Between The Lines with Kaitlyn Sage Patterson

Between The Lines is a sporadic feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which authors and other industry professionals provide further insight into the writing and publishing process in the form of interviews, guest posts, etc. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy as we read between the lines.

Hi everyone! We’re doing something a little different for today’s Between The Lines feature here on Pop! Goes The Reader and I couldn’t be more excited! A couple of weeks ago, HarlequinTEEN revealed the cover of the first book in debut author Kaitlyn Sage Patterson’s untitled duology, The Diminished. To celebrate this exciting milestone and the book’s upcoming publication on April 10th 2018, Kaitlyn approached me with a fun idea for a guest post and I’m so thrilled I finally have an opportunity to share it with you. The Diminished is set in a world where nearly everyone is born with a twin and few are forced to navigate the world alone. With this in mind, Kaitlyn recently sat down with her best friend, Thalia Beaty, who is both a journalist and a twin, for a fascinating interview about The Diminished, dinner parties and much, much more!


About Kaitlyn Sage Patterson

Kaitlyn Sage Patterson grew up with her nose in a book outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. After completing her M.F.A., she moved to South Korea, where she taught English and started writing her debut novel. The Diminished will be published by HarlequinTEEN in February 2018, followed by its sequel in 2019.

When she’s not staring off into space and trying to untangle some particularly troublesome plot point, she can be found in her kitchen, perfecting the art of the macaron; or at the barn, where she rides and trains dressage horses; or with her husband, spoiling their sweet rescue dogs.

Find Kaitlyn On… WebsiteTwitterFacebookInstagramGoodreads

About Thalia Beaty

Brooklyn-based journalist for Storyful, Thalia Beaty was a Fulbright journalism fellow in Berlin, Germany in 2016-2017 and has published with outlets like Quartz, Coda., the BBC, Al Jazeera America, and OZY. Previously, she worked as a part-time producer for The Takeaway, a daily national public radio program based at WNYC in New York. An Arabic speaker, Thalia has reported for print and radio from Morocco, Tunisia, Germany, Poland, and Egypt.

Find Thalia on… WebsiteTwitter

Thalia:
You’re having your two main characters Vi and Bo over for dinner. What do you make and why?

Kaitlyn:
I love this question!

Thalia:
(Haha I know)

Kaitlyn:
Food and the way we use it in both gathering people we love together and performing wealth fascinates me. I tend to use food and meals a lot in my worldbuilding. Bo and Vi together are a tricky case because they come from such different backgrounds.

Bo grew up with royalty, so he’s used to dinners with five different glasses and six forks, and complicated food and manners. He also loves trying new recipes and foods. Vi, on the other hand, grew up as a temple and has never learned the etiquette around food in Alskad. But she loves good food and will try anything once.

So, I’d do away with the fancy place settings and any menu item that might make Vi feel out of place. I think I’d start the meal off with dates stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in bacon. Then an arugula and pear salad with pickled mustard seeds. The main course would be fettuccine with beet pesto and seared duck breast. Then a cheese board. And finally, Baked Alaska with cardamom and coffee ice cream.

Thalia:
You know everything that I love. I can see that beet pesto now, and smell the duck.

Okay. Second question: I am a twin. And I am dying to read your rendering of twindom in this book. Is this a classic opposites of some kind like Artemis and Apollo, or more like two peas in a pod, or what are the ways you play with this relationship?

Kaitlyn:
Your relationship with your twin and several other twin pairs I talked to was really inspiring to me while I was working on The Diminished. So much of literature has twins falling into one of those two patterns, but what I see in reality is something much more complicated. Each relationship in the book is unique, and each pair has its own bond that presents challenges and has the potential to make each person in the world better.

That said, I did play with the idea of that twin bond a bit. There’s a subtle suggestion throughout that some twins share a kind of low-key psychic bond and that the further they are from one another geographically, the more their judgement is clouded.

Thalia:
That is really interesting. from my perspective, being a twin for a long time in my life, gave me a very clear sense of what was most important to me, my twin. And then as we started to live farther and farther apart, that clarity diminished.

Another question I wanted to ask you was about how you deal with the uncertainty that young people face. this last year I spent a lot of time with 17, 18 and 19 year olds in Germany. I loved being with them for their energy and sweetness, but I was struck also by the deep uncertainty that hangs over their lives – they were asking themselves, will I be okay? will I live a life that I want? I was moved obviously to reassure them, but also to recognize that their anxiety had a basis in reality. Does that resonate with your work and how do you walk that line with your characters?

Kaitlyn:
Absolutely. A lot of what I write about is, at its core, about grief and uncertainty and feeling like you’re outside a group, looking in. I’ve never wanted to sugarcoat what it was and is to be a teen. They deal with so much, and I feel like the books I connected with when I was a teen were the ones that were honest about the world we face, even if it was done through a fantasy lens. I try to write characters that teens in the real world can relate to, and I think that young people today are facing a far bleaker future than we imagined when we were in high school.

Vi’s whole journey revolves around the fact that she’s known, her whole life, that she will eventually be overwhelmed by grief and lose herself. She has the knowledge of her own violence and loss of self hanging over her head all the time, and she has to cope with the uncertainty of not knowing how much time she has left. She knows that she’s NOT going to be okay, and a lot of her choices reflect that.

Bo, on the other hand, doesn’t get a choice. He’s the heir to the throne of Alskad, and everything in his life is working to prepare him for that future. His life was laid out before him when he was a baby, and he’s not sure that he’s up to the task, or that he really wants it. At his core, Bo is extraordinarily sweet and trusting, and he has to develop a pretty tough exterior to cope with the life that’s been set before him.

Thalia:
Without giving away the ending, can you say if Vi’s conviction that she will lose herself is born out?

Kaitlyn:
I’ll say that both characters think of themselves really differently at the end of the book than they do at the beginning.

Thalia:
That is, of course, good news.

Okay, for me as a high school student, I read Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, 1984, just every imagining of humanity’s twisted future that I could get my hands on. What is the best case you can make for why American publishers and editors today should publish dystopias for young adults?

Kaitlyn:
I love dystopias too! And I HATE seeing people say that they are dead. I think that teens crave stories that show them hope, especially in the worst case scenario. Dystopias take a logical path to a future that seems really possible (if horrifying). Often, these stories center teens who are able to make their world better, giving them agency. I would love to see more dystopias that break away from the traps we got stuck in during the early aughts (love triangles, societies splintered into groups, etc.), and do something really inventive and new with the genre.

Thalia:
If you could be reborn, in which time period would you choose and why?

Kaitlyn:
Ooooh. Because I’m a huge history nerd, I’m going to choose a time period that’s always fascinated me, but we know very little about: 7th Century Scotland among the Celts.

But, the height of the Library of Alexandria in Egypt is a CLOSE SECOND.

Thalia:
I was putting my money on Scotland but yes, that is earlier than I expected. And yes – I would probably end up in the Mediterranean, early Byzantine / late Roman empire – though I assume life would be short and harsh, so many of our current imaginings come from around then.

Do you remember your dreams? if so, would you share a recent one?

Kaitlyn:
Yes! I took a poetry workshop in college that forced us to write down every single dream, every day, and I’ve remembered them ever since. My hair is really long right now, and I keep having dreams that my hair is choking me and force-feeding me beans. (Beans and I do not get along.)

Thalia:
Oh no! What a specific Kaitlyn horror – bad food nightmares.

Should popcorn ever be sweet? or should it always be savory?

Kaitlyn:
HA! I make popcorn almost every night with butter, honey, hot sauce, salt, and nutritional yeast. I want everything to be spicy/savory/sweet/cheesy.

Okay. YOUR TURN.

How do you think it would be to live in a world where everyone is a twin? How would day to day lives be affected? Would it change the way you think about yourself?

Thalia:
Yes, I think it would profoundly challenge networks of loyalty and our family arrangements. Your work and your friends and your parents would have to allow you time to spend with this other person (your twin), who is not your primary love relationship. And then may be also it would impact what that love relationship means in your life, can you drop everything for one person? Would you want to? Would we see people as more than the commitment they have made to one person? Instead, they are more in a network of commitments and maybe we see them weirdly more as themselves that way.

Title The Diminished
Author Kaitlyn Sage Patterson
Pages 384 pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Fantasy
To Be Published April 10th 2018 by Harlequin Teen
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

In the Alskad Empire, nearly all are born with a twin, two halves to form one whole…yet some face the world alone.

The Singleborn
A rare few are singleborn in each generation, and therefore given the right to rule by the gods and goddesses. Bo Trousillion is one of these few, born into the royal line and destined to rule. Though he has been chosen to succeed his great-aunt, Queen Runa, as the leader of the Alskad Empire, Bo has never felt equal to the grand future before him.

The Diminished
When one twin dies, the other usually follows, unable to face the world without their other half. Those who survive are considered diminished, doomed to succumb to the violent grief that inevitably destroys everyone whose twin has died. Such is the fate of Vi Abernathy, whose twin sister died in infancy. Raised by the anchorites of the temple after her family cast her off, Vi has spent her whole life scheming for a way to escape and live out what’s left of her life in peace.

As their sixteenth birthdays approach, Bo and Vi face very different futures — one a life of luxury as the heir to the throne, the other years of backbreaking work as a temple servant. But a long-held secret and the fate of the empire are destined to bring them together in a way they never could have imagined.

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