Kathie: Hi Karina, and welcome to MG Book Village! Your middle-grade debut novel, Grow up, Tahlia Wilkins, comes out on April 19th from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Can you tell us a bit about it, please?
Karina: Hi! Thank you for having me! Grow Up, Tahlia Wilkins! is a fun, coming-of-age romp all about friendship, puberty, and growing up—in all its awkward glory.
Kathie: I absolutely loved the humor in this story, and that it’s SO relatable. What made you decide to write a book focusing on a girl getting her first period?
Karina: Oh, thank you so much!! Growing up, I really loved Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume because it talked about periods, crushes, and friend dynamics—all must-read subjects for me. I remember looking for books that were similar to it, but struggling to find stories with protagonists that had the same body-changing anxieties I did. When I decided to write middle grade books, I knew I wanted to write stories that would fit into that same ‘figuring out puberty’ vein.
Kathie: You did an excellent job educating readers while entertaining them. Why do you think many girls are still so unprepared given the resources?
Karina: There is still such a stigma around discussing puberty—specifically periods—with others. I think many people believe periods are something that should be endured and experienced privately (which is completely fine if that is your personal choice!). But if kids don’t have ‘what is going on with my body’ conversations with their peers and adults, then they may not be mentally or emotionally prepared for all the changes we go through.
Kathie: I love how creative Tahlia and Lily are with their solutions. Are you the type of person who plans ahead, or do you like to wing it as you go?
Karina: Hmm… tough question! Part of me is pretty meticulous when it comes to planning things like parties and trips, but another part of me (probably a much bigger part) is a total wing-er. I wrote the first draft of Grow Up, Tahlia Wilkins! without an outline, so I had to come up with all Tahlia and Lily’s crazy plans on the fly. I had a rough idea where I wanted the story to go, but had no idea how I was going to get there. Luckily, after many revisions, the story came together! However, I do not write without outlines any more. Too stressful.
Kathie: What’s one thing you’ve learned as a debut author that you think would be helpful for others to know?
Karina: Ask questions! A lot happens between writing the book and having it on shelves, so it’s good to remember that your agent and editor are there for you. In both puberty and publishing, you should always feel comfortable to ask a trusted person “is this normal?”
Kathie: What’s something you’d like readers to know about your book?
Karina: After signing with an agent but before going on submission, I added nearly 15k words to the original story!
Kathie: Where can our readers go to find out more about you and your writing?
Kathie: Thank you so much for answering my questions today, Karina, and I can’t wait to purchase your book for my collection and start hearing from young readers!
Karina: Thank you so much for reading, Kathie!!
Karina Evans studied English at the University of Delaware before going into a career in the entertainment industry. She currently lives in Los Angeles, California, and Grow Up, Tahlia Wilkins! is her first novel. You can visit her online at karinaevans.com