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The 20 Question Interview with our very own Turkeybird is our feature interview that happens with all of the book authors, illustrators and poets we love!
Today we are delighted to welcome a friend and long time favorite author of Turkeybird’s mom, Beth Kephart. Beth’s new book Going Over was published this past week. Much like Dangerous Neighbors, You Are My Only, Small Damages and many other of Beth’s novels Going Over was one that will not soon be forgotten. After many long hours (or possibly minutes) talking with his mom Turkeybird came up with a few questions to ask Beth that he knew he needed to know. So, without further hesitation on our part, the Turkeybird’s interview with Beth Kephart…
I LOVE these questions, Turkeybird. Also, you are such a cute guy! I’ve heard many fine things about you….. But I digress….
1. So, my mom tried to explain why someone would put a big wall in the middle of a big country, but why do you think they did it? Sounds pretty weird to me!
Sadly, there are still many walls in the world today. Walls between Palestine and Israel, between Yemen and Saudi Arabia, and between our own country and Mexico, among other places. Often walls are built to keep people or perceived dangers out. In Berlin, the wall was built in 1961 to keep the people in. The East Germans had begun flocking to the West—unhappy with the conditions where they lived and in search of better opportunities. The East German government needed those people to stay put—who would do the work if they were gone?—and so the Wall (devastatingly) went up.
2. How do you talk to someone when there’s a big wall in the way?
Well, often, you don’t. You can’t. You are cut off from communication. But people are ingenious, and many found a way. Westerners could visit the East, with certain passes. And sometimes the Easterners could get a pass to visit the West. But most of the time, between many people, sometimes even between husbands and wives or siblings or best friends, there was silence. It was terrible.
3. If you were seven what would you read next?
Where the Wild Things Are.
4. How about if you were four, what would you read next? (Littlebug likes to read a lot too. I’ve gotta get books for her.)
Flora and the Flamingo. Which doesn’t even have any words, but it has the best message. (Turkeybird: AH! That is one of her most favorite books ever…see the picture and you’ll know what I’m talking about.)
5. Swings or Slides?
I’d have to say Slides.
Because when I was nine years old I shattered my arm in a fall from a swing. I still have the scars and weak arm to prove it!
7. Math or English class? (I can’t decide right now, I like both!)
Don’t decide! Like both!
8. Do you have a favorite treat? (Mine is anything chocolate!)
I’m right with you, buddy.
9. Crayons or Markers?
Because then I can write the next Famous Crayon Book.
11. What’s your favorite color?
It used to be blue-green. Now it might be orange.
12. I heard you like to make pots and things out of clay. (That sounds neat!) What was your favorite pot that you’ve made?
Oh. I can send you a photograph. I made it for my editor at Chronicle Books, Tamra Tuller. I will attach a picture.
13. When you were my age did you like to draw and read?
I liked Spirographs! And doll fashion.
14. Why do you like to write?
Boy, well. Do you have all day? Or are you busy eating chocolate while drawing with crayons?
15. My mom said you write lots of books about things that happened a long time ago, she called it history. What’s your favorite time that’s already happened?
Your mother is a smart cookie. I like her. Tell her that. I’m a big fan of late 19th century stuff. But I really loved going back to 1983 Berlin.
16. I love Legos and building things! Do you like Legos or something else fun?
Does ballroom dance count?
Because I can do it with the music on.
18. Lakes or the ocean? We live next to the ocean and it is so neat!
OCEAN!! (Lucky guy, you.)
19. What’s your favorite thing to do outside? (Mine is exploring!)
20. What are you writing right now?
Answers to your questions.
The Turkeybird Speaks: Wow Beth, I can’t believe how crazy that there are still places in the world like you talked about. I asked my mom if there are any books I could read on my own about Mexico, Israel and Germany. We are going to go to the bookstore and the library to find some. I really want to learn lots and lots more!
The dancing sounds like lots and lots of fun too, but not the broken arm. I think I will stay away from swings (I didn’t like them before very much) and dance a lot more. Except my dancing is kind of really crazy!
Thank you super a lot Beth! Your answers were so so good and when I get older I really want to read all of your books, just because they sound so neat!
Thanks to the generous folks at Chronicle books we are delighted to be able to giveaway one signed copy of Going Over plus an audiobook to one lucky There’s A Book reader!
Be sure to enter using the rafflecopter form below and be aware that this one is for US/Canadian residents only.
Thank you so much to the publisher, Chronicle Books, for providing a copy of this book for review! Connect with them on Twitter, on Facebook and on Pinterest! Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.
Incredibly happy as I anticipate my conversation (about books, memoir, writing, meaning) with Dani Shapiro during the upcoming First Person Arts Festival on Sunday, November 10, 4 - 5:30, at Christ's Church in Philadelphia.
So happy to share our former rgz Author in Residence Beth Kephart's new trailer for her next novel. My review for You Are My Only ran here. Don't miss this book when it releases at the end of the month. Don't-miss-it.
Beth Kephart has shared many Cover Stories in this space--for Undercover and House of Dance, for Nothing But Ghostsand for The Heart is Not a Size. Her latest novel is high in my pile, and it should be in yours too! I dare you to read a Beth Kephart book and not sigh at the beauty of her words. She's truly a poet (check out her blog for proof).
Here's Beth talking about the cover of her new novel, You Are My Only:
"For many months I have wondered just how I would write this cover story. In some ways, I still don’t know quite what to say.
"Should I start with the title, You Are My Only, which sets the mood? And if I start with the title, then aren’t I really starting (or shouldn’t I start) by thanking my agent, Amy Rennert, and her colleague, Robyn Russell, who helped me toward knowing what the title must be during a week of grave uncertainty?
"You Are My Only, then—a title that I was helped toward. Words that struck me once, and strike me again today, as singular and brave.
"To create the image, we turned, of course, to Neil Swaab, who had designed the gorgeous cover for Dangerous Neighbors [read that Cover Story on bn.com], and who seems to get books the moment he reads them—seems to settle on that symbol or scene that obsessed the writer or, in this case, kept the writer going. Both of my protagonists—Sophie and Emmy—are caught inside worlds, trapped in places they should not be. Both look out through windows on people and places just out of reach. What might symbolize that? What single image might tell the story of two young women separated by time and place and hurt?"
It’s summer reading time. We’re fortunate to have the talented Em, Nora, and Alicia of Love YA Lit here to share their current summer reading list with us. You’ll drift away with these white hot reads.
While only Nora has summer break these days (school is officially out for summer), all three of us still have a special place in our hearts for summer reading! Whether reading at the beach while catching some rays, listening to an audiobook while gardening, or taking a tourism break on a trip by diving into a story, we are excited to have some outstanding books as companions on these hot summer days. Here are a handful of books that we’re excited to check out this summer!
Eva is a copy of another girl named Amarra. She spends her time studying everything about Amarra so that she is ready to replace her if she is ever to die. And die she does. Now Eva is expected to take her fifteen years of studying, move to India, and convince the world that Amarra is alive – that this other girl is her. In addition to an interesting concept, India is the big draw here. Em spent a semester of college in Bangalore, which is where the author grew up, and is drawn to books with Indian settings, which are few and far between. We have heard very little buzz about this title – positive or negative – and are curious to check it out for ourselves.
Ages 13 and up | Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers | August 28, 2012
Kenzie is graduating from high school. While her peers are dreaming of prom and heading to college in the fall, she finds herself with bigger concerns: the loss of her father and the baby growing in her belly who her mother and her boyfriend don’t understand her desire to keep. The silver lining? She’s sent to Spain for the summer. The downside? She’s meant to live out her pregnancy working in the kitchen on a bull ranch and then give her baby up for adoption to a Spanish couple. This book offers readers a chance to vicariously travel the world, but it might not be the vacation of our dreams. A big draw of the book is the setting, but the last thing we want to do is work on a bull farm and feel pressured about what to do with our bodies (and our babies). Hopefully there’ll be some gazpacho slurping and someone (not the pregnant teen) will get to drink some sangria.
Perhaps you've been waiting anxiously for this day because a gorgeous, brilliant, and much-anticipated book is hitting the shelves at this very moment. That day has arrived!
Today, Beth Kephart's latest exquisite novel, DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS, is born! So if you happen to be at the bookstore for any other reason, please pick it up and savor it like the rarest and finest of chocolates.
I'm thrilled and proud to welcome Beth to a special edition of Story Secrets to spill some of her DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS secrets - and she has generously offered to give away one book (see entry info below)!
DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS is the story of twin sisters set against the backdrop of 1876 Philadelphia, the Centennial year. When the novel opens, Katherine has lost her sister, Anna, to an untimely death and, feeling responsible, is unwilling to live on. She chooses a hot Saturday in early September to make her way to the Centennial grounds, where all the noise and commotion of the international exhibition does nothing to permeate her sadness. Chased by Anna’s former lover and contemplating suicide, Katherine is saved, at the exhibition, by an unlikely turn of events and by a boy, an animal whisperer of sorts, far outside her social class. The present day story is leavened by numerous flashbacks, where we meet Anna herself, and her lover.
Holly Cupala: Such a fascinating premise, Beth! Both sisters and a beloved city. Can you tell us about how the idea began?
Beth Kephart: I had been working on a book (an unusual “autobiography”) about a Philadelphia river—a book called FLOW: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF PHILADELPHIA’S SCHUYLKILL RIVER— and I kept encountering images and stories of old Philadelphia that led me in this direction. I love my city, and I always return to it in my imagination.
"Katherine and Anna are two peas in a pod, two sisters that are so close together than only death can really tear them apart. After Anna's tragic death, Katherine is so filled with sorrow, anger, and guilt that her desire to live fades away; it takes a series of surprises and near-disasters for Katherine to find her way. As we ride through Katherine's memories and current life, the story of her and Anna is slowly unraveled, until the thing that we've all been dying (pardon the pun) to know about is finally revealed.
Dangerous Neighbors is a quietly powerful and poignant novel that kept me enthralled the whole time. It's a lot shorter than I expected it to be - only 166 pages - but I feel that its brevity only enriched the story. Once again, the main thing that stands out in this novel - and all of Beth Kephart's novels - is the writing. All of the words were so deliberately picked, the descriptions were like poetry, and awkward phrases were nonexistent. Kephart can put things into words that the rest of us cannot, and in such a beautiful and touching way as well..."
Read the rest of this review on Priya's blog. (And read the story behind that gorgeous cover here!)
Congrats to Tessa and Liesl, winners of May's 2k11/Elevensie swag packs!
With a historical middle-grade coming out next year and research on a new book underway, I've been thinking a lot about historical fiction. There are particular challenges and limitations that come with telling a story in a time before our own.
In time, I would write my own history-indebted books. I would come to an earned understanding of how difficult it is to both honor the past and make it relevant and pressing for modern readers. One has to make decisions about authenticity, completeness, recorded truth, the shaping of language, the admission of now to then. One has to yield to the novelist's first obligation, which is to craft a moving, timeless story.
And that is perhaps what is so great about this book, is that you get the true sense of Elizabeth as a person. She isn’t a character from history or an un-relatable, larger than life, individual. She’s human.
What particular challenges do you see in creating historical fiction?
There's an amazing author I met last year, not with a formal introduction, but through a book review. That book was like a nourishing meal, meaty and savory and lovely. Now she's read May B., and I am deeply honored by what she had to say about my girl.
Author Beth Kephart has created a unique treasure hunt related to her newest novel, You Are My Only. She will be posting a series of Story Behind the Story posts at various blogs, and readers who track them down have the opportunity to win a signed copy of Kephart's book You Are My Only AND a critique of the first 2,000 words of a work-in-progress.
Can we take a moment to thank Egmont for publishing another Beth Kephart exquisite novel? Thank you, Egmont!
You Are My Only will be released October 25th, and I encourage you then to find Beth's newest book. In this realistic fiction novel, you'll breath despair along with several suppressed characters. You'll turn pages and yearn for them each to find hope. One story tells of a young mother's loss of her baby, while the second winds a tale of a teen sequestered from society. How the works intertwine is brilliant. From beginning to end, images and movements echo and resonate back and forth between the stories. At the reveal, I actually stopped reading, stunned by the moment of truth.
As always, I was mesmerized by Beth's rich writing. Even in the smallest detail:
"There is a bird making a tree branch heavy, her gray belly bottom like the high back of the sun."
"Outside the wind sneaks up under the loose skirt of the roof tiles..."
Nesting in the story are sweet truths of life that you can grapple with and then possibly hold.
"Tragedy and blessing," Miss Cloris says. "Sometimes they're the same one thing."
"What do you suppose any of us, Sophie, wish to be remembered for? For the things that tried to stop us or the ways we carried on?"
I'm still thinking over the latter. I'm challenged to find the truth that I would ultimately hold.
You Are My Only is current, relevant, and gracefully written with gripping realism. There is no shrinking back. Thank you, Beth, for staying truly dedicated to the fine art of writing.
Last week, I invited Beth Kephart, author of YA novels Undercover (Come back later for a Book Giveaway Contest!), House of Dance, and the soon to be released Nothing But Ghosts, to stop by and share her thoughts on how to create emotion in our writing. Beth kindly accepted and I was thrilled. I mean, Beth is a National Book Award finalist, an NEA grant winner, a Pew Fellowships in the Arts recipient, a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts winner, a Leeway Foundation award winner, and a Speakeasy Poetry Prize winner. In addition to YA, Beth is written memoir and non-fiction. She offers experience and beauty of words and it is a wonder to learn from her.
It's no secret that I'm a fan of Beth's work. While I count Beth as a friend, I'll let you know there is no bias here. Beth's writing is simply stunning and if you want a treat,go over and read her blog. She updates it at least once a day and it is filled with lyrical musings that will make you crave more.
As I wrote in my interview with her, Through the Eyes of Beth Kephart, "Beth has an incredible gift of seeing the little things that matter. I've decided she is a writer with a pure artisanal mindset -- she hand selects each word before painting layers of meaning and imagery onto paper."
Here's what Beth shares with us on how she brings emotion to her work:
You have asked me how I bring emotion into my work, and may I first say what a tremendous question this is, for how, indeed, is emotion achieved on the page? For me it begins in real life, in the way that I live. I feel deeply, always. I live my life on the perpetual precipice of wanting, of wishing, of needing. I want to touch things I can’t reach, like the pink in the sky. I want to be able to do things I can’t do, I want to live longer, I want to see more, and I lean all this wanting directly down onto the page. My characters are reaching, too—filled up with desire or curiosity or loss. They’re not finished people. They’re grappling. Sometimes the thoughts they are thinking are swooshed together in long, circuitous sentences. Sometimes they are yelped out, in a word or two. The surprising image is essential to emotional writing. So is deliberate variation in the structure and rhythm of sentences. So is reading every sentence you write out loud, several times, and if it doesn’t move you, it sure as heck isn’t going to move its readers.
Yesterday, while I was lounging about at the dance studio, the very gorgeous (you should see her) Tirsa said to me, "Do you know that there are, like, a ton of Beth Kepharts?"
She was on Facebook, trying to friend me. I was the forest, apparently, that could not be found for the trees.
A ton of me(s), I thought. How tres convenient! Could one possibly do my laundry and the other cook and the other get caught up with that pile of magazines? Oh. Please. I am aware of one poor alter ego, right in this neighborhood, who gets called upon, on occasion, to read from one of my books. I had the chance, once, to apologize in person, when she showed up at one of my readings to shed some light on her most unfortunate circumstance. I told her that I'd share the spoils of my fame someday, if ever spoils there are.
(From the looks of things, that won't be happening anytime soon.)
But I'm banking on the fact that none of these Beth Kepharts have had a day like the one I've had—an email from my brother-in-law of Seville, at four AM. A call from my Dallas-based brother-in-law nearer to ten (he wanted me to open a box he'd sent; he said, Beware, for the love stuffed inside might spatter out and stain you). A call after that from my Salvadoran mother-in-law, a woman I met just weeks before my wedding, a woman who taught me coffee farming, a woman I didn't think knew much of anything about English until she lay on my sofa for a week reading my book about her country, Still Love in Strange Places, laughing at the funny parts). A note later on from Adela, my aunt-in-law, if I might use such a term for one of the most glamorous women on earth.
And in between, my friends. And yesterday, my father. A moment ago, my son, that now-familiar happiness in his voice, a story he's been writing on his mind. And in a few hours, the sea.
That's this Beth Kephart. She has rain in her hair in the photo up above. She wears her lousy, ripped-up jeans.
I've enjoyed interviewing authors on my blog, and I have to say, I've noticed a trend...these friends of mine are doing well, winning awards and gaining momentum in the marketplace. And who, you may ask, is this happening to? Well, since being interviewed on my blog:
I love success stories. I'm so excited for all of them and thrilled that I got to share their stories here on my blog. Now, I'm off to the sofa. The kids are gone, the house is clean, and I can't wait to read Nothing but Ghosts.
rgz Launch Party with Janet Lee Carey! Join the STEALING DEATH Launch Party with rgz co-founder, Janet Lee Carey on Wednesday, September 30, at 6 p.m. Pacific/9 p.m. Eastern! We’ll be chatting about her new fantasy release. The chat will be over at the readergirlz blog.
We are happy to announce our very first Author in Residence, Beth Kephart. This critically acclaimed, gracious writer will be on the rgz team through December. Check out her mini-issue at the rgz website. Watch our blog for Beth’s monthly vlog entries about writing, which will include contests! See her first post here.
Teen Read Week Tribute! Do you love YALSA's Teen Read Week? Let it out at your blog through a post or vlog, then send the link to firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject line: Your name, TRW Tribute. We’ll collect all the contributions and post them at the rgz blog in a 24 hour time span. Tell us about your recent release, or a book you love dearly, and then give a shout out for Teen Read Week. The tribute will run October 23!
And here's a sneak preview for the awesome Teen Read Week event we're planning at readergirlz! (Remember last year?) And do we have an unbelievable lineup! Stay tuned for more info later this month...
For the next four months, Beth Kephart, our first author-in-residence at readergirlz, will be posting monthly video blogs in which she discusses the art (and the joys, and the frustrations) of writing. Each vlog entry will also serve as a prompt for writing contests.
Here is the first of Beth's vlog entries, with her written introduction:
"I believe that the stories that touch us are written by authors who remain vulnerable to the world - who leave themselves open to the raw wounds and the glorious possibilities of yearning, outreach, and hope. Watch the video, then write no more than ten lines of poetry or prose expressing a fully lived emotion. Send your entry to kephartblog AT comcast DOT net by September 25th, 2009. The author of the winning ten lines will receive a signed copy of Undercover, a novel about a young, aspiring poet who discovers the beauty that lives within her."
Beth Kephart, our first author-in-residence at readergirlz, has been posting monthly blogs in which she discusses the art (and the joys, and the frustrations) of writing, along with writing prompts and related contests. Here is Beth's third prompt:
"In this readergirlz challenge, the premise is simple: Find a photograph of yourself as a young child on the verge of some new knowledge or turning point. Write a paragraph about that photograph/that moment in present tense, as if you are experiencing that moment for the first time. Then write about that photograph/that moment in past tense, with the gift of retrospection. Ask yourself what you gain from working in the present tense, and what is gained by reflection; include your thoughts on this with your submission."
Send your entry to kephartblog AT comcast DOT net by November 25th, 2009. The author of the winning paragraph will receive a signed copy of Nothing but Ghosts, a novel about a young girl who, in learning to live past her mother's unexpected passing, involves herself in decoding the mystery that envelops the recluse down the road. The past and the present collide in Ghosts.
"...a challenge that asks you to look at something familiar and transform it into the unexpected. Check out the video posted here. Send your best work to kephartblogATcomcastDOTnet. The winner will receive an advanced reading copy of The Heart is Not a Size (which is due out in March from HarperTeen). The winning work will be posted on this site. Our deadline is December 30, 2009."
Revision update: I can always tell the parts of my first draft where I was struggling. This morning, I found one of those parts at the beginning of this next chapter I’m working on, and I found a much better way to get into the story.
I love this. But it also gave me an idea about research for us writers.
If there’s an area we want to work on — plot, characters, word choices — we can read books that excel in those areas. We can learn something new, something good in every book we read. But, like Frenetic Reader points out, writers tend to be strongest in one or two areas, and the rest follows.
If you want to know what books to read for these different areas, read the reviews. Look at what’s on the bestseller lists and honors lists that are in the genre you’re writing and read what reviewers say. If you’re looking for books strong on plot, read the books reviewers say have a strong plot, or Google search review, your genre and plot and see what kind of results you get.
Most of the books in my must-read list I’ve found through reading about them in blogs, but I was only looking for popular books in the genre I write. From now on, I’m going to scour reviews and let them be my guide based on what I’m looking to build on.
This month, readergirlz is honored to feature renowned young adult author E. Lockhart! We're discussing her book The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.
Read the January issueof readergirlz. There's a playlist for the book, plus book guide questions and party ideas.
Drop by the readergirlz blog to discuss the book with other readers, ALL MONTH LONG!
And don't forget to join us for the LIVE! chat with E. Lockhart on Wednesday, January 20th at 6 pm PST/9 pm EST.
Other news at readergirlz this month:
Last bit of author-in-residence excitement with Beth Kephart... Beth Kephart is the amazing author of several books (including the delicious mystery NOTHING BUT GHOSTS), and she's been our author-in-residence since December. We have one last chat with her on January 6 at 6 p.m. PST/9 p.m. EST. Don't miss it!(TOMORROW!)
We introduce our next author in residence, Elizabeth Scott... Elizabeth Scott wrote LIVING DEAD GIRL; SOMETHING, MAYBE; and STEALING HEAVEN. We are going to have a great time exploring her work and her writing process.
I head up the readergirlz Street Team, and this year we welcome some new members. The 2010 Team: These fabulous folks can help guide you through the wonderful world of YA books: Miss Erin, Priya, Silence, Vanessa, Sarah, Enna Isilee.
Jacket description: "Georgia knows what it means to keep secrets. She knows how to ignore things. She knows that some things are better left unsaid. . . . Or are they?
When Georgia and her best friend, Riley, travel along with nine other suburban Pennsylvania kids to Anapra, a squatters' village in the heat-flattened border city of Juarez, Mexico, secrets seem to percolate and threaten both a friendship and a life. Certainties unravel. Reality changes. And Georgia is left to figure out who she is outside the world she's always known."
What a little gem! Author Beth Kephart is talented at really creating a picture for her reader, both of setting and characters, and evoking emotions into every sentence in her books. This one is certainly no exception and you'll find yourself feeling the hot Juarez sun (and boy is it hot...used to live not too far from there) and living the tension between Georgia and Riley.
These characters are both complex in their own ways, making you want to know more about them and sympathizing with the heartaches they're each going through. And in the midst of the relationship drama, there is this trip to Juarez. Filled with hope and determination to make something better for the impoverished city and the families living there. Both aspects of the story are perfectly intertwined and beautifully done.
And for once I can applaud an author for knowing when to end her novel! One of my biggest pet peeves among YA and Middle Grade authors today are the lengthy books they write and the feeling that they shoved a whole bunch of extra stuff into a book to make it 500 pages long, rather than keeping a great story 200 pages. Beth Kephart knew when to stop and the result is a wonderful little book I would happily hand to any teen.
Overall rating: 4 out of 5
The Heart is Not a Size Beth Kephart 256 pages Young Adult HarperCollins 9780061470486 March 2010 Review copy received from publisher
To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a small percentage of the purchase price. Thanks!