Authors & Inspirations: Kate Karyus Quinn

Today I’m excited to have on the blog my friend and fellow author Kate Karyus Quinn! She is the author of the YA novels Another Little Piece, (Don’t You) Forget About Me, and Down with the Shine (which was one of those books where I was ignoring everyone at a family party because I COULD NOT put it down), as well as the adult rom-com The Show Must Go On. Her YA novel in verse, Not Hungry, is out today from West 44 Books. She’s also got some very exciting projects coming up that she’ll be telling us all about. Welcome, Kate!


What artist (of any medium) has had the biggest influence on you as a writer?

I honestly have trouble pin-pointing one particular person who influenced me because I’ve always read widely, watched more television than is healthy, and squeezed a few films in between all those books and TV. And I really believe it ALL influences me.

For example, in high school there was a period of time when I was super into watching Lambchop’s Play Along with my little sister. I loved the songs and the silliness and the puppets. And at the same time I was really into rock music and would play my Stone Temple Pilots cassette tape (yes, tape!) over and over that started with, “I am smellin’ like a rose that somebody left me on my birthday deathbed – cause I’m dead and bloated.”

I think my work has that same mixture of humor, darkness, and absurdity.


Do you listen to music while you write? Why or why not?

I sometimes do. Most of the time I’m doing ten million things and just don’t think about it.


If you do listen to music while writing, share a few songs on your current writing playlist:

I actually have a record player near my desk so I’ll sometimes put on either Carol King “Tapestry” or Bette Midler’s “The Divine Miss M.”


Are there any musicians who have had a big impact on your work?

I love musicians who tells stories with their songs. My mom introduced me to Harry Chapin when I was younger and he was a great storyteller. I am also a big fan of Broadway musicals – which are obviously all about combining music and storytelling.


What was the last live concert you attended?

My husband got some free tickets to the Arianna Grande concert – so I went with my 9 year old daughter. We ended up leaving early because all the thumping bass made her stomach hurt.


What’s the farthest you’ve ever traveled for a concert?

I’ve never really traveled to attend a concert. I’ve gone to NYC to see musicals on Broadway, though. Does that count?


Share some of your favorite song lyrics:

Since I mentioned Harry Chapin, these are the beginning lyrics from Dogtown:

Up in Massachusetts There’s a little spit of land.
The men who make the maps, yes, they call the place Cape Ann.
The men who do the fishing call it Gloucester Harbor Sound,
But the women left behind, they call the place Dogtown.


Your favorite band is going to write a song based on one of your books. What band is it, and what should the song be about?

Well… I actually have taken most of my book titles from songs. My most recent young adult book DOWN WITH THE SHINE is from a song by the Avett Brothers.


What band is on your bucket list to see live?

I really want to see COME FROM AWAY – which is a Broadway musical that’s touring into my town this coming fall. It’s about a group of air travelers all detoured to the same small Canadian town due to 9/11 and how they come together and find meaning out of tragedy. I’ve heard it’s amazing.


You are magically going to be granted the ability to be a virtuoso on one instrument. Which do you pick?

Piano. I played as a kid and would love to someday pick it up again.


What are your all-time favorite TV shows?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Veronica Mars. Schitt’s Creek. The Good Place. Mad Men.


What TV shows are you loving lately?

The last thing I binge watched was Derry Girls on Netflix and now I am eagerly waiting for the next season.


Is there a TV show that’s had an impact on you as a writer?

Definitely Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My college friends and I were obsessed with it. Even though looking back there are parts that are problematic, I still love the mix of humor and drama and horror.


If you got the opportunity to write an episode for one show (past or present) what would it be?

I would love to write an episode of Buffy!


If Netflix were to option one of your books for a TV series, which book would you choose, and who would play your main characters?

I would choose my newest book, THE SHOW MUST GO ON, which is a romantic comedy. The main character is a mess of a person, but a very talented stage performer and singer. I think Anna Kendrick would be amazing in that role.


What are your all-time favorite movies?

The Joy Luck Club. Billy Elliot. Dirty Dancing. Bridget Jones’s Diary. American Splendor. Run, Lola, Run.


Who are your favorite actors/actresses?

Elisabeth Moss is amazing.


Which of your books do you think would make a great movie? Is there a book of yours you WOULDN’T want to see as a movie, and why?

I think all of my books would make good movies. I went to film school before I began writing novels and I tend to “see” my books play out in my head.


Are you a theatregoer? If so, what was the last play/musical you saw?

I saw Waitress in June and it was AMAZING!


What are your top five favorite musicals (if applicable)?



A New Brain




You can go on a two-week, all-expenses paid writing retreat to the location of your choice. Where would you go, and why?

Oooh, I really want to go to the Outer Banks in North Carolina where they have a beach that is only accessibly by 4×4 and wild horses roam. It seems like such a pretty and remote location for a writing retreat.


What was the last book you read?

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary (it was great!)


What’s your favorite book you’ve read recently?

The Mars Room.


What are your very favorite kinds of scenes to write?



When you need to recharge your batteries/refill the well as a writer, what forms of media do you most often turn to?

I read mostly. Or watch TV. But mostly I try to catch up on all the books I don’t have time to read.


What artistic/creative talents do you have outside of writing?

I’m starting to get into doing some graphic design, but I’m still very much a novice.


What artistic/creative talent do you wish you had?

I wish I could draw!


Let us know what’s coming up next for you: new books, new projects; what are you working on?

So many things!!

On August 1st NOT HUNGRY a young adult hi-lo book in verse releases. It received a starred review from Kirkus too!

On August 13th FIRE & FLOOD: Mount Olympus Academy Book 1 releases. This is a co-written paranormal young adult novel and can be pre-ordered right now for only .99

On October 1st PILLAGE & PLAGUE: Mount Olympus Academy Book 2 releases. This is also available for pre-order.

Next spring ANTIHERO, a middle grade graphic novel that I’m co-writing with Demitria Lunetta, releases from DC comics. This is a really cool and different direction for me and I’m super excited about it!


Kate Karyus Quinn is an avid reader and menthol chapstick addict with a BFA in theater and an MFA in film and television production. She lives in Buffalo, New York with her husband, three children, and one enormous dog.

Find her online at

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