Interview with Kelly Milner Halls, Editor of Girl Meets Boy

Kelly Milner Halls is the author of Albino Animals and Tales of the Cryptids, both YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers. Her writing has appeared in a variety of publications including Booklist, BookPage,Teen Reads, the Denver Post, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Washington Post, and many others. She lives in Spokane, Washington.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

Like so many writers, I had a teacher in the 3rd grade that planted the writing seed. But it was really my experience with the high school newspaper that helped that seed take root. I didn’t have to be the shy girl trying to find the courage to talk about myself as a reporter. I could ask questions about other people, and, to my astonishment, they wanted to answer. It was life changing.

Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?

I have been a professional writer for twenty years now, but I discovered YA as the first executive editor at KidsReads (part of the Book Report Network) in the late 1990s. YA literature was under the KidsReads banner, at the time, and I fell in love with the fast paced, power of the genre. The chance to create GIRL MEETS BOY combined what I’d learned by interviewing the best of the best YA authors with a concept I found intriguing – why do two people sometimes see the same event so differently?

What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?

My favorite part of writing for YA readers is the chance to tell true stories through fiction. That thread of authenticity is what makes YA so powerful, so moving. It’s also the greatest challenge, because if you tell your truth, it will collide with the truths of others. Those others often object with ferocity. But courage is important. If writers write their best stories, they provide their readers with emotional back up and help pass that courage on.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

GIRL MEETS BOY is a collection of story pairs. One writer tells a story from the boy’s POV. The second writer tells the same story from the girl’s POV. Same turn of events, very unique perspectives. What he saw is not always the same as what she saw.

What inspired you to write it?

Many years ago, my daughter broke up with her long term boyfriend after they saw the same event very differently. To my daughter, she watched a video with a friend. To her boyfriend, she cheated on him. I was struck by the gap in understanding, and wondered what great YA writers might do with that kind of intellectual challenge? I approached authors I’d written about and admired for years, and they agreed to write the stories, no holds barred. They were brave and honest and I think they created remarkable literature that helps us understand how two people could see one thing so differently. I’m so grateful to Chronicle Books for bringing the collection to life.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

The book is available from any bricks and mortar or online bookseller.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?
You can find out more about the book at www.kellymilnerhalls-ya.com or at the Chronicle Books website at http://www.chroniclebooks.com/titles/kids-teens/subject/growing-up/girl-meets-boy.html

What is up next for you?

I am working on my first YA novel, a second anthology and several nonfiction projects, including a book on the history of video games, a look at tattoos through human history, and a book on surprising artistic masterpieces. My travel schedule picks up steam in February — I’m visiting 21 schools in February alone — so I stay pretty busy.

Do you have anything else to add?

Just thank you for including GIRL MEETS BOY on your blog. I’d love to hear what you think of it.

View the Girl Meets Boy trailer at http://budurl.com/girlboytrailer

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