If you like Southern Gothic fiction, New Orleans, and vampires, let me direct you to my review of The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden! It's a fun, spooky journey into a post-hurricane New Orleans, peppered with vampires, magic, and awesome fashion.
Alys stopped by to chat with us, and give away a signed copy of her book (details on the giveaway are at the end of the post).
THE ACTUAL BOOK-RELATED QUESTIONS
You were self-published before The Casquette Girls was picked up! Tell us a little about how that came about. Was there anything about the process you didn’t expect?
I started writing The Casquette Girls as part of a new year’s resolution to find a new creative outlet. At the time, I was traveling a lot for work, so it was hard for me to have any hobbies. I needed something that could fit into a suitcase, and writing was something my friends had always encouraged me to do, so I finally gave it a whirl! I ended up joining an online writing community called Wattpad, because I felt like I need some kind of accountability to keep me going with my heavy work schedule. And that’s how The Casquette Girls was born. I wrote the entire first draft online, posting chapters to Wattpad in real-time each week. From there it kind of went viral. Then I published it myself for fans, and then it just kept going and was picked up. I think the most unexpected part of the process was that so many people read the first draft online. It had over 1.2MM reads by the time I published. It’s still hard to process that.
A lot of people have rightly pointed out that The Casquette Girls is a love letter to New Orleans—in my opinion, it’s not just about the aesthetic and historical aspects, but also its resilience as a community. Have you seen that play out in real life?
Absolutely. New Orleans is imagination run amok, and people either love it or hate it. It’s the kind of place that exposes your insides and makes you feel, more perhaps, than you want to feel. All of that emotion can be addictive. It can be welcoming. It can be drowning. It can be mystical. It can be suffocating. It makes everyone want a piece of it; it gives you something to hang onto and resilience blooms: against corrupt politicians, and high crime, and failed systems and Mother Nature. You have to really love it to not see greener pastures in the distance. People love New Orleans and New Orleans love people. New Orleans is magic. New Orleanians are magic. They are the greatest source of inspiration for The Casquette Girls.
What does your ideal day (or night) in New Orleans look like?
My ideal day is VERY structured—I value productivity over most else—I’m writing and re-writing goals every day and planning things out hour by hour. It doesn’t mean I won’t veer, but I have a ton of stuff to get done, and the more I plan, the more likely I am to chip away at my to-do list, which I get way too much joy from. The routine doesn’t change whether I’m in New York or New Orleans, both of which, more than anywhere else, I like to wake up super early in—especially in NOLA because I love being awake before anyone else is in the French Quarter. It makes me feel like I own the streets. Then it’s a café hop to have changes of scenery while I work on various projects, a rotation of caffeinated beverages, and complete focus for every second. We said ideal day, right?
Vampires: if they’re real, do you think they’d still be pursuing relationships with humans, or would they be over it after several hundred years? Would you?
Good question! And something I think about a lot, no lie. [If] vampires are real I think they’d go through phases loving and hating humans. “Oh, they’re so endearing,” “Oh, they’re so naïve,” “Oh, they’re so dreadful,” “Oh, they’re so loveable. I hate to love them and love to hate them.” After all humans, are all so different (or are we?)
Then again, maybe they’d love us and never get sick of us, like cute little pets! I’m mean, do we ever get sick of puppies? *wink*
You, human. I shall call you Spot.
THE YA QUESTIONS
If your real life adolescence was a YA book ... What would you, the main character, be like?
Observant. Reflective. Unabashed. I’m not sure much has changed in adulthood, for better or for worse.
Who is your secret crush?
What is your number one source of angst?
At what point would the reader pump his/her fist in victory?
Hmm. Maybe when I was 16 and graduated high school and went to college. I didn’t hate high school or anything, but I was totally over all that noise.
And who would play you in the film adaptation?
Chloë Sevigny (Let’s assume this was filmed during the time I was actually an adolescent.)
The actual Alys!
THE SLUMBER PARTY QUESTIONS
What is your secret power?
Falling asleep in less than five minutes and then only needing about 5.5 hours of sleep. I didn’t know this was weird until my friends we constantly amazed by it.
What is your #1 favorite food?
Tell me about your area of expertise.
I know A LOT about turning hair purple. A LOT.
If you could assemble your own Ocean's 11 of fictional characters, who would you pick?
Hermione Granger, Elizabeth Bennet, Ponyboy Curtis, Tobias Eaton, Lestat, Tate Langdon, Coraline Jones, Ziggy Stardust, Jo March, the Hulk, and Buffy.
What is your best karaoke song?
Something Fleetwood Mac . . . or The Cranberries. Yeah, Zombie by The Cranberries, for sure.
Tell me something scandalous!
The protagonist in my current work-in-progress has mint hair, and I’m really thinking about making the switch. This is scandalous no where but my salon. This is also a good indicator of how scandaless my life actually is.
What is your favorite adult beverage?
Horchata (extra cinnamon, with or without booze)
What book have you read the most number of times?
A Confederacy of Dunces
YA authors are so cool. Who would you give a BFF charm to?
Nikki Kelly! author of The Styclar Series
Out of all of the characters you’ve written, which one do you most wish you could be?
Probably Adeline Saint-Germain, so I could haunt 18th century Paris.
If you were invited to the FYA slumber party (and obvs, you ARE), what is the most crucial snack food and/or movie/or anything you'd bring?
The ouija board!
And now: MASH! We shall predict Alys' future with absolute accuracy. Alys has made three selections, we have chosen a fourth, and the magic number today is 3.
The Goblin King
Outer space (destination TBD)
Number of Children
-1 (I have no problem giving a away an egg or two to a friend in need.)
Sexy vampire wrangler
The Shipwrecked treasure from The Goonies
Aladdin’s lamp (w/Genie)
Lifetime supply of Butterbeer
Lifetime supply of slightly indignant unicorns
Rizzo the Rat
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
1914 Rolls Royce
Well, this isn't a bad life: paid in treasure, working in space, honeymooning at Hogwarts with Lestat (tee hee), living in Florence with a cranky cat and an even crankier classic car? You've got it made! Thanks for joining us, Alys!
GIVEAWAY: Alys is giving away a signed copy of The Casquette Girls! To enter, leave a comment below with your favorite vampire and in which city you'd want to rendezvous with them. One winner will be randomly selected. Giveaway ends Feburary 18 at midnight Pacific time. US only (sorry, international readers!) The giveaway is now closed.