Today we're excited to chat with Katya de Becerra (What The Woods Keep)
as part of YABC's Teen Read Week!
Read on for more about Katya, her novel, plus a giveaway!
Meet Katya de Becerra!
Katya de Becerra was born in Russia, studied in California, lived in Peru, and then stayed in Australia long enough to become a local. She was going to be an Egyptologist when she grew up, but instead she earned a PhD in Anthropology. What The Woods Keep is her first novel.
Meet What The Woods Keep!
What the Woods Keep is the stunning debut of Katya de Becerra, who combines mystery, science fiction, and dark fantasy in a twisty story that will keep you mesmerized right up to the final page.
On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home—on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.
Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.
As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible—something that threatens reality itself.
~ Interview for Teen Read Week ~
YABC: What book or books were your go-to choice when you were a teen?
As a teen I tended to read what was already in my parents’ collection or whatever I could borrow from friends and relatives. There was always lots of books around me and I was spoiled for choice. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov was a book that I’ve read and re-read countless times. Stephen King also had a big presence in my reading diet back in the day (my aunt had a “King subscription box” delivered to her door monthly!), Pet Sematary, Salem’s Lot and The Shining being my favorites. Having said that, I was such a voracious reader! I loved lots of historical stuff, like Pharaoh by Bolesław Prus or Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe. Other writers I remember fondly from my teen years are Vadim Shefner and the Strugasky Brothers. The latter penned some of the cleverest Sci-Fi classics ever, like The Roadside Picnic (which was made into the darkest, weirdest, creepiest movie called Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky—I can’t recommend it enough!). As for Shefner, he wrote this melancholic futuristic book called Kovrigin's Chronicles which is about a friendship between a young prodigy scientist and a poet and about a scientific discovery that changes the world but (spoiler alert?) ruins their friendship. The teen-me gobbled it up!
YABC: Did you prefer a specific genre as a teen? Or was any genre game?
I was (and still am) a total genre omnivore! I’ve actually written about my attitude toward genre-based divisions here, but basically as a teen I didn’t think of books as being of a particular genre. I’ve always treasured either emotional connection or intellectual engagement with a book (bonus points if both happened at once) and that rendered genres irrelevant to me.
YABC: What current YA book would you recommend to your teenage self?
Thinking back to my teen years, I think I’d have appreciated to have more books featuring girl protagonists in general, and more specifically girl protagonists who were like me: self-conscious, a bit antisocial, but learning how to be confident and self-assured. I also really needed books that had great female friendships at their core. But then I’ve also always loved dark and scary things, so to my teenage self, I’d recommend: Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand, The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff, and anything by Leigh Bardugo. And so many more!
YABC: What book that you read as a teen had the most impact on you in your life?
I’d say The Master and Margarita! It’s just WOW. A book within a book, with so many layers and it’s all done so cleverly. And it’s outrageously funny and so very sad at the same time. Woland is my most favorite character ever. I think I forgot to blink whenever he was on page. It was electric and terrifying. It’s not a small book in size either, but I remember racing through it in a day. I mean there’s a demon cat in this book. If anything, you should definitely read it for the sake of the demon cat.
YABC: What advice would you give teens who might want to be a writer?
Read a lot of books! Reading is the best kind of lesson in craft you can take as a writer. When you read, pay attention to what kind of stories appeal to you and ask yourself why. When you actually sit down to write, write the story that’s urgent to you, and I mean urgent to the point that you simply MUST write it. Keep an eye on trends but don’t write to trends. If you’re a social type of person, surround yourself with like-minded people, so you can help each other out, with critique or just support. But if you prefer to write alone, do that. Do what works for you. We’re all different and there’s no right or wrong way to go about writing.
What The Woods Keep
By: Katya de Becerra
Publisher: Imprint Reads
Release Date: September 18th, 2018