I Read YA Week Interview with E. Katherine Kottaras!

Welcome everyone to the SECOND author awesomeness today on I Read YA Week here on What A Nerd Girl Says! I am having such a blast this week with all the amazing authors that have been guests here on my blog and I’m so ready to share another fantastic one with you, this so let’s do this!

Don’t forget, this when you head down to the end of this interview, there’s a giveaway! Yay!


E. Katherine Kottaras is originally from Chicago, but now she writes and teaches in the Los Angeles area. She holds an M.A. in English from the University of California, Irvine and teaches writing and literature at Pasadena City College. She is interested in the stories we tell, the stories we are given, and the ways we can redefine our worlds by discovering which stories are true.

She is the author of the YA contemporary novel, HOW TO BE BRAVE (2015) and the forthcoming THE BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER (2016), both from St. Martin’s Press/Griffin Teen.

You Can Find Her:

Her Website / Her Twitter / Her Facebook / Her GoodReads / Her Instagram


Add Katherine’s incredible debut novel on GoodReads, and pick up a copy at your local bookstore or on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Book Depository

Reeling from her mother’s death, Georgia has a choice: become lost in her own pain, or enjoy life right now, while she still can. She decides to start really living for the first time and makes a list of fifteen ways to be brave – all the things she’s wanted to do but never had the courage to try. As she begins doing the things she’s always been afraid to do – including pursuing her secret crush, she discovers that life doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes friendships fall apart and love breaks your heart. But once in a while, the right person shows up just when you need them most – and you learn that you’re stronger and braver than you ever imagined.


Nerd Girl: Why do you write YA?

Katherine: First, I write YA because I read YA. I started reading YA literature when I taught high school. My students were the ones who introduced me to the body of literature that I have since fallen in love with.

I also write YA because I love exploring moments of intense change. I write for teens, but I understand why adult readers (like me) enjoy reading YA – because life is change – and conflict and discovery and joy. Even as I’ve become older, I recognize when I am in a new situation, whether it be at work or at home, in times of joy or crisis, when my emotions are flooded and I am trying to figure out how to be in the world. I love YA literature because so much of it explores the intensity of life, something I’ll never want to give up, both as a reader and as a human being.

Nerd Girl: What are some of your own favorite YA reads?

Katherine: Ball Don’t Lie, Matt de la Pena; Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan; Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson; Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang; anything and everything by E. Lockhart; 

Nerd Girl: What do you think is a big misconception about YA and why do you think it’s wrong?

Katherine: The most common misconception I’ve heard, both in the media and when talking to people, is they think that YA is light, fluffy, and shallow, in other words the opposite of “literary.” More likely than not, those critics have not actually read many (or often any) young adult books. I teach a college course on Children’s Literature, and I’ve had many students over the years express surprise at how soulful the young adult books are, how they didn’t expect to cry, how they didn’t expect to feel the pain of the characters so intensely.

I also think that culturally, we devalue the experience of being a teenager, so anything associated with teens must be bad. Of course, this is the most ridiculous misconception because as we YA readers and writers know, teens are the most resilient, hopeful, open-hearted, and courageous humans on this planet. Their experiences deserve to be validated and celebrated.

Nerd Girl: Why do you think it’s important to have an “I Read YA” week?

Katherine: I’m all in favor of any event that celebrates the specific contributions of YA writers to the world!

Nerd Girl: Describe your latest work in five words or less. 



(I think I cheated with that last word.)

Nerd Girl: You get the call that HOW TO BE BRAVE is going to be published: how did you celebrate?

Katherine: Well, I was parked in the middle of an empty parking lot waiting for the second-hand store to open, so my immediate reaction was to jump out of the car and scream and flail and dance. Then, I called my husband and my best friends so I could scream and flail some more. Later, we celebrated together with a Turtle Pie from Baskin-Robbins because it’s my favorite.

Nerd Girl: Have you had a moment yet where you thought “Yes, I am a writer/author now” and if so, what was it?

Katherine: Yes, when the first reader who I’d never met before wrote me to let me know how much HOW TO BE BRAVE meant to her, how it made her cry, and changed her life. I’ve had many similar responses since, and each time, I am humbled at the reality that I get to write for others.

Thank you for having me!


Thank you for joining us! We loved having you! Make sure you all grab a copy of How to Be Brave!

And make sure to head to my instagram in order to enter my exclusive giveaway with two YA ARCs and a TON of signed swag from authors such as Marie Lu, Shannon Messenger, Jessica Brody, Sabaa Tahir and more!


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