Interview with Nicole Kronzer, Author of Unscripted

It’s such a treat today to welcome Nicole Kronzer as our guest. I first met Nicole ten or twelve years ago at a teaching conference, and we reconnected last year when we realized via Twitter that we had debut novels coming out in the same season. She has quickly become one of my very best friends, and I wrote much of my second novel in her beautiful backyard studio, which she named The Burrow in honor of Harry Potter (LOVE). Nicole’s YA debut, UNSCRIPTED, is funny, timely, poignant, and charming; and I know our readers will love it and want to share it with the teens in their lives. 

About Nicole:

In addition to writing books for teenagers, her favorite people, Nicole Kronzer is a high school English teacher and former professional actor. She loves to knit and run (usually not at the same time), and has named all the plants in her classroom. She lives with her family in Minneapolis. You can find Nicole online here, here, and here.

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The road to publication is twisty at best–tell us about some of your twists.

I started writing UNSCRIPTED when I began to query agents with my first book. A number of agents requested my first manuscript, but ended up passing. While I was disappointed, I wasn’t devastated because by the time I was hearing back from them,  I had another project really close to querying. The first book didn’t seem so precious anymore because I knew I could do it again. I queried the agents who had given me nice feedback on my first book. Sara Crowe, my dream agent, offered to represent me six days after I queried her with UNSCRIPTED!

What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?

I worked as a dishwasher at the country club in Stevens Point, Wisconsin for one month the summer after my junior year of college. I was the only girl in the kitchen. Everyone knew so much about cooking, and I knew nothing. When it was slow, they’d ask me to chop vegetables, and it was swiftly evident I needed remedial training. They told me I shouldn’t use rubber gloves while handling the hot plates out of the industrial dishwasher so I would toughen up my hands. When I said I didn’t want tough hands, they just laughed. I worked the day shift and lunch break was over an hour long. (I don’t think it was supposed to be, though…) The chef would ask me what I wanted for lunch and he’d make me anything I could think of. That was my favorite part.

Have you ever traveled to do research for your writing? Where did you go?

UNSCRIPTED takes place at a summer camp in the mountains of Colorado. While the type of camp from the book is fictional, it’s based on a real place—Sky Ranch outside of Ft. Collins. I was a camper there for several summers and a counselor for an entire one, but by the time I wrote the book, I hadn’t been there in twenty years! The summer my agent sold the book to Abrams, my family and I traveled back to my old stomping grounds and spent the weekend camping in one of the cabins, hiking my old hikes, and eating in the lodge with the counselors. That trip really helped richen my description of the setting. For example—I’d forgotten how piney the air is. Every breath is like a whiff of Christmas.

Tell us about a book that made you cry.

I read THE RED TENT in January of 2003 on the beach in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. I was there with my not-quite-yet in-laws, both extremely nice people, but not really readers. They were already confused by how many books I’d brought (one for each day of the trip—isn’t that how everyone packs?). But then they really thought I’d gone off the deep end when, sitting in the sand, I finished THE RED TENT. I closed the cover and began to weep. That book DESTROYED me. My now husband’s parents looked at each other, then at their son, then at me. “Are you okay?” they asked. “Yes!” I wept, “This book is SO GOOD.” They exchanged another glance. “So you’re…happy?” “SO HAPPY.” “But you’re…crying.” “VERY HARD. SO HAPPY.” Then they returned to whatever non-readers do on a beach.

Even after that display, they still didn’t discourage their son from marrying me. (As far as I know, anyway.)

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

I love writing dialogue (probably due to my theater background), but struggle writing feelings and interiority.

Therefore, I bought THE EMOTIONAL THESAURUS by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. According to my first drafts, all characters shrug when they’re confused and grin when they’re happy. So much shrugging. SO MUCH GRINNING.  But not anymore! Now that I have their book, I can look up an emotion, and then these geniuses tell me everything internally and externally that might happen to a person when they’re feeling that way. A happy person might raise their eyebrows. A confused person might frown! Who knew? Some people might think that’s cheating, but I have a feeling my editor is going to weep with joy when she doesn’t have to weed out my forest of shrugs and grins in the future.

•••••

 

UNSCRIPTED is about a talented 17-year-old comedian who lands a coveted spot at a prestigious improv camp, putting her in front of her SNL hero at the final show; however, the humiliation and degradation she suffers at the hands of her all-male team and her coach force her not only to fight for stage time, but also for her voice. 

What the critics are saying:

“A truly special book, written at exactly the right time.” –Printz Award winner Nina LaCour

“Smart, funny, and completely riveting. Nicole Kronzer fearlessly dives into the misogyny of the comedy world to tell a profound story of a sharp, talented girl thwarted at every turn by a patriarchal institution that makes no space for her. A powerful and necessary read for all genders.” – Lance Rubin, author of Crying Laughing and Denton Little’s Deathdate

“This is a well written story that provides insight into the development of an abusive, narcissistic relationship and the power of standing up for yourself.” –School Library Connection

“Kronzer skillfully brings to life the improv setting. The characters are authentic and friendships seem real. . .  The humor of improvisation does not detract from the powerful messages of consent and gender equality, but rather adds some lighthearted moments to a serious plot.” –School Library Journal

“Strong character development and exploration of timely topics make this novel shine…” –Kirkus

“Kronzer deftly combines what it means to be a female in comedy with a story of contemporary resonance that evokes the #MeToo movement.” –Booklist

“Kronzer excels at balancing humor with difficult subjects, portraying sexism and toxic masculinity in comedy with appropriate gravity while celebrating positive, healthy relationships and growth through active choices.” –Publisher’s Weekly 
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Kathleen West

Kathleen West is the author of the forthcoming novel, Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes, out 2/4/20 from Berkley. She lives in Minneapolis with her family.

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