The other day, I was given the opportunity to chat up young adult author, Krista McGee. Her adorable debut novel, First Date, hits bookshelves TODAY, and would be a perfect selection for fans of contemporary Christian fiction and teens who like a little spunk with their inspiration.
Here’s our chat:
Tell us a little about your story development. The Esther parallels in First Date were a pleasant surprise. I didn’t see them coming. Did you set out to tell a story based on Esther or did that happen as you wrote?
Esther was my inspiration. Girl from nowhere becomes queen and saves her people from complete annihilation. How cool is that? I’ve read Esther dozens of times, and for years I kept thinking, “I wonder what that story would look like if it were written today?” God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, right? The same God that called Esther to accomplish his purposes (to save a nation of people!) is working in our lives every day. I want girls to know that. Life can be tough. But God is always with us, working all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). He may call us to do things or go places totally out of our comfort zone, but His plans are always best! That is the truth taught in the book of Esther, and I wanted to mirror that truth in First Date.
Addy is set several challenges as part of the competition. If you were in her place, which one would you excel at? Which one would mortify you?
Worst first – I would stink at golf. In fact, “stink” is being generous. My eight-year-old son can kill me on the mini-golf course. And forget real golf. I can dig an amazing hole with a golf club, but make contact with the ball? Forget it! I’m a lot like Kara, so performing on stage in front of a huge crowd would definitely be my favorite. Bring on the spotlight. I’m ready for my close-up!
Girl drama is all over this novel. You also focus a ton on true friendship. Addy has some exceptional relationships—girlfriends who are there for her through this ordeal. You’re a teacher. You see these types of things all the time. How important would you say true friendship is during our teen years?
I have an amazing group of senior girls that meet with me once a week for Bible Study and sharing. They keep each other accountable in so many ways and constantly encourage each other. I love watching them give hugs and pats on the back, and even a “girl, what are you thinking?” when needed. They have made it through high school with great testimonies and relatively few regrets, and I know that is because of the commitment they have made to God and each other.
One of my favorite parts of First Date was the back-story involving Addy’s parents. Is missionary work something you can identify with?
Yes. Our family had the amazing privilege of ministering in both Costa Rica and in Spain as missionaries. I loved living in other countries and seeing God at work there. Missionaries are my heroes, and I want to highlight them as much as I can in my writing.
Addy is sucked into this reality TV experience quite unwillingly. Can you relate or are you a reality TV fan? Which reality show would love to participate in? Is there a show that would terrify you?
Okay, confession time – I don’t even watch reality TV dating shows. I can barely stomach the commercials. All the crying and catfights and “oh, no she didn’ts.” No, thanks. I do love “American Idol,” though, and some of the other shows that allow talented, unknown people to have a shot at fame.
What can you tell us about your next novel? Inquiring minds want to know!
I am so excited about Starring Me. I had so much fun writing about Kara in First Date that I knew I wanted to tell her story when I had finished Addy’s. Hers is a modernization of the Isaac and Rebekah story. My “Isaac” is Chad Beacon, teen pop star, who is looking for a costar for a new teen TV show. Kara is picked to audition for the show, but, unknown to her and the other girls auditioning, there’s much more going on than just a talent contest.
Dreamy boys, competing girls, millions of viewers, and a message for the ages.
THANK YOU, Krista, for taking time to chat! I’m super excited to see First Date on shelves and can’t wait to pick up your next one.