Monday, October 10, 2011

A new book to fall in love with

Beth Kephart, who I first ran into at BEA-- and who spoke so eloquently at The Book Blogger's Convention in New York -- has a new book debuting, YOU ARE MY ONLY. She's a National Book Award Finalist and her young adult fiction is so beautifully written your teenager's verbal SAT score may kick up a few notches -- but she'll be so entranced you won't notice. This is the first time a professor from Penn has answered my five questions. Beth, you are a credit to the Ivy League. More about her fabulosity right here.

1.What kinds of things are on your desk or near your work space to inspire you?

Honest answer? (No, Beth, lie to my readers.) It’s a glass-topped desk. I’m most inspired when it’s so spanking sparkling clean that it holds the reflection of the trees beyond my window. Upside down trees. Upside down birds. Crazy mixed-up storm.I like that best.

2.Describe the last page/chapter you wrote.

There has been a violent accident. My protagonist witnesses the aftermath from a window above.

3. Who is your favorite fictional character from any book you’ve ever written--or read?

I am very in love with Death, the narrator of The Book Thief. I am very in love with Michael Ondaatje, who is right there, so whisper close, behind every character he writes.

4.What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you at a book club or bookstore?

Funny? Do funny things happen to me? Do I go to book stores? Have I been invited to book clubs? Oh. Yes. I just reminded myself. The members of a book club came in from a certain west-coast city and asked that I give them a tour of Chanticleer gardens, where some of my stories take place. They arrived, in force. I gave them what I think was a damned fine tour. Introduced them to gardeners and to garden things. Told them history of both the political and particular sort. Soon the book club members were all giving me their cameras, and I was standing in the hot sun (this was July, Philadelphia), taking their portraits. Standing on the hill, taking their portraits. Squatting on the grass, taking their portraits. Several hours into the event, damp as a newborn and heat overcome, I said to myself, Beth, my dear. You are what fools are made of. (See, everything is a damn novel, people! This is a novel!)

5. Name a word you’d like to put into one of your upcoming books.

I just asked my husband, an artist who has never written a book and believes (we just counted) that he has read no more than 20 of the things in his adult life, this question. He said “wan.”

I asked myself. I said “stinker.”

Not sure if I have ever used either of those words in a manuscript. One is Victorian and the other is just old school. I have used: "Rats!" which is awfully close to stinker. Beth's YOU ARE MY ONLY has other beautiful words in it, and is a great choice for a book club. Just don't ask for the garden tour.


Beth Kephart said...

I had so much fun on Kelly's blog that I'm going to go cross-post about it soon. Cross post is not the same as cross dress. But it is close. In any case, to any of you who choose to read my words, I would just like to say that I really would never use the word stinker in a book, and my husband really would use the word wan (he apparently used it in his Salvadoran third grade classroom, and it made a lasting impression). That's just one of the many ways this artist-writer couple distinguishes itself.

Elizabeth Mosier said...

I love, love, love this! And so admire you, Beth, for making humor from the Chanticleer episode. Kelly, you never fail to make me laugh...and think!

Serena said...

Ah, Beth, we are kindred have my dream desk!

I love the wry humor of Death in Book Thief.

Did no one ask for a picture with you and the gardens?! For shame on those people.

Lilian Nattel said...

Such a fun interview. I love Death as a character in Terry Pratchett's books.

Becca said...

Oh this was so delightful!

For the record, I love the word "wan." My grandmother always said I was a "stinker" when I misbehaved, so the connotations with that one aren't so good!

kelly said...

I am also a fan of the word "wan".
And of authors named Beth . . . or Elizabeth . . .

Beth Kephart said...

All of which reminds me. Salsa dancing at MIXX. Wednesday nights. Five dollar cover if you get there on time. You in?

kelly said...

Oh man something tells me you are talking about tonite . . .and I've been up since 2am. And something else tells me that I need to go to there . . . some other Wednesday!

Beth Kephart said...

Seriously, Kelly, I never met anyone else who kept my hours. Where have you been all my life?

But. I will understand. And see you soon....

kelly said...

I know! If there were eHarmony for friendships, they woulda matched us. :-)