2020 Debut Author Interview: Marisa Kanter!

In 2019, we made it our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and spread the word about their debut novels. It was such a success last year that we decided to continue the fun this year as well! Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2020 debuts and chat with them. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats and more!
At the end of 2019, we Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books. We ended up finding Marisa Kanter and her novel WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU, and we have been interested in it ever since. We are so excited to have Marisa on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

Marisa Kanter

Marisa Kanter has worked in publicity for major publishers and covered YA books for MTV. Currently, she works in sales, on the distribution side of the publishing industry. She can often be found searching for the best iced chai in NYC, or reading on the 3 train.

Keep up with Marisa: Website / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads

The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?
Marisa: Thank you so much! I could not be more excited to officially have a book out in the world. Every author milestone has been so surreal—the cover process, receiving ARCs, and holding the finished copy in my hands for the first time! It has also been so incredible to see the excitement building amongst book bloggers. What I Like About You is truly a love letter to YA and book bloggers so I have been touched to see that so many people within the blogging community are excited!
The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what's the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?
Marisa: For me, the best part of the writing process is developing the cast of characters and their relationships! What I Like About You is rom-com, and while many of my favorite scenes to write were the ones where Halle and Nash were connecting, I also loved writing the sibling relationship between Halle and Ollie and exploring how Halle and Gramps both navigate grief. The hardest part of the writing process is plot! I am a pantser while drafting, so it took multiple passes for all of the plot elements to fall into place. Luckily, I have an incredible editor whose insights guided me along the way! Add my editor as another best part of the writing process. 

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the idea for WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU?
Marisa: The inspiration for What I Like About You came from my own friendships that began on the internet. Since joining online writing communities as a teenager, I’ve made so many friends in these digital spaces and I’ve been lucky to meet many of these friends in person as an adult. But I wondered, how would I have reacted if I had met one of my internet friends as teen? I wanted to explore this tension between the personas we craft online versus who we are in real in life. This premise naturally evolved into a rom-com…and then I accidentally wrote a love triangle with two people in it! Also, I had never read a book before about a book blogger or featuring teens reading YA, which is something I personally would have loved to have seen. So I wrote the book I would’ve loved to read as a teen blogger!

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the most difficult?
Marisa: Ah, don’t make me pick favorites! I love this entire cast so much. Obviously, I had to love Halle to be inside her head during the two-year-long process of writing and revising What I Like About You. The most difficult character to write were Gramps and Grams, mostly because that grief arc comes from a personal place. I never had a grandfather figure in my life and I lost my grandmother that I was super close to when I was thirteen, so in a way I wrote What I Like About You for the grandmother I lost and for the grandfather I never had. (Sorry for the heavy answer! It’s a rom-com, I swear! Also, hug your grandparents!) 

The Book Bratz: This book features a YA book blogger, which is something we haven't ever really seen before! Why do you think it was important to shine a light on this specific area of the book community?
Marisa: Because I was a teen book blogger! What I Like About You was heavily inspired by my own blogging days. I ran my own book blog and reviewed YA books just like Halle did, however, blogging was so different back when I was active—twitter was just starting to become a thing, and most of the blogging community was on Blogspot. Today’s book bloggers and bookstagrammers are truly content creators. I believe bloggers add so much value to publishing and I really wanted to write a book that shouts out all of the hard work that goes into running and maintaining a blog. I loved blogging so much during my formative years, and I hope that came across via Halle’s dedication to OTP! 

The Book Bratz: What do you hope that readers will take away from WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU?
Marisa: At its core, What I Like About You is a story about identity that explores the tension between the persona we craft online versus who we are in real life. I hope readers are along for the ride as Halle grapples with these questions of identity and how her anxiety skews her perception of herself. I hope I did right by the book blogging community, and I hope seeing a cast of Jewish kids who are allowed to fall in love and make mistakes and just exist is impactful. 

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU in the future, or do you have any other projects in mind? Can you tell us anything about them?
Marisa: I have no immediate plans to return to the world of What I Like About You, but never say never! As for now, I’m currently revising my second YA rom-com, out next spring with S&S. If What I Like About You is a love letter to book bloggers, my second book is a love letter to theater. That’s about all I can say for now…I cannot wait until I can share more! 

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Title: What I Like About You
Author: Marisa Kanter
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 7th, 2020 (TODAY!)

Summary: There are a million things that Halle Levitt likes about her online best friend, Nash. He’s an incredibly talented graphic novelist. He loves books almost as much as she does. And she never has to deal with the awkwardness of seeing him in real life. They can talk about anything…Except who she really is. Because online, Halle isn’t Halle—she’s Kels, the enigmatically cool creator of One True Pastry, a YA book blog that pairs epic custom cupcakes with covers and reviews. Kels has everything Halle doesn’t: friends, a growing platform, tons of confidence, and Nash. That is, until Halle arrives to spend senior year in Gramps’s small town and finds herself face-to-face with real, human, not-behind-a-screen Nash. Nash, who is somehow everywhere she goes—in her classes, at the bakery, even at synagogue. Nash who has no idea she’s actually Kels. If Halle tells him who she is, it will ruin the non-awkward magic of their digital friendship. Not telling him though, means it can never be anything more. Because while she starts to fall for Nash as Halle…he’s in love with Kels.

Thank you so much to Marisa for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU and it's out in the world TODAY for you to read -- and you can check out Jessica's review here!

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1 comment

  1. Such a great review! Can't wait for everyone to read this one!


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