspike,” Tom Paine; “Gorilla at Large,” Robert Voedisch; and “The Feather Trick,” Angelica Baker.
  • Chocolates for Breakfast, Pamela Moore. This book was written by a 19-year-old in the 1950s and it has words like “se xually precocious teenage girl” and “Hollywood” on the back cover so perhaps you, like I, will be unable to resist its siren call, but be warned! It’s surprisingly boring. In fairness, the books I wrote as a 19-year-old would also be boring, because when I was 19, I didn’t realize you could tell jokes. ALL FEELINGS ALL THE TIME.
  • Huntress, Malinda Lo. I want Malinda Lo to teach a class on meal description. Then I want to go to a restaurant where they just feed you the meals from Malinda Lo’s books.