We’re so excited to be a part of the blog tour for Learning To Swear in America by Katie Kennedy! We had the chance to chat with Katie about her book, but first, here are the book details:Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy
(Twitter, Goodreads)Published by Bloomsbury Publishing Genres: Contemporary, Dating & Relationships, Humorous, Science & Technology, Young Adult
Brimming with humor and one-of-a-kind characters, this end-of-the world novel will grab hold of Andrew Smith and Rainbow Rowell fans.
An asteroid is hurtling toward Earth. A big, bad one. Yuri, a physicist prodigy from Russia, has been called to NASA as they calculate a plan to avoid disaster. He knows how to stop the asteroid: his research in antimatter will probably win him a Nobel prize--if there's ever another Nobel prize awarded. But Yuri's 17, and having a hard time making older, stodgy physicists listen to him. Then he meets Dovie, who lives like a normal teenager, oblivious to the impending doom. Being with her, on the adventures she plans when he's not at NASA, Yuri catches a glimpse of what it means to save the world and save a life worth living.
Prepare to laugh, cry, cringe, and have your mind burst open with questions of the universe.
Describe LEARNING TO SWEAR IN AMERICA in 5 words.
Five words?! (splutter) Asteroid zooms; life, death loom. Do I get bonus points for making it rhyme? I should totally get bonus points.
How did LEARNING TO SWEAR IN AMERICA come about, what was your inspiration? What made you think you had to write this story?
I was walking to my car after an evening Western Civ class. I’d just taught the Enlightenment, including Immanuel Kant’s statement Do what is right though the world should perish. And I thought, what if the world really would perish? What then, Mr. Kant? I was looking at the stars over the pines, so that’s probably what made me think of an asteroid.
Yuri is such a unique character and he was so fun to get to know! How did he develop for you, was it gradual or did you immediately know all there was to know about him?
I had a pretty good idea of who Yuri was from the beginning. The challenge was to make him relatable. I mean, here’s this guy who’s a genius, he’s foreign, he’s emotionally repressed, and he essentially functions as an adult in an adult world. He’s not your average teenager. So how to make people connect with him? I told him, You’re the genius—you figure it out. And he did that by adding a little more of himself—a little more dialogue, a little more backstory—revealing his struggles, and his heart.
I loved Dovie’s family, they were definitely unique and fun and so accepting of Yuri… were they inspired by anyone?
Yes, Dovie’s parents were inspired by my aunt and uncle. They’re wacky, but also completely and instantly accepting—truly good, and emotionally generous, people.
Can you share (without spoilers) a line or section of LEARNING TO SWEAR IN AMERICA that is your favorite?
I have several favorites, but I do like the end of the prom scene, when the quarterback brags about hitting a receiver in the hands and Yuri says, “Hey, Kyle. You know what I can hit?”
“Asteroid traveling at seventy-one kilometers per second. And if I can’t, you’re dead.”
Since we’re talking 2016 books, what upcoming 2016 release (besides your own) are you most excited to read?
I’ve read more than twenty 2016 debuts so far, and I’m just blown away by how good they are. Whether you’re talking Margot Harrison’s THE KILLER IN ME or Paula Garner’s PHANTOM LIMBS or Harriet Reuter Hapgood’s THE SQUARE ROOT OF SUMMER—I shouldn’t have started giving titles, because there are a dozen more I really loved. But of the ones I haven’t gotten to yet, I’m really looking forward to Kerry Kletter’s THE FIRST TIME SHE DROWNED and Adriana Mather’s HOW TO HANG A WITCH.
Do you have any strange writing habits?
No. Of course not. (coughs) Actually, I can’t write with a necklace on. But I presume that’s perfectly normal.
What are you currently reading?
Emily Henry’s 2017 book, A MILLION JUNES. Her writing is gorgeous.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
Connect with other writers. You’ll learn things, and it’s such an incredibly difficult business that we all need to support each other.
What house would the sorting hat put you in?
It put me in Hufflepuff, and I’m so totally Gryffindor. I’m all about bold and gallant action—I just think you can be nice while being boldly gallant.
Oh, crud—that sounds pretty Hufflepuff, doesn’t it?
As asteroid is hurtling towards earth… how do you spend your last day?
Trying to stop the asteroid.
You’ve been kidnapped. You can call on the characters from one television show to make a rescue attempt. Which show do you pick and why?
Doctor Who—so if the rescue attempt doesn’t work they can use the Tardis and try again.
What’s next for you? Are you working on anything right now that you can tell us about?
I have another book coming out with Bloomsbury in 2017, called WHAT GOES UP. It’s a contemp/sci fi mashup with different characters, but a similar tone.
If I weren’t a writer I would be…
…a college history instructor. And I am!
Tell us 3 random facts about you.
- I’m deaf in my left ear.
- Like Yuri, I’ve climbed over a roof. Unlike Yuri, I got spanked for it.
- I once stayed in the same London hotel as the international terrorist Carlos the Jackal. The next morning the place was crawling with police and Interpol agents.
Favorite Song (right now): Vince Gill’s Go Rest High on that Mountain
Favorite Book (right now): P.D. Eastman’s Go, Dog. Go!
Favorite TV Show/Movie: Secondhand Lions
Favorite Word: Home
Favorite Color: You can’t make me choose. I’m keeping all my colors.
Favorite Curse Word: svoloch
It could possibly be the last day on earth… a team of scientists are working day and night to find a solution for the asteroid that is hurtling towards earth, including Yuri, a 17 year old genius from Russia.
Yuri’s work with antimatter could win him a Nobel prize, but first he has to convince all the much older and much more experienced guys he’s working with to give his idea a try.
I can’t tell you guys how much I loved Yuri. He’s so smart, and he’s in a country where he knows no one and while he doesn’t have a warm and fuzzy relationship with his mother, if this asteroid isn’t stopped, his life will end in a place where he has no one. Enter Dovie. Dovie is a whirlwind, with hippie parents and a wheelchair bound brother, she and Yuri form a connection that’s been missing from his life.
This isn’t just an asteroid, end of the world book though. Sure you spend most of the book wondering if the efforts of the scientists will be successful, but there’s so much more to it than that. There were a lot of moments where I could barely hold my laughs in! Yuri is so awkward, but in a lovable and sweet way. Ask him anything about math and he can give you the answer, ask him anything about human nature and he’s a bit lost.
Yuri hasn’t experienced much in his seventeen years, but meeting Dovie has shown him that there is more to life than just math and science. In the few days they have together, she shows him that there is so much worth saving! While I really enjoyed the moments where Yuri was working through things in his mind, I really loved seeing him interact with Dovie and Lennon (her brother).
If you’re looking for a quirky, fun read filled with heart then look no further. Katie Kennedy has written a wonderful story that will have you laughing out loud and wondering if she’s secretly a scientist in her spare time.
Thank you to the publisher for an early copy in exchange for my honest thoughts
Giveaway – Win a copy of Learning To Swear In America & Swag!
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