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Her Pen is Her Superpower: Meet A. S. King, my hero

Her pen is her superpower, A. S. King

I told you yesterday, this week is heroes and villains week.  So let me introduce you to one of my heroes: author A. S. King.  King is a phenomenal writer.  And she wrote a book that changed me; made me really exam what I thought about an issue and changed the way I choose to love.  That story is here.  Today she is talking to us about her new book, Reality Boy.

Reality Boy is the story of an angry teen, Gerald.  The anger started when he was 5 and his family starred on a reality TV show, a type of Supernanny.  It is years later, and people are still judging him by the lies that were told and the way his family was edited to appear on the show.  Reality Boy is a book about looking underneath the surface to see the truth.  It is a book about families and the lies we tell each other.  And it is the story about Gerald’s attempts to go beyond his anger and find himself.  It is, in a word, amazing.  

So let’s talk to one of my heroes, shall we.  

Karen: How do you feel about reality TV and how did it influence Reality Boy?

King: I do not watch TV. Not reality TV. Not the news…though I will turn on the weather if a snowstorm is due. And lately, I’ve been watching a few baseball games. I don’t have a real opinion of reality TV, but I do know it’s not real. Even the show my husband worked on in the early 90s—a furniture restoration show—would make it look like the two stars of the show did the restoring, but my husband really did that part, step-by-step, behind the scenes.

REALITY BOY was more influenced by the statistic that one in four children are suffering abuse of some sort or have suffered some sort of trauma. I’m not sure why I was thinking of reality TV at that point, but I may have seen something on Twitter about a kid on reality TV and I wondered how many of these kids we watch for entertainment are dealing with other things behind the scenes.

I know that’s probably not the answer most people expect, but it’s the truth, so it’s all I got!

Karen: If you were going to cast yourself in a reality show – and it can be real or one you make up – what show would it be and why?

King: Oh. Wow. I’d be in a show called Where’s Amy? and it would be about how no one can find me anywhere and it would star someone else because there is no way I would be on reality TV. I used to say I’d do Survivor, because my husband and I would kick ass as a team considering we met teaching survival skills and spent 10 years self sufficient, but yeah…no. I wouldn’t.

Karen: Many writers refer to you as their inspiration, who are some of your writing inspirations?

King: I just got to see one of my writing inspirations live at Philly Free Library last week. Salman Rushdie—Hoo boy, do his books inspire me. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Hemingway. Sylvia Plath. Marge Piercy. Tom Robbins. Steinbeck, Rumi, Walt Whitman. Good gods, Karen. I could go on for days.

Karen: When they are writing your obituary, how do you hope you will be remembered?

King: BONUS POINTS for the most morbid question I’ve ever been asked.

I guess I’d want to be remembered as someone who was nice and who tried to help other people be nice, too.

I know that’s short and sweet, but really, once you’re dead, I think that’s probably the nicest thing that can be said about a person.
Some final thoughts from Karen:  A. S. King is one of the kindest people I have ever met, and she truly does write in part because she wants to help give voice to those that need it.  She writes about truth, all the glorious, messy, uncomfortable truth of our lives. Gah, I was going to try and write this post without being supergushy.  But I love her; her skill and what she brings to the literature.  Go people, read her.  Read all the books. 
P.S., Every time I pass a yellow flower, I still think of her.
Reality Boy by A. S. King comes out tomorrow, October 22nd, from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
This is what people are saying about it:

“Heart-pounding and heartbreaking…This is no fairy-tale romance, but a compulsively readable portrait of two imperfect teens learning to trust each other.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“This is a story about healing, and although Gerald stumbles as he takes his first steps, his candor invites sympathy from the first page.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred)

“King’s trademarks–attuned first-person narrative, convincing dialogue, realistic language, and fitting quirkiness–connect effectively in this disturbing, yet hopeful novel.”—SLJ (starred)

“We all know at least one teen who needs a book like this; I didn’t know I needed it until I turned the last page.”

“The TMZ-level draw of the premise will definitely pull readers in, but they’ll find a surprising amount to relate to in this smart and sympathetic story about breaking free from the world’s expectations.” —The Bulletin

“Reality Boy showcases King’s talent, telling a story that is as much about parental depression and denial as it is about teen rage. It’s also about first love, celebrity, therapy and finding your own narrative despite the story your family–and sometimes the world–tells about you.”—Shelf Awareness

“A.S. King at her best, and maybe then some. This book is tough and funny and smart as hell.”
—Chris Crutcher, author of Period 8 and Whale Talk

“Fearless and brilliant, a seething pressure cooker of a masterpiece.”
—Andrew Smith, author of Winger and The Marbury Lens

“REALITY BOY is a powerhouse of insight and empathy toward the people who cruise the fringes of acceptable behavior. A.S. King takes all kinds of risks and every single one pays off. Highly recommended.”
—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of ROT & RUIN and FIRE & ASH

“Reality Boy is A.S. King’s best work to date. Touching and teeth-clenchingly emotional, this story is an important reminder that behind every reality show…may be a totally different reality.”
—Jennifer Brown, author of Hate List and Thousand Words

(I totally copied and pasted all these gushing reviews from the book page, because they are right and say exactly the things I want to say about the book.)

More: Behind the Scenes of Reality TV


  1. About 15 minutes ago I checked out Ask the Passengers (my favorite) to a student. I told her, “You are going to love this book. And, then you need to read all of her other books!” I hear people talk about “must buy” authors, and I can honestly say, I'm not sure I have any of those — except A. S. King (well, maybe John Green too.) Very interesting interview. Thanks!

  2. Thank you Annette. Ask the Passengers was so good! You're my kind of people 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for the interview. LOVE all her books! She's one of my literary heroes, for sure. 🙂

  4. So love her and the books she writes! She is among my favorite authors!

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