KIMMIE: First of all, I gotta know – how did you find us here at IHOGeek.com?
KAREN MUELLER BRYSON: I wrote a tween time travel adventure called, The Incredibly Awesome Adventures of Puggie Liddell. The book also has a companion graphic novel. (Both are published by Zeta Comics.) Doing marketing for the graphic novel, I came across your site.
K: Now, I’m assuming you read my review of Retro Geeks. How do you deal with negative criticism when you come across it?
KMB: In Adventures in the Screen Trade, Academy-award winning screenwriter, William Goldman said, “Nobody knows anything.” No one knows what is going to be successful and no one knows what is going to be appealing to the masses at a certain period in time. The only thing I can do is write what makes me happy. I think Retro Geeks is funny and I stand by my work. You may be surprised to learn that there are actually other people (besides my mom!), who like Retro Geeks. I learned a while ago not to take anyone’s opinion seriously. One of the screenplays wrote, Monsoon Season, is based on the true story of the country’s first championship-winning all female boys-football coaching staff. I almost quite screenwriting when a female producer, who had requested the script, tore me apart for “wasting her time” sending her a script, which she felt was a complete disaster. I was heartbroken and devastated. However, not 24 hours later, I received a phone call from another producer, praising the script and my writing. The script went on to win a major award and was optioned by a third producer. That taught me that William Goldman was right and that opinions are like assholes; everyone has one. Not 24 hours after I read your review, another reader praised the book. They are all just opinions. I certainly don’t like every book, and I don’t expect everyone to like mine. There are books I love (such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), which have just was many vicious reviews as praise, so I’m not alone. I just hope that my book can find its way to people, who will enjoy it.
KMB: I’m a Gen Xer, who was a teen in the 80s. Many of my friends now have kids in their teens and their kids enjoy listening to their parent’s 80s music, just like I listened to The Beatles and Elton John (my parent’s music) when I was a teen. When one of my best friends died of breast cancer, she left a teenage daughter behind. I put together a photo album for my friend’s daughter and much of it revolved around 80s music and culture and the impact it had on our lives. Thinking about a teen-ager, who lost her mom and started listening to her mom’s old CD collection, was the initial seed for the story.
K: So why the 80s?
KMB: There are so many of us, who have such fond memories of that era. I wanted to bring some of that joy back into present day. I feel it’s a book that moms and teen-age daughters can have fun reading together.
K: How long did Retro Geeks take to write?
KMB: The story started out as a screenplay but as soon as I got ready to market it, Natalie Portman’s production company announced that they optioned a script called, Booksmart, which is about “A pair of overachieving high school seniors (who) hatch a plan to score boyfriends in time for prom.” Because it was so close in plot to Retro Geeks, I shelved it for a while. When I started my publishing company, Short on Time Books, I decided to turn Retro Geeks into a novella and publish it though my company. The entire process was about two years.
K: In my review, I mentioned that with the success of Young Adult stories such as Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, the YA crowd is proving its ability to handle strong plot points and mature themes. Do you feel like Retro Geeks is a step backwards in this movement?
K: Most of the YA crowd would cringe at the thought of an entire story being finished in less than an hour. I finished skimming Retro Geeks in all of 30-45 minutes. That being said, what was your goal in founding Short on Time Publishing?
K: But “Those of us who work several jobs and have families” aren’t really in the age group (Young Adult) that this story claims to be written for either. Do you feel that you made a mistake in your target age demographic?
K: Okay. Having fun above storytelling. Got it. How do you respond to people who claim that Ally and Molly were a parent’s grocery list take on high school stereotypes and there is nothing in your character’s personalities to relate to?
KMB: If you can’t relate to the characters, that’s okay. There are plenty of books out there that I can’t relate to at all and are quite successful. I couldn’t relate to Bella in Twilight but it didn’t stop Stephanie Myer from becoming a multi-millionaire.
KMB: I’ve written nine feature-length screenplays and I am the author of nine published books. Of course, I plan on writing more books in the future (as long as I’m still breathing).
K: Great.Well, thank you for your time.
KMB: Thank you for the opportunity for an interview on your site and to respond to some of your criticism of my work.