Today a had the honor of interviewing the amazing Caitlyn Duffy! She has been one of my favorites for a long time, and her books are definitely worth reading- again and again and again.
Q: When did you start writing?
A: I started writing as soon as I learned how to hold a pen! Really! I loved making little “books” out of construction paper and pencils even as a little kid. I probably first started writing more seriously in high school, when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do professionally. I’m not going to lie – most of high school was pure misery for me – but I had this fantastic English teacher named Sonia Kallick who thought I had talent. Her encouragement made it seem like becoming a writer was a possibility.
Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?
A: Just about everything I write is based on personal experience, at least on an emotional experience. For example, my dad is not a rock star (he’s just about the furthest thing from a rock star: a nuclear engineer) but I created the character of Taylor when I was grieving the loss of someone close to me. Her journey is about making peace with your life when circumstances beyond your control change. I wouldn’t say that I have a muse, necessarily, but a lot of readers on Wattpad have inspired me to keep writing.
Q: Your series, Treadwell Academy, follows girls from the school and deals with serious issues such as abuse, anorexia, and the death of a parent. What challenges did you face writing about these subjects?
A: Each of the books is pretty different, so the challenges were different. For Emma’s story, which is about anorexia, I wanted to be very careful to keep the story from triggering a condition in a reader, and to prevent it from making an existing condition worse for any reader already struggling with an eating disorder. For Grace’s story, it was a challenge to both represent her religious faith authentically and still keep the story engaging for any readers who might not be religious at all. With Taylor and Betsey, both of those characters could be kind of bratty sometimes, so I wanted the reader to empathize with what they were enduring.
Q: Do you plan on continuing the stories of any of the Treadwell girls? Are there any more girls to come?
A: I have at least ten more books outlined, and I’m not kidding! It’s just a matter of finding the time to write them. People have been asking me to write a proper sequel to the Taylor book for four years, so that’s probably next. Others on the horizon would be about Juliette, whose father is convicted of running a lucrative Ponzi scheme; Paige, who struggles with alcoholism, and Stacy, who’s a lesbian in love with a girl at school who is struggling with her own sexuality (you might be able to guess who).
Q: When you wrote The Rock Stars Daughter, did you know there would be more Treadwell girls after Taylor?
A: Yes. I started writing an outline for the entire Treadwell world back in 2003! I knew that there would at least be a book about Allison, Taylor’s best friend, and that Chase Atwood would be one of the judges for the reality TV show on which Allison was competing (that book, Center Stage, is free on Wattpad right now.
Q: What books do you like to read? In your opinion, what makes a book good?
A: I think the best books are ones in which the main character undergoes some kind of change, and it’s a change that the reader truly emotionally feels. I read a lot, and my reading tastes are all over the board. I’m a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman. Margaret Atwood and Lois Lowry are probably my two all-time favorites. Margaret Atwood posts a lot of new, experimental material to Wattpad, which I think is the coolest thing ever. And I have always loved – and will always love – Judy Blume.
Q: Of all the characters you have created, which is most like you and why?
A: That’s a tough question! Probably Taylor, because although she’s highly opinionated and very self-sufficient, she’s also a little bit of a lost soul. Throughout her whole life, no one has ever really taken care of her, and when her father and stepmother take a genuine interest in her, she’s not sure what to make of it! I was very independent at a young age, so my relationship with my parents has always been kind of atypical. And Allison, too, because I very distinctly remember feeling like I was invisible in high school. Allison got kind of a bad rap in The Rock Star’s Daughter, but it’s a pretty natural reaction to feel jealous when someone you know is being showered with all of the things you want most in life for yourself.
Q: If you could go back to the beginning of your writing career, what advice would you give yourself?
A: To start publishing sooner. I was very caught up in the belief that you need a literary agent and a formal publishing deal with a major publisher to be a proper writer. Without having either of those, I wrote The Rock Star’s Daughter, and it was on the iTunes Children’s Top 10 list for about 2.5 years in four countries. I’ve received emails from readers all over the world about that book; it’s a story that’s made a difference in the lives of a very wide variety of readers (girls in Nigeria, UAE, Australia, I mean – everywhere, and of all ages)! That means more to me than anything else I’ve ever accomplished professionally, and if I’d waited for a literary agent and a big publisher to tell me that my writing was good enough, I’m pretty sure I’d still be waiting.
Q: If you had two hours to waste on anything, what would you do?
A: Either run on the treadmill while listening to Drake, or watch four back-to-back episodes of The Mindy Project on Hulu.
Q: What is something you want the world to know?
A: I would want young women to know they are capable of so, so much more than the culture surrounding them constantly tells them. We live in a world of ironies; we preach #girlpower in social media while still force-feeding young women relentless messaging implying that looking a certain way should be their biggest priority. That’s a load of crap. Appreciating how spectacularly unique you are, and making sure everyone you meet realizes that you’re amazing – that should be your biggest priority.
You can find Caitlyn Online: