Among the many gifts that Tamra has given is introductions to two of her own writers—both of whom were heroines of mine long before I ever thought I'd meet them. One is Ruta Sepetys, whose Between Shades of Gray is a towering international success; Ruta and Tamra were just in Lithuania, for example, meeting with the prime minister about that very book. The other is Kathryn Erskine, who isn't just the National Book Award winner for Mockingbird, but a woman of such abiding curiosity and abundant imagination that when you ask, What are you working on these days, Kathy?, you get a series of gorgeous history lessons and a few foreign phrases thrown in to boot.
Both Ruta and Kathryn kindly read Small Damages and contributed their words to the back cover. A few months later, Ruta wrote to say it would be fun to find a way to do an event together (imagine!) and Kathryn asked if I'd be interested in doing an interview for Book Hook, an email newsletter written for parents, homeschoolers, teachers, librarians, and grandparents. The answer to Kathy's question was pretty easy (yes), and today I share the link to our conversation. This was the first interview I'd done for Small Damages, and it was an honor to have had the conversation with Kathy.
I share a snippet below. You can find the whole by going to this link and then downloading the February/March 2012 edition. Between now and then, I share the photo up above from one of my many trips to Seville. That gorgeous kid is the boy I love. In a few months' time, he'll be a college grad. I dedicated Small Damages to him, because it was this young man who, at so many junctures in his life, would sit and let me read aloud from a book that challenged me greatly; he was the one who listened. Write about the living, not the dead, he said one day after I had read a funeral scene. With his words, my story turned. So did my future.
Kathy: You really captured the mood of sultry, sun-drenched Spain. Can you tell us about your Spanish travels?
My husband, who was born and raised in El Salvador, has a far-flung family. His youngest brother lived in the south of Spain for years, and so we visited a number of times. Seville became a city that I could walk alone, discover on my own, a city I loved and love still. We would also drive out to the countryside. During one excursion, I met one of the best known breeders of the fighting bulls of Spain. I set SMALL DAMAGES in a cortijo very much like the one we visited. Miguel is in some ways patterned after that heroic breeder.