Anonymous via TUMBLR
The answer is actually pretty simple. I had said that people are drawn to her and that she is a leader. If she didn’t have lots of friends I felt it would be a kind of an empty characteristic. I have read many books where the protagonist is dubbed a “leader,” but only has two friends. I wanted to show not just say it.
Now, that being said, it was my first novel. If I was doing it again, I would probably have cut two and developed Kaela and Marie a little more. But throughout the novel she is actually pulling away from her group of friends in order to protect them. The friends aren’t actually the focus. The fact that she has many is significant (people being drawn to her becomes more significant in future books).
As far as the similarity in names, I was going for reality. In high school, two of my closest friends were Darcy and Marcy—no, I’m not kidding. And Kay and Kaela are not the same person.
NOTE: In an updated version (2.5 in Dec. 2015), Aleria has fewer friends. Kay and Maggie were combined to become Breanna. In addition, Angela and Kathleen were merged to create April.