November 11, 2014

Kissing Frogs: Interview with author Alisha Sevigny

Yesterday, I reviewed Kissing Frogs, a new YA novel by Alisha Sevigny and today the author has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about her book and her writing for CanLit for LittleCanadians. Thanks to Colleen McKie at Fierce Ink Press for arranging for this author extra.
Author Alisha Sevigny

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HK:  There is a strong environmental theme to Kissing Frogs.  Would you consider this the most important message you wanted to convey when you were writing the book or was it just one of several you wanted to focus on?

AS:  When I started writing the book this was definitely the main message I wanted to convey. However, as the story and characters evolved it was interesting to see different layers emerge. Themes of self-acceptance and self-definition came up, as well as being open to different people, places and experiences. The book even addresses bullying, which was never an intention but sometimes your characters get ideas of their own!

HK:  So, let’s talk about frogs.  Do you have a background in biology or zoology, or did your interest in these little guys come from another experience?  And, why frogs?

AS:  I don’t have an extensive background in biology but have always enjoyed it and been interested in animal conservation. The reason why frogs figure so prominently in the books is that I wrote it while traveling through Panama, where I learned about what’s happening with frogs there and all over the world. And the scary truth is they’re rapidly going extinct, mainly in part to a fungus called Chytrid. Panama’s national symbol, the golden frog, is one of the species that is believed to now exist only in these mini-arks that house some of the last survivors of their kind.

HK:  Kissing Frogs speaks a lot about self-acceptance, with Jess not sure how she prefers to be seen: as a brainiac or as uber-popular.  Which of these two were you most like in high school and would you have preferred to be otherwise?

AS:  I definitely leaned more towards the scholastic side of things, though I did love drama and acting in the school plays. I was a bit of a mish-mash I suppose; it’s hard to see your younger self objectively! I don’t think I would’ve preferred to be anything other than what I was because all those experiences made me who I am today.

HK:  This is your debut book.  Did you foresee it coming together easily or with difficulty, and how would you describe the actual experience of writing a book from conception to conclusion, through edits and finally publication?

AS:  The original story idea hit me as soon as I arrived in Panama, but it was definitely a process. I wrote the book in about 5 months and then there was a lot of going back and forth with edits with my agent and her intern at the time. And then more edits. And then more. Then we submitted it and ended up getting a deal with the US publisher, Swoon Romance, first, then the Canadian publisher, Fierce Ink Press. And then there were more edits. And then some more. Did I mention there were edits?

HK:  One of my favourite questions to ask authors is the following: Would you rather produce one book of extraordinary importance that becomes a classic but one to which all your writing is forever compared, or would you prefer to author many different books for different audiences and which could not be compared to each other?

AS:  Oooh, that’s a tough one. Maybe the second? I feel like there would be so much pressure with the first one. And I do have lots of ideas bubbling in me for different books and genres!

HK:  What other writing projects do you currently have in the works, and do you see yourself sticking with YA writing?

AS:  I definitely have ideas for other projects (and a couple unfinished manuscripts ;) that lean more towards the new adult/women’s commercial side of things but for now I’m focusing on YA; I love the genre and writing for kids and teens. Getting them involved in reading has always been a passion of mine. I was the BIGGEST bookworm when I was younger. My mom used to get so annoyed with me for reading ALL the time that she’d hide my books. No lie.

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Many thanks to Alisha Sevigny 
for answering my questions and 
allowing us to post them here for everyone's reading pleasure. 
CanLit for LittleCanadians wishes her all the best 
with the publication of her debut novel.

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