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January 29, 2010

Ally Carter: The Family Business

Posted by webmaster
Ally Carter, author of the bestselling Gallagher Girls books, is set to release the first installment of a new series on February 9th, called HEIST SOCIETY. Below, she explains how a "farm girl" like herself can have so much in common with the characters she's created... who just so happen to be spies and thieves.

When I was two years old my parents packed up my family and moved us to the farm where my mother was born. It’s a small farm, but beautiful, and the day we moved there is the day that the single-most important aspect of my personality began to form --- that’s the day I became a farm girl.

It’s true. Really, it is.

I have driven tractors, worked cattle, shucked corn, raked hay, and painted fences. I remember being the only member of the family small enough to climb inside the baler and clean it out when it got clogged while Daddy was baling hay. I remember the summer before I started kindergarten being allowed responsibility for my very own gate when working cows. There is never a time, in fact, when I don’t remember working right beside my parents, doing my part in the family business.

And that’s why I write what I write: books about spies and thieves.

See the connection? Really, you don’t? Okay, let me explain.

When I started writing about the Gallagher Girls I knew from the very beginning that Cammie Morgan (the main character) was the daughter of two elite spies, and that Cammie would constantly struggle with the best way to follow in her parents’ footsteps. My new series, Heist Society, started with a single line scratched on a spare piece of paper --- “the daughter of thieves.”

Kat and Cammie may be on opposite sides of the law, but the more I dove into Kat’s world, the more familiar it felt and the more I came to realize that these characters have a lot in common with each other --- and with me. I realized that, in a way, I keep writing my own story --- the story of girls who have been going to work in a family business every day of their lives. They talk shop around the kitchen table. They were given responsibility and training at a very young age. And, like me, they’ve been raised in worlds that are commonly considered to be male-dominated fields. (Kat and I have both spent a lot of time as the only girl in the room.)

While I was crawling up into that baler in the middle of our family’s hayfield, Kat was crawling through air ducts at the Tower of London. While my father was pointing out the different types of weeds and grasses to me as we walked through the pasture, Cammie’s father was pointing out how to spot a surveillance detail on a crowded street.

So they aren’t so unalike, Kat and Cammie.

I guess, in a way, they’re both farm girls too.

-- Ally Carter