Kari Luna’s debut YA novel, THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (which releases today!), is quite a wild ride. One part Libba Bray’s GOING BOVINE, two parts string theory, and three parts love story, THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING is a whimsical novel that will change the way you think about the world. We were lucky enough to snag Kari for our Penguin Teen Author Spotlight!

Name: Kari Luna


Available: July 11, 2013 

Who’s your favorite author, living or dead?

Haruki Murakami. Kafka on the Shore made me jump up and down, I was so excited. I’ve always had a love affair with Japan, so that’s part of it, but Murakami gave me underground cities, talking cats, philosophical ideas and worlds that always expanded my own. Since I devour books like a kid in a candy story, I also appreciate that he published something as lengthy as IQ84. It kept me busy for a while.

What’s your favorite thing about your book?

It’s a tie between Sophie Sophia and Walt, the shaman panda. I love Sophie! She originally appeared in a short story about a girl who saw polka dots whenever her parents had an argument. By the time she showed up with a larger story to tell, I was already her biggest fan – brains, musical taste, ability to be empowered. But then Walt appeared. He’s like Robert Downey, Jr. in a panda suit – wit, charm, and the ability to swoop in and make everything better. Who doesn’t want a Shaman Panda? Literary Loner is also pretty interesting. Didn’t everyone have a crush on Kerouac in high school?

If you could spend one year on a deserted island with one character from literature, who would you choose?

Sally Jay Gorce from The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy. She wears an evening gown because she forgot to do laundry; she has great one-liners; and she detests boredom. If anything exciting were happening on the island, she’d find it. Or create it. And if there were boys? She’d find them, too.

Where do you write?
Three days a week I write in the corner of an office I share with an animator and a web designer. It’s a historic building and our office used to be an elevator shaft. There’s something magical about that, occupying a space that used to move but doesn’t, anymore. At least not in this dimension.

The rest of the time I write in what I call The Office Aquatic. I painted the entire room aqua – even the ceiling – so it would feel like I was writing underwater. And then I filled it full of things I love – a short story my great- grandmother wrote, smiling toys, an estate sale yellow velvet chair and my dog Petey Sellers, of course.

Most spoiled dog on the planet, err, I mean, co-worker #1!

The view. The building below says “Castaway.” All exotic over here.

A few of my co-workers. They can get ROWDY.

Who is your favorite hero or heroine of history?

The first one that came to mind? Honk Kong Phooey. I’m a product of 70’s cartoons and obviously, my brain is still very loyal to them. Oh, you meant non-pop culture hero/heroine? How about every woman who’s ever written a book? I raise my mug of green tea to all of you. 

Do you tweet? What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever tweeted?

If we change that to funniest tweet to me, I’d say:

What is your favorite season?

Spring. In Portland, spring means chartreuse moss and pops of pink everywhere. It’s like living inside a rainbow. I also like the word itself, since it’s synonymous with bounce. Like Tigger.


Side note: I almost got a Tigger tattoo during college. It was my first trip to Los Angeles, and we were on Sunset Boulevard, but luckily, fear prevailed. Not much later I got the English Beat girl dancing on top of a record, instead. I’m happy to say I still like her.


If you could teleport anywhere in the known universe right now, where would you go?
Since I’m a fan of The Sophie Effect in The Theory of Everything
, I would probably employ heartbreak and go to a parallel universe, instead. I’d pop into panda-verse because playing volleyball with giant pandas is my idea of a good time.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I surround myself with the world about which I’m writing, especially in the first draft. If I’m writing about Paris, for example, I’ll do the same things I would normally do, but with a French twist. Treating friends to croissants instead of cupcakes, hitting up French DJ nights instead of garage rock shows and going on Audubon Bird Walks instead of normal neighborhood ones. For me, diving into the research phase with a full heart means everything. It’s also strangely comforting. I love writing first thing in the morning and again at dusk, when the light changes. Putting notes to the story under my pillow never hurts, either. There’s nothing like dreaming in the perfect scene and then rolling out of bed and dashing to my Moleskin in one fell swoop.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?

Having the space, love and energy to be curious about everything; and then forging ahead with heart, attempting to find answers in fiction. Also: mixtapes! Candy stores. Beach hikes. Road trips with people I love. Music! Making and listening. And adventure, in all its glorious forms.

What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?

You mean I have to choose between the time I swore Peter Murphy’s sweat fell on me (post-Bauhaus) and the time I kissed Richard Butler from the Psychedelic Furs? I’m a music nerd. Especially if you count the time I made a special jacket for the English Beat so they could sign it. I’ve played in bands, too. So if you count the best concert my band and I ever opened for?

Hands down, it would be the time we opened for “X.” Sharing a stage with John Doe & Exene? Swoon.

Opening for X. Some called me “The Secretary” because when I play, it looks like I’m typing. 

What are you currently working on?
A story full of macaroons, French garage bands, Parisian perfumists, a bird with special powers and the power of sisterhood. Thanks for asking! 


You can find Kari on her websiteTwitterTumblr, and Facebook.

Add The Theory of Everything to your “to-read” shelf on Goodreads!

You can buy The Theory of Everything from PenguinAmazonBarnes & NobleBooks a MillionIndieBound, and Powell’s!


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    ***YES - we have it on order here at Akron-Summit County Public Library! Call/stop by/log in to put a hold on today.
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    Thanks, Penguin Teen! It’s an honor to join the family. xo
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