Alexis Warren is a tough, sarcastic loner who is nursing a grudge against the cheerleading team for driving away the only friend she ever had. To deal with her loneliness, she turns to photography and seeks shelter in her dark room. After one peculiar night photographing her 100 year old house, Alexis's sister Kasey begins acting odd. She becomes spiteful and demanding, and she has extreme mood swings. At first, Alexis attributes her strange behavior to the ups and downs of being in middle school—but after a series of accidents that may not have been accidents after all, Alexis has to ask herself, Is something more sinister at work?
Snarky, engaging, and downright creepy, Bad Girls Don't Die is one stellar debut novel; Katie Alender has created one of the most engrossing and consuming novels of the year. The witty, casual tone of the novel, told from Alexis's point of view initially hooks readers, but it is the darker undertones concealed by Kasey's sweet face and her "innocent" doll collection that really ensnares readers and makes Bad Girls Don't Die such an unpredictable and tantalizing read. Alexis is a wonderfully dynamic character—she is strong and opinionated and learns how to deal with her issues in a mature manner, but along the way she also learns to recognize similar qualities in those she previously judged, making her likable without being cliché. Though the haunted house and possession stories have been done many times before, Alender's fresh slant on the topic will enthrall readers and leave them just a bit creeped out.
What element(s) make(s) Bad Girls Don't Die unique?
I think that first and foremost, Alexis, the narrator, sets the book apart from a lot of the books out there right now. Alexis is not only strong and brave, but she’s flawed and funny, too. Plus, the book isn’t about describing what kids are wearing or what brand of handbag they carry—because, really, who has time to notice that stuff when you’re fighting an evil ghost?
If you could have any supernatural power, what would it be and why?
Besides making everyone magically agree with me and do as I say? Let’s see… assuming the usual suspects (wishing for more wishes, etc.) were off the table, I would really enjoy the ability to fly. I have dreams where I fly—there’s always a moment when I realize it’s just as easy as standing on the ground—and I think the feeling of freedom would be incredible. But I’d need a non-magical pair of goggles and something to keep the bugs out of my mouth.
What supernatural book or books have influenced you the most?
You know, what’s funny is that my writing isn’t really influenced by supernatural writing. I didn’t read much supernatural stuff until I had written the first few passes at Bad Girls, and I think that might actually show in the writing—in the way Alexis’s story isn’t all about the ghost. The ghost is a vehicle for her to figure out what else she needs to deal with.
Since I wrote the book, I read and listen to audiobooks of a lot of Stephen King’s stuff. He’s very talented at creating mood, voice, and sympathetic characters. I’ve also read a lot of good supernatural YA—Harry Potter, of course, and a lot of others.
The bigger influence for Bad Girls, and maybe most of my writing, is movies. I went to film school. I’ve always loved Hitchcock, and there’s a fantastically spooky ghost story from the 1940s called “The Uninvited” that scared the pants off me in high school. “The Others” with Nicole Kidman grabbed me immediately and is one of my favorite movies of all time. And I watched “X-Files” religiously, too. I think my writing process leans toward the cinematic, and that’s where those influences would come into play.
What supernatural read are you itching to read?
Well, the sequel to Carrie Ryan’s “The Forest of Hands and Teeth,” for one… “Beautiful Creatures” by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl is another one I’ve heard wonderful things about. And in the non-supernatural-but-almost column is the sequel to Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games.”
Also, I’d love to read my own Book 2, because that would mean I was done writing it! Ha.
And in case you missed, it here's Katie Alender's fabulous trailer: