Kimberly Reid grew up in Atlanta where she lived some of the same experiences Chanti Evans does in the Langdon Prep series: she attended a prep school where she did not fit in, her mom was a police detective and she always wanted to help her solve crimes. Like Chanti, she has lived most of her life around law enforcement types.
But that's about where the similarities end. Kimberly is way too conflict-averse (scared) to be a detective although she did give her two cents on some of her mother’s cases whether asked or not.
She now lives in Colorado, which is why she has Chanti solving crimes in the beautiful city of Denver. It’s a lot like any other big city except the mountains make it feel like you’re home but also on vacation.
Q: Tell us about Creeping with the Enemy.
A: It’s the second book in a mystery series about fifteen-year-old Chanti Evans, the daughter of an undercover cop who has been offered a scholarship to Langdon Prep, an elite private school on the other side of town from her tough neighborhood. She doesn’t want to go, but her mom thinks it’s the best way to keep Chanti out of trouble. It turns out there is more scandal and intrigue at Langdon than back home, and Chanti needs to use detective skills learned from mom to keep herself and her friends out of danger. In Creeping with the Enemy, Chanti has to figure out secrets her friend Bethanie is keeping, including her new boyfriend, before she gets hurt in more ways than a broken heart.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Langdon Prep Series?
A: I was watching an episode of Veronica Mars and realized how similar her TV life was to my real life when I was in high school, minus all the crime-solving. My mother was a police detective and I learned a lot about crime-solving from her, but I never had a chance to put it into practice. This series gives me a chance to play detective. As for the Langdon Prep part, that also really happened to me. I grew up in a so-so neighborhood but won a scholarship to a private school way across town. Compared to me, I thought all those kids were living like the Kardashians and I felt out of place. So basically I ripped off my life and added more than a dash of drama and danger.
Q: Where did you get the inspiration for the characters?
A: Since I got the basic premise from my real life, Chanti and her mom were inspired by my mother and me, though the book is not autobiographical and the characters are quite different than us. Chanti’s mom is a lot stricter than mine was, and I was more practical and sensible than Chanti – I had to grow up before I found my sense of adventure. Marco, Chanti’s love interest, was inspired by all the boys I crushed on in my teens who didn’t know I existed. Bethanie – I’m not quite sure where Bethanie came from – I guess I just conjured her up. I had great friends as a teen, but ex-juvenile delinquent MJ is the friend I never had but wish I did – there never would have been a dull moment and I’d always have good backup in a fight.
Q: Which character from the series is your favorite?
A: Probably MJ. I think I can have a lot of fun with her character as the series goes on.
Q: What do you have in store for The Langdon Prep Series? How many books do you have planned?
A: In Creeping with the Enemy, I introduce an ongoing story – a mystery about Chanti’s family – that will provide a backdrop to the new case Chanti will work in each book. As her detective skills grow, she’ll use them to solve the bigger family mystery. When I first thought up the series, I wanted to take Chanti into college because I was working on a college campus at the time and figured I could use that experience in the book. But as slowly as I’m progressing through her junior year, I think that would take more than the six or seven books I had originally planned. But so much of how long a series lasts is driven by how long the readers want to keep reading it.
Q: On Truly Bookish, I highlight YA books written by ethnic minorities or featuring ethnic minorities as main characters. I love the idea that your main character is a 15-year-old sleuth and a girl of color! Why do you think it is important to have characters of different backgrounds and ethnicities in YA fiction?
A: I was a big reader as early as I can remember, and read just about anything I could get my hands on, but rarely did those books have characters of color. I still enjoyed reading them, but wondered why I didn’t see faces like mine in my early picture books, or later, why kids like those I saw every day in my neighborhood didn’t show up in fiction. Were we not interesting or pretty or smart enough to be part of the story? So I want to give young readers of color a chance to read stories that aren’t about race or cultural history and identity but do include characters of color experiencing the same fun/angst/tragedy/romance/fear that white characters get to in YA books. Kids everywhere, no matter their race or cultural perspective, have to deal with the same issues on the way to growing up.
Q: Do you read the same genre as you write? What are you currently reading?
A: I like to read in all genres of fiction, adult and YA, as well as nonfiction and poetry. As a reader, it’s just more interesting to read around. As a writer, it keeps me from getting tunnel-vision if I read outside my genre, and the diversity helps me improve my writing skills. Right now, I’m catching up on Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series and I’ll be starting Toni Morrison’s new book. Upcoming YA books I want to check out include Angela Johnson’s A Certain October, Kekla Magoon’s 37 Things I Love, and Malin Alegria’s Crossing the Line. So many books, so little time.
Q: What other projects are you working on at this time?
A: I’m working on the third book in the Langdon Prep series, which will be out next year.
Thank you, Kimberly!
About Creeping with the Enemy
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Goodreads Summary: Using skills learned from her mom, an undercover cop, Chanti Evans has already exposed lies and made enemies at her posh new school, so she’s no stranger to the games people play. But she’s learning the hard way that at Langdon Prep, friends can play more dangerous games than any enemy.
There’s nothing like having someone in your corner when you’re the new girl in school, but Chanti can’t help suspecting that everything about her new friend, Bethanie, is a lie—especially once she starts skipping classes and blowing Chanti off for her mysterious crush, Cole. Chanti really doesn’t need the trouble of finding out the truth. She’s busy enough trying to convince her almost-boyfriend Marco that her amateur sleuthing won’t come between them again. But when Bethanie disappears with Cole, Chanti has only one chance to find her—even as her investigation puts her love life, and everything else, at risk….