Friday, March 22, 2013

Q&A with Ally Carter + a Signed Giveaway!

If any of you know me, you know that I love Ally Carter. Not to sound creepy (although I tend to come off that way), but I have said before that I would read the woman's grocery lists à la Hazel from The Fault in Our Stars just to read something she has written. I cannot exactly remember when I discovered her and started gobbling up her series, but I do know that it was a while ago. I have always had a fascination with spies (Who hasn't played the game of "spies" where you use walkie-talkies? People without true childhoods, that's who.) and boarding schools were right up there on the list of Things "Sunny" Thinks It Would Be AWESOME to Do/Be. 

**"Sunny" is in quotes because just like Shelver, I am anonymous and that is not my real name.

Anyways, this year, I got to meet my absolute, all-time favorite author. I cannot say exactly when because my sister Shelver wants to keep our location anonymous as well and you can easily figure out where Ally Carter was on a specific day. With all the bookishly great things happening and even a SIGNING, Ally talked to us and did a lengthy Q&A session that I thoroughly enjoyed. She is not only hilarious, but super nice. 

Thanks to recording it on my phone, below is what happened: 

Q: Will we ever find out what the "W" stands for [in W.W. Hale the Fifth]? 

A: W.W. Hale refuses to tell Kat his first name. She can steal anything, but can't find out her boyfriend's first name. So it kind of drives her crazy. The answer is yes, you will find out, but I'm not saying when.  *evil laughs* Eventually though.

Q: Will you write anymore books like Double Crossed?

A: I hear from readers that say I'm a Gallagher Girls fan, why do we have to sit through Heist Society and vice versa. I'm like, "Can't we all just get along?" I think my evil plan is working though because I hear from people who say they got interested the other series because of Double Crossed. (So she really doesn't answer this question, but yes, I think she might.) 

Q: How do you come up with the names for the characters?

A: All different kinds of ways. Cammie was for alliteration and I knew I wanted her to be known as the Chameleon. For the first 4 or 5 drafts, I called him [Preston] Prez Son because he's the presidential candidate's son and I couldn't think of a name for him. Then my friend Jennifer Lynn Barnes read it and she said "Yeah, I just kept calling him Preston." So I was like, "Okay, his name is Preston." So sometimes I totally, completely don't care and sometimes I spend hours researching geneology sites for names of people. It really just varies. (she did care about Nayhaw who appeared in short story for Barnes and Noble for Cross My Heart and appears in Gallagher Girls 6 and is modeled after Jennifer's college roomate) 

Q: Are you going to write another series?

A: Probably! 

Q: How do you come up with the cons in Heist Society?

A: It's usually whatever the book needs to have happen. I've read a lot of con books and movies. But most of them are made up, especially the ones you never find what it's about, like "How can we do the Princess Bride? We can never find a sixth fingered man that quickly!" I have no idea what the Princess Bride is, I just want a funny joke. 
It's a great movie.
Q: Do you have any advice for people who want to be an author?

A: First thing is write. And that's it. No, okay, but that honestly could be it. Don't get the cart before the horse.

Q: How do you come up with a title?

A: I honestly don't know the answer to that question! I wish I knew. I'd Tell You I Love You was a gift from heaven. I spent a lot of time looking up idioms on the internet [for Gallagher Girls]. For Heist Society, it was a little bit harder. I fought against it since it's a little bit hard to say and a bit of a tongue twister. But I kept coming back to it. The second title came from a line from the first book: "Kat herself was a highly uncommon criminal." My editor that I was working with at the time came up with Perfect Scoundrels so I was like "Score! I don't have to come up with one!" For Gallagher Girls 6, all of them have been worse than the one before it.

Q: How did you decide to be an author?

A: The idea first came to me when I was about twelve or thirteen years old and I was reading The Outsiders for the first time. I'm from Oklahoma and Outsiders is set in Tulsa. Tulsa was the "big city" that we went to. It kind of blew my mind that the Outsiders was written by a woman who lived in the city that I kind of knew. Then when I found out she had written it when she was sixteen years old and I was a teenager myself, I was like, "Oh my gosh, that is what girls do from Oklahoma. They write books!" The lightbulb went off and I knew it was the career I wanted to do. I realized that books were written by other people besides dead Europeans. but also, people like me wrote books. 

Q: Will there be any character spin-offs? 

A: Possibly! I learned many things from Double Crossed, but I realized that I really liked the synergy from the characters meeting each other. So who knows, maybe Macey becomes a permanent part of Kat's crew or Gabrielle does her own spin-off with someone totally new. The amazing thing is that I don't know what will happen next and that kind of excites me. Again, like I said in the beginning, what excites me as a writer, hopefully will excite you as a reader. I will not rule anything out. At this point, I don't have any plans to do a true-blue Gallagher Girls spinoff. 

She then goes on to say something about Gallagher Girls 6: I will say there is a fairly excellent scene [in GG6] with Mr. Solomon with his shirt off. There is also a scene with Zach with his shirt off frying bacon so two of my favorite things: shirtless Zach and bacon! So basically when you're writing the last book in a series, you want to put everything you possibly want to happen in a book, you feel like you gotta put it in THIS book. 

Q: Is there any kind of movie in the works in this time and are there certain actresses you would like to be in those movies?

A: Right now, there are no movies in the works for either series. Both series have been under option at various places before. But the thing with Hollywood is that it's crazy. You never ever know what's going to happen. Trust me, the one thing I want on this earth most is to have a movie made on one of these series. I love movies. I would love that very very much. Her picks for actresses: Probably Emma Stone (the first picture) or Anna Kendrick (the second picture). These actors come and go and age out of this stuff, but characters stay the same, Ally Carter also adds.

I like gifs better than pictures so...yeah.
Q: If you were to pick another genre to write in, what would that be? 

A: I think I would always write this. I have kind of toyed with a western of all things because I love westerns. I could totally write a western, don't get me wrong. Would that be career suicide? PROBABLY. But I have this theory that dystopians are basically westerns. Think about it. Katniss out on the praire, searching and killing dinner with a bow and an arrow. Tell me that's not a western, people. The government is corrupt and people basically have to govern themselves. WESTERN. So there are a lot more overlap than people realize. It's what people realize that counts. But I'm a contemporary writer, I don't think I could ever write paranormal or fantasy because other people do that better than I would do that and so I think you should go where your strengths are. And my strength is unrealistic realistic fiction. I am a genre of one. 

Q: Do you think either series would be better suited for a TV show? 

A: I think either of them would be good for a TV show.

Q: Do you have a happy dance you do when you finish a book? 

A: I do have a happy dance I do! I call it the dance of the finished book. If you go on to YouTube and you search "Emma Stone Dance Dare," she did an appearance on the Ellen show where they actually did a dance dare where she had to do a dance behind people without them knowing it. It is the funniest three minute dance footage ever and so whenever I finish a book, I turn that on and dance. Yet another reason why Emma Stone is my spirit animal. 

My input: I have previously seen this dance dare before Ally Carter talked about it and shouted YES! when she mentioned it. It is quite entertaining. I love Ellen...and Emma Stone.

Q: Do you have any input on covers and if so, will we see a shirtless Zach on the next cover? 

A: I do have a little bit of influence on the covers, not like approval or anything, but I can say things like, "You know, I don't know if that's the right color." (She mentions a dark red, so maybe that's a hint?) I have seen the cover for Gallagher Girls 6, but it does not have a title on it yet. It is a girl in a graduation gown so it very much looks like the end of a series. It's very fitting. 

Q: Do we get a little history on Abby and Townsend? 

A: *hesitates and thinks* NOT what you're thinking. Like we do not get to hear their misadventures, but I think if I ever did another Double Crossed, it would be The Abby and Townsend Chronicles because they just kind of crack me up, they are the weirdest, little couple ever. But we do find some things about Townsend before we met him in the Gallagher Academy. He is the one who has been chasing the Circle the longest, so he has some valuable information. 

What I thought of as the "duh" question: (since it is ALWAYS on her website)

Q: Would you ever want an undiscovered actress have the lead or major role? 

A: That would be awesome! Unfortunately, I would have no role in the casting process whatsoever. But if they were to come to me and say "We found this awesome unknown girl who's going to be Cammie!" That would be great for me. 

Q: Do you read any other YA book series? 

A: Absolutely! I almost read exclusively YA. The last YA I just finished was David Levithan's Every Day. My friend Jennifer Lynn Barnes has a new YA series coming out next fall which I think is going to be a really great read-a-like for people who are finishing up Gallagher Girls, it's called the Naturals. It is kind of like the TV show Criminal Minds. It is a teen Criminal Minds. It's teens criminal profilers living in a house together. Because Jennifer is my best friend, I got to read the first book a few weeks ago and it was awesome. So I begged her for the second book so hopefully that will be coming my way very, very soon. I love YA. 

Q: If you were an animal, what would you be? 

A: My gosh, I don't know. Probably a sloth. All I want to do is lie on the grass and have people bring me brownies. 

Another Ellen video relating to the topic: 

It officially starts at 1:58, but the whole thing is hilarious.
Keep watching until after the clip! 

Q: Where is your favorite place that you have ever been to visit? 

A: I have not traveled as much I would like to. Now granted, as an author, you do travel but sadly, you don't get to see many places. I have been to San Francisco a half a dozen times, but I have never been to Fishermen's Warf. You are there and you go to the airport to the hotel to the the airport. I did reserve extra time for when I went to Italy because I knew I would want to sightsee. So probably Italy!

Q: Did you use that time to write the information from Heist Society? 

A: Yes. I didn't know exactly how I would use it, but I took enough notes to know that I would eventually use it. Whenever I am in a cool place like that, I always take notes just in case. For example, there is a big scene in Gallagher Girls 6 that takes place just outside of the United Nations in New York. So that last time I was in New York, I went to the UN and took a lot of the pictures and walked around the area. 

My input: She mentions how the thing she needed to have happened, happens outside anyways which are where protests happen, in the park area. So will there be a big scene with protests in GG6? Eeep!

Q: How long does it take to write a new book? 

A: I would work on a book as long as I humanly, possibly could if my editor didn't rip it out of my hands. That usually happens every nine months, for me. For some people, it takes three years while it takes others three weeks. But as of late, it takes about nine months for me. 

Q: How many Heist Society books are you planning to write? 

A: I don't know! 

Q: What is your writing process like? 

A: Really, really crappy first draft, heavy lifting in the second draft, and with the third and fourth drafts, just getting narrower and narrower and focusing on smaller things every time. 

Q: Will we ever figure out who Sicily Romani is? 

A: Yes! 

She also says one more thing about Gallagher Girls 6: " People say, "Promise me there will be a happy ending." I cannot promise there will be a happy ending. My job is to deliver a satisfying ending. Does that not make anyone else get really nervous? She then went on and joked about Zach's funeral, which nearly everyone started freaking out about before she started laughing. 

Now to celebrate this monumentous event in my life, I was able to not only get my own books signed, but I also had a friend's mother get Ally Carter to sign two other books for me to GIVE AWAY. Yay! Giveaway time! 

The rules: 
-Must not cheat. (go look back up at the DUH gif) 
-Must be in USA (sorry, guys, but the shipping costs!)
-Must be...awesome? Already completed!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

But really, this bookish event? Too great to even put into words! I went with Shelver and my best friend and I really didn't care if my feet hurt at the end of it all. We also got a free book from the table so I snatched up Asunder. The day was a BIG win.

I can finally scratch "Go to an author signing" off my bucket list and Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2013

Also, my sister Shelver posted her recap and own giveaway of it yesterday if you want to check it out. Along with some slightly embarrassing quotes of me :)


  1. Yay for crossing a goal off that list! I actually haven't read anything from this author, but my friend Jen says the audio for the Heist Society books is phenomenal (as is the story, obvs), so I might listen to those soon. Sounds like you had a really great time at your first ever signing! (Also, the mention of Zach frying bacon shirtless made me flinch...that sounds DANGEROUS! :D)

    1. Oh, Jen, do it please! Haha it might be...but totally worth it ;)

  2. YOU GOT TO MEET ALLY CARTER?!!!??!! YOU ARE SOOO LUCKY! Ally Carter is one of my favourite authors too, and I am in love with the Gallagher Girls series. Like you, I also played walkie-talkie spies with my big brother when I was younger. I had soo much fun doing that!

    I loved all of Ally's answers, especially the one where she tells us how she comes up with the character names. It's interesting to learn that Preston used to be Prez Son. :D

    Thank you so much for sharing this brilliant post with us, Sunny.

    1. I DID! It is one the best childhood games ever.

      I thought that was cool too! I always thought that authors had to find characters' names before they start writing but that's not always the case!

      Thank you, I had fun doing it!

  3. I really like Ally Carter too! Love her books, although I am definitely behind (must change that) Sounds like you had so much fun! I also have never been to an author signing before. Love the interview as well :) Glad you had a good time!

    1. Get on it, they just get more awesome! Thank you :)

  4. OH MY GAWD!! YOU ARE SO SO LUCKY!!! I LOVE THE GALLAGHER GIRLS, I'm actually reading bk 4 right now. Thanks so much for posting the Q&A because it was really awesome to find out a bit more about what next in GG and her thoughts, can't wait for shirtless Zach. Haha awesome post, wish I could join the giveaway. Ally Carter is genius.

    1. Woo! I'm glad you enjoyed it :) I wish so too, so sorry!

  5. Oh my god. Ally Carter is the author that got me reading! I loved her books so much I donated my copies of the GALLAGHER GIRLS series to my book drive to get books to impoverished children! I would die a little inside if I won these somehow omg. I'm excited lkjdlkjgdlkfjgd

    Thank you! bye! and I don't have a favorite character, I love them all! Especially W.W. Hale the Fifth and Kat though.

    1. Yes! She was one of the first YA authors I remember reading. Haha, I hope you do then!

  6. You are so lucky this happened near you! Thanks for sharing this interview with us though; I am especially excited to hear that we will learn Hale's name and GG6's cover will feature a girl in a graduation gown. And your sister's recount of your reactions to this event are hilarious. :D I would have behaved similarly.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it! Yes, I CAN'T wait to see the cover!

  7. Ally Carter was the first author I met as well and I just adored her! :) Looks like it was a great event!

  8. Hale...hands down. Of course, I haven't read the GG series (yet), so maybe there's someone there who will be as awesome. Hale just seems like the best kind of guy, ya know?!

    Also, I think I'm as anxious as Kat to find out his first name!

    So glad you got to attend the event - aren't author signings the absolute BEST?!

    1. He does! He's very lovable :)

      Yes and yes for both things!

  9. I actually havent read any books yet by this author.. The book sounds really good, though!!

  10. I liked the only Ally Carter book I've read, and I don't know why I haven't read the others yet! This Q & A was great, although I skimmed some so I don't spoil myself. ;) Thanks for the recap, you guys clearly had a ball.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  11. That's so awesome you went to the Ally Carter signing :) I love all the Q and A too. I really hope that eventually one of her series will become either a movie or TV show. Amazing recap!

  12. Loved reading the Q&A! Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. Also, my favorite Ally Carter character is definitely Kat. Or maybe Hale.

  13. Ahh I love Ally Carter so much. She's so good at writing for teens!

  14. This is awesome! I feel like I've grown up with Cammie because just as she is going to be graduating so will I! Ally's books have taught me to see the world a new way. Or, in the wise words of Joe Solomon, "Notice things."

  15. Uncle Eddie is most definitely the best character, to me he seems so... wise and experienced. I think he is a complex character that we'll never be able to completely decipher.

  16. First off let me say that I am TOTALLY jealous of you right now, but I'll try to get over you meeting Ally :) My favorite character in Gallagher Girls would be a tie between Zach (do i evenhave to explain why?) and Mr.Moskowitz (sp) because i just find him kinda cute and endearing. In Hiest Society my fave character would without a doubt be the Bagshaw twins (cant have one without the other) because their solution to everything is C4, and the fact that they are GINGERS like me! Now if you'll excuse me I've got a hot date aka Hot Joe Hot Soloman Hot!

  17. My favorite character is probably Macey from GG or Gabrielle from HS. I think I like them because they're so alike. They seem so vain on the outside, but often have a lot brewing on the inside. Gab always gives Kat some of the best advice and Macey the same for Cammie. Both are girls you definitely want on your crew or as your roommate/bestfriend. :D Thanks for doing the giveaway! I can never make it to book tours so this opportunity is amazing!

  18. Ally came and spoke at my high school several years ago. It was a super fun assembly - probably my favorite ever! I never forgot it. :)

  19. Omg I'm on my phone and I saw "Zach's funeral" and I literally shrieked, haha. ANYWAYS. I read the first GG book in seventh grade and was instantly hooked! Sooo excited for the next book, but it'll be really bittersweet at the same time. And I also met Ally at a book signing last month! It was just wonderful :) Plus I started reading Heist Society and I literally could not put it down, it was amazing! Not to mention that Hale is super hot. Lol, anyways, thank you so much for the giveaway, it's really nice of you! :) And to answer the question.. Abbey is definitely my favorite character because she kicks some serious butt and is mysterious and funny and sarcastic, plus she reminds me of myself sometimes as well. Her and Zach are tied for my favorite character from the GG Series, haha. :)

  20. I would probably die if I met Ally Carter...just saying...

  21. Omg I was there! Thanks for recording the interview I loved how she wanted to b a sloth

  22. I love both of her series!!!!