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The Lovely Reckless: YA author Kami Garcia on tough dads, bad boys, and fast cars

A law-and-order upbringing and love of daredevil driving gives her new novel a pounding pulse

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Vania Stoyanova

Growing up with a stepfather who was an undercover police officer in Washington, D.C., Kami Garcia learned things other kids didn’t — like how to disarm attackers, wriggle out of handcuffs, and escape from the trunk of a car.

Garcia puts those survival skills to good use in her new novel, The Lovely Reckless, about a teenager grappling with amnesia and PTSD after witnessing her boyfriend’s murder.

While recovering under the stern care of her undercover-cop dad, Frankie Devereaux is drawn to the danger and adrenaline rush of outlaw street racing, which not only causes problems on the home front, but puts her in risky situations that begin to jar loose those suppressed memories.

Although the story was inspired by the Beautiful Creatures co-author’s own youth, Garcia didn’t want to write a slice-of-life novel about an upbringing similar to hers. “I had all these stories, and my friends were like, ‘You have such strange teen years, you should write about that,’ but I’ve always written urban fantasy. …It got to have action,” she says. “I was thinking, What would be problematic if you’re dad’s a cop?”

And dating an illegal street racer when your father is in law enforcement? “That’s frowned upon,” Garcia says.

To research the book, which is billed as Fast & Furious crossed with Romeo and Juliet, Garcia delved into the street-racing world, soaking in the sounds, smells, and attitudes. “There’s a difference between watching street racing and doing it,” she says. “I learned about makes and models, about modifying cars, about the sound of your engine when you get it to the bite point, that moment your clutch is engaged and you can shift out without stalling.”

Though the passion she found for the subculture is clear, she’s quick to add, “Of course, if my step­father is listening… I know nothing about street racing, or dating street racers, or any bad boys at all.”

Garcia’s next novel will be X-Files: Origins – Agent of Chaos, a YA novel about Fox Mulder as a teenager, long before he met fellow agent Dana Scully and became involved with the FBI’s secret casefiles. Law and order, seems to be in the author’s blood.

Here’s another eerie story, from the interview Garcia did with Entertainment Weekly Radio, describing how her her stepdad’s survival tips saved her in her mid-20s when she woke up in her apartment — and saw a strange man standing in her room. With his finger pressed to his lips. Telling her “shhh…”