Starring Kitty by Keris Stainton [blog tour]


Keris Starring Kitty cover

Hi all!

Today I’m welcoming Keris Stainton to the blog to talk about her new book Starring Kitty! Out this month, the book features an utterly adorable story of first love between our heroine Kitty and a girl who lives close to her grandmother’s house.

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Keris

Keris Stainton was born in Canada, and brought up on the Wirral. She now lives in the Ribble Valley with her husband and two young sons, who make her laugh every day. Sometimes intentionally.

As a freelance journalist, Keris has written for publications as diverse as Practical Parenting, Scarlet and The Daily Express, and edited the women’s book site, Trashionista, for two years. In 2005 she gave up her job as an administrator in Corporate Recovery and Personal Insolvency (which is exactly as exciting as it sounds) to write full time.

Della Says: OMG!, Jessie Hearts NYC and Emma Hearts LA are all published by Orchard Books. Her latest book, Starring Kitty, is published by Catnip Books. Keris also blogs at Bea Magazine, Happy Home Ed., Mum’s Suitcase and UKYA.

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Sometimes the greatest love stories happen behind the scenes… 

Kitty’s keeping secrets. Like how she’s struggling to cope with her mum’s illness. And how she’s falling for the girl with the purpley-red hair… A fun film competition with her friends Sunny and Hannah seems like the perfect distraction. But then Dylan wants to be more than Kitty’s secret. Is Kitty ready to let her two worlds meet or will she risk losing Dylan forever?

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Hi Keris! Tell us a bit more about Starring Kitty and how the story first came to you?
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Starring Kitty is the first book in the Reel Friend series, about three friends who enter a film-making competition. Kitty is the main character in this one and as well as making the film, she’s trying to cope with her mum’s illness and falling for a girl she’s just met.
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The story came to me from a bunch of different directions, as they always seem to do. I was writing a totally different book with a girl/girl romance and then I met with an editor who said she was looking for a younger teen series about friends and she wanted an LGBT romance too. Meanwhile, I got a fabulous email from a reader who told me about a film-making competition she took part in. And I’d also finally decided to give up trying to rewrite my very first YA book from years ago (the book I got my agent and deal with, but which was then never published) and so pinched the seaside setting from there.
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Wow, it really came from different directions! One of my favourite parts of Starring Kitty are the characters and how diverse the whole cast is. There is a lot of talk in children/YA books about diversity and I was wondering: how important was it for you to make your story reflect reality in this way?
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I think it’s vital. Readers should be able to see themselves in stories. When I was first thinking about including more LGBT characters, I knew I didn’t want to do the clichéd gay best friend thing, which is when I thought I’d have the character I was writing at the time falling for a girl. The character of Sunny came out of school visits – there are always lots of Asian girls and it always bothered me that there were no Asian girls in my books and I was also thinking about an Asian friend I had at college whose young daughter was upset that there were no kids that looked like her in her picture books.
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There is such a big need for stories including as much diversity as there is in life and a lot of times, the publisher is cited as the main reason this isn’t happening. Tell us a bit more about the publishing process for this story… Did you have any issues due to it being a same-sex love story? 
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Sort of. As I said above, the Reel Friends series came about because my editor at the time was specifically looking for an LGBT romance. But the book I was writing before that – also an LGBT romance – was turned down by my previous publisher because they said it wasn’t “commercially viable.”
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That’s such a shame about your previous publisher but I’m so happy we get to read Starring Kitty! I feel there are more and more diverse books coming out this year and next that I can feel a change is coming. What are your favourite LGBT stories? 
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I’m a huge fan of the Tales of the City books. I found them at a really difficult time in my life and I’ve reread them a bunch of times since – I’m a total Armistead Maupin fangirl. Recently I really loved The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M Danforth, and David Levithan’s Two Boys Kissing totally blew me away – I had to keep putting it down to catch my breath. Film-wise, I liked Kissing Jessica Stein and The Broken Hearts Club a lot.
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Oh, I LOVE Armistead Maupin! Last question, can you tell us more about the next book in the Reel Friends series and whether we’ll get to see more of Kitty and Dylan?
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The next book is Sunny’s story. I can’t say much about it without spoilering Starring Kitty, but I’ve just finished the first draft and there’s plenty of Kitty, but not much Dylan. But I had a chat with a friend the other day and she had a brilliant suggestion for added Dylan, so, yes, you’ll see more of them!
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Oh I can’t wait to read Sunny’s story! Thank you so much for answering my questions, Keris!
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Starring Kitty is out now and you can read more about it in the various blog tour stops below:
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