I recently had the pleasure of chatting with author Carly Heath about her debut novel, The Reckless Kind. This novel is a genre-defying, queer historical YA that centers on a wild and reckless trio who fly in the face of small town tradition. Carly discusses how she created The Reckless Kind, her path to publishing, and gives some advice to aspiring authors.
What inspired The Reckless Kind?
A few years ago I was going through a period in my life where I kept experiencing horse-related injuries and that inspired the idea of a family that everyone believed was cursed with perpetual bad luck. From there I developed the idea for The Fuglestads—a family of atheists and vegetarians, known for taking in the horses no one else wants. They’re an imperfect family, known for being outcasts and I thought the most interesting way to explore them would be from the POV of two young people who idolize their unconventionality.
What was your process for writing The Reckless Kind?
I think I wrote the first draft in about six months or so back in 2014. Notecards/post-it notes were involved but it was mostly pantsing—me figuring out the characters and the world as well as just how to write a novel. I spent the next year or so doing heavy revisions, ultimately preparing for Pitch Wars in 2016. In the run up to Pitch Wars, I connected with a lot of other authors and got a lot of feedback on my manuscript. I didn’t get into Pitch Wars, but did a lot of revision based on the feedback I received.
The Reckless Kind is set in Norway 1904. How did you research the location and time period?
I read a lot of Sigrid Undset and my favorite place to research is books.google.com because you can search for certain words by time period. There’s also a lot of English-language guidebooks for Norway written in the 1880s and 1890s that were incredibly useful. One of my favorites was Unprotected Females in Norway: Or, the Pleasantest Way of Travelling There by Helen Lowe and Emily Lowe written in 1857 which gave me a rare female perspective.
Asta Hedstrom sounds like such an interesting heroine. How did you create this character?
She’s based a lot on myself. She’s hard of hearing and doesn’t conform to her very homogenous community’s expectations of what a woman should be. Her appearance is atypical, she’s not “receptive” in the way a woman “should be” in that she’s asexual, doesn’t want to get married or have children, and she’s not even a “good listener” because she’s partially deaf. A lot of her journey is about deprogramming herself from the expectations of the patriarchy and finding herself either through changing her appearance in a way that makes her even more unconventional, or creating a family for herself in a way that the larger society would think of as “deviant”.
What was the path for publishing The Reckless King?
I signed with my first agent in 2017 and went on sub to editors with that agent for about a year. Sadly, that agent left the business a year after I signed with them but I immensely valued the feedback and relationship I formed with them. A month after querying again, I signed with my next agent who sent the manuscript out on sub again and it took another year before we received an offer from legendary editor Dan Ehrenhaft at Soho Teen. Alexa Wejko took over for Dan when he moved on to a different publisher, and I’m so grateful for Alexa’s amazing editorial guidance on the book. YA tends to take a long time, so—for reference—I received my offer from Soho Teen in September 2019 and the book will be published in November 2021.
Where can people find The Reckless Kind?
It will be available at bookstores everywhere November 9th and you can preorder it now wherever books are sold. Pre-ordering is really important right now (especially if you want to get this holiday book in time for the holidays)! It will also be an audiobook and available at libraries everywhere. If you don’t see it on your library’s overdrive, be sure to recommend.
Can you tell us anything about what you are working on now?
I’m revising a YA fantasy set on a magical Scandinavian island about a family cursed to transform into animals.
What a piece of advice you’d give to aspiring authors?
Aim for 100 rejections and celebrate each rejection! If you’re ever lucky enough to get feedback, use that feedback and embrace the process of revision!
Where’s the best place to follow you?
I’m most active on Twitter and Instagram! Here are other places you can find me: