You know those books that sweep you away and suddenly time flies by? That was me and The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly! I am so pleased to present my interview with Jamie Pacton! Keep reading to see all the questions I had immediately after finishing!
The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly
Working as a wench―i.e. waitress―at a cheesy medieval-themed restaurant in the Chicago suburbs, Kit Sweetly dreams of being a knight like her brother. She has the moves, is capable on a horse, and desperately needs the raise that comes with knighthood, so she can help her mom pay the mortgage and hold a spot at her dream college.
Company policy allows only guys to be knights. So when Kit takes her brother’s place and reveals her identity at the end of the show, she rockets into internet fame and a whole lot of trouble with the management. But the Girl Knight won’t go down without a fight. As other wenches join her quest, a protest forms. In a joust before Castle executives, they’ll prove that gender restrictions should stay medieval―if they don’t get fired first.
Can you sort your main characters into Harry Potter Houses?
Kit is three million% a Gryffindor (I like to think of her as Hermione with a sword); her smart, artistic bff Layla is a Ravenclaw; her other bff/maybe-but-not-quite boyfriend Jett is pure Hufflepuff (though he rides a motorcycle so maybe he’s like a Huffle-Dor); Kit’s brother Chris is a Gryffindor; bold, fierce Mags is a Gryffindor; major planner and super smart Alex is a Ravenclaw; book loving, friendly Lizzy is a Hufflepuff; and, smart, thoughtful Penny is a Ravenclaw.
Oh, and, lol, obviously, Dalton the Green Knight, his squire Eric, and King Len are Slytherins
What’s one medieval fact you wanted to use in the book, but didn’t?
Ahh, good question! I actually used all the facts I wanted to in the book, and my editor even let me add in some more during edits.
But, in my street team I share medieval fun facts every week. One of my favorite ones that’s not in KIT is:
*Did you know the classic medieval “princess” hat, you know the pointy cone-shaped henin that we always see royal women in Western medieval depictions wearing and that little princesses wear at Halloween, was actually something that Marco Polo brought back from the his time with the Mongols? Mongolian queens wore these before any European woman did. Source: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/medieval-cone-shaped-princess-hats-were-inspired-by-mongol-warrior-women-180948217/
*Also, as I stress in KIT, so many of our pre-conceptions about the medieval world have been shaped with an insidious patriarchal and Eurocentric/racist agenda and ideology. The medieval world was a diverse place, and race and gender roles were different than typical depictions have made them out to be. I love these two series for more on that: https://www.publicmedievalist.com/no-more-fairy-tales/
Kit’s family is a huge theme and issue in the book, can you talk about what it was like to write that family? Specifically her mother and father?
I loved writing Kit’s family because they felt real to me from the first time I put them on the page. Although some of my own personal family circumstances are different than hers, I wove some very true parts of my own past into her story and relationships. (Seriously, some of the moments are close to verbatim). I really love her relationship with her brother Chris because I’m very close to some of my sisters (I have 5 sisters and 4 brothers), and I wanted to honor our friendship in that relationship.
With her parents, things were harder to write at times— because who doesn’t have a complicated relationship with their parents? (I certainly do with mine.) In this book, I wanted to show Kit trying to help her family, trying to understand them, and ultimately making her peace with the fact that she can’t do everything to rescue them in the end. (This is a theme you’ll see again in my next book, LUCKY GIRL).
Kit’s family is in pretty intense financial strain, can you talk about how it influences Kit and the relationships around her?
Again, with Kit’s family’s financial strain, I drew from my own life and experiences. I know from the times in my life when I’ve been overwhelmingly poor, wondering how you’ll pay your bills or where the next meal is coming from, can take over all other parts of your life. For Kit, her family’s poverty is always on her mind. Most of the time, it’s a low-level anxiety (like white noise that’s always there); but, it’s thrown into relief when she is in places like her best friend Layla’s huge, gorgeous house. Kit also feels this disparity between her and her friends in smaller ways, like when Jett brings her food because he has an idea of how tough things are at home. Kit isn’t comfortable talking about her poverty with her friends (though they both know something is going on and try to help as they can); and, this economic disparity does strain her relationships with them sometimes.
What character are you most like from the book?
I am absolutely most like Kit, and I put so many of my secret thoughts, strivings, wishes, and jokes into her. I kind of think all authors do that to some degree with their characters, but seventeen-year-old Kit and seventeen-year-old Jamie are very similar.
Was there a character which was a new add on or one that went through many changes through the drafts?
Originally, this book was primarily about letting cis women become knights, but in edits and through conversations with my brilliant editor we saw that Kit’s feminism had to be more inclusive and bring in folks across the gender spectrum (as all feminism should do). This was entirely the right move, and, although it’s not my story to tell, I’d love to read a book like KIT with a trans or NB main character. (Aside: OMG, yes. Someone please write a Ren Faire YA with a trans/NB main character.)
How has the process of being a debut gone for you?
So far being a debut writer has been great, though weirdly enough, I actually had a MG book, FARFETCHED, come out under a pen name in October 2019 (which is another long story and which came as a total surprise), so I had a practice run of seeing my book in stores. With KIT, I’ve absolutely loved designing stickers, coming up with pre-order swag ideas, and connecting with readers. I’ve met so many wonderful people already (including some fierce women who work at Medieval Times), and I can’t wait to connect with more readers soon.
Also, I’ve had so many friends debut already, that I’ve been through debut woes, worries, and wins with them, so I had an idea of what to expect. For me, one of the hardest parts of being a being a debut writer was balancing KIT edits with drafting LUCKY GIRL, and then trying to promote KIT.
Also, of course, as I’m betting all spring 2020 debut authors are feeling right now, the state of the world is proving the biggest stress while debuting. So, (I’m writing this in mid-March), fingers crossed for things looking better by early May.
What was your inspiration for Kit?
I wrote a whole Twitter thread on this 🙂 , but the short story is that a few months after the terrible results of the 2016 election, I took my youngest son to Medieval Times in Chicago. We’d talked a lot during the election cycle about feminism and a female president; and, although I didn’t go into the night of medieval fun and pageantry thinking I’d emerge with a book, as I watched the male knights ride and the female wenches serve us food (and as I talked with them), it occurred to me that we should have knights of all genders. And thus Kit’s quest was born.
(Twitter thread here: https://twitter.com/JamiePacton/status/1187538755843956736)
Is there another time period in history that you love?
There are so many (I’m such a history nerd!)! I have a MG book about Marco Polo as a 12-year-old out on submission right now, and I know a lot about 13th century Venice, Constantinople, and that time period.
I’m also absolutely entranced with Paris in most seasons, but I especially love the Belle Epoque period. So, think Moulin Rouge, Toulouse LaTrec, absinthe, street art, and lots more iconic things. I’ve been quietly working on a YA set in that time period for years.
Kit Pre-Order Swag
Pre-order anywhere books are sold and get some amazing swag! Just make sure to go to the website and fill out all of your info!
Every pre-order (US and International) gets:
🏰 Three KIT SWEETLY Stickers.
🏰 An art print of Kit and her friends.
🏰 A KIT bookmark.
The first 100 US pre-orders also get:
🏰 A medieval-knight rubber duck.
🏰 A KIT nametag.
All pre-orders will be entered to win the grand prize, which is:
🏰 A KIT t-shirt (with either “Joust like a girl” or “Joust Do It”).
Note: I’ll have 3 of these to give away. International readers are entered in this part of the giveaway.
And one super-duper-extra lucky winner will get all these things, plus:
🏰 An amazing jousting snail infinity scarf!
Note: International readers are also entered in this part of the giveaway.
- To enter, fill out this form.
- One entry per person. Entrants under 18 years old must have parental or guardian permission to enter.
- Preorders and library requests for any version of the book will be accepted (including hardback, digital, audiobook, etc.).
- You must submit a proof of purchase or library request. This can be a screenshot of confirmation of purchase.
- You will also need to give your name, email address, and mailing address.
- Preorder swag will be sent out around the end of May 2020.
- Entries with purchases/requests dated through May 5, 2020 will be accepted!
About the Author
Jamie Pacton writes all sorts of books: dark, feminist YA fantasy; contemporary YA stories with a funny + geeky bent; funny MG adventure-fantasy; and, even the occasional adult rom-com. She was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2015 and she mentored YA in 2016, 2017, and 2018. She grew up minutes away from the National Storytelling Center in the mountains of East Tennessee; she’s the oldest of ten kids; and, she currently lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband, their two kids, and a dog named Lego. The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly (forthcoming May 5, 2020) is her Young Adult debut.