Interview with Kristi Wientge, Author of KARMA KHULLAR’S MUSTACHE, and her agent Patricia Nelson

middle grade books, Karma Kullar's MustacheWe’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 Wientge, Karma Khullar's MustacheKristi:  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 Patricia Nelson, Karma Kullar's Mustachevoice 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!

You can find out more about Karma Khullar’s Mustache or pre-order on the following sites:
Barnes & Noble

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.

Rebecca J. Allen, young adult writer
Photo by Pam Vaughan

REBECCA J. ALLEN writes young adult science fiction with heroines much braver than she is and middle grade stories that blend mystery and adventure. She’s on Twitter and her website is here.



FOWP Spotlight Interview! Featuring Kristi Wientge!!!

Photo on 3-19-15 at 1.23 PM #2Kristi Wientge is one of my supercool CPs here at The Winged Pen, and her debut middle-grade novel KARMA KHULLAR’s MUSTACHE releases next summer. It reads like a contemporary Judy Blume novel, and I CANNOT wait to get my hands on it. Because I’m TOTALLY obsessed with Kristi and want to know MUCH MORE about her, I jumped on the chance to put her in the FELLOWSHIP OF THE WINGED PEN SPOTLIGHT! *cues ginormous spotlightspotlight-303864_640

Yay! Thanks so much for doing this, Michelle.

What’s the best thing about where you live? You’re asking me this at a time I’m being grumpy about living all the way in Singapore so far away from family and friends, but usually I love the tropical climate, super easy and efficient public transport, the walking and THE FOOD! Singapore is actually a really great place to live. singapore-431421_640

Last book you read: Our mutual CP, Rebecca Allen’s WIP: GEEK CAMP. 

Oh, yes! I’ve read Rebecca’s latest WIP too. It’s awesome!!! What’s a TV show you’re obsessed with currently: I usually catch on to shows a few years after their prime so this isn’t new, but I’ve been watching BBC’s Miranda and it makes me crack up. 

You’re packing a bag of books for a desert island, which 5 books make it in the bag? My Bible, an empty notebook, I’m going to cheat a bit (as if bringing an empty notebook wasn’t already pushing the limits) and say my Complete Collection of John Keats and my Portable Oscar Wilde both purchased from a used bookstore and both are just so gorgeous and for my last choice, I’d take a graphic novel. Hmm, I’m still loving ROLLER GIRL so much, so it’d probably be that. 

Keats and ROLLER GIRL!?! We are truly soulmates! What’s the last song you listened to on repeat: Origin of Love from Hedwig and the Angry Inch 

Dinner is on the stove, but the best first line for your WIP pops in your head and if you don’t write it down NOW, you’ll lose it forever…. What do you do? Yell at one of my girls to grab my phone and “take this down!” They’re actually kind of used to me asking them to type random things into my notes file on my phone. 

Your writing journey in numbers: 10 queries sent, 0 partials/fulls requested from any of those queries sent, but I got about 15 agent requests from my contest entries in Sun Vs Snow and Pitch Madness.  

Amazing! Your current WIP in five words: (bonus points if you can do it in less!) Pastries, Insecurities, Loyalties… 

What’s next for you? Well, this next book is really kicking my butt. I really thought I’d have it to my agent by now, but my progress has been so slow. Hopefully my editor loves it and I can have more news to share!? 

Readers, if you’re even 1/20th as obsessed with Kristi as I am, follow her on Twitter @Kwientge, on her developing website, and go ahead and add her debut to your TBR list on Goodreads

It was fun getting to know you better, Kristi, and thanks for letting me hold the microphone for this FOWP SPOTLIGHT! I can’t wait to read your next FOWP SPOTLIGHT interview!

It was so much fun and I can’t wait to reciprocate! xoxo

IMG_2840Michelle Leonard is a Kristi Wientge fan, a chocolate biscotti baker, a math/science nerd, and a middle-grade fiction and nonfiction writer. Connect with her on Twitter:  @MGYABookJunkie.