Kody was born and raised in rural western Kentucky, where she attended high school and began writing her first long pieces of fiction. Kody wrote THE DUFF during her senior year at McLean County High School.
Kody is now nineteen and attending Ithaca College in New York where she's majoring in writing and finishing her second novel to be published by Poppy in Fall 2011.
She loves books, converse tennis shoes, New York City, and popular TV teen dramas. When she isn't writing, she's spending time with her friends and, most likely, doing piles and piles of homework she has neglected.
From author's website.
How did your interest in writing develop?
As a kid, I loved telling stories. I loved drawing pictures and making up stories to go along with them. As I got older, I just started to write the stories down. I never really thought about it a “writing” until I got a little older.
How did you come up with the term “DUFF”? Is it a term you’ve heard used, or did you invent it for this novel?
I definitely heard DUFF used in high school. I wish it wasn’t a real word, but it is. The novel was my attempt at putting a new spin on it.
What was your biggest challenge in writing this novel?
I think my biggest challenge was mostly juggling writing with other things. I’m still a teenager, which means I’m in school. Writing THE DUFF wasn’t as hard as writing in college has been, but writing in high school took work.
What was your favorite scene to write? Why?
I LOVED writing Wesley and Bianca’s scenes together. Every single one of them was a blast to write because the tension and verbal sparring was on high. So fun!
Readers get to see Bianca’s transformation over the course of the novel, but Wesley is more of a mystery. Can you tell us about the process of change Wesley goes through?
It’s kind of hard for me to even put my finger on it because I can honestly say I was so in Bianca’s head while writing that I saw the world as she saw it. [Potential Spoiler Warning: Highlight to read.] I can say that Wesley didn’t change completely – he just let his good side shine through a little more. The way I see it, he was always a nice guy, he just didn’t know when to keep his mouth shut. I can also say that a lot of his views changed when he realized he was falling for Bianca.
The DUFF tackles several tough teen issues. Which one did you find the most challenging to treat? Why?
I think Bianca’s family issues were the hardest. Walking the line between realistic and overdramatic was very difficult, because I wanted to be sensitive, but honest. Hopefully I succeeded.
If you could give your 13-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t waste your time being friends with the people who make you feel unworthy. They are the unworthy ones.
Has your age affected the writing or publishing process? Made it harder? Easier? Do you have any words of wisdom for fellow teens who would like to become published authors?
I don’t really think my age has affected the publishing process much. Now, it has affected my own writing process since I’m still in school, but as far as getting published, no difference. My agent didn’t know my age when she offered to sign me. She loved the book, not the teenager attached to it. Which leads right into my advice for other teen authors: don’t make it a goal to be published while you’re a teenager, instead, make it your goal to find someone who will love your work, no matter how old you are.
What authors have inspired you? What about them do you find inspirational?
Judy Blume was a big inspiration. I think her openness and fearlessness have really impacted me. I hope to be able to touch the lives of my readers the way she touched mine.
What do you like to do in your free time?
What free time? I have never heard of this strange concept! :)
Why do you think the YA genre has become so popular in recent years?
Because I think part of everyone still longs to be 17. It’s only been two years, and I already long for 17.
What is a random fact readers probably don’t know about you?
I own 16 pairs of converse in different styles and colors as of January 22, 2010. (It may get bigger soon). I’m addicted to converse shoes.
Will we see Bianca and Wesley again? What can you tell us about future projects that may be in the works?
Well, as of now, I don’t plan on writing any sequels to THE DUFF. That said, all of my books take place in the same town, so you never know what could happen! But since they are off at college for now, they won’t be making any appearances in my next book, LUSTSTRUCK, which is another romantic comedy. It’ll be out Fall 2011.
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Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.
But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.
Thanks so much to Kody for taking the time to answer my questions! I highly recommend her stellar debut!