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Highlights From K.A. Applegate’s Reddit AMA

Inside of a dog it's too dark to read


One of the things we love about the Reddit community is it’s AMAs, or IAmAs, standing respectively for Ask Me Anything, and I Am A (meaning, I am a ______, ask me anything). My personal favorite IAmAs have been hosted by, to name a few, a person who was born blind, a woman inviting guys to ask all the questions about women they were afraid to ask the women they actually knew, and an IAmA African American Woman, AMA About My Hair (in which the highest upvoted comment was from the white dad of a biracial toddler, asking for tips on how to help his daughter style her hair).

But in addition to the AMA’s where you learn about the day to day experiences of someone who you might not otherwise ever get a chance to understand, celebrities (or, at least, celebrities on Reddit) occasionally stop by to do their own, verified AMAs. Yesterday I was super, super excited to find out that none other than K.A. Applegate, the creator of the Animorphs series, had opened up a verified AMA thread. If you’ve ever wanted to find out that one of your childhood heroes is actually a totally awesome person, venture on.

I dont’ know about you, but I bought an Animorphs book every month as soon as they came out and devoured it usually more than once over the next two days or so. That is, until classmates started teasing me and a boy for always talking to each other about the series and I decided that I was getting a little old to be reading such easy reader stuff anyway and should just move on to Harry Potter.


Lets forget about that and get straight to the highlights. First, a giant blockquote:

Coolest part of the job hearing that didn’t completely screw up a generation of kids…

To you, KeeperofTerris, and to all the crazy, obsessed fans, if I may be allowed a moment of sincerity: we love you guys and girls. As a writer nothing is cooler than thinking you had some kind of long-term impact. It’s humbling which I know sounds like a bullshit thing to say, but it is because Michael and I look at each other and we know we’re just these two idiots, and we know there’s no reason anyone should take us seriously.

So when the reaction started coming in we were like, “Oh, my God, they think we’re grown-ups.” Kind of disturbing in a way.

And for 15 years the hardcore fans have kept it all alive, kept writing and drawing, and best of all felt things they might not otherwise have felt, and thought things they might not otherwise have felt, and the effect went both ways. You guys affected us as much as we did you…

Since you ask. Shameless Sel-Promotion, please God don’t downvote me! ANIMORPHS is coming out with new (lenticular? Um… what?) covers. And I’m going to be at LA Times book fest on Saturday, April 30. Noon. At the Diesel Books booth. Don’t hate me for prom-ing…

There was a lot of animal research. This was before the internet so we owned about 100 books on animals. So depending on the book, many hours. As for the science, like Zero Space, that was much easier: we just made that up. At least that’s what I’m telling you. I totally have the whole zero space thing worked out, but just for personal use…

Obviously we had no idea we were going to 54 books. Around #11 we’re thinking, shit, we’ve used up all the good animals!…

The most fun to write was probably Marco or Rachel, although I identified most with Cassie. Cassie was closest to being me. She was ambivalent, and inconsistently moralistic, and didn’t dress well, and was into animals…

As for advice: write. That’s thing one. Write stuff that sucks. It always sucks when you start. Keep sucking, then fix it. That’s the whole job…

We’ve both always accepted the necessity of war in some circumstances, and accepted that it’s a pretty fucking awful thing to put our young men and women through. What we wanted to say was that there would be times it would be necessary, that some soldiers would find joy in it (Rachel,) some would find a sort of addiction (Jake,) some would hate it but do their best, (Cassie,) some would sail right through, (Marco,) and others would be the victims left behind, (Tobias.)

After a friendly wish that she never focus just on the money:

Interesting, that “purely on money” part. Because honestly, that’s what got me going. I sucked as a waitress, sucked as a typist, pretty much just sucked at everything, despite (shock) my BA in English. And I was tired of eating Top Ramen and stealing toilet paper rolls out of public restrooms. I figured ghosting other people’s books would pay the rent, and it did . . . sort of.

Anyway, now that I can afford the mega-pack of Top Ramen at Costco, I realize it’s not just about the money. And that’s the best advice I can offer a novice writer: love what you’re doing, even when the Ramen’s running out.

On the crush everybody had on Tobias:

I think human-on-bird action might be a bit feathery. Plus it’s very embarrassing to go to prison and admit you’re there for raptor fondling.

On fan art:

Ahh, Anadalites with boobs. Andaboobs. We love the fan fic and fan art. Although the ones where Tobias and Harry Potter screw, I’m just not sure about those. I’m just not sure raptor-wizard sex is advisable.

Who is your favorite character?

I have to say Marco because he was based on Michael [Applegate’s husband and writing partner] — and Michael’s right here watching over my shoulder. So . . . Marco. Yeah.

When asked her opinion on Stephanie Meyer:

Uh, here’s the thing. We authors congregate at the same venues sometimes (book festivals, strip clubs). So I have to consider the possibility that Stephanie Meyer and I will be downing Jello shots together at some point, and she’ll be asking me why I said that shit about her on Reddit.

Everworld fans, you were not neglected:

Thanks to all EVERWORLD fans! You know what was weird? When it came out we got our first starred review. I was like damn, now we have to write them well? The expectations had been raised. What a pain in the ass. We were so depressed by this great review.

On ghostwriters:

We started as ghostwriters, so we saw it more as opportunity. We paid well, but not very well to be honest. We wrote outlines (we suck at outlines) and then got all bitchy when we didn’t like what we got. Neither of us is an editor so we weren’t really capable of offering decent guidance. So we tended just to sort of slash and burn. Basically without meaning to be we were probably horrible assholes to work with.

On the television show:

We were not huge fans of the TV show. We wanted it to be animated because with kid actors, animals and FX it had every expensive thing in Hollywood. We knew Nick didn’t have the kind of money to make it good…

It’s not the actor’s fault. The best they could do with special effects was a stick with Visser Three’s head on it. They’d point the camera up at it. Visser-On-A-Stick.

Surprise revelations!

No, that was Scholastic [who came up with the flipbook idea]. As was the name, ANIMORPHS by the way. We had CHANGELINGS…

[R.L.] Stine was who we were trying to be. Then later we would email him and he was always very generous.

Read the entire thread, including our favorite fan anecdote, at the full IAmA thread on Reddit.

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Susana Polo thought she'd get her Creative Writing degree from Oberlin, work a crap job, and fake it until she made it into comics. Instead she stumbled into a great job: founding and running this very website (she's Editor at Large now, very fancy). She's spoken at events like Geek Girl Con, New York Comic Con, and Comic Book City Con, wants to get a Batwoman tattoo and write a graphic novel, and one of her canine teeth is in backwards.