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Interview With Kody Keplinger, Author of THE DUFF!

Kody Keplinger, author of THE DUFF, is a literary wunderkind.

Keplinger was a seventeen-year-old high school senior when she wrote THE DUFF in her small Kentucky hometown. Now in her early 20s, she’s published five books, has two more coming soon, and her debut novel is now a big screen sensation coming to theaters on Friday!

We chatted with Kody about the inspiration behind THE DUFF, what it was like to watch the movie adaptation come to life, and the reappearance of Bianca and Wesley in her next novel!

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You wrote THE DUFF while you were still in high school. How did your own life during that time affect the themes presented in the book?

It’s sort of a complicated question, because while The DUFF is very, very far from autobiographical, my own high school experience – and the experiences of my friends – definitely helped shape the narrative. The biggest connection, I suppose, is that after I learned the term DUFF (it was being used in my high school), I thought I was the “designated, ugly, fat friend.” But upon discussing with friends, I realized they thought the same of themselves. Which is sort of the main theme of the story – that we all have felt insecure at some points in our lives.

Bianca and Wesley have a very love/hate relationship that fans love. What makes that dynamic so special, in your opinion?

I’m really not sure what it is, but the love/hate relationship has definitely stood the test of time. I remember reading Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare in middle school, and the Beatrice and Benedick relationship was so interesting to me. These two people who claimed to hate each other but given the slightest nudge, fell for each other. Then there’s obviously Pride and Prejudice, where mutual dislike steadily turned to love. These stories always appealed to me as a reader, so for the DUFF, I just knew I wnted to write one. As for what makes it appealing, my only guess is that hate and love are both very strong emotions, so exploring the boundaries of them is kind of fascinating, I think.

How involved were you with the moviemaking process? Did you ever get a chance to stop by the set or talk to the cast?

I was not involved with the moviemaking process at all. However, CBS Films was kind enough to invite me down to set one day. And it was so amazing. I got to spend a little time with the cast. I even ate lunch with Robbie Amell, who was seriously one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. And Mae Whitman was just absolutely hilarious – talking to her, after imagining her as Bianca FOR YEARS – was so surreal and amazing. It was such a great day!

How did you react when you first learned about the casting choices?

I was pretty freaking excited about all of them. But especially Mae Whitman. Back in 2010, when the book was first coming out, I did a blog post where I “fan cast” several people as my characters. Mae was one of them. So when I got the call last year that she would play Bianca, I was so, so excited. And maybe even a tad bit smug because, well, I totally called it.

Every book-to-movie adaptation has some changes, but how did you feel about the prominent changes in the movie adaptation like the introduction of a mean girl character?

My attitude has always been that I was okay with changes as long as the movie was good and it stayed true to the core theme, that everyone feels like the Duff. And now, having seen the movie, it accomplishes both. So I’m okay with the changes.

Have you had a chance to see the movie yet? If so, what did you think?

Yes! A couple times now. And I loved it! I think it’s a really fun, funny movie. Yes, it’s different from the book, but I think people who like the book will like the film, too, because the same themes are there. I actually can’t wait to see it again.

Can you tell us about LYING OUT LOUD, your companion novel set in the same world as THE DUFF?

LYING OUT LOUD is coming out in April, and it’s about a girl named Sonny who is a very, very good liar. But her lies get her into some trouble when a prank on a boy from her class leads her to inadvertently catfishing – and falling for – him under her best friend’s name. Needless to say, things get complicated. It’s actually a companion to all 3 of my YA novels and features appearances by all of my main characters, though Bianca and Wesley appear the most. I am so excited for this story because Sonny has been such a fun, different character for me to write. And while the story is definitely a romance, I’d say the friendship story is just as – if not more – crucial to the story. I can’t wait for everyone to read it!

Don’t forgot to enter to win THE DUFF movie tie-in novel!

Want to read straight away? THE DUFF is currently on sale for $2.99!

The Duff movie tie-in

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