We’re psyched for the launch of Winged Pen member, Kristi Wientge’s, middle grade debut. Karma Khullar’s Mustache will hit bookstore shelves on August 15th! We invited Kristi and her agent, Patricia Nelson of the Marsal Lyon Agency, to talk about Karma and how this story became a book.
Patricia, what first drew you to Karma Khullar’s Mustache?
Patricia: I knew when I first started reading that this novel was the whole package. First of all, as a huge Judy Blume fan, I’m always drawn to contemporary middle grade that deals with the uncomfortable realities of growing up, and I had never seen an MG novel about body hair before, so that made me intrigued right from the pitch. Then, on top of having a great concept, Kristi’s writing had a fantastic specificity – every character in the book, from Karma’s best friend to her obnoxious brother, felt perfectly real, like they could just step right off the page. I was struck by what a great job the book does of braiding together issues of family, friendship, culture, and body image to show all the layers of Karma’s world. Plus, perhaps most importantly of all, Karma’s voice stood out—as a narrator, she’s funny and insightful and has a very unique way of looking at the world that’s relatable while also being completely her own. I loved her right from the first chapter!
Kristi, what made you feel comfortable putting the sale of your story in Patricia’s hands?
Kristi: I actually spent the few days between my email with her and the day we had the call set up scouring every blog post for lists of questions I should ask. Can you believe it that straight away Patricia basically ticked right down my list of questions without me even having to ask a single one?! Not only did that win me over, but it was also her complete excitement for Karma. I felt that she really got what I was going for.
Patricia, what are middle grade readers looking for in a story?
Patricia: Voice is a huge part of it! Kids have exceptionally well-tuned BS detectors, so the voice really needs to feel genuinely and authentically “kid,” not like an adult trying to sound like a kid. Beyond that, pacing is key in this category—the story needs to move along swiftly, with enough exciting plot developments going on to keep a young reader turning the pages.
Kristi, does Karma have a superpower? If so, what is it?
Kristi: Karma is resilient, super hero resilient.
Patricia, what would you say Karma’s superpower is?
Patricia: I’d say Karma’s superpower is how inventive and imaginative she is—she definitely has no shortage of creative mustache-elimination ideas. 🙂
Kristi: I understand you have a surprise for Winged Pen readers today.
Kristi: We have a giveaway! Win a copy of Karma Khullar’s Mustache by commenting below by 5 p.m. EST on July 17th. The name of one lucky winner will be pulled from the Tri-wizard cup!* International entrees welcome!
Thank you for being on the Winged Pen, ladies!
Want to know more about Kristi and Karma? Here’s a link to our first interview of Kristi Wientge.
* This is not an advanced reader copy but the actual publication copy of the book, so it may take a couple weeks to ship, depending on when Kristi receives her copies.