My art. My heart. - Interview with Kayla Cagan, Author of Piper Perish (+GIVEAWAY)

You ever walk by a book in a bookstore and take a double, triple, BUG EYED look at a book because it's so dang gorgeous? Piper Perish is totally that book. The brush stroke cover. The silver inside. The illustrations. The WORDS. You need this book in your collection.

We caught up with Kayla Cagan to chat about her debut novel, Piper Perish. Check out how Piper went from a journal with some sketches to a beautiful book!

Interview with Kayla Cagan

Piper Perish is not only told through words but includes illustrations and other forms of art, including fashion, makeup, and web design. Was that your original vision for this book? How did you work with the illustrator to convey the emotions and parts of the scenes where there are drawings?

My vision for the actual structure of the novel was a journal with some sketches and drawings – not very finished. This isn’t her sketch book, just a journal with some scribbles, and when Piper’s moved, more developed line drawings. I basically wrote directions for what I hoped the art team could include in the book, and Chronicle Books being the awesome publisher that they are, made the illustrations happen with Rookie Magazine illustrator Maria Ines Gul. Throughout the process, I got to peek at the drawings and give my opinions. Basically, it was me trying not to freak out the whole time. It’s kind of amazing and overwhelming when you see your vision come true.

Oh my gosh - your book is beyond gorgeous. The first time we saw it, we were so in love! What were your reactions and how is the final product different than how you envisioned it as you wrote it?

In love! In lust! In between the states of bliss and freaking out! It is better than I could have imagined with my small pea brain. I was thinking it would look like a beat up paperback journal or moleskin or maybe a cover with Andy Warhol on it, but then, you know, Chronicle Books became my publisher. THEY ARE THE ARTISTS and I trusted them to lead the way. I can say that I am still 100% unflappably happy about the PIPER PERISH hardback. It’s a beauty and it’s all Chronicle’s fault.

Share a few of your favorite Piper quotes with us.

We are our own treasure maps.
Now is the time for fearlessness.
Maybe nobody can really explain love.
Paintings speak back.
Go back to art class, Picasso.
My art. My heart.
Maybe my own human nature is junky and broken.

We loved how Piper embraced thrift shopping because it is also one of our favorite hobbies. How much of your hobbies found there way into Piper’s world?

I’m busted! Yes, I love a good thrift as much as the next savvy shopper. If shopping was an Olympic sport, I would have qualified long ago. Piper’s love of dancing is definitely mine as well. The rest of her hobbies are her own, except maybe eating pizza. I like that, too. I am definitely not a runner and I don’t care about jogging the way Piper and her dad do.
Piper is written in the style of a diary. Did you keep a diary? What were some of the moments you wrote about (or would have) within a diary?

I have been keeping a diary since the 4th grade. I have written about everything in my life, including very boring stuff like I ate too many cheeseburgers, I want a cheeseburger, who came up with cheeseburgers? But on a serious note, I’ve obviously written about deep and beautiful and tragic things in my life as well: my parents’ divorce, my relationships with my siblings, my marriage, living in New York during 9/11, a life-saving surgery in 2015, politics, religion, dreams and disappointments.

Despite the hardships that Piper has to go through it is clear that Piper is a fighter that goes after her dreams with intense passion. What do you wish for your readers to take away from reading your book? Will there be more Piper in the future?

I wish my readers (and all readers) the stamina, determination, and passion to follow their dreams. I wish all readers the ability to believe in themselves even when they feel the world around them doesn’t. I want readers to know that setbacks are temporary. We all have them. Sometimes they last for a really, really long time. But they aren’t forever. Believe that you will see yourself to the other side of what you want to achieve. You WILL find success. YOU will have disappointment. But YOU will make it to the other side.

Don’t. Give. Up. Please.

Will there be more Piper in the future? 

The short answer: STAY TUNED! I want to spill juicy details, but I can’t so I won’t. How’s that for a cliffhanger?

by Kayla Cagan
Published: March 8th 2017
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Buy It

Now is the time for fearlessness.

Piper Perish inhales air and exhales art. The sooner she and her best friends can get out of Houston and get to New York City, the better. Art school has been Piper’s dream her whole life, and now that senior year is halfway over, she’s never felt more ready. But in the final months before graduation, things are weird with her friends and stressful with three different guys, and Piper’s sister’s tyrannical mental state seems to thwart every attempt at happiness for the close-knit Perish family. Piper’s art just might be enough to get her out. But is she brave enough to seize that power, even if it means giving up what she’s always known?


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  1. My favorite medium would have to be music. I feel it in my should deeper than reading books or looking at regular art.

  2. I'm not particularly artistic, so I'd have to go with fashion. Most everyone else in my family has a knack for traditional arts (painting, drawing, music), but I can coordinate outfits--or decorate a room--like nobody's business! Thanks for the great chance. :)

  3. I like all sorts of art, but I find it hard to get past the excellencies of oil painting.

  4. My favorite medium of art is music.

  5. Oh my gosh, this sounds like such a cool book! My favorite artistic outlet is writing, not that I'm great at it or anything.

  6. My favorite medium of art...I don't even know. Musical theater because it combines writing, music, acting, etc.


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