Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Interview with RITA finalist Kelly Parra

Bio: Kelly Parra is the author of the novel Graffiti Girl, Rita-nominated for "Best First Book" and "Young Adult Romance". She lives in a diverse agricultural town in Central California with her husband and two beautiful children. Visit her website:, and follow the Secret Fates blog at

Graffiti Girl:

Graffiti art. It's bold. It's thrilling. And it can get a girl into serious trouble... Raised by her single mom (who's always dating the wrong kind of man) in a struggling California neighborhood, Angel Rodriguez is a headstrong, independent young woman who channels her hopes and dreams for the future into her painting. But when her entry for a community mural doesn't rate, she's heartbroken. Even with winning artist Nathan Ramos--a senior track star and Angel's secret crush--taking a sudden interest in Angel and her art, she's angry and hurt. She's determined to find her own place in the art world, her own way.

That's when Miguel Badalin--from the notorious graffiti crew Reyes Del Norte--opens her eyes to an underground world of graf tags and turf wars. She's blown away by this bad boy's fantastic work and finds herself drawn to his dangerous charm. Soon she's running with Miguel's crew, pushing her skills to the limit and beginning to emerge as the artist she always dreamed she could be. But Nathan and Miguel are bitter enemies with a shared past, and choosing between them and their wildly different approaches to life and art means that Angel must decide what matters most before the artist inside of her can truly break free.

RS: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

KP: Hi Fictionistas, thanks so much for letting me hang out on your cool blog! Well, I’m short. A little over 5’2. Brown hair, brown eyes, I write books, and I have like ten blogs. Haha. I write young adult fiction with Latina heroines. My first novel, Graffiti Girl, debuted in May 2007, and my second release, Invisible Touch, will be hitting shelves in September through MTV Books. I do have a lot of blogs…

RS: How did you get the inspiration for your Rita-nominated book?

KP: I used to be a teen artist in high school. In fact, art was pretty much my life. I dreamed of being a famed artist, and then after graduation, I tried to be more sensible and studied to be a graphic artist. Didn’t work out. Luckily I found my niche as a writer, and was able to write Graffiti Girl about a teen artist who had all my confused feelings and artistic insecurities growing up. The theme of the book is about following your dreams, and believing in yourself when it seems like no one else will. That’s the inspiration that drove me to write Graffiti Girl—following your dreams.

RS: What authors do you read?

KP: So many! I try debut authors all the time, the ones who get a lot of buzz, the authors with really pretty covers. Haha. But my absolute fave YA authors are Sarah Dessen, Tina Ferraro, Allison van Diepen, Laurie Faria Stolarz, Jenny O’Connell. Oh man, the list goes on, but we don’t got all day, right?

RS: Who is your favorite character?

KP: You’d think it would be a young adult character, but I’m avid fan of J.D. Robb’s Death series, and Eve Dallas has been my favorite character for a long time now.

RS: What five things are always in your purse?

KP: My wallet, my cell phone, keys, dried up pens, and receipts. Tons and tons of old receipts. What is up with me? I have a recycling center in my purse.

RS: What music are you currently listening to?

KP: Nelly Furtado’s Say It Right. That song is so grooving. I know it’s not a new release, but whenever I discover a song I like it’s an instant iTunes download for me.

RS: Tell us about your pets.

KP: Well, there’s Fred, our turtle. Total low maintenance kind of a guy. Throw him some lettuce and he’s good to go. Then our recent addition to the family is Cinnamon, our poodle. Too adorable for her own good, but we lover her anyway.

RS: One item of makeup you can't live without.

KP: Lipstick. I have full lips, and I learned long ago they can’t be hidden. So why not show ‘em off.

RS: First thing you drink in the morning.

KP: French Vanilla Café, baby! Yum.

RS: Worst high school memory.

KP: Really, there is too many to count. Let’s step back to my freshman year. I’m at a football game with my then BFF. We’re standing on the lower bleachers with some friends. My BFF grabbed me to keep from falling, I nudged her away. She nudged back. Next thing you know, we’re rolling on the ground in a brawl. I don’t even remember it happening, but was told later our guy friend tried to break us up and the guy on the loud speaker told us to knock it off to the entire football stadium. Embarrassing and one of those memories I’ll never forget! Cripes.

RS: If you could go back in time and talk to the teenage you, what would you tell her?

KP: Everything will be okay. Life gets better and the high school drama dies down through the years. That first guy you’re going to date for a year? Totally bad news. :)

RS: What are you working on next?

KP: My next release will be out September 16th through MTV Books called INVISIBLE TOUCH. I’m really excited about this book because I’m mixing a contemporary setting with the paranormal. Kara Martinez has a secret. She signs on people and has to piece the clues together like a puzzle in order to save someone from an unfortunate fate. I’ve received a few cool reviews from YA bloggers so far and I hope other readers will feel the same. :)


  1. Great interview! The book sounds really interesting. Thanks for sharing with us.

  2. Kelly, great interview - and what a horrible high school story! I thought mine were bad, but I think you might have me beat in the embarrassment department. Both of your books sound interesting. Good luck with them.

  3. Loved your interview... and OMG what a high school story!!! Your books sound terrific!!

  4. I like Say it Right too! There is just something haunting about it to me.

  5. I had no idea MTV was doing that kind of stuff and I'm stoked to learn about it!!

    This week has been like free candy at Fictionistas.

    Sorry, but we really do rawk and our guests are the bomb.

  6. Kelly, Invisible Touch sounds fascinating. can't wait to pick it up!

    and...what Chrissy said. We do rock... LOL

  7. Great post- I love both of Kelly's books, and actually, I was the first reviewer to review Invisible Touch.

    I love Say It Right also, and basically the entire Loose album. Just a fantastic CD.

  8. Wow, Invisible Touch sounds really cool to read. I'll have to pick up Graffiti Girl sometime soon. Oh, and I loved what you said about your lips, Kelly! It made me smile. :)

  9. Haha, I have a ton of receits in my purse as well . . . often for things I don't remember buying.

  10. Both stories sound incredible, Kelly! I'm putting both of them on my wish list. :) Best of luck at the RITAs, too!

    And ladies most definitely RAWK!! :P

  11. That high school story sounds like a scene in a book. It would be a good one. Neat interview. Enjoyed reading it.


  12. I've liked all the MTV books I've read so far -- I'll have to give Kelly's a try! Thanks for the interview!

  13. I jsut finished Graffiti Girl the other week and loved it. ^_^
    Great interview.

    Is there a relation between RITA-finalist YA writers and turtles that I missed, by the way?

  14. Hi Kellly~

    Great interview and your books sound great...Invisible Touch sounds very interesting.

    I imagine that you probably will never forget your high school memory.

  15. Your book sounds really interesting, great interview!

  16. Hi Kelly. I enjoyed reading your interview. Graffiti Girl sounds great.

  17. I very much enjoyed Graffiti Girl. Good stuff.

  18. I love the bad boy in YA. So glad I made an afternoon of the Rita Finalists before going to B&N today.

  19. Just back from conference and I again want to thank The Fictionistas for having me visit!! I was so happy to meet many of you in SF!!

    Thank you to everyone who commented!! You all are very welcoming and awesome!!