About the Author: “Kelly deVos is from Gilbert, Arizona, where she lives with her high school sweetheart husband, amazing teen daughter and superhero dog, Cocoa. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. When not reading or writing, Kelly can typically be found with a mocha in hand, bingeing the latest TV shows and adding to her ever-growing sticker collection. Kelly’s work has been featured in the New York Times as well as on Vulture, Salon, Bustle and SheKnows. Her debut novel, Fat Girl on a Plane, was named one of the “50 Best Summer Reads of All Time” by Reader’s Digest magazine. Her next book, Eat Your Heart Out, releases on 6/29/21 from PenguinTeen.” (Bio and headshot sent by author)
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A huge thank you to Kelly deVos for returning to do a second interview with Pine Reads Review! Check out her newest YA novel Eat Your Heart Out, and be sure to read our review of Eat Your Heart Out here!
Kelly deVos: My favorite camp activities are taking nature walks and find a scenic place to read. But when I went to summer camp as a child I was totally obsessed with my Cabbage Patch Kid. My Mom sent me to camp with a disposable camera and, when we had the film developed, every single picture was of the doll posed all over the camp.
KD: Oh speaking of dolls…one of my favorite tropes is the haunted or evil doll. I think there’s something delightfully creepy about dolls which can look quite human but aren’t. I’m hoping to do a haunted doll project at some point.
KD: I think mine is Laurie Strode played by Jamie Lee Curtis in the original Halloween film. Partially, I think that’s due to nostalgia because Halloween is a movie I watched as a kid. But I also felt a lot of sympathy for her because she was a bookish, nerdy kind of character who barely survives a night of babysitting.
KD: I think fast, mindless zombies are scarier but slow, intelligent zombies are a greater long-term threat. They can wait you out and get you eventually. At least, I think that was part of the message I got from reading Zone One by Colson Whitehead.
KD: I like to think I’m The Outcast. The person who is a little bit of a weirdo but will ultimately survive. I’ve got some hidden skills. Like, my knitting skills, sticker collection and coffee drinking will come in handy, right?
KD: So “Eat Your Heart Out” is a phrase that means to long for something kind of unattainable but is typically used to provoke jealousy. The phrase has been co-opted a bit by the food and diet industries who want to apply it to the enjoyment of food. I wanted to try and subvert things and make the expression more literal. Like the zombies are literally eating the characters’ hearts.
KD: OMG I LOVE Zombieland, but the setting was not inspired by Double Tap – my book was already finished by the time that movie came out. The setting was actually inspired by a real experience I had. My husband and I went to the Inn at 410 for our wedding Anniversary. But that weekend there was a blizzard. Our car got stranded and we ended up having to walk to the B&B. When we got there, the power went out. The next morning my husband had to dig our car out of the snow with a shovel. I just thought it was a setting that most people don’t associate with Arizona and that it would make a great place for my story.
KD: I tried to imagine the filmmaker, Allison, as being the writer of that section. She is trying to relate to her experiences at Featherlite as being part of a movie. She includes those archetypes because they relate to the other campers that she’s with.
KD: I probably had the most fun writing Vivian because she’s just such a butt kicker. Paul was the most difficult because he starts out mean and very fatphobic. He’s the mouthpiece for a lot of society’s negativity towards larger people which wasn’t easy to have to type and deal with.
KD: I honestly felt like it came somewhat naturally. I felt I needed the more comedic elements to give my characters a way to deal with all the bad crap they are going through. And I think, in real life, people often use humor as a coping mechanism. I guess I just personally feel that there are some elements of fatphobia and diet culture are so horrifying that it didn’t seem hard to combine those two things in the book.
KD: I would personally like to continue it. I think there are some really good stories that could come out of having my remaining cast of characters track down zombies and the weight loss bars. But that isn’t why the book ends the way that it does. I left the ending a little bit open because six people can’t end fatphobia and corporate diet culture on their own. We need to culturally make different choices about how we treat people and how we view body size. So, I couldn’t give the book a pat resolution. Because things aren’t over.
KD: While I was writing I listened to a ton of Jane Holiday and The Neighbourhood. I think Scary Love is the best oar bashing song!
KD: I always try to keep learning and evolving my style – trying to write in different formats and genres and experimenting with tenses and points-of-view. But certain things continue to interest me, particularly strong female characters trying to perform in traditionally male-dominated spaces.
KD: It is so hard! Like many people, I’ve had points in the past year or so where I’ve just felt totally fatigued. The only advice that I really have is to try and be kind to yourself. Try to recognize that we’re in tough, extraordinary times and all you can really do is your best.
KD: I am so excited to be working on GO HUNT ME! It’s a modern-day Dracula retelling from the perspective of Lucy Westenra. Dracula is a book I grew up loving, but I always felt that poor Lucy deserves some love and redemption. While you wait, I hope everyone will check out Eat Your Heart Out and stay healthy and safe. <3
PRR Writer, Erika Brittain