Stanford senior turned novelist talks about her book, Frat Girl

Menlo Park’s Kepler’s Books and Magazines recently helped senior KILEY ROACHE launch her new novel, Frat Girl. Here is how the website Goodreads describes the book:

“For Cassandra Davis, the F-word is fraternity – specifically, Delta Tau Chi, a house on probation and on the verge of being banned from campus. Accused of offensive, sexist behavior, they have one year to clean up their act. For the DTC brothers, the F-word is feminist – the type of person who writes articles in the school paper about why they should lose their home.

Kiley Roache
Kiley Roache, author of the book Frat Girl

“With one shot at a scholarship to attend the university of her dreams, Cassie pitches a research project: to pledge Delta Tau Chi and provide proof of their misogynistic behavior. They’re frat boys. She knows exactly what to expect once she gets there. Exposing them should be a piece of cake.

“But the boys of Delta Tau Chi have their own agenda, and fellow pledge Jordan Louis is certainly more than the tank-top-wearing ‘bro’ Cassie expected to find. With her heart and her future tangled in the web of her own making, Cassie is forced to realize that the F-word might not be as simple as she thought after all.”

Roache talks about her new book, her inspiration for writing it and her experiences at the university.

Where did the inspiration for Frat Girl come from? How much did you draw from the Stanford experience?

The initial idea for Frat Girl came about when a male friend from my freshman dorm jokingly bet me $50 dollars to rush a fraternity. Although I did not end up taking him up on this, I started thinking about what that experience would be like for the first woman to join such a traditionally masculine group.

The book is set at a fictional school called Warren University, and while I share some similarities with the main character, Cassie Davis, there are also many ways we are different. The characters, setting and plot of the story are all made up.

However, I would say that the emotional truth of the story is based on my experience at Stanford. Like the characters in the book, throughout college I have made deep friendships, fallen in love, taken intellectually exhilarating classes, been encouraged by rock star mentors and found my true self. I think that the emotions I have felt and the lessons I have learned throughout Stanford are reflected in the book, and I hope will resonate with people.

How has being at Stanford affected your writing and your writing aspirations?

Being at Stanford has definitely affected my writing for the better. I have been writing fiction since the seventh grade, but when I first arrived at Stanford I was experiencing a bit of writer’s block. I think I was nervous about college and worried my writing was not good enough. But then I took English 9CE, Creative Expression in Writing, with BRITTANY PERHAM. This class was all about experimentation, and we were encouraged to break out of our shells and try new styles and forms. This class helped me get out of my rut and reminded me why I love writing.

Are you graduating this spring? If so, what comes next? I understand you have been selected as a 2018 Daniel Pearl Memorial Journalism Intern?

I am! After graduation, I will be writing for the Wall Street Journal in London as the 2018 Daniel Pearl Memorial Journalism Intern. I hope to continue writing throughout my career, both as a journalist and a novelist.

What kind of initial external and internal reaction has the book gotten?

I have been so blessed to have the support of an amazing group of people at Stanford.  I have always said that the friends I have made in college are like a second family to me, and I actually dedicated Frat Girl to them. They have cheered on my writing from the beginning. Many of my friends have preordered the book and will be reading it for the first time when they return for spring quarter, so I am very excited to hear their thoughts.

Outside of Stanford, the response has been positive as well. A number of young women have reached out to me to say they are excited about the book and relate to it. Christa Desir, an award-winning author whose work I have admired for years, called it “a sweet, subversive deconstruction of frats and feminism” and New York Times bestselling author Julie Cross called it “refreshingly honest.” This sort of feedback has meant a lot to me. Since the story was inspired by a conversation between friends in a dorm hallway about gender roles and college life, I am very excited that the book may contribute to such a conversation at Stanford – and beyond.