Interview: K.L. Going, Author of Fat Kid Rules the World

Jacob Wysocki, star of Fat Kid Rules the World, at the Rooftop Films NYC premiere. Photo credit: Beverly Cooper.


Fat Kid Rules the World was K.L. Going's debut novel in 2003.  It is an awesome book on so many levels. First, and maybe foremost, it's just a good story about a fat kid whose life is changed by punk rock.

I'm super excited that the amazing author of Fat Kid Rules the World agreed to a little interview here! Matthew Lillard (Scooby Doo, Scream) has made his directorial debut with the film version of this movie. Because, according to Lillard, Hollywood doesn't know how to make money off an obese kid who finds punk rock, the distribution of the Fat Kid Rules the World is being offered up as a Kickstarter, crowd-souring campaign. Since I think you'll agree with me that everyone, of all ages, should see this movie, if you have the means, consider supporting the distribution.

If the distribution is funded, the film version of Fat Kid Rules the World will be shown in conjunction with the Vans Warped Tour this summer, then released in select theaters nation wide.

First: The Kickstarter video. Because it rocks so hard.

And now a few words from Ms. Going!

Shaunta: First, let's plug the Kickstarter! Tell us about it, and what crowd sourcing the distribution for Fat Kid Rules the World, the movie, means to you and the project.

K.L.: For anyone who hasn't heard of Kickstarter, it's the new wave of on-line funding for the arts. People can donate to worthy projects and if the project meets its goal within the forty day time limit, then everyone's credit cards are charged. If the project doesn't meet its goal, no one is charged a penny.

We're trying to raise money for distribution and for sending representatives on the Vans Warped tour to promote the film. We've had
such success with the movie everywhere we've showed it. People love it and really react to it. We've had over thirty amazing reviews, and we won an Audience award at SXSW, but still mainstream Hollywood doesn't know what to do with a film about a fat kid where he isn't the joke. So, all the offers for distribution were straight to DVD obscurity. That's what we're trying to avoid. We want people to hear about this movie and see it!

The Kickstarter campaign means everything to us. If we meet our goal, we have a chance to get the movie out there. If not, we don't. And we only have five days left to raise the last 20K! Help!!! (Ed.: If they don't meet their goal, they don't get any of the funding at all! Let's get this thing funded, guys. There are also some really good gifts for different donation levels. Including, if you're a writer, a manuscript critique from K.L. Going herself.)

Shaunta: As a teacher, I really believe that making good movies based on books helps get reluctant readers hooked on stories. And stories that celebrate difference are so important. What kind of feedback have you had from young readers?

K.L.: Wonderful feedback. The kind you can't even imagine receiving when you're writing the book. I have literally had kids write to me and say that the book saved their lives. I hear from kids who say they are the fat kid, or they've felt like the fat kid, and they didn't think anyone else felt that way or understood what they were going through. The message of the book and the film is that we are all "the fat kid" no matter what we look like.

Shaunta: Matthew Lillard made the movie, clearly from the heart, based on Fat Kid Rules the World. What was that like for you?

K.L.: It's been an amazing journey. Matt is such a stellar guy. Really genuine and energetic and fun. I knew he would be the right person to make this movie. At two different junctions we had serious interest from other parties, but both times I knew in my gut that the film should go to Matt. I knew he got it on a personal level and that he cared about the story and the characters as much as I do.

Shaunta: What do you hope readers, and movie goers, take away from Troy and Curt's story? (Curt is Marcus in the movie.)

K.L.: This is a story about the bonds of friendship and the way we can all transcend the things in our lives that threaten to hold us back. It's a story about what makes us all human, what makes us all vulnerable, and what makes us all amazing. I hope readers/viewers come away cheering.

Shaunta: One thing that I really appreciated about Fat Kid Rules the World is the lack of moral judgment based on body size, and that Troy did not have to lose weight to figure out how very punk rock he really was. What made you decide to write his story?

K.L.: Thank you. In fact, in the book Troy even gains weight by the end... I wanted to write this story because I've always struggled with self-consciousness, even though I was a petite person most of my life. But size isn't the issue. It's the thoughts in our own minds that can keep us down or lift us up. Just like Troy, I've struggled to reach a place where I feel good about myself regardless of what I weigh or whether I have a huge zit on my nose, or if I just tripped up the stairs. The message of the book is "Fuck it." We're all human. Almost everyone worries about the same things and struggles with the same feelings, so let's just admit it and be cool with ourselves. Stop beating ourselves up for not being perfect.

Shaunta: Thank you so much for coming by and talking with us. I'll be first in line when the movie gets anywhere near Reno!

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Come on by and visit me at Live Once, Juicy or at my brand new book blog, Story Carnivores.




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