YAuthor Talk is a monthly feature where we ask our favorite authors 5 random questions just for fun! Join us for bookish musings, crazy tangential conversations, and more. This month we’ve got the author of one of the two books all four of us Midnight Gardeners named as one of our Favorite Books of 2013: Katja Millay, who penned the heartbreaking and beautiful The Sea of Tranquility.
1. If you could be any YA hero/heroine, who would you be and why?
There are so many YA heroines I respect and admire for one reason or another, but although I think it might be nice to be like them, I don’t think I could handle actually being them. I’d love to lay claim to their skills and personality traits – and, yes, if I’m being completely honest, their love interests – but they’re often put through such a spectacular amount of hell or heartbreak, that I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to truly inhabit their worlds.
I admit I’d love to be as awesome as Hermione Granger. She’s smart and loyal and witty and a badass in her own right. She doesn’t quail or fold under pressure though she never ceases to be undeniably real. Even though she has the insecurities and fears of any teenage girl, she doesn’t let them paralyze her. Plus, she has a purse that can hold EVERYTHING.
I also wouldn’t mind being a little like Darla from Ashfall by Mike Mullin. She’s an absolute survivor and holds her own under some pretty hellish circumstances. She deals with every blow that comes at her without falling apart but also without shutting down or losing her humanity which is something I admired.
2. Which book most recently made you think, “ugghhhh I wish I’d written this”?
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. There aren’t enough words that would do justice to the beauty of that book. I could throw a lot of them out there – exquisite, evocative, lyrical, resonant, romantic, atmospheric, unique, enchanting – but I’d still want to use more. Her characters are so heartbreaking in their emotional honesty. She weaves spells with sentences. I want to crawl inside her brain and live there, and I don’t even care how creepy that makes me sound.
Most recently, it would have to be Melina Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles. I just spent the past week ignoring my family and any other forms of responsibility while I tore through all three books in the series. The language is breathtaking and the story is an intricately woven, beautifully layered one built around a cast of truly compelling characters. For me, when I read a book, character is paramount. It’s always been the aspect that I value the most because if I’m not invested in the characters, I won’t be invested in the story. The characters Marchetta creates here are heartbreakingly authentic with all of their rightful complexities and flaws. I was in awe.
3. Which book are you most looking forward to?
I have to keep myself in check here because I could give you an unending list. There are so, so many books I’m excited to read. Quite a few of them are series installments I’m desperate to jump on as soon as they’re released – the next Raven Cycle book by Maggie Stiefvater as well as Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo among others. I’ve also been hearing amazing things about The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski over the last couple of months so I’m looking forward to checking that one out as well.
4. Which YA book do you wish had been around when you were a teenager?
I’m ashamed to admit that I wasn’t a very enthusiastic reader when I was a teenager, so any books probably would have been lost on me at that point even if they were in existence. I was hell bent on film school so all of my time was spent holed up with movies and television as opposed to books. If I were to encounter my teenage self today and hand her a book or two, I’d probably give her A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick mostly because I think everyone should read them but also because they’re the kind of books that don’t fade. There’s a haunting quality about them and if I wasn’t going to read much, I’d want to read something that would linger and continue to speak to me over time.
5. Which book would be your main character’s favorite?
This one was tricky because it largely depends on which Nastya we’re discussing. That said, I can’t help but believe that she has a battered, oft-read copy of To Kill a Mockingbird in her nightstand drawer or at the bottom of her backpack. For as cynical as Nastya wants to convince herself she is, there’s still a young girl under there trying to make sense of the world. I think she would find comfort in that story’s raw honesty and universal themes, especially its air of lost innocence and acceptance of the fact that bad things happen in the world, but there’s still a great deal of good to be found as well and that’s a hope I believe Nastya would want to cling to fiercely.
About the Author
Katja Millay graduated with a degree in film and television production from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and has worked as a television producer and film studies & screenwriting teacher. Her debut novel The Sea of Tranquility was a recipient of the American Library Association’s Alex Award and was named one of the Best Books of 2013 by the School Library Journal. She currently resides in Florida with her senior prom date and their two children where she is pursuing her dream of someday bringing back Morton’s cinnamon sugar donuts.
I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.
Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.
Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.
Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.
The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.