Author Archive

LIVE CHAT – Kristin Levine and
Lisa Von Drasek

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
Live Blog Live Chat with Kristin Levine, THE PAPER COWBOY
Krisitn LOVE to do school visits, whether in person or by SKYPE. To set up a visit, go to her Web site.
 Live Chat with Kristin Levine, THE PAPER COWBOY(10/01/2014) 
4:46
Nora - EarlyWord: 
We will begin our live online chat with Kristin Levine, author of the middle grade novel, Paper Cowboy, in about 15 minutes.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 4:46 Nora - EarlyWord
4:47
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Here’s the cover of the book, published by Penguin/ Putnam Juvenile last month …
Wednesday October 1, 2014 4:47 Nora - EarlyWord
4:47
Nora - EarlyWord
Wednesday October 1, 2014 4:47 
4:48
Nora - EarlyWord: 
It's also been released in audio by Listening Library. Here is a clip:
Wednesday October 1, 2014 4:48 Nora - EarlyWord
4:48
The Paper Cowboy  Play
Wednesday October 1, 2014 4:48 
4:51
Nora - EarlyWord: 

Below is an excerpt from the starred Kirkus review:

KIRKUS REVIEW

A family crisis pushes a 12-year-old wannabe cowboy living outside Chicago in 1953 to resort to bullying and damaging pranks.

Since his baby sister’s birth, Tommy’s normally moody mother’s been like a “sky full of dark clouds.” When his older sister’s seriously burned, Tommy’s left to cope with her daily newspaper route, his increasingly abusive mother, his overwhelmed father and his younger sisters …Speaking in the first person, Tommy reveals himself as a good-hearted, responsible kid who’s temporarily lost his moral compass. … Period detail and historical references effectively capture the anti-communist paranoia of the McCarthy era.

A winningly authentic, realistic and heartwarming family drama.

Wednesday October 1, 2014 4:51 Nora - EarlyWord
4:55
Nora - EarlyWord: 

The narrator, Lincoln Hoppe gave Kristin props for the book on Twitter (the clip from the audio is above):

"The Paper Cowboy" is fantastic! Just finished narrating the audiobook. you are an absolutely amazing writer!

Wednesday October 1, 2014 4:55 Nora - EarlyWord
4:58
Nora - EarlyWord: 

I see chat participants gathering!

You can send your questions through at any time. They'll go into a queue, and we'll submit as many of them as we can to Kristin before the end of the chat.

Typos are welcomed!

Wednesday October 1, 2014 4:58 Nora - EarlyWord
5:00
Nora - EarlyWord: 

Our moderator is Lisa Von Drasek, head of the Children’s Literature Research Collections at the University of Minnesota Libraries (and EarlyWord kids Correspondent).

Say hi, Lisa!

Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:00 Nora - EarlyWord
5:00
lisa von drasek: 
Hello! Everyone.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:00 lisa von drasek
5:01
JoAnn Jonas: 
Hi Lisa!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:01 JoAnn Jonas
5:01
Nora - EarlyWord: 
And, here is our author, Kristin Levine...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:01 Nora - EarlyWord
5:01
Kristin Levine: 
Hi, everyone! I'm thrilled to be here!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:01 Kristin Levine
5:02
lisa von drasek: 
That was JoAnn Jonas who is a children's librarian now residing in New Mexico
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:02 lisa von drasek
5:02
JoAnn Jonas: 
Hi Kristin!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:02 JoAnn Jonas
5:02
Kristin Levine: 
Hi JoAnn! So who's got the first question?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:02 Kristin Levine
5:03
lisa von drasek: 
Kristine- we are dying to know- this book is set during the communist scare of the '50's...can you say a few words about the inspiration?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:03 lisa von drasek
5:03
lisa von drasek: 
Yikes! Kristin!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:03 lisa von drasek
5:03
Kristin Levine: 
I grew up in the 1980s and I remember being really afraid that there was going to be a nuclear war....
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:03 Kristin Levine
5:03
[Comment From Michelle K.Michelle K.: ] 
Hi Kristin -- love the book!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:03 Michelle K.
5:03
[Comment From Kathy C.Kathy C.: ] 
So fun to read about bomb shelters!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:03 Kathy C.
5:04
Kristin Levine: 
...then when I was 18 I was an au pair in Austria. This was right after the end of the Soviet Union and met all these people who had lived in communist countries...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:04 Kristin Levine
5:04
Kristin Levine: 
...and of course they seemed just like you and me. So that got be interested in the communist angle.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:04 Kristin Levine
5:05
Kristin Levine: 
Kathy, aren't bomb shelters fascinating?! That was a game I used to play as a kid. What we would take to a bomb shelter
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:05 Kristin Levine
5:05
lisa von drasek: 
We’ve received some advance questions from the Penguin Young Readers program participants, Here’s the first one: "I personally loved the 'Authors Note' where you wrote about who the characters were based on and actually published their photos. It kind of breaks the wall between fiction and reality however. How have readers responded?"
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:05 lisa von drasek
5:05
[Comment From Sally, Mich.Sally, Mich.: ] 
Lisa -- love your interviews!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:05 Sally, Mich.
5:05
JoAnn Jonas: 
Kristin--Did your family have a bomb shelter...or your dad's?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:05 JoAnn Jonas
5:05
[Comment From Linda P.Linda P.: ] 
Can't with to hear more about the inspirations for the book.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:05 Linda P.
5:06
Kristin Levine: 
I haven't heard from any readers about it yet. But I had a relative who (I thought) I had the okay from on it who ended up very upset. I felt really terrible about it!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:06 Kristin Levine
5:06
lisa von drasek: 
can you say what upset them?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:06 lisa von drasek
5:06
Kristin Levine: 
Linda, a lot of the inspiration came from stories my dad told me about his childhood.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:06 Kristin Levine
5:07
[Comment From Linda P.Linda P.: ] 
I hope to be an author and want to draw on my family's history -- how do you cover your bases with permissions?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:07 Linda P.
5:07
Kristin Levine: 
Lisa, I think my relative felt that I was sharing family secrets.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:07 Kristin Levine
5:07
Kristin Levine: 
Linda, this is my third book loosely based on family history...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:07 Kristin Levine
5:08
Kristin Levine: 
...I think it's important to talk to everyone involved. But no one has ever had a problem before. Changing names is good too!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:08 Kristin Levine
5:08
lisa von drasek: 
and this advance question relates...
"How brave to show an unsaintly mother! Have you gotten any push-back on that?"

Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:08 lisa von drasek
5:09
Kristin Levine: 
Back to inspirations, my dad and I went to Downers Grove to look at a bunch of stuff. I'll post a few pics.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:09 Kristin Levine
5:09
lisa von drasek: 
Do you have a map of the neighbor hood. It was very real to me.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:09 lisa von drasek
5:10
Kristin Levine: 
Re unsaintly mother: It felt like something that might really happen...something that has happened to many kids. I guess I just thought it was a story that needed to be told.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:10 Kristin Levine
5:10
Kristin Levine: 
Lisa, I couldn't find the map my dad drew for me. But we did walk his paper route!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:10 Kristin Levine
5:10
JoAnn Jonas: 
I'm sure many readers will be able to relate...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:10 JoAnn Jonas
5:11
Kristin Levine
And here's where Tommy saw his movies!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:11 
5:11
lisa von drasek: 
ohhh
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:11 lisa von drasek
5:11
lisa von drasek: 
The sense of place and the community of immigrants is palpable…can you say a few words about that?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:11 lisa von drasek
5:11
Kristin Levine: 
Sure. My dad talked a lot about how he loved growing up in such a diverse immigrant community...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:11 Kristin Levine
5:12
Kristin Levine: 
...my understanding is, that their church bought a lot of land and offered cheap loans to immigrant families...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:12 Kristin Levine
5:12
Kristin Levine: 
...he also talked a lot about all the delicious food. And how kind people were to him when doing his paper route on cold winter mornings.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:12 Kristin Levine
5:13
Kristin Levine
The pond where they went ice skating was a real place too
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:13 
5:13
lisa von drasek: 
Can we talk about Tommy?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:13 lisa von drasek
5:13
Kristin Levine: 
Of course! He was an interesting character to write....
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:13 Kristin Levine
5:13
Kristin Levine: 
...cause he does so many unlikable things. But I (at least) still really liked him.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:13 Kristin Levine
5:14
Kristin Levine: 
I thought it would be interesting to write about a bully from a bully's POV. And when my dad said that looking back he considered himself a bully, I thought it might be interesting to figure out why that happened.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:14 Kristin Levine
5:14
[Comment From School LibrarianSchool Librarian: ] 
Love what you said in the author's note about your dad realizing he had been a bully. Did the book give him a sense of relief about that?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:14 School Librarian
5:14
Kristin Levine: 
School librarian, what an interesting question!! Yeah, I think it did....
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:14 Kristin Levine
5:14
[Comment From Sarah Q.Sarah Q.: ] 
I loved how you made Tommy basically likable, but showed he made bad choices. How did you manage that>
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:14 Sarah Q.
5:15
JoAnn Jonas: 
That did strike me as a reader, he was almost too good to be true but then also a bully and often unkind, making him a more complex character
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:15 JoAnn Jonas
5:15
Kristin Levine: 
...he also said it was really interesting going back to his school reunion because no one else remembered all the bad things he had done. But he did.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:15 Kristin Levine
5:16
Kristin Levine: 
Sarah, how did I make Tommy likable? Oh that is so hard to strike the right balance. Truthfully, my editor helped a lot.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:16 Kristin Levine
5:16
Kristin Levine: 
My editor is the amazing Stacey Barney.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:16 Kristin Levine
5:16
lisa von drasek: 
JoAnn,
I have to disagree with you... Tommy had to be perfect at home taking care of the younger siblings, doing the dishes, running the household because the consequences were so devastating if he failed
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:16 lisa von drasek
5:16
[Comment From Four EyesFour Eyes: ] 
Oddly, I had more sympathy for Tommy than his victims.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:16 Four Eyes
5:16
Kristin Levine
Here we are on the Ferris wheel at ALA in Las Vegas this past summer
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:16 
5:17
Kristin Levine: 
Lisa, yes, I think Tommy did feel like had to be perfect at home or it would all fall apart.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:17 Kristin Levine
5:18
Kristin Levine: 
Four Eyes, what an interesting observation! The POV you tell a story from determines so much about how you feel about what happens, I guess.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:18 Kristin Levine
5:19
[Comment From School LibrarianSchool Librarian: ] 
Dying to know how kids react to McCarthyism. Does it seem weird to them?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:19 School Librarian
5:19
Kristin Levine: 
School librarian, I haven't talked to a lot of kids about the book yet, but this is the way I see it...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:19 Kristin Levine
5:20
lisa von drasek: 
an advance question that relates to the one from School Librarian

You didn’t live through the period of the book. Do you think things are similar today – are we as ready to hate based on suspicions?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:20 lisa von drasek
5:20
Kristin Levine: 
... McCarthyism was kind of grownups bullying each other. Kids understand bullying. So I guess I think (hope) they will be able to relate...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:20 Kristin Levine
5:21
Kristin Levine: 
... and I guess I do see some similarities to things today, especially how rumors are sometimes reported as "news"
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:21 Kristin Levine
5:21
[Comment From School LibrarianSchool Librarian: ] 
I love that point -- so true. Looking forward to using this with my kids.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:21 School Librarian
5:21
Kristin Levine: 
The school in the book was also a real place. The head of the school was so nice about letting us look around.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:21 Kristin Levine
5:22
[Comment From School LibrarianSchool Librarian: ] 
And am trying to come up with similar issue today.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:22 School Librarian
5:22
[Comment From Linda P.Linda P.: ] 
Tell us about the editing process -- was it difficult?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:22 Linda P.
5:22
Kristin Levine
Saint Joseph School
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:22 
5:22
Kristin Levine: 
Linda, I love the editing process...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:22 Kristin Levine
5:22
[Comment From School LibrarianSchool Librarian: ] 
Fox News might be a good example!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:22 School Librarian
5:23
Kristin Levine: 
... but I always say I'm not a good writer, just a pretty good rewriter, so I go through a lot of drafts. Will post some examples...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:23 Kristin Levine
5:23
JoAnn Jonas: 
how fun! thanks Kristin
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:23 JoAnn Jonas
5:23
Kristin Levine
Most of my pages look like this...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:23 
5:23
lisa von drasek: 
Historic fiction requires a level of accuracy….can you say something about your research? Anything that surprised you?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:23 lisa von drasek
5:24
Kristin Levine
... or this. (Sorry it's sideways!!)
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:24 
5:25
Kristin Levine: 
I had so much fun researching. There was this little museum in Downers Grover where I found notes from a League of Women's Voters meeting where they discussed McCarthyism in 1953. Will post a copy...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:25 Kristin Levine
5:25
Kristin Levine
Copy of League Notes
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:25 
5:26
[Comment From Four EyesFour Eyes: ] 
Tommy’s dad seems just overwhelmed. What did you think of him?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:26 Four Eyes
5:26
Kristin Levine
League notes.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:26 
5:26
[Comment From Four EyesFour Eyes: ] 
I said that wrong -- as the author, did you like him?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:26 Four Eyes
5:27
Kristin Levine: 
Four Eyes, yeah, Tommy's dad. I think men's roles were really different in the 1950s. He needed to step up and I don't think he could quite wrap his mind around what he needed to do.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:27 Kristin Levine
5:28
Kristin Levine: 
Did I like Tommy's dad? Yeah, I did. I think he was doing the best he could. Was he as brave or as helpful as he should have been? No...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:28 Kristin Levine
5:28
Kristin Levine: 
...but I guess I think peoples imperfects make them interesting, especially in a book.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:28 Kristin Levine
5:28
JoAnn Jonas: 
The Dad seemed to be in denial about the mothers mental illness, and how it effected the family I felt sorry for them all
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:28 JoAnn Jonas
5:28
lisa von drasek: 
Kristin,

Are there historic novels for kids that you really admire?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:28 lisa von drasek
5:28
[Comment From School LibrarianSchool Librarian: ] 
It's chilling to think what that time was like. That doc. makes it real -- would love to use it with kids -- is it on your web site?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:28 School Librarian
5:29
Kristin Levine: 
JoAnn, I think he was in denial because there really wasn't a lot of treatment for mental illness at the time. He really didn't know what to do.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:29 Kristin Levine
5:29
lisa von drasek: 
School librarian- you can download it to your picture file from this app.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:29 lisa von drasek
5:29
[Comment From Sarah Q.Sarah Q.: ] 
Good for the League of Women Voters -- didn't realize that they stood up to McCarthy.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:29 Sarah Q.
5:29
Kristin Levine: 
School librarian, I don't have it on my website right now, but that's a great idea. I'll post a copy of it. Or feel free to email me from my website and I can send you a copy.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:29 Kristin Levine
5:30
Kristin Levine: 
Sarah, yeah I was so excited when I found out people really had been talking about this issue in Downers Grove...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:30 Kristin Levine
5:30
JoAnn Jonas: 
Kristin, what historical fiction do you like?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:30 JoAnn Jonas
5:31
Kristin Levine: 
...in a previous draft there was a lot more about the League, Tommy went to a meeting with his mom, but for various reasons that thread was mainly cut.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:31 Kristin Levine
5:31
lisa von drasek: 
School Librarian et all....if you reproduce the League of Women Voters picture please credit the museum in Downer's Grove- Kristin what is the name of it?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:31 lisa von drasek
5:31
Kristin Levine: 
JoAnn, re. historical fiction... I love Christopher Paul Curtis. His book, The Watson Go to Birmingham, 1963, was such an inspiration to me.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:31 Kristin Levine
5:32
[Comment From Linda P.Linda P.: ] 
Love looking at your pages, but am surprised that the markings are in pencil. I thought this was all word processed these days!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:32 Linda P.
5:32
Kristin Levine: 
Lisa, I think it was the Downers Grove Historical Society. Will be sure to check with them before I post anything on my site.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:32 Kristin Levine
5:32
[Comment From Sally, MichSally, Mich: ] 
Hurrah! Love THE WATSONS!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:32 Sally, Mich
5:33
Kristin Levine: 
Linda, oh that is too funny!! Sometimes I write on the computer...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:33 Kristin Levine
5:33
Kristin Levine: 
...but I feel like I think differently with a pen in my hand. So I'm afraid I'm killing a bunch of trees...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:33 Kristin Levine
5:33
Kristin Levine: 
...truthfully, I find track changes so hard to use!! But in later drafts I do.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:33 Kristin Levine
5:33
lisa von drasek: 
Kristin- what are you reading now?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:33 lisa von drasek
5:34
Kristin Levine: 
Sally, isn't Watsons a great book? So funny. and I love how it makes the history personal.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:34 Kristin Levine
5:34
[Comment From Linda P.Linda P.: ] 
Was there a specific event that inspired the story about the store owner who lost business because of a silly rumor?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:34 Linda P.
5:34
Kristin Levine: 
Lisa, I just finished Counting by 7s by Holly Goldbery Sloan. I thought it was great.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:34 Kristin Levine
5:35
Kristin Levine: 
Linda, as far as I know, nothing like that happened in Downers Grove...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:35 Kristin Levine
5:35
Kristin Levine: 
... but I felt like it could have happened, so I went with it for the story.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:35 Kristin Levine
5:35
lisa von drasek: 
Kristin- It was also interesting all the different livelihoods of the people in the community- in the old country, in the United States.. what was the worst job that you ever had to do.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:35 lisa von drasek
5:36
lisa von drasek: 
I will say mine- its a tie between selling hot dogs off a cart on the street and selling dictionaries door-to-door
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:36 lisa von drasek
5:36
Kristin Levine: 
Hmmm... the worst job... I'm lucky I guess I've liked most of mine...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:36 Kristin Levine
5:37
Kristin Levine: 
... though I will say I taught elementary school for a year and it was the HARDEST JOB EVER!!!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:37 Kristin Levine
5:37
Kristin Levine: 
I liked the idea of being a teacher much more than the reality. That's why I love school visits...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:37 Kristin Levine
5:37
lisa von drasek
Krisitn LOVES to do school visits, whether in person or by SKYPE. To set up a visit, go to her Web site.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:37 
5:38
Kristin Levine: 
...I get all the fun of interacting with the kids, but no tests, grading or meetings!!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:38 Kristin Levine
5:38
Kristin Levine: 
I do really love school visits!!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:38 Kristin Levine
5:38
JoAnn Jonas: 
Have you done any school visits with PAPER COWBOY yet? how have they been
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:38 JoAnn Jonas
5:38
Kristin Levine: 
JoAnn, I'm got a few on my calendar this month! Will let you know how they go.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:38 Kristin Levine
5:39
lisa von drasek: 
what is the most interesting question that a kid has asked you?

Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:39 lisa von drasek
5:39
Kristin Levine: 
Lisa, I love it when a kid asks me about a part of the book I don't even remember writing...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:39 Kristin Levine
5:40
JoAnn Jonas: 
Kristin--the book has such a happy ending...did you have any thoughts about making it otherwise?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:40 JoAnn Jonas
5:40
Kristin Levine: 
...I always say, "Oh yeah. Tell me more about what you thought about that part" (while I'm trying to remember what they are talking about) and they always come up with the most interest interpretation.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:40 Kristin Levine
5:41
[Comment From Former BullyFormer Bully: ] 
It's interesting that Tommy can have such compassion for his sister -- iIMHO, t's the key to him becoming a real human being.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:41 Former Bully
5:41
Kristin Levine: 
Re ending: well, I didn't want the book to have a depressing ending. But I didn't feel it would be realistic to have a totally happy ending either...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:41 Kristin Levine
5:41
Kristin Levine: 
...my hope it that is comes off as hopeful, that everyone will eventually be okay.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:41 Kristin Levine
5:42
Kristin Levine: 
Yes, former bully, Tommy's relationship with his sister was super important to him.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:42 Kristin Levine
5:42
lisa von drasek: 
yes- I would say we have hope for Tommy and his family but are not totally convinced all will be well.

Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:42 lisa von drasek
5:42
Kristin Levine: 
My dad's sister really was burned in an accident like that. I'll post a pic of the hospital.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:42 Kristin Levine
5:43
Kristin Levine
Hospital (closed now)
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:43 
5:43
Kristin Levine: 
Re research - we found the most interesting info about this hospital at the local library. Have some photos...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:43 Kristin Levine
5:43
JoAnn Jonas: 
I loved your hospital scenes...very real and upsetting for a kid to see a sibling there
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:43 JoAnn Jonas
5:44
lisa von drasek: 
Peanut gallery- this is your ten minute warning...any questions before we wrap up?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:44 lisa von drasek
5:44
Kristin Levine
There was a souvenir booklet from the hospital's opening...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:44 
5:45
Kristin Levine
A room like the one Mary Lou might have stayed in...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:45 
5:45
JoAnn Jonas: 
So glad you have such a good public library in Downer's Grove! What a great spot for research. Did you interview any other people for your story?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:45 JoAnn Jonas
5:46
Kristin Levine
The lobby. My dad said he remembered this space.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:46 
5:46
Kristin Levine: 
JoAnn, the public library in Downers Grove is amazing!!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:46 Kristin Levine
5:46
lisa von drasek: 
Kristin- we have talked about the time and place but I would you to address the reciprocal relationship with his next door neighbor- who in the beginning of the novel he sees in a very stereotypical way
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:46 lisa von drasek
5:46
[Comment From Sally, Mich.Sally, Mich.: ] 
JoAnn -- I so agree about the hospital settings. Took me back to my childhood -- I was in a ward with a kid who was in an iron lung!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:46 Sally, Mich.
5:46
[Comment From Kelly, CTKelly, CT: ] 
You inspire me to want to ask my parents more questions -- how did you get your father to open up?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:46 Kelly, CT
5:47
Kristin Levine: 
I also interviewed a lot of my dad's classmates. They had such funny stories!!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:47 Kristin Levine
5:48
Kristin Levine: 
Kelly, my dad wanted to talk. And talk. Sometimes he had too much detail. Like, I had a WWII surplus army tent that was olive green and had 20 poles and took 17 minutes to set up...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:48 Kristin Levine
5:48
Kristin Levine: 
... and at first, we had a few disagreements where he was like, "But that's not what happened." And I was like, "I know, because this is FICTION!!"
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:48 Kristin Levine
5:49
Kristin Levine: 
... but we worked it out. Being in the actual place, taking a trip to Downers Grover was amazing...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:49 Kristin Levine
5:49
[Comment From Kelly, CTKelly, CT: ] 
How did you get him to talk about emotions?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:49 Kelly, CT
5:49
Kristin Levine: 
...I think that really helped him to open up.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:49 Kristin Levine
5:49
JoAnn Jonas: 
good question Kelly!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:49 JoAnn Jonas
5:49
Kristin Levine: 
Re emotions... I did a lot of listening. Also he really wanted to talk...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:49 Kristin Levine
5:50
Kristin Levine: 
... this was my third book "based on family history" so he had a few years prior to think about what it would be like...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:50 Kristin Levine
5:50
[Comment From Kelly, CTKelly, CT: ] 
That's a good point -- going back to places can bring back feelings.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:50 Kelly, CT
5:50
Kristin Levine: 
... sometimes it was hard, but I think it was a great experience for both of us.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:50 Kristin Levine
5:51
Kristin Levine: 
Kelly, food was a really big trigger for my dad too. So going back to Downers Grove and eating similar food brought up a lot of memories.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:51 Kristin Levine
5:51
lisa von drasek: 
Kristin,
Is there another piece of family history for the next book that you would like to share????
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:51 lisa von drasek
5:51
[Comment From Linda P.Linda P.: ] 
how did you get your first book published?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:51 Linda P.
5:52
Kristin Levine: 
Oh, I think I'm tired of family history for now. Might do something present day next!!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:52 Kristin Levine
5:52
JoAnn Jonas: 
Yes Kristin, my question too, what is coming next?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:52 JoAnn Jonas
5:52
Kristin Levine: 
Linda, my first book actually started as a screenplay. I got lots of people in Hollywood to read it, and everyone said it was a great story, but...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:52 Kristin Levine
5:53
Kristin Levine: 
...it had kids as the main characters and was a period piece. They didn't want that. So I decided to change it to a novel...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:53 Kristin Levine
5:53
[Comment From Linda P.Linda P.: ] 
Wait! Hoe did you get people in Hollywood to read it?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:53 Linda P.
5:53
Kristin Levine: 
...it took eight years from start to finish for that book!!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:53 Kristin Levine
5:53
lisa von drasek: 
I am looking at the time... any final thoughts Kristin that you want to leave with us?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:53 lisa von drasek
5:54
Kristin Levine: 
The script actually did well in this contest called Slamdance. It tied with "Maria, Full of Grace" which was made into a movie.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:54 Kristin Levine
5:54
Kristin Levine: 
Final thoughts... maybe I'll just say something about how I became a writer...
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:54 Kristin Levine
5:55
Kristin Levine: 
...because when I was in elementary school I hated writing. It was just too hard, I could never come up with good ideas, my writing never turned out how I wanted, and to top it all off, I was a bad speller.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:55 Kristin Levine
5:55
Kristin Levine: 
But then the summer after 7th grade I attended a program run by John Hopkins University called CTY (Center for Talented Youth.) At CTY, students get a chance to live on a college campus for three weeks, take a class, live in the dorms, eat in the cafeteria and basically pretend they are college students. I decided to take a writing class because I hoped it would help me not dread writing assignments so much.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:55 Kristin Levine
5:56
Kristin Levine: 
What I discovered at CTY was that I was good at writing. In fact, I really enjoyed it. From the writing workshop I took there, I learned that writing is not about getting it right the first time. It's about revising and making things better as you go along. When you're writing, your first draft can be absolutely horrible; all that counts is your final draft. I realized that I enjoy revising, and I am stubborn enough to keep at it, working and rewriting and changing things, until I feel like I’ve gotten it right.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:56 Kristin Levine
5:56
Kristin Levine: 
After that experience at CTY, I loved writing and wrote a lot. Even though my first drafts are still terrible. And I still can't spell.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:56 Kristin Levine
5:56
[Comment From School LibrarianSchool Librarian: ] 
Thanks, Kristin. Gearing up to use the book with my kids.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:56 School Librarian
5:56
Kristin Levine: 
But I love to tell kids that story when I do school visits, because there are always some who just hate to write!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:56 Kristin Levine
5:57
Kristin Levine: 
Thanks, School Librarian. Feel free to email me if you think up any other questions!!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:57 Kristin Levine
5:57
JoAnn Jonas: 
Yes, they need to hear other's challenges and successes! Gret story Kristin!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:57 JoAnn Jonas
5:57
Kristin Levine: 
This was so much fun. Thanks everyone for taking the time to chat with me!!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:57 Kristin Levine
5:57
lisa von drasek: 
Thank you Kristin!
Nora- what book is next?
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:57 lisa von drasek
5:58
[Comment From Four EyesFour Eyes: ] 
This was GREAT!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:58 Four Eyes
5:58
Kristin Levine: 
Aww, thanks, Four Eyes!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:58 Kristin Levine
5:58
Nora - EarlyWord: 

Thanks, Kristin and Lisa for a fascinating discussion.

And thanks to the Penguin Young Readers program members for joining us today.

Our next chat, on Oct. 29, is with Michelle Cuevas & Julie Morstad, author and illustrator of Beyond the Laughing Sky, (Penguin/Dial, 10/2/14)

If you’re not part of the program, you can sign up here -- http://penguinyrauthors.ear...

Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:58 Nora - EarlyWord
5:58
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Goodbye, everyone!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:58 Nora - EarlyWord
5:58
Kristin Levine: 
Bye!
Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:58 Kristin Levine
 
 

Live Chat with Debut Author
Siobhan Adcock

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014
Live Blog Live Chat with Siobhan Adcock, THE BARTER
 Live Chat with Siobhan Adcock, THE BARTER(07/30/2014) 
3:46
Nora - EarlyWord: 
We will begin our live online chat with Siobhan Adcock, author of The Barter in about 15 minutes.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 3:46 Nora - EarlyWord
3:47
Nora - EarlyWord: 

Meanwhile, here’s the cover of the book…

Wednesday July 30, 2014 3:47 Nora - EarlyWord
3:47
Nora - EarlyWord
Wednesday July 30, 2014 3:47 
3:47
Nora - EarlyWord: 

Siobhan recorded an introductory video that gives a good overview of the book.

Wednesday July 30, 2014 3:47 Nora - EarlyWord
3:48
Nora - EarlyWordNora - EarlyWord
Wednesday July 30, 2014 3:48 
3:55
[Comment From Michy FishMichy Fish: ] 
Can I ask a question now?
Wednesday July 30, 2014 3:55 Michy Fish
3:55
Nora - EarlyWord: 

You can send your questions through at any time. They'll go into a queue, and we'll try to submit them in an orderly fashion (!) to Siobhan before the end of the chat. Don’t worry about typos – and please forgive ours.

Wednesday July 30, 2014 3:55 Nora - EarlyWord
3:59
Siobhan Adcock: 
Hi there! I'm an EarlyWord earlybird I think...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 3:59 Siobhan Adcock
3:59
Nora - EarlyWord: 
No problem at all -- better early than late!
Wednesday July 30, 2014 3:59 Nora - EarlyWord
3:59
Siobhan Adcock: 
I wish I could say I'm always this on time...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 3:59 Siobhan Adcock
4:00
Nora - EarlyWord: 
I see some folks gathering -- say hi to Siobhan everyone.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:00 Nora - EarlyWord
4:00
[Comment From DominiqueDominique: ] 
Hi Siobhan! Loved your book!
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:00 Dominique
4:00
[Comment From Michy FishMichy Fish: ] 
Hi Siobhan -- Love your book.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:00 Michy Fish
4:00
[Comment From S.S.: ] 
Hi
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:00 S.
4:01
Siobhan Adcock: 
Dominique, Michy Fish, thank you so much! And thanks to all of you for being here too.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:01 Siobhan Adcock
4:01
Nora - EarlyWord: 

We received some questions in advance – here is one that seems to be a good place to start :

This is billed as a ghost story, which I have to admit, put me off. But when I got in to it, I realized that there’s so much more to it, about how women struggle over work and family, how husbands and wives relate. How do you describe it?

Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:01 Nora - EarlyWord
4:01
Siobhan Adcock: 
This is such a good question...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:01 Siobhan Adcock
4:02
Siobhan Adcock: 
To whoever wrote it, thanks for sticking with me! It's my hope that women and readers in general will find something to relate to in the book whether they believe in ghosts or not...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:02 Siobhan Adcock
4:02
Siobhan Adcock: 
I've been working on my "one-sentence" elevator pitch—and for a lot of writers I think that feels sort of like stuffing an elephant into a hatbox...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:02 Siobhan Adcock
4:02
Siobhan Adcock: 
But I usually describe it as a ghost story and a love story, set in historical and contemporary Texas, about marriage and motherhood and work.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:02 Siobhan Adcock
4:03
Nora - EarlyWord: 
I like what you said in the video about it being a combo of Stephen King and Lean In!
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:03 Nora - EarlyWord
4:04
Nora - EarlyWord: 

How did you come up with the idea of the ghost?

Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:04 Nora - EarlyWord
4:04
Siobhan Adcock: 
Ha! Yes, that came from a friend of mine and I admit I've been using that line pretty shamelessly.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:04 Siobhan Adcock
4:05
Siobhan Adcock: 
This is kind of a long answer, but ...There's an Alice Munro short story (in Friends of My Youth) in which a character is described as being willing to give up an hour of her child's life for something she really wants. (Spoiler alert: it's related to an affair she's having.) I first read that story more than ten years ago, but ever since then the idea has been percolating: What kind of woman is that? What kind of choice is that?...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:05 Siobhan Adcock
4:05
Siobhan Adcock: 
I ended up writing two stories about that question, Bridget's and Rebecca's, and the ghost came out of, I guess, how spooky that question seems to me, how full of loss and regret in the way of the classic old-school ghost story. The ghost was also what helped me see a way to tie those two women's stories together...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:05 Siobhan Adcock
4:05
Siobhan Adcock: 
I wanted to write something scary—an old-fashioned ghost story—that people could actually see themselves in, and that might move them emotionally even while it scared their pants off.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:05 Siobhan Adcock
4:06
Nora - EarlyWord: 

So the idea of two womens stories came first, with the ghost as a way to connect them?

Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:06 Nora - EarlyWord
4:06
Siobhan Adcock: 
Yes, the ghost came in later, through a side door
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:06 Siobhan Adcock
4:07
Siobhan Adcock: 
I was trying to figure out how to connect these two stories and one night it just kind of hit me, why not try it as a ghost story.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:07 Siobhan Adcock
4:07
[Comment From Boston LibBoston Lib: ] 
BTW, that ghost WAS scary. Something about it not talking.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:07 Boston Lib
4:08
Siobhan Adcock: 
Yeah, those faceless voiceless ghosts are the scariest! Thanks Boston Lib
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:08 Siobhan Adcock
4:08
[Comment From S.S.: ] 
What was your inspiration
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:08 S.
4:08
Siobhan Adcock: 
S., it was really that line in that Alice Munro story that just stuck in my head for years, believe it or not...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:08 Siobhan Adcock
4:09
Siobhan Adcock: 
And as a full-time working mother, the choices that mothers face now (and have always faced) started to take on a new urgency for me once my daughter was born. I wanted to write about a mother faced with some of those choices and more terrible ones besides.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:09 Siobhan Adcock
4:10
[Comment From Boston LibBoston Lib: ] 
Which is why this is such a great reading group book -- so much to discuss!
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:10 Boston Lib
4:10
Nora - EarlyWord: 

Let's talk about those two women -- the chapters altyernate between them, both living in the same area, near Austin, TX, but at different periods of time.

I was fascinated by the specifics of daily life at the turn of the century (I heard that the term “blue Monday” refers to the drudgery of doing laundry on Mondays – you make that real!) How did you research daily life?

Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:10 Nora - EarlyWord
4:10
Siobhan Adcock: 
Thanks so much! I really hope so. Both the main characters face choices that I hope will resonate with other working women and mothers, and this is probably where the more compelling talking points are to be found. I'm thinking in particular of the recent story in the New York Times about how the "opt-out generation wants back in"— and the resulting flood of pieces, online and in print, weighing in for and against. The characters in this book participate in that highly-charged cultural conversation about women, motherhood, and work, and how a woman's identity is valued.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:10 Siobhan Adcock
4:11
Siobhan Adcock: 
Nora, thanks for that question about the daily life aspect of the historical sections--I was so fascinated by that when I was researching!
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:11 Siobhan Adcock
4:12
Nora - EarlyWord: 
How did you do the research? So much written history is about events, but not about daily life.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:12 Nora - EarlyWord
4:12
Siobhan Adcock: 
I researched the (many! amazing! history-altering!) changes taking place in American homes around the turn of the last century; and I read a lot of personal writings by women farmers in different parts of the country.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:12 Siobhan Adcock
4:13
Siobhan Adcock: 
I REALLY recommend Never Done: A History of American Housework by Susan Strasser—a great read. And I discovered a midwestern writer named Rachel Peden who wrote some wonderful, graceful books about life on a farm.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:13 Siobhan Adcock
4:13
Siobhan Adcock: 
And anyone who wants to chat about Texas land grants in the 1850s or how and when plumbing and electricity were rolled out to middle class Americans, I'm your gal. Ha.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:13 Siobhan Adcock
4:13
Nora - EarlyWord: 
How did you get access to the personal writings -- I assume diaries and letters?
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:13 Nora - EarlyWord
4:15
Siobhan Adcock: 
There is a wonderful series published by the University of Indiana press that presents the oral histories of women and homemakers in the early twentieth century--I'll see if I can find a link.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:15 Siobhan Adcock
4:16
Siobhan Adcock: 
And there are also some really super-detailed historical documents that open up a window into that era, when the technology of the home was rapidly changing. Stoves, water sources, telegraphs and telephones, railroads, electricity, indoor plumbing, all those technologies were in a state of development that really reached a peak around Rebecca's time. I spent a lot of time researching that.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:16 Siobhan Adcock
4:16
[Comment From S.S.: ] 
Are you going to write more books in the future?
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:16 S.
4:16
Siobhan Adcock: 
But someone told me that only about 10% of what you research ever makes it into the book, and that certainly felt true to me!
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:16 Siobhan Adcock
4:17
Siobhan Adcock: 
S., yes, I'm working on another book now, but so far it's pretty different. No ghosts.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:17 Siobhan Adcock
4:17
Siobhan Adcock: 
Yet.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:17 Siobhan Adcock
4:17
Nora - EarlyWord: 
To me, and I am sure most of this audience, the research is the part that sounds fun -- the writing would be hard!
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:17 Nora - EarlyWord
4:18
Siobhan Adcock: 
Oh yeah, I definitely went into a rabbit hole with the research. A very nice cozy comfy rabbit hole that I didn't want to crawl out of...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:18 Siobhan Adcock
4:18
Siobhan Adcock: 
I think you're totally right!
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:18 Siobhan Adcock
4:18
[Comment From Kristine HallKristine Hall: ] 
How did you stay focused/get yourself back to the plot with all the interesting research? Were you specific in what you researched? Seems like it would take a lot of discipline to be historically accurate.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:18 Kristine Hall
4:19
Siobhan Adcock: 
I think I was fortunate in that I was researching a couple of really super-specific things: German folkways and culture in Texas, and American home technology at the turn of the century. You look at an achievement like Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel, where she takes in a whole era, and it's a whole other level of discipline
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:19 Siobhan Adcock
4:20
[Comment From Boston LibBoston Lib: ] 
I've heard loneliness was a big issue for farm women at that time. But in the modern time, your character Bridget suffers from her own kind of loneliness.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:20 Boston Lib
4:20
Siobhan Adcock: 
Thanks for that point--I think that loneliness is something a lot of mothers and women who work in the home face, and it's a real thing.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:20 Siobhan Adcock
4:21
Siobhan Adcock: 
Bridget's loneliness has a particularly modern quality too, in that she's connected through her smartphone to her husband and her mother and all her friends, but she still feels utterly isolated
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:21 Siobhan Adcock
4:21
[Comment From Boston LibBoston Lib: ] 
Curious how that carries through to today -- live those similarities between the two women. We think the time periods were SO different.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:21 Boston Lib
4:22
Siobhan Adcock: 
They were, I think you're right...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:22 Siobhan Adcock
4:23
Siobhan Adcock: 
But the early 1900s are an exciting time to write about, because it was a period of huge change in America, and in particular, in the everyday lives of women in America...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:23 Siobhan Adcock
4:23
Siobhan Adcock: 
The technology of the home was making huge strides. Professional and educational opportunities for women were changing, and it was also a period that saw a kind of revolution in the philosophy of rearing children. The parallels between that time and the turn of the twenty-first century inspired me...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:23 Siobhan Adcock
4:24
Nora - EarlyWord: 

That's funny -- we think that all the tech changes are happening today.

Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:24 Nora - EarlyWord
4:24
Siobhan Adcock: 
—because right now we're also living in a period in which technology is changing motherhood and everyday life. And right now, the way Americans raise their children is also a subject of intense cultural debate....
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:24 Siobhan Adcock
4:25
Siobhan Adcock: 
And women's expectations for their lives are still being scrutinized under some really old, traditional lenses. Like for instance, why is it even still an issue that some women choose to work?
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:25 Siobhan Adcock
4:26
Siobhan Adcock: 
So the parallels for me were in the changes they were both witnessing...and also the way things frustratingly stayed the same, for both of them.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:26 Siobhan Adcock
4:27
[Comment From Boston LibBoston Lib: ] 
As you point out, the issue keeps rearing its head -- with some women today thinking it's revolutionary to choose NOT to work!
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:27 Boston Lib
4:27
Nora - EarlyWord: 

Rebecca reads the book Practical Housekeeping — is that a real book? How did you discover it?

Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:27 Nora - EarlyWord
4:28
Siobhan Adcock: 
Yes! It's a real book, dating from the post Civil War/Reconstruction era, and it's available as a Google book here if you want quick access to prowl through it, although some special collections, like the Schaumburg library, might have the real thing:

http://books.google.ca/book...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:28 Siobhan Adcock
4:29
Siobhan Adcock: 
(Sorry took me a second to find the link)
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:29 Siobhan Adcock
4:29
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Ha! Was that book a way to keep women in their place, tending the home?
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:29 Nora - EarlyWord
4:29
Siobhan Adcock: 
It's packed with all this highly technical, scientific information as well as recipes and etiquette. This was published during a time when some early-feminist writers and thinkers were trying to professionalize women's work, elevating what women did in the home all day long to a science and an art.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:29 Siobhan Adcock
4:30
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Amazing -- so it's the opposite of what one might think.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:30 Nora - EarlyWord
4:30
Siobhan Adcock: 
So I think Practical Housekeeping really sort of tried to do both--making women feel comfortable and competent in their homemaking skills, but also pointing out that it took SKILL
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:30 Siobhan Adcock
4:31
Siobhan Adcock: 
I mean, this book, it's crazy. Harvest times for 50 varieties of garden vegetables. Hundreds of recipes. Super technical information about kitchen ventilation.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:31 Siobhan Adcock
4:31
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Melville Dewey said that women would make good librarians because they were good housekeepers, which I always thought was horribly sexist until I realized that he was actually trying to promote the idea of women as professionals.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:31 Nora - EarlyWord
4:31
Siobhan Adcock: 
The American home was changing into a place where there were all these devices, gadgets, things to learn how to do.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:31 Siobhan Adcock
4:32
Siobhan Adcock: 
Yeah, I think what's perhaps ironic about Rebecca's situation is that she becomes a farm wife, but she's also a businesswoman, all of a sudden. That's the part of her new life that she loves: the responsibility, the new learning.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:32 Siobhan Adcock
4:32
[Comment From Michy FishMichy Fish: ] 
One thing that troubles me, but also seemed very real, was how, in both marriages, the partners, well, particularly the women, tended to say hurtful things to each other.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:32 Michy Fish
4:33
Siobhan Adcock: 
Thanks so much for that point Michy--such a big issue...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:33 Siobhan Adcock
4:33
Siobhan Adcock: 
In my day job I work on a lot of women's community websites, and one of the things I always see is women calling each other selfish--or worse--because of differences in their philosophy about work or raising kids or family size...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:33 Siobhan Adcock
4:34
[Comment From Michy FishMichy Fish: ] 
Ugh -- we can be our own worst enemies!
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:34 Michy Fish
4:34
Siobhan Adcock: 
It's the first accusation we seem to level at each other--it's like selfishness is the worst thing you can accuse a woman of, the biggest nuclear bomb you can drop.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:34 Siobhan Adcock
4:35
Nora - EarlyWord: 

Bridget refers to the Grimm stories — did they influence you? Why do you think they have such staying power?

Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:35 Nora - EarlyWord
4:35
Siobhan Adcock: 
Yes, Bridget and Rebecca are both kind of in the thrall of these eerie storytellers, and storytelling has a unique power in their lives. Grimms' stories are sort of the original domestic terror stories—patricide, matricide, infanticide, incest, child abuse, violence...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:35 Siobhan Adcock
4:35
Siobhan Adcock: 
The scariest thing I ever read, I think, is Grimms' tale The Juniper Tree, which is just so rich with messed-up scary family dynamics. Because I love sharing it, here's a version that inspired the magician's story toward the end of the Rebecca plotline:

http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/g...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:35 Siobhan Adcock
4:36
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Let's talk about the publishing process. Before THE BARTER, you had already published two nonfiction titles (Hipster Haiku and 30 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do Before Turning 30) and several short stories. You also worked in publishing. Did that make it easier for you to get the novel published?
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:36 Nora - EarlyWord
4:37
Siobhan Adcock: 
Those were published a few years back, and since pop-culture/humor titles tend to have a pretty short shelf life, I'm not sure they're in print anymore! I started my career as an editor in book publishing, though, and I did make really valuable personal and professional connections that definitely helped me get this novel published...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:37 Siobhan Adcock
4:37
Siobhan Adcock: 
My agent, Betsy Lerner, was a senior editor at Doubleday when I was a lowly editorial assistant, and when she left to become an agent, there was this goodbye party, and she came over to where all the assistants were clustered in a group, just drinking the free wine as fast as we could, and she said, "I know every single one of you is working on a novel, and when you're finished, you'd better send it to me or else." And years later, I took her up on that. Of course she denies ever having said it. Ha.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:37 Siobhan Adcock
4:38
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Did she like it instantly?
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:38 Nora - EarlyWord
4:38
Siobhan Adcock: 
Yes, she did, fortunately for me. She was reading chapters as I went, and three weeks after I finished the first draft she sold it.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:38 Siobhan Adcock
4:39
Siobhan Adcock: 
So she's clearly some kind of super agent ninja from outer space.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:39 Siobhan Adcock
4:39
Nora - EarlyWord: 
That is amazing. Did she help you to shape it? Was the ghost in it when she first saw the ms?
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:39 Nora - EarlyWord
4:40
Siobhan Adcock: 
Yes, I think one thing that really characterizes the author-agent relationship now, and a lot of people say this, is that the agent takes such an active role in shaping the ms.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:40 Siobhan Adcock
4:41
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Does that mean the editor has less to do?
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:41 Nora - EarlyWord
4:41
Siobhan Adcock: 
Both Betsy and my editor Denise Roy at Dutton were great with giving actionable, tactical, strategic feedback--totally my style! And sorry, to answer your q, the ghost was in there from the beginning...They both encouraged me to make it even scarier.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:41 Siobhan Adcock
4:42
Siobhan Adcock: 
I think the editor has the hardest job...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:42 Siobhan Adcock
4:42
Siobhan Adcock: 
Not just loving the book, but then making a case for buying it, and then making a business plan for helping it succeed, and then building buzz and excitement in house to help it succeed...all while editing, shaping the creative direction for the cover, creating the marketing language...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:42 Siobhan Adcock
4:43
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Great perspective. You don't think about these things going on at once -- she's selling a product that's not fully fleshed yet!
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:43 Nora - EarlyWord
4:44
Siobhan Adcock: 
Absolutely--it's really on the editor to be a sort of in-house PR agency for all her titles.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:44 Siobhan Adcock
4:44
[Comment From MD LibMD Lib: ] 
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:44 MD Lib
4:45
Siobhan Adcock: 
I wanted to be a writer from when I was pretty young. I was joking with somebody yesterday that I realized I wanted to be a writer when I realized there was no such thing as a professional band-aid waster.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:45 Siobhan Adcock
4:45
Siobhan Adcock: 
I was the kid in the neighborhood who was always pretending to be a doctor and trying to fix people.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:45 Siobhan Adcock
4:45
[Comment From Bartle B.Bartle B.: ] 
You mentioned having worked in editorial -- do you think that has inflected how you write, as well?
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:45 Bartle B.
4:46
Siobhan Adcock: 
Hi Bartle B.--yes, I really think it has...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:46 Siobhan Adcock
4:46
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Also, I'd like to add -- Did your experience working on several Web sites (including one of my favorites, Epicurious — one of my favorites) influence your writing?
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:46 Nora - EarlyWord
4:46
Siobhan Adcock: 
Some of the writers I respect most started out as journalists, and many more writers that I love write reviews, criticism, op-ed, humor...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:46 Siobhan Adcock
4:47
Siobhan Adcock: 
And of course many of them are editors, too, working with other writers to help shape their work. And lots of writers teach creative writing, which is much the same thing...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:47 Siobhan Adcock
4:48
Siobhan Adcock: 
Personally I'm not sure I'd recommend to any writer that they ONLY ever write fiction. You've gotta get more stuff coming out of your brain than that, just to keep the stove warm. And anyway it might get boring just writing one kind of thing all the time.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:48 Siobhan Adcock
4:48
Siobhan Adcock: 
But that's just me--I bet there are other amazing fiction writers who are focused and disciplined and all those good things...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:48 Siobhan Adcock
4:48
[Comment From MD LibMD Lib: ] 
What was it about Texas that made you want to set your book there?
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:48 MD Lib
4:49
Siobhan Adcock: 
Hi MD Lib. I lived in Texas from when I was in my teens until I went to college, and I first heard about the Germans in Texas when I was in high school, while on a road trip that took me through New Braunfels, one of the historical centers of Germans in the state...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:49 Siobhan Adcock
4:49
Siobhan Adcock: 
The Hill Country is just so unbelievably beautiful, too, what writer wouldn't want to immerse herself in that.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:49 Siobhan Adcock
4:49
[Comment From Prison Lib.Prison Lib.: ] 
Please tell us about teaching creative writing in prisons.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:49 Prison Lib.
4:49
Siobhan Adcock: 
Prison Lib., my "students" in the prison creative writing classes taught me more than I ever taught them.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:49 Siobhan Adcock
4:50
Siobhan Adcock: 
I participated in the Cornell Prison Education program as a graduate student, and I was one of a group of teachers who facilitated a weekly creative writing workshop for men in the maximum security prison at Auburn
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:50 Siobhan Adcock
4:51
[Comment From Prison Lib.Prison Lib.: ] 
Can you elaborate on what they taught you (by the way, I completely agree).
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:51 Prison Lib.
4:51
Siobhan Adcock: 
The classroom environment was incredible. I've never met a more committed group of writers in my life. And most of them were great writers just by any yardstick--that is, not "great prison writers" but "great writers," period.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:51 Siobhan Adcock
4:51
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Amazingly, we only have ten more minutes with Siobhan -- so get your final questions in.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:51 Nora - EarlyWord
4:52
Siobhan Adcock: 
They taught me to write even when you are scared. Write because you are scared. Write around the scared. Write to the scared.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:52 Siobhan Adcock
4:52
Siobhan Adcock: 
Write to make fear into something like belief in yourself.'
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:52 Siobhan Adcock
4:52
Siobhan Adcock: 
That's not very specific but it's probably the best I can say.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:52 Siobhan Adcock
4:53
Siobhan Adcock: 
And obviously they were much better at that way of writing than me, because they had to be.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:53 Siobhan Adcock
4:53
[Comment From Prison Lib.Prison Lib.: ] 
That's beautiful, thanks.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:53 Prison Lib.
4:53
[Comment From MD librarianMD librarian: ] 
Are you willing to speak at libraries? Can we SKYPE you in to one of our reading groups? How do we contact you?
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:53 MD librarian
4:54
Siobhan Adcock: 
Yeah! I would love to skype with you.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:54 Siobhan Adcock
4:55
Siobhan Adcock: 
I can also do a Google Hangout. My Skype handle is siobhan.adcock73
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:55 Siobhan Adcock
4:56
Siobhan Adcock: 
And please feel free to email me: siobhanadcock@gmail.com
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:56 Siobhan Adcock
4:56
Nora - EarlyWord: 
We'll be wrapping up in a few minutes.

Just wanted to remind everyone that THE BARTER is coming will be published on Sept 4 and if you haven't read it, you can request advance digital readers copies on NetGalley and Edelweiss.

Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:56 Nora - EarlyWord
4:57
Siobhan Adcock: 
This has been amazing. Thanks so much everybody.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:57 Siobhan Adcock
4:57
Siobhan Adcock: 
Oh, I almost forgot. I took a picture of some of the books I read while researching. I just grabbed a handful that were lying around.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:57 Siobhan Adcock
4:57
Nora - EarlyWord: 

Thank you, Siobhan -- so much to think about!


This chat will be archived on the Penguin [Debut Authors page on EarlyWord:

http://penguindebutauthors.earlyword.com/

Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:57 Nora - EarlyWord
4:57
[Comment From Kristine HallKristine Hall: ] 
I cannot wait to read this and am so glad we just had teasers today and no spoilers!
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:57 Kristine Hall
4:57
Siobhan Adcock
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:57 
4:57
Siobhan Adcock: 
In case it's interesting...
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:57 Siobhan Adcock
4:58
Siobhan Adcock: 
Thanks Kristine!!
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:58 Siobhan Adcock
4:58
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Believe me, Kristine, it's hard to do!
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:58 Nora - EarlyWord
4:58
[Comment From Bartle B.Bartle B.: ] 
Thank you!
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:58 Bartle B.
4:58
Siobhan Adcock
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:58 
4:58
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Wow -- German Seed in Texas Soil sounds racy!
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:58 Nora - EarlyWord
4:58
Siobhan Adcock: 
HAHAHA
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:58 Siobhan Adcock
4:59
Siobhan Adcock: 
It's a historical romance novel, actually.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:59 Siobhan Adcock
4:59
Siobhan Adcock: 
"She was an innocent cowgirl. He was a dashing German shipping baron. GERMAN SEED IN TEXAS SOIL."
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:59 Siobhan Adcock
4:59
Siobhan Adcock: 
OK I'll stop.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 4:59 Siobhan Adcock
5:00
Nora - EarlyWord: 
By the way, I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your use of similes and metaphors -- never cliched, even in the sex scenes (which I recommend).
Wednesday July 30, 2014 5:00 Nora - EarlyWord
5:00
Siobhan Adcock: 
Thanks! Those kinds of scenes are really tough to do.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 5:00 Siobhan Adcock
5:01
Nora - EarlyWord: 

It's the witching hour -- time to sign off. Thanks, again, everyone.


The next book in our program is FIVE DAYS LEFT BY Julie Lawson Timmer . If you are not already a member of the Penguin Debut Authors program, you can sign up on the EarlyWord site.

Wednesday July 30, 2014 5:01 Nora - EarlyWord
5:01
Siobhan Adcock: 
Thanks again, it was such a pleasure to be here!
Wednesday July 30, 2014 5:01 Siobhan Adcock
 
 

Live Chat with Nikki Loftin, NIGHTINGALE’S NEST

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

This chat has now ended. To sign up for the program and join future chats, go to the Penguin Young Readers Program.

 Live Chat with Nikki Loftin NIGHTINGALE'S NEST(03/25/2014) 
4:28
Nora - EarlyWord: 
We'll begin our chat with Nikki Loftin, author of NIGHTINGALE'S NEST at 5 p.m.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 4:28 Nora - EarlyWord
4:30
Nora - EarlyWord
Click on the cover to view a larger version.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 4:30 
4:33
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Nightingale's Nest has received some great reviews. The following from School Library Journal serves as a good beginning:

"Pulling readers in from the very first page, Loftin's novel shares the enchanting quality of the Andersen fairy tale that inspired it. Packed with serious subjects, ... it is also the story of forgiveness, healing, and friendship ... The lyrical, descriptive prose and the hopeful ending will linger long after the final chapter."
Tuesday March 25, 2014 4:33 Nora - EarlyWord
4:50
Nora - EarlyWord: 
You can enter your questions below. We will try to get as many in as time allows. Don't worry about typos (and forgive us for any we commit!)
Tuesday March 25, 2014 4:50 Nora - EarlyWord
4:55
lisa von drasek: 
just checking in
Tuesday March 25, 2014 4:55 lisa von drasek
4:56
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Hi Lisa -- looking forward to our chat today. I see some folks gathering. We will being in just a few minutes.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 4:56 Nora - EarlyWord
5:00
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Welcome, Nikki -- say hello to the group.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:00 Nora - EarlyWord
5:00
Nikki Loftin: 
Hi! I'm Nikki Loftin, author, and terrible typist. This should be exciting!
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:00 Nikki Loftin
5:01
lisa von drasek: 
Lisa, former children's librarian pre-k - 8th grade and now curator of the Kerlan Collections at the Universty of Minnesota?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:01 lisa von drasek
5:01
lisa von drasek: 
there are some others on line for the chat would you like to say hello?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:01 lisa von drasek
5:02
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Hi Nikki! This is Akiko and I'm not the fastest typeset either.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:02 Guest
 
Nikki Loftin: 
Thanks for stopping in! Let's type slowly together.
  Nikki Loftin
5:02
[Comment From ChelseaChelsea: ] 
Hi Nikki and Lisa! This is Chelsea from Sacramento.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:02 Chelsea
5:02
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Hello! Erin, Children's Librarian Henrico VA. Just finished the book last night. Perfect timing :)
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:02 Guest
5:02
[Comment From JennaJenna: ] 
I'm Jenna, a youth services librarian in a northern Chicago suburb. Hi everyone!
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:02 Jenna
5:02
lisa von drasek: 
while people say hello, Nikki, can you tell us something about yourself Can you tell me a little about where your grew up?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:02 lisa von drasek
5:03
[Comment From UnLibrarian, Palm DesertUnLibrarian, Palm Desert: ] 
Hi Nikki!
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:03 UnLibrarian, Palm Desert
5:03
Nikki Loftin: 
Sure, Lisa! I grew up in Central Texas, not far from where I live now. Austin is my hometown - there's a lot to love about it!
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:03 Nikki Loftin
5:04
lisa von drasek: 
your new book is set in a small town in texas. is it a real town?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:04 lisa von drasek
5:05
Nikki Loftin: 
Hi, y'all! Lisa, well sort of. It is based on a real town in Mills County, but I changed the name since I'd changed quite a few things about the stores/buildings there. I re-named it Hilsaback, Texas, after my amazing Sr. High English teacher.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:05 Nikki Loftin
5:05
Nikki Loftin: 
I figured it might bug the residents of the real town since I switched all their landmarks around. :)
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:05 Nikki Loftin
5:06
Nikki Loftin: 
(And thank you all for coming today!)
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:06 Nikki Loftin
5:06
lisa von drasek: 
Can you tell me a little about the protagonist? He is a twelve year old boy who?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:06 lisa von drasek
5:07
Nikki Loftin: 
Little John Fisher is a boy who grew as tall as a man in the last year - the year after his little sister died falling from a tree. He blames himself for her death, and blames trees, too. So he's glad to be working for his dad's tree-trimming service for the summer, cutting down every tree he can. He's a broken-hearted kid when we meet him... until he meets a little girl with the voice of a nightingale, singing in a tree near where he's working.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:07 Nikki Loftin
5:08
lisa von drasek: 
Nightengales Nest is very real and magical at the same time… Can you say a little about why you chose this style of story telling?

Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:08 lisa von drasek
5:10
Nikki Loftin: 
I love magical realism - ever since a professor in my graduate writing program turned me onto Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende. It just felt right in this story - a re-imagining of Hans Christian Andersen's The Nightingale - to make the magic... approachable. And it was important to me to have a realistic setting – in this case, a very poor, rural Texas town – as a backdrop for the magical friendship between Gayle and Little John.
I think the harsh reality of the story makes a good contrast with the magic.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:10 Nikki Loftin
5:11
lisa von drasek: 
When I read it I could imagine a 5th grade teacher reading it aloud in class. Do you read aloud when you write?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:11 lisa von drasek
5:12
Nikki Loftin: 
All the time! I have two sons who beg me to read my works in progress to them as I write. So I hear it, over and over, reading it to them, my husband, my dogs, myself... I think the cadence of the words matters. (I also write poetry, so maybe that has something to do with this habit? Hmm. Don't know.)
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:12 Nikki Loftin
5:12
lisa von drasek: 
Names are very important in the book, Little John, Tree, Gayle, Susie, nightingale. is Nikki a nick name? short for? do you have any names your family used to call you growing up?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:12 lisa von drasek
5:13
Nikki Loftin: 
Nikki is short for Nicole, my middle name! My mom named me for a soap opera star, Nikki Belle... I can't remember which soap...
My mom used to call me Nikki Picky. Totally undeserved, I assure you.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:13 Nikki Loftin
5:14
Nikki Loftin: 
By the way, I'd LOVE to hear a fifth grade teacher read this...
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:14 Nikki Loftin
5:14
lisa von drasek: 
Reading this book I had a strong sense of someone who really "got" book for kids. Are there some children's book authors that you love that you would like to share with us?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:14 lisa von drasek
5:14
Nikki Loftin: 
... and here's a bit of inside scoop: when I read it aloud, I use a really thick Texas drawl, which I do NOT do on my other stories! It's Little John's accent.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:14 Nikki Loftin
5:15
lisa von drasek: 
hey, I heard you on the phone - you DO not have an accent. why not?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:15 lisa von drasek
 
Nikki Loftin: 
I'm not sure. I was trained as an opera singer... maybe that ironed it out?
  Nikki Loftin
5:15
Nikki Loftin: 
Yes! I read voraciously as a child, but the books I remember best are the ones that made me think – and, sometimes, cry. Bridge to Terabithia, and Old Yeller, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – these books helped me understand a childhood world that to me was inexplicable and magical and frightening. But more recently, I have fallen in love with Natalie Lloyd's A Snicker of Magic...
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:15 Nikki Loftin
5:16
lisa von drasek: 
This book literally sings- do you have a musical background?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:16 lisa von drasek
 
Nikki Loftin: 
Yes - see above. I was also born into a family of musicians. I started voice and violin lessons when I was three. I think music permeates all my stories in some way.
  Nikki Loftin
5:16
Nikki Loftin: 
... and Lynda Mullaly Hunt's One For the Murphy's, as well as Kate diCamillo's Flora and Ulysses (my current read!).
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:16 Nikki Loftin
5:16
[Comment From Lindsey LibrarianLindsey Librarian: ] 
I didn't know about the Hans Christian Anderson story until I read the reviews -- why did you choose it?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:16 Lindsey Librarian
 
Nikki Loftin: 
I was a fairy tale nerd when I was little. I obsessed over them - and The Nightingale was one of my favorites. I loved the idea of a bird that could heal with its voice.
  Nikki Loftin
5:18
lisa von drasek: 
What does your writing day look like?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:18 lisa von drasek
 
Nikki Loftin: 
I get up, get the kids on the bus, and as soon as I'm alone... and pry myself off facebook/email - I start writing. I'll write for a few hours, take a break, then get back to it until the buses come home! Sometimes I even manage to change out of my pajamas. :)
  Nikki Loftin
5:19
[Comment From Jody, school librarianJody, school librarian: ] 
The tenderness that Little John shows toward Gayle/Susie is so amazing. Love the detail about her hair, for instance. Sounds so true. Is it based on something?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:19 Jody, school librarian
 
Nikki Loftin: 
Thank you. Ah, the painful questions. Yes, someone I love very dearly had a condition where she pulled her hair out unconsciously. Her hair was so, so soft, I loved it, loved brushing it. And then it was gone, and she couldn't help it. (She got better, in case you're worried.)
  Nikki Loftin
5:22
[Comment From Lindsey LibrarianLindsey Librarian: ] 
You mention books that make your cry -- yours made me choke up many times!
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:22 Lindsey Librarian
 
Nikki Loftin: 
Is it okay if I say "good?" :) I hope it left you feeling hopeful, though. My sons like to make me read them sad books – I think they enjoy watching me cry. ☺ On their favorite sad books list: Roxaboxen, The Velveteen Rabbit, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.
  Nikki Loftin
5:23
[Comment From Jody, School LibrarianJody, School Librarian: ] 
Thanks for answering that -- gives even more depth to the story! (and thanks for telling us she got better).
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:23 Jody, School Librarian
5:23
lisa von drasek: 
kids often ask for a a sad book. grown ups don't
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:23 lisa von drasek
 
Nikki Loftin: 
That's interesting! I love sad books. Just finished crying through The Dogs of Winter by Bobbie Pyron, and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness? SOBFEST, but the best cry ever.
  Nikki Loftin
5:24
lisa von drasek: 
on a lighter note- was it easy to get published?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:24 lisa von drasek
 
Nikki Loftin: 
Yes, Lisa. I just wished on my magic dandelion... haha. No. I took years of self-doubt and writing truly terrible manuscripts, then more years of not selling fairly good ones, to get to the ones that did sell. I ate a LOT of chocolate on the road to publication.
  Nikki Loftin
5:24
[Comment From Lindsey LibrarianLindsey Librarian: ] 
Yes; that emotional connection WAS good, even if it made me cry -- you reminded me of times in my own youth.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:24 Lindsey Librarian
 
Nikki Loftin: 
Thank you.
  Nikki Loftin
5:25
lisa von drasek: 
to the people out there....are there books that you would compare this one to to book talk like

if you read "When you reach me"
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:25 lisa von drasek
5:27
lisa von drasek: 
Nikki- did I hear you had a lot pets? where's my picture of a goat?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:27 lisa von drasek
5:27
[Comment From ChelseaChelsea: ] 
I read this around the same time as Crystal Chan's "Bird," and I think the two make for an interesting pair. And I do think Nikki's captured the melancholy hopefulness of "Tuck Everlasting" and "Bridge to Terabithia."
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:27 Chelsea
 
Nikki Loftin: 
Oh, thank you. I'm all melty inside.
  Nikki Loftin
5:28
Nikki Loftin
Abitha the Fabulous
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:28 
 
lisa von drasek: 
really really fabulous!
  lisa von drasek
5:28
lisa von drasek: 
oh Chelsea, thank you me too!
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:28 lisa von drasek
5:29
[Comment From JennaJenna: ] 
I'll be recommending this one alongside another new tween title, The Riverman- both are based in the real world but with magic elements and deal with darker themes.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:29 Jenna
5:29
Nikki Loftin: 
I also have two rescue dogs, but they won't hold still for pictures...

Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:29 Nikki Loftin
5:29
lisa von drasek: 
I was wondering if there was a compassionate adult in your life when you were a kid?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:29 lisa von drasek
 
Nikki Loftin: 
So many! My grandma raised me during the summers, and at school I had a librarian who filled my life with books and love. Her name was Mrs. Crabb.
  Nikki Loftin
5:29
Nikki Loftin: 
We are also getting chickens next week, as soon as the chicken coop is made 100% possum and skunk-proof. Since we live in the country, we have to keep our animals safe from varmints. (I love that word.)
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:29 Nikki Loftin
5:30
[Comment From ChelseaChelsea: ] 
I love the way you describe Gale's singing in this book, but it made me wonder if there are plans for an audiobook? I almost want to leave that sound to my imagination. But I would also be very interested to hear the result.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:30 Chelsea
 
Nikki Loftin: 
No plans yet, or not that I know of, but I'd love to hear it, too! They'd need to use that Texas twang, though.
  Nikki Loftin
5:31
lisa von drasek: 
oh, I was wondering about that too
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:31 lisa von drasek
5:32
Nikki Loftin: 
I have a picture of Mrs. Crabb! Let me see... this was from last year, when I gave her a copy of my debut novel. Being able to thank her, adn tell ehr how she changed my life? I am so grateful for that day.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:32 Nikki Loftin
5:32
Nikki Loftin
Mrs. Crabb, Amazing Librarian
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:32 
5:33
lisa von drasek: 
Nikki,
who is Mrs. Crabb?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:33 lisa von drasek
5:34
[Comment From Lindsey LibrarianLindsey Librarian: ] 
Love hearing about your real life; almost as exotic to me as the life in the book -- both sound real, but truly outside my more urban world.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:34 Lindsey Librarian
 
Nikki Loftin: 
Thanks! I find big cities utterly fascinating. But hard to sleep in - I can sleep through owls and coyotes, but not garbage truck noise!
  Nikki Loftin
5:34
Nikki Loftin: 
Ah, I replied above - she was my elementary school librarian form 2nd-5th grade. For some reason, my teacher sent me out of class ALL THE TIME to go to the library. I can't imagine why. I'm sure I was perfectly well-behaved. LOL Mrs. Crabb took me in, and raised me on books.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:34 Nikki Loftin
5:34
[Comment From Jody, School LibrarianJody, School Librarian: ] 
Hurrah for school librarians! Were you ever tempted to become one?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:34 Jody, School Librarian
 
Nikki Loftin: 
My sister wanted to be one! She even pasted little slips into the back of MY OWN books for me to check out! And charged me fines if I was late turning them in. I never wanted to be one. Honestly, I always wanted to be an author. Also, I'm a disorganized soul.
  Nikki Loftin
5:36
[Comment From Jody, School LibrarianJody, School Librarian: ] 
I want to go back to what Lisa said about kids asking for sad books, but not adults. Wonder why that is? Why do kids want sad books?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:36 Jody, School Librarian
5:37
lisa von drasek: 
Nikki,
Although this book has deeply sad moments, it is ultimately about hope and forgiveness and community. can you say something about that?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:37 lisa von drasek
5:37
Nikki Loftin: 
I'm not sure. I know, being a kid is hard, or at least it can be. Kids have so little power over their own lives, and yet their days are as filled with difficulty as any adult.
When I read books as a child, I *became* the character I read about. I think giving a young reader – who may have a terribly difficult real life -- a story to lose herself or himself in, where the main character triumphs over exterior bad guys and interior weakness, and who learns to forgive her/himself and others… I think there’s a sort of healing that can take place through story.
If I can do that, if I can help one reader to learn that s/he can triumph? That’s my writer’s dream come true.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:37 Nikki Loftin
5:38
Nikki Loftin: 
Lisa - sure. I think books for kids need to be ultimately hopeful, even if they're difficult/sad...
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:38 Nikki Loftin
5:39
[Comment From Jody, School LibrarianJody, School Librarian: ] 
And it may be that kids know that even though a book may be sad, the characters generally do triumph -- so maybe that is actually what they are looking for.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:39 Jody, School Librarian
 
Nikki Loftin: 
Exactly!
  Nikki Loftin
5:40
Nikki Loftin: 
So that kids can feel that possibility of a happy ending, even in difficult times. And I'm glad you saw the importance of the community coming together - that's a real fact of life in small, poor communities and towns...
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:40 Nikki Loftin
5:40
[Comment From ChelseaChelsea: ] 
I really appreciate how honest your depiction of Little John's poverty is. I don't think we see families with real money troubles enough in children's fiction - it's something kids are definitely aware of, particularly if it weighs on their parents. Was that something you set out to do, or did it come later?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:40 Chelsea
 
Nikki Loftin: 
Thank you! I think some authors are doing this very well - How to Steal a Dog, comes to mind, and Jacqueline Woodson's utterly amazing middle grade books - Feathers, Locomotion, so many. She's a marvel. I hope every library buys all her books - she does so much in a short space. But, yes, I set out to make the setting very stark, on purpose.
  Nikki Loftin
5:41
[Comment From Jody, School LibrarianJody, School Librarian: ] 
...even though they may not be able to articulate it.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:41 Jody, School Librarian
5:41
Nikki Loftin: 
Lisa - I have seen it hundreds of times (from my career of working in churches) - the casseroles start baking all over town minutes after the bad news hits.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:41 Nikki Loftin
5:42
[Comment From Lindsey LibrarianLindsey Librarian: ] 
Love the comment from Chelsea. I worked as a lifeguard at a pool surrounded by poor families -- Little John reminded me of those kids.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:42 Lindsey Librarian
 
Nikki Loftin: 
I grew up in a family that was, at times, financially on the edge. We never went without food, but we came very close a lot. That leaves a mark, I think. I remember the feeling - there's nothing romantic about poverty. I hope I got that across in Nest.
  Nikki Loftin
5:44
[Comment From Lindsey LibrarianLindsey Librarian: ] 
They were so honest about their daily lives -- no hiding -- heartbreaking while being admirable.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:44 Lindsey Librarian
5:45
lisa von drasek: 
I was concerned about the how alone Little John was in his grief and found that so real. Have you experiences that kind of sorrow ?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:45 lisa von drasek
 
Nikki Loftin: 
My five siblings are all still alive, so no. But I think anyone who's lived a while, and loved family and friends deeply, gets to know deep sorrow, like it or not. And my childhood was difficult. I remember.
  Nikki Loftin
5:45
[Comment From Jody, School LibrarianJody, School Librarian: ] 
Do you ever worry that some situations may be too much for a middle grader to read about?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:45 Jody, School Librarian
 
Nikki Loftin: 
There's a famous quotation, form Madeline L'Engle, I believe Something about if a topic is too hard to write about for adults, write it for children. I'm not sure how far down that road to go, but I think kids can handle a lot more than some think. Kids are already handling a lot more - their lives are as full as anyone's. I think they need to be treated with respect and dignity - in life and in their literature. (That said, I also LOVE funny books for kids. And write them. Someday, they'll be out there, too, I hope.)
  Nikki Loftin
5:47
[Comment From ChelseaChelsea: ] 
I think you struck a good balance. Poverty never came across as romantic, but it wasn't everything about their lives either, which I think is important. It was just the way it was. Thank you for that!
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:47 Chelsea
 
Nikki Loftin: 
Thank you!!
  Nikki Loftin
5:48
lisa von drasek: 
Nikki,
You mentioned that you have done SKYPED visits. how have those gone for you?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:48 lisa von drasek
5:50
lisa von drasek: 
If someone wanted to schedule one what would they do?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:50 lisa von drasek
5:50
Nikki Loftin: 
Ah, Skype! I love these visits! And if a class has read the book, and a teacher emails me, it's very likely I will do a free short one. I love talking to kids about books! :) That's the gravy, y'all - getting to interact with the reader. So energizing!
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:50 Nikki Loftin
5:51
lisa von drasek: 
what's the craziest thing a kid has ever asked you?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:51 lisa von drasek
5:51
Nikki Loftin: 
All they need to do is email me via my contact form on my website www.nikkiloftin.com or here: nikki@nikkiloftin.com. Thanks, Lisa!
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:51 Nikki Loftin
5:52
Nikki Loftin: 
The craziest thing... The WORST thing. One student asked if I had to give up one of them forever, would I give up chocolate or writing? Sobbing, I answered her "Chocolate. But I'd never be really happy again."
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:52 Nikki Loftin
5:53
lisa von drasek: 
do you like dark or milk? Is there a special celebration chocolate that you eat when a book is finished?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:53 lisa von drasek
5:53
Nikki Loftin: 
Lisa, I am eating chocolate RIGHT NOW.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:53 Nikki Loftin
5:54
lisa von drasek: 
from the peanut gallery- any last questions? comments?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:54 lisa von drasek
5:54
Nikki Loftin: 
I celebrate with Lindt Extra Dark with oranges and almonds.
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:54 Nikki Loftin
5:54
lisa von drasek: 
Nikki,

Next book in the pipeline? what? when?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:54 lisa von drasek
5:55
[Comment From CaraCara: ] 
I've just joined the discussion so I may have missed it, but what do you think of the cover?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:55 Cara
5:57
Nikki Loftin: 
Yes, my next one is called WISH GIRL! It should be out about this time next year. I'm so excited - to answer Cara's question, too - I get the same cover artist, and I'm over the moon happy! I adore my NEST cover, and I know WISH GIRL will be amazing.
WISH GIRL is also magical realism, and I'm almost done editing it... it's about a misunderstood boy and a very sick girl and a magical valley where wishes may come true... I hope you like it!
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:57 Nikki Loftin
5:57
lisa von drasek: 
oh I DO like wishes that come true
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:57 lisa von drasek
5:58
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Thanks, Lisa and Nikki for a great chat.

And thanks to all of you who for joining us and for your great comments and questions.

When we finish, this chat will be archived on the Penguin Young Readers Author Program site -- penguinyrauthors.earlyword.com

The next title in the program is UNDER THE EGG by Laura Marx Fitzgerald.

Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:58 Nora - EarlyWord
5:58
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Final comments, Lisa and Nikki?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:58 Nora - EarlyWord
5:58
lisa von drasek: 
What is the date?
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:58 lisa von drasek
5:59
lisa von drasek: 
Thank you Nikki, this was a pleasure
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:59 lisa von drasek
5:59
Nikki Loftin: 
Thank you so much, Lisa, and Nora, and all of you who came and asked questions! And thank you for the work you do with young readers - you make an incredible difference in the lives of kids. I'm delighted to have the chance to chat!
Tuesday March 25, 2014 5:59 Nikki Loftin
6:00
Nikki Loftin: 
(And I can't wait for Under the Egg! What a perfect follow-up to NEST. haha)
Tuesday March 25, 2014 6:00 Nikki Loftin
6:00
[Comment From JennaJenna: ] 
Thanks, Nikki! And thanks for writing a wonderful book!
Tuesday March 25, 2014 6:00 Jenna
 
Nikki Loftin: 
You are too kind. Thank you for reading!
  Nikki Loftin
6:00
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Signing off with a big smile -- thanks, everyone!
Tuesday March 25, 2014 6:00 Nora - EarlyWord
 
 

Live Chat with Debut Author Natalie Baszile

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Join us on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 4 p.m., ET, for a live online chat (set a reminder, below).

Listen to Nora’s podcast interview with the author.

Click here to find out more about the book.

 Live Chat with Natalie Baszile, QUEEN SUGAR(10/09/2013) 
3:46
Nora - EarlyWord: 
We will begin our live online chat with Natalie Baszile, author of Queen Sugar in about 15 minutes
Wednesday October 9, 2013 3:46 Nora - EarlyWord
3:46
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Meanwhile, here’s the cover of the book
Wednesday October 9, 2013 3:46 Nora - EarlyWord
3:46
Nora - EarlyWord
Queen Sugar Cover
Wednesday October 9, 2013 3:46 
3:47
Nora - EarlyWord: 
...and some of Natalie's photos of the bayou to get everyone in the mood.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 3:47 Nora - EarlyWord
3:47
  
Wednesday October 9, 2013 3:47 
3:47
Nora - EarlyWord
The Beauty of the Cane Rows
Wednesday October 9, 2013 3:47 
3:49
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Here's a podcast of the interview I did with Natalie a few weeks ago...
Wednesday October 9, 2013 3:49 Nora - EarlyWord
3:50
Interview with Natalie Baszile  Play
Wednesday October 9, 2013 3:50 
3:51
Nora - EarlyWord: 
It's great to see so many chat participants gathering. You can send your questions through at any time. They'll go into a queue, and I'll submit as many of them as I can to Natalie before the end of the chat. Don’t worry about typos – and please forgive any that we commit!
Wednesday October 9, 2013 3:51 Nora - EarlyWord
3:58
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Many of you have looked at the slide show of Natalie's photos. Here's a series from it that shows what back breaking labor planing cane is.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 3:58 Nora - EarlyWord
3:58
Nora - EarlyWord
Planting Cane
Wednesday October 9, 2013 3:58 
3:59
Nora - EarlyWord
Dropping Cane in the Rows
Wednesday October 9, 2013 3:59 
3:59
Nora - EarlyWord
Cane Wagon
Wednesday October 9, 2013 3:59 
3:59
Nora - EarlyWord
A Well-Deserved Break
Wednesday October 9, 2013 3:59 
3:59
Nora - EarlyWord: 
We're about to begin. I see Natalie has joined us.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 3:59 Nora - EarlyWord
4:00
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Welcome, Natalie.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:00 Nora - EarlyWord
4:00
Natalie Baszile: 
Thanks, Nora. Hello, everyone! Thanks for signing on.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:00 Natalie Baszile
4:01
Natalie Baszile: 
I'm looking forward to your questions.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:01 Natalie Baszile
4:01
Nora - EarlyWord: 
We received some questions in advance. This one is a good place to begin:

Natalie – Love this book. the characters are so real ....was a lot of time spent in this area observing and picking certain characters? the flavor of the south puts you right in the scene.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:01 Nora - EarlyWord
4:02
Natalie Baszile: 
Thanks very much. Yes, I spent a lot of time in Louisiana researching and writing the book, trying to get the characters and the setting just right . . .
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:02 Natalie Baszile
4:03
Natalie Baszile: 
I’d say that in addition to telling a good story, capturing the look and feel, the atmosphere of South Louisiana was my primary goal. It’s such a strange and wonderful place. The mix of cultures—African, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, English, Caribbean—makes it completely different from any other part of the country, and I wanted readers to experience that .
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:03 Natalie Baszile
4:05
Nora - EarlyWord: 
How ere you able to immerse yourself in the culture?
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:05 Nora - EarlyWord
4:06
Natalie Baszile: 
In the twelve years it took to write the novel, but especially since 2005, I tried to get down to Louisiana as often as I could in order to absorb the atmosphere. It’s something you sense as soon as you get there. It’s in the air. I’m not kidding when I say you step off the plane and notice that the air smells different—wonderfully earthy and mildewy. The climate is semi-tropical, so everything is in a constant state of managed decay. I did a lot of research about sugar cane farming, but I also spent a lot of time sitting, or visiting places with no particular agenda in mind. I just wanted the place to seep into my bones.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:06 Natalie Baszile
4:07
Nora - EarlyWord: 
The cover is beautiful – where does that image come from?
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:07 Nora - EarlyWord
4:07
[Comment From Sue DSue D: ] 
I loved the descriptions of this book be it people or places. You could feel the heat or smell the food. I actually had a huge craving to find some gumbo - your descriptions were that good.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:07 Sue D
4:08
Natalie Baszile: 
Haha! That's funny. Food is a huge part of South Louisiana culture . . .
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:08 Natalie Baszile
4:08
Natalie Baszile: 
I’m glad you like the cover. The art department at Penguin came up with the design. I’m very happy with it. They really captured the tone and feel of the book, and I especially love the dragonflies. At first, there was only one dragonfly, resting on the cane leaf, but my editor, Pam Dorman, thought the cover needed more movement, so she suggested they add a second one. They added the one that’s hovering in the air. I love because in the book, there’s mention of a dragonfly in one of Charley’s chapters and one in Ralph Angel’s chapters . . .
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:08 Natalie Baszile
4:09
[Comment From JACKIEJACKIE: ] 
i THINK THAT SHOWS IN THE DIALOG AND THE WAY THAT YOU BROUGHT IN THE ISSUES OF THE FARMERS
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:09 JACKIE
4:09
Natalie Baszile: 
I also really love the cane tassle. A friend in Louisiana told me recently that sugarcane rarely forms tassels like that, but when it happens, farmers take it as a sign of good luck.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:09 Natalie Baszile
4:09
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
I thought the description of family, blood and extended was spot on. Most people don't have that anymore. Is it really still prevalent in Louisiana?
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:09 Guest
4:10
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Several readers expressed interest in the character of Charlie’s half-brother, Ralph Angel. Let’s see how this group felt about him.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:10 Nora - EarlyWord
4:10
Natalie Baszile: 
Thanks, Jackie. The dialog was fun to write. People in Louisiana have a beautiful accent. At least I think so. . . . I wanted to capture that.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:10 Natalie Baszile
4:10
How did you react to Charley s half brother, Ralph Angel?
Felt sympathetic
 ( 17% )
Doomed by his upbringing
 ( 0% )
Didn't like him
 ( 17% )
Hoped he'd get it together
 ( 67% )

Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:10 
4:11
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
loved this book what part of Louisiana were you in, I was stationed in New Orleans, and went to school some while there and the locals wwere very special and welcoming to me, it was a time I will never forget.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:11 Guest
4:11
Natalie Baszile: 
In South Louisiana, family is EVERYTHING. I don't want to make a sweeping generalization, but people really spend a lot of time with their families. It was important for me to explore that in the book.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:11 Natalie Baszile
4:12
Natalie Baszile: 
I spent most of my time in between New Iberia and Franklin, Louisiana.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:12 Natalie Baszile
4:13
Nora - EarlyWord: 
I understand you grew up in a family business. Charley creates her own family business. How do you think family businesses affect relationships?
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:13 Nora - EarlyWord
4:13
Natalie Baszile: 
Family business can be wonderful, a real source of comfort and stability, but they can also be stifling. I think it depends on how old you are when you start working with your family and how much life experience you’ve had. I also think it’s very important that parents don’t hold on too tight; even when they understand that all the positive things a family business can offer. In my case, I tried to be the loyal daughter, but I knew pretty early that it wasn’t the place for me. I wanted to write.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:13 Natalie Baszile
4:14
Natalie Baszile: 
But I learned a lot of valuable lessons from being in business that have helped me as a writer.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:14 Natalie Baszile
4:14
[Comment From DominiqueDominique: ] 
After finishing the book, I understand why what happened to Ralph Angel happened, but I was disappointed that he was a little stereotypical. What made you decide this fate for him?
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:14 Dominique
4:15
Nora - EarlyWord: 
It looks like most of our participants felt sympathetic for Ralph.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:15 Nora - EarlyWord
4:16
Natalie Baszile: 
Thanks for your comment, Dominique.. And I'm very happy to hear most people found him to be sympathetic.

I worked extremely hard to make him sympathetic—not simply a one-dimensional villain—and prayed readers would find his story tragic, even heartbreaking. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Ralph Angel because I always understood him to be a character who wanted desperately to do the right thing--to please people, to be loved. But he was always his own worst enemy. . . .
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:16 Natalie Baszile
4:16
Natalie Baszile: 
Often, especially in the later revisions, I felt as though Charley and Ralph Angel were two sides of the same coin. Different characters, for sure, but that they were living on parallel tracts. Oddly enough, the similarities in their stories--the fact that both are widowed, the fact that they both have young children, the fact that they struggle to be good parents—those similarities weren’t intentional, and I didn’t realize they were living in parallel lives until I’d revised the novel a couple times. I guess you could say that’s the magic of the subconscious mind. As I became aware of how much their lives mirrored each other’s and that Charley easily could have been dealt Ralph Angels’s hand, I tried to work that into Charley’s awareness.

Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:16 Natalie Baszile
4:17
[Comment From JACKIEJACKIE: ] 
i THINK THAT WAS WHAT WORKED WITH CHARLEY IN TTHIS STORY.....EVERYTHING WAS FAR FROM PERFECT FOR HER AND THIS NEW BUSINESS--YOU KEPT ROOTING FOR HER TO SUCCEED..
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:17 JACKIE
4:17
Natalie Baszile: 
Thanks, Jackie! I'm glad you kept rooting for her.. .
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:17 Natalie Baszile
4:18
Natalie Baszile: 
That was actually the hardest thing to balance. Because I needed the reader to stay in Charley's corner, even while they felt sympathy for Ralph Angel . . .
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:18 Natalie Baszile
4:19
Natalie Baszile: 
I needed both characters to be imperfect.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:19 Natalie Baszile
4:19
[Comment From DominiqueDominique: ] 
thank you for this. i was sympathetic, but also frustrated that his ending could have been avoided by the choices he made. but then the book would be completely different!
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:19 Dominique
4:20
[Comment From AnneAnne: ] 
I thought that one of the themes in the books was from one of the lines in your book - that everyone wants their days to have purpose and needs to know they are moving forward. I thought all of the characters had their demons to battle and this influenced what meant moving forward to them.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:20 Anne
4:20
[Comment From bookclubreaderbookclubreader: ] 
The story had many interesting, complex, flawed characters, which made it so rich and interesting. It drew me in immediately and I really enjoyed it. It also gave me an appreciation for the farmers and workers. Sugar is something so many of us take for granted.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:20 bookclubreader
4:21
Natalie Baszile: 
Thanks, Anne. That's exactly what I was trying to explore.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:21 Natalie Baszile
4:22
Natalie Baszile: 
Farming is by far one of the toughest professions out there. There's no guarantee, no real safety net. And yet, farmers keep coming back year after year.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:22 Natalie Baszile
4:22
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Any surprises from early reactions to the book?
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:22 Nora - EarlyWord
4:22
Natalie Baszile: 
So far, I’ve only received positive feedback, for which I’m tremendously grateful, but I understand not everyone will love it. The handful of people who’ve read the book, though, have said they’ve enjoyed it. Honestly that’s what I want most of all: for people to be moved by the story; for the characters to stay with them; for it to be a satisfying reading experience. I know how I’ve felt in the past when I’ve read a book that I’ve loved. I remember reading Charles Frasier’s Cold Mountain and not wanting the book to end. I still remember sitting on the couch, reading the final scene when the patroller shoots Inman, and actually saying out loud, “Oh, no! Oh, no! This can’t be happening!” and feeling completely devastated. Or reading Amy Bloom’s Away, and tearing up at the end because I was so happy and relieved for Lillian. Reading a good book can be a moving, deeply satisfying experience. I think that’s what every writer hopes for: that their readers will be moved.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:22 Natalie Baszile
4:23
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Love your blog -- http://nataliebaszile.wordpress.com --
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:23 Nora - EarlyWord
4:23
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Natalie's Blog
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:23 Nora - EarlyWord
4:24
Natalie Baszile: 
Thanks, Nora! I love my little blog, although recently, I haven’t had time to post as often as I’d like. I try to make the posts interesting. I think they should have some sort of narrative arc and be worthy of the reader’s time. I’m don’t think anyone is interested in reading about what I had for breakfast, so I try only to share things that feel important, and that means the posts sometimes take a long time to craft. I find that I’m most inspired when I travel to Louisiana—again, because it’s such a strange and wonderful place, but also because when I’m there, I just sort of go with the flow and let things unfold. I’m always surprised . . .
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:24 Natalie Baszile
4:24
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Especially the part about trying to open an account with the New Orleans Water & Sewer Co. --
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:24 Nora - EarlyWord
4:24
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Saga of Opening an Account At The New Orleans Water and Sewage Board
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:24 Nora - EarlyWord
4:25
Natalie Baszile: 
Oh my goodness. What a nightmare.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:25 Natalie Baszile
4:25
Nora - EarlyWord: 
What made you start the blog?
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:25 Nora - EarlyWord
4:25
Natalie Baszile: 
I started the blog a few weeks after I sold my novel and was waiting for editorial comments. I needed a project. For the first time in over a decade, I didn’t have a big project to sink my teeth into, and I was afraid my writing muscles would atrophy, so the blog seemed like the perfect vehicle to stay in touch with the writing. I also noticed that in the absence of a big project, I suddenly had the creative space to entertain smaller ideas, the bandwidth to consider smaller narratives, things that weren’t necessarily short-story material, but that still felt important enough to share. I describe writing blog posts as blowing bubbles—they’re these magical little units of narrative – not too big, but not too small. . . .
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:25 Natalie Baszile
4:27
[Comment From TrishaTrisha: ] 
Louisiana in itself will make you want to blog it is a world all to itself
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:27 Trisha
4:27
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Was it confusing to write the blog and the novel at the same time?

Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:27 Nora - EarlyWord
4:27
Natalie Baszile: 
Absolutely, Trisha. I agree
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:27 Natalie Baszile
4:27
Natalie Baszile: 
When I was working on the novel, I was afraid to siphon away any creative energy, so I didn’t work on any other projects. When I got an idea for a short story or an essay, I’d take notes and maybe write a draft, but I poured 98% of my energy into the novel. In the last three years or so, I felt myself being drawn to essays, so the blog has been a good place to practice. A version of one of my blog posts, “Frogging Quintana” was published in a two anthologies this past summer. That was fun.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:27 Natalie Baszile
4:29
Natalie Baszile: 
I'm going back to Louisiana this Saturday. We'll see what I come up with!
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:29 Natalie Baszile
4:29
Nora - EarlyWord: 
I want to apologize to everyone about Natalie's avatar -- she doesn't look like that! -- I haven't been able to get her beautiful photos to load!
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:29 Nora - EarlyWord
4:30
Nora - EarlyWord: 
You split your time between San Francisco and New Orleans – they seem like very different places.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:30 Nora - EarlyWord
4:30
Natalie Baszile: 
Yes, I find myself spending more and more time in New Orleans because now I have friends there. You’re right to suggest that they are very different places: I’ve come to think of New Orleans as “My Crazy Mistress” (I wrote a post last summer about this). She moves at her own pace. She does things her way, and she isn’t particularly interested in changing. San Francisco, by contrast, is always moving, constantly changing. It’s ground zero for innovation with all the start-ups and tech companies, and that’s always exciting. It’s not as crazed as, say, Manhattan, but there’s an energy here that makes you want to challenge yourself. It’s a very inspiring place to live. . . .
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:30 Natalie Baszile
4:31
[Comment From Sue DSue D: ] 
Are you touring for the book? Where will you be going? Anywhere near St. Louis MO?
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:31 Sue D
4:31
Natalie Baszile: 
But I’d also say there are a number of similarities between the two cities. There’s a funky, bohemian vibe that I like, an appreciation for quirkiness. You can do your thing—whatever that is—in either town, and no one is really going to say much. . . .
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:31 Natalie Baszile
4:31
Natalie Baszile: 
I find I need both places. I love San Francisco’s entrepreneurial spirit, but I also love New Orlean’s laid back atmosphere where folks really appreciate life and good friends and good food and a slower pace .
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:31 Natalie Baszile
4:32
Natalie Baszile: 
My publicist and I are working on my book tour right now.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:32 Natalie Baszile
4:33
Natalie Baszile: 
So far, we're concentrating on the West Coast and places in the south. but I'd love to come to St. Louis, MO.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:33 Natalie Baszile
4:33
[Comment From DominiqueDominique: ] 
Natalie, did you base Ms. Honey on a real-life person?
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:33 Dominique
4:33
Natalie Baszile: 
Miss Honey was loosely inspired by my grandmother. She was a real character.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:33 Natalie Baszile
4:34
Natalie Baszile: 
She pretty much ruled over the town she lived in. When she died, the entire town came out to her funeral. It lasted 4 hours.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:34 Natalie Baszile
4:34
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Back to the question about touring -- are you available to groups via SKYPE? How can libraries reach you?
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:34 Nora - EarlyWord
4:35
Natalie Baszile: 
Absolutely! I'm happy to SKYPE. For now, folks can reach me at my personal email: NBaszile@gmail.com. My website should be ready soon.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:35 Natalie Baszile
4:36
[Comment From AnneAnne: ] 
There was one character I wanted to get inside his head or at least ask him a couple of questions - that was the father.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:36 Anne
4:36
Natalie Baszile: 
Okay, shoot.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:36 Natalie Baszile
4:36
Natalie Baszile: 
What were you curious to know?
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:36 Natalie Baszile
4:39
Natalie Baszile: 
Ernest is indeed sort of a mystery-certainly to Charley . . .
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:39 Natalie Baszile
4:40
Natalie Baszile: 
I wanted his gift of the farm to be a shock to her, for her to realize that she didn't know everything about him. Because that's true in life, right? You never really know what people are thinking, what secrets they are harboring like mushrooms in the back of their closet.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:40 Natalie Baszile
4:42
Chris Kahn: 
Folks---In case this is posted need to let everyone know that Nora has had her system go down and is not able to post
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:42 Chris Kahn
4:43
Natalie Baszile: 
Okay. I'm happy to answer other questions while we wait for Nora.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:43 Natalie Baszile
4:43
Chris Kahn: 
We are working on the problem...please hang on!
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:43 Chris Kahn
4:44
Chris Kahn: 
Please send questions to Chris@earlyword.com and I will post them!
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:44 Chris Kahn
4:44
Nora - EarlyWord: 
So sorry -- back on now!
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:44 Nora - EarlyWord
4:45
Nora - EarlyWord: 
We have a ton of questions out there -- will try to post as many as I can.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:45 Nora - EarlyWord
4:45
Natalie Baszile: 
ok
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:45 Natalie Baszile
4:45
[Comment From JACKIEJACKIE: ] 
I was a little angry with the father for leaving the kids in this type of situation. However I have known other parents that have done this to their family. It usually does not end well
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:45 JACKIE
4:46
[Comment From AnneAnne: ] 
He seemed like a selfish man - that he would determine the legacy of his children w/o their input.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:46 Anne
4:47
Natalie Baszile: 
that's interesting. I always imagined that Ernest did what he did out of love for Charley and that he was deeply hurt by Ralph Angel.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:47 Natalie Baszile
4:47
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Here's another reaction:
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:47 Nora - EarlyWord
4:47
[Comment From bookclubreaderbookclubreader: ] 
And I wonder if Ernest thought about how his bequest would affect Charley and Ralph, and their children.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:47 bookclubreader
4:47
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Changing topics:
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:47 Nora - EarlyWord
4:47
[Comment From Sue DSue D: ] 
How do you work? writing long hand or computer? Morning or evening? music or not?
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:47 Sue D
4:48
Natalie Baszile: 
At this point, definitely on a computer. My handwriting is terrible . . .
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:48 Natalie Baszile
4:48
Natalie Baszile: 
And I usually try to work during the day when my kids are at school. But honestly, I don't hit my stride until around 4:00 in the afternoon.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:48 Natalie Baszile
4:49
[Comment From DominiqueDominique: ] 
Natalie, the relationship, or lack of, between Charley and her mother is interesting. can you explain why it is so strained? was that intentional?
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:49 Dominique
4:49
Natalie Baszile: 
I wanted their relationship to be tense for sure.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:49 Natalie Baszile
4:49
Natalie Baszile: 
But it's important to understand that Lorna doesn't come from the south. She's a Yankee.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:49 Natalie Baszile
4:50
Natalie Baszile: 
I also wanted to explore the relationship between mothers and daughters.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:50 Natalie Baszile
4:50
[Comment From AnneAnne: ] 
I kept thinking what I would do if I was Charley - about what I would do once I found out the state of the cane farm (I did enough learning all about cane farming) - what I would have done if my daughter threw the ring away (when I knew that was a security blanket
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:50 Anne
4:51
Natalie Baszile: 
Thanks, Anne. Charley certainly faces her share of challenges, especially when it comes to Micah . . .
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:51 Natalie Baszile
4:52
Natalie Baszile: 
But I was interested in the question of exactly what women do for their children. How far they'll go.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:52 Natalie Baszile
4:52
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Tell us about the process of getting the book published.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:52 Nora - EarlyWord
4:53
Natalie Baszile: 
Oh gosh. . . The short-ish answer is I had an experience early on that taught me a valuable lesson. I’d just started writing the book when I went to a writers’ conference and I was introduced to an agent who asked to read what I’d written. The truth was, I barely knew how the story would unfold, let alone what it was about, what questions it was really asking, but I went home, and for the next six weeks worked like a mad woman to finish the draft. I sent it to him and of course, he read it and said he wasn’t interested after all-- “thanks but no thanks.” I learned then that I really had one shot with agents, and that I couldn’t afford to squander another opportunity or introduction . . .
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:53 Natalie Baszile
4:54
Natalie Baszile: 
So, for the next ten years, I worked on the novel and didn’t put any pressure on myself—well . . . I didn’t put much pressure on myself to think about publication. I just tried to write the best story I could write. That was challenging sometimes because there were a lot of writers at my writing office who were getting their novels and short stories published, and while I happy as I was for their success, I felt like I was just plodding along like a mule in the traces. Whenever I felt discouraged or started to wonder whether it would ever be my turn, I’d remind myself that I was on my own path. There were some painful moments along the way when I thought I’d given the novel everything I had, moments when I believed the novel was ready only to be told that it wasn’t. The summer of 2009, I though I’d run out of juice. I think I’d revised the novel nine or ten times by then and I was exhausted. But I kept going because deep down, I believed in the story—which is different from believing it would ever be published, by the way. I just had the sense that there was something there worth working for, even if it was just for myself . . .
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:54 Natalie Baszile
4:55
Nora - EarlyWord: 
The conversation about family relationships in the book is so interesting. Here's another observation.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:55 Nora - EarlyWord
4:55
[Comment From AnneAnne: ] 
I understood how Charley felt guilty about Micah getting burned and I got the Charley did not want her love/support of her daughter to be conditional like Lorna's was for Charley.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:55 Anne
4:56
Natalie Baszile: 
exactly!
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:56 Natalie Baszile
4:56
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Just a few more minutes for final questions!
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:56 Nora - EarlyWord
4:56
Natalie Baszile: 
Charley tries to be a different kind of mother.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:56 Natalie Baszile
4:57
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Natalie, we had a bunch of participants offering inducements for your book tour...
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:57 Nora - EarlyWord
4:57
[Comment From Sue DSue D: ] 
Well, some people do consider St. Louis part of the South. We would love to have you!
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:57 Sue D
4:57
Nora - EarlyWord: 
I'm finding this one hard to believe...
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:57 Nora - EarlyWord
4:57
[Comment From TrishaTrisha: ] 
And drive thru daquiris
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:57 Trisha
4:58
[Comment From KikiKiki: ] 
Natalie, what's been the most exciting part of the debut author process so far?
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:58 Kiki
4:58
Natalie Baszile: 
Oh wow! Thanks!

And yes, drive thru daquiris are a real thing!
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:58 Natalie Baszile
4:58
Nora - EarlyWord: 
We'll conclude with a couple of great comments...
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:58 Nora - EarlyWord
4:58
[Comment From bookclubreaderbookclubreader: ] 
Your perseverance in the publishing process is very much like Charley's determination to produce a crop. A labor of love.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:58 bookclubreader
4:58
[Comment From LilyLily: ] 
Loved the book, and the relationships between the characters. It's a book that stays with you after you're done reading it.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:58 Lily
4:58
Natalie Baszile: 
The most exciting part of this process so far has been sharing the book with friends who had a hand in helping me write it; especially the folks in south louisiana.

Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:58 Natalie Baszile
4:58
[Comment From AnneAnne: ] 
Just wanted to say that I enjoyed the book and it is another reason why I am drawn to books set in LA :)
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:58 Anne
4:59
Natalie Baszile: 
Thanks so much for your kind words. I'm so, so happy and grateful you enjoyed the book!
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:59 Natalie Baszile
4:59
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Thanks so much Natalie. It's been fun chatting with you!
Wednesday October 9, 2013 4:59 Nora - EarlyWord
5:00
Natalie Baszile: 
Thanks, Nora. This has been fun!
Wednesday October 9, 2013 5:00 Natalie Baszile
5:00
Nora - EarlyWord: 
As a reminder, This chat and the podcast interviews will be archived on the Penguin First Flights page on EarlyWord -- useful for readers advisory.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 5:00 Nora - EarlyWord
5:01
Nora - EarlyWord: 
The book is coming out on February. If you haven't read it yet, digital readers copies are currently available on Edelweiss and NetGalley
Wednesday October 9, 2013 5:01 Nora - EarlyWord
5:02
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Goodbye everyone and happy reading.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 5:02 Nora - EarlyWord
5:03
Natalie Baszile: 
Thanks everyone. I'm so glad to have met you all (virtually). Feel free to get in touch if you'd like me to SKYPE.
Wednesday October 9, 2013 5:03 Natalie Baszile
5:03
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Wednesday October 9, 2013 5:03 
 
 

Live On-Line Chat with Debut Author Kerry Hudson

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
 Live Chat with Kerry Hudson(08/28/2013) 
3:44
Nora - EarlyWord: 
We will begin our live online chat with Kerry Hudson, author of TONY HOGAN BOUGHT ME AN ICE CREAM FLOAT BEFORE HE STOLE MY MA in about 15 minutes.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 3:44 Nora - EarlyWord
3:44
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Meanwhile, here’s the cover of the book…
Wednesday August 28, 2013 3:44 Nora - EarlyWord
3:44
Nora - EarlyWord
Wednesday August 28, 2013 3:44 
3:45
Nora - EarlyWord: 
It was published in the UK last year – here’s the UK trailer…
Wednesday August 28, 2013 3:45 Nora - EarlyWord
3:45
  
Wednesday August 28, 2013 3:45 
3:46
Nora - EarlyWord: 
And, my brief audio interview with Kerry …
Wednesday August 28, 2013 3:46 Nora - EarlyWord
3:46
Interview  Play
Wednesday August 28, 2013 3:46 
4:00
Nora - EarlyWord: 
We’re happy to see so many chat participants gathering. You can enter your questions at any time. They'll go into a queue, and we'll submit as many of them as we can to Kerry before the end of the chat. Don’t worry about typos – and please forgive any that we commit.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:00 Nora - EarlyWord
4:00
Nora - EarlyWord: 
I think Kerry is in the house. Say hi to everyone, Kerry!
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:00 Nora - EarlyWord
4:01
Kerry Hudson: 
Hi from sunny London everyone - very happy to be here!
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:01 Kerry Hudson
4:01
Nora - EarlyWord: 
"Sunny London" -- not a phrase you hear often.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:01 Nora - EarlyWord
4:02
Kerry Hudson: 
Haha...we've had a glorious summer actually...lots of ice-cream.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:02 Kerry Hudson
4:02
Nora - EarlyWord: 
We received some questions and comments in advance. This is how one of our participants reacted to Tony Hogan:

“I loved TONY HOGAN, even though I tend to avoid tales of extreme poverty & childhood abuse. But this one has a voice that kept me reading, without wanting to skip a word.”

It’s the warmth and optimism that shine through in TONY HOGAN that makes it not just a ‘misery memoir,’ even though there is plenty of tough stuff in it. Did you consciously work to make it hopeful?
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:02 Nora - EarlyWord
4:02
Kerry Hudson: 
Thank you so much for you kind words regarding the book - that is really lovely to hear. Regarding making it hopeful...Absolutely. Partly because that's true to Janie - she's a hopeful person, one of the ways she survives is by finding the good in most situations. Also because there is hope from that sort of background. I intended for the reader to be able to see that optimism, the opportunity and will good things for Janie throughout the book.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:02 Kerry Hudson
4:03
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Below is another advance question from one of the First Flight participants:

“How long from the events at the end of TONY HOGAN until you got the idea to write about them in this fictionalized form? Had you considered a memoir at some point? It reads so TRUE, with the characters all balanced and evolving.”
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:03 Nora - EarlyWord
4:04
Kerry Hudson: 
Thank you - I'm so happy the book and the characters ring true to you. I started writing short stories based on my upbringing when I was twenty-seven (which was really when I started writing seriously or with intent) so almost a full decade from when the book finishes with Janie. I started the book about a year after I started the short stories - largely because I had interest from my now literary agent. Completely honestly, it took me that much time to deal with and process that upbringing (writing the book was very much part of that process actually) and to be settled enough to start thinking about it. I never considered memoir, partly because I don't think in itself - without those fictional smoke and mirror tricks - my story would stand up on it's own and partly because I love the freedom of 'creating' something.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:04 Kerry Hudson
4:05
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Another advance question:

“Did you go through many, many revisions?”
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:05 Nora - EarlyWord
4:06
Kerry Hudson: 
It was actually an amazingly 'fast' book to write. I wrote the version that went onto submission with publishers in six months in Vietnam while on sabbatical from my NGO job in the UK. I knew that time was precious and unlikely to be had again and so every day my focus was just on writing the book, immersing myself in the story. And I loved writing it (I still love writing first drafts!) so that was easy. Once it had been accepted for publication the redrafting was fairly light too. So about 7 drafts in total I would say but two of those were copy-editing and a 'read-aloud' to check the rhythm. They say your first is the book you've been writing all your life so it's not uncommon for it some flooding out...my second has taken much, much, MUCH longer though! You fly on your first and do all your learning on your second is what I've found.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:06 Kerry Hudson
4:07
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Wait; you wrote the book in VIETNAM? Why there?
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:07 Nora - EarlyWord
4:08
Kerry Hudson: 
I wanted to travel there anyway and didn't have much money so it seemed to make sense. It was actually the best decision though. I was able to completely dislocate myself from everything I knew and conjure my memories afresh (I had nothing familiar around me). I woke up, I swam in a dilapidated Communist Workers Party rooftop pool, cycled around, ate noodles, wrote my chapters longhand and typed them up in incredibly noisy internet cafes. I was incredibly, incredibly happy - and productive!
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:08 Kerry Hudson
4:09
Kerry Hudson: 
...so much so I went back to Hanoi to finish my second! It casts some sort of spell.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:09 Kerry Hudson
4:09
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Wasn't it strange to not be in the country you were writing about?
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:09 Nora - EarlyWord
4:10
Nora - EarlyWord: 
To those of you out there -- I see you lurking but not a single comment is coming through. This is very strange and makes me wonder if I've accidentally hit something that prevents comments. So, if you're trying to get through, hang in there -- I'm trying to figure it out.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:10 Nora - EarlyWord
4:10
Kerry Hudson: 
It was helpful I think. I think it helped with description...if I wanted to write about fish and chips I couldn't just go to the end of my road and buy some...I had to conjure the smell of vinegar, the flesh of the fish, the grease on my lips...everything had to be given so much imagination because I was so dislocated fro my normal existence.

Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:10 Kerry Hudson
4:13
Nora - EarlyWord: 
As I said in our interview, I was fascinated by the British junk foods you mentioned, like Great Aunt Aggies bag of Sherbet Lemons that she brings to the hospital after Janie is born. I had to look them up to find out what they were (photo coming) ...
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:13 Nora - EarlyWord
4:13
Nora - EarlyWord
Sherbet Lemons
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:13 
4:13
Kerry Hudson: 
Delicious!! I still love those.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:13 Kerry Hudson
4:13
Nora - EarlyWord: 
The one that REALLY got me, was Angel Dream (screen shot of their Web site coming) ...
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:13 Nora - EarlyWord
4:13
Nora - EarlyWord
Angel Delight Web Site
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:13 
4:14
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Did you grow up on these?
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:14 Nora - EarlyWord
4:15
Kerry Hudson: 
Yes, the food we ate was mostly processed, very cheap. When I was older my Mum became more aware of nutrition and cleverer about making the food money go further. I also still like Angel Delight (it;s a kind of pudding) but as a grown-up(ish) am aware it must be very unhealthy!
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:15 Kerry Hudson
4:16
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Just got the following via email from Linda, a librarian in Massachusetts:

Since the story is so true to life (even if it's actually fiction) what has been the reaction from your family and the people you grew up with? How do they feel about the way they were portrayed?
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:16 Nora - EarlyWord
4:18
Kerry Hudson: 
I told them before I'd ever written a word that I was intending on writing a novel based on my upbringing and asked if that was ok. My mum read it when it was published and said she thought I'd done a good job.

I think it's important to say that Iris, Tiny, Doug...they aren't my real family...they're fictional characters built on a tiny part of the reality so it's not about how they're portrayed really but how the characters are...how true they are within fiction.

My family are all proud of me though. People from where I grew up were never meant to write books - they became shop assistants or, at best, supervisors - it was very blue collar...the very idea I would get a novel published was unthinkable - books were something 'other people' did - so I don't think any of us can quite believe that this is now my job. I feel lucky every single day.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:18 Kerry Hudson
4:19
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Amazing; what made you feel you could write a book?
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:19 Nora - EarlyWord
4:21
Kerry Hudson: 
I had a very supportive partner who helped me see the value of what I had to say. Also, when I was writing it I really, really, REALLY (etc.) never thought it would be published. I wrote that book for myself mostly...to make sense of things. Because I have always tried to be the type of person who, if I want to do something, will do it and not be frightened of failing. Life is short....
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:21 Kerry Hudson
4:22
Kerry Hudson: 
...so it has been overwhelming to have it published. I had no idea it would be, that what I was writing in that little room in Vietnam would become a proper book in libraries...and published by Penguin in the US no less!
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:22 Kerry Hudson
4:22
Nora - EarlyWord: 
You wrote a lovely essay for the Guardian, “My Hero, Roddy Doyle." In it, you said you were 16 when you discovered THE COMMITMENTS in your local library. What did that mean to you?
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:22 Nora - EarlyWord
4:23
Kerry Hudson: 
Reading THE COMMITMENTS was the first time I had ever seen working-class life - and all its energy and colour and spirit - portrayed in a book. It suddenly made me realise that my story, my interior world and emotions, were just as valid as anyone else's. It's thanks to that book that years later when I began writing TONY HOGAN I felt I had something worth saying...
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:23 Kerry Hudson
4:24
Kerry Hudson: 
...I think, for me, literature should reflect the full spectrum of society...stories from poorer streets are just as important for understanding ourselves and the world around us as middle-class stories are. But certainly in the UK they are still under-represented sadly.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:24 Kerry Hudson
4:25
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Speakng of it being published in the U.K., here's the U.K. jacket...
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:25 Nora - EarlyWord
4:25
Nora - EarlyWord
UK Paperback Jacket
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:25 
4:25
Kerry Hudson: 
Very different from the US cover (which I absolutely LOVE).
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:25 Kerry Hudson
4:26
Nora - EarlyWord: 
You got great response in the U.K., including being nominated for the Guardian's Best First Book prize...
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:26 Nora - EarlyWord
4:27
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Besides being totally gratified by that, were there in surprises in the response?
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:27 Nora - EarlyWord
4:32
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Just got this comment from Beverly:

Enjoyed the book and was intrigued by everyday descriptions - felt like I watching a film - saw the housing, food, clothing, etc. Also appreciated information regarding the British welfare system and the support/or lack of support for those needing assistance. The B&B's set up to "house" the poor and often how easily they could find a place to accept them was interesting from my American mind.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:32 Nora - EarlyWord
4:37
Nora - EarlyWord: 
I agree with Beverly's comment about the British welfare system, which seems to offer more safety nets than the US -- wonder if that is true?
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:37 Nora - EarlyWord
4:41
Kerry Hudson: 
Hi Beverly, great point! Yes, I think it's true that we have a greater safety net here - though that is changing rapidly unfortunately. But yes, we have free healthcare (and it's very good in my experience), unemployment benefit that's just about liveable on, access to education (though the debt might deter people from poorer house holds)...
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:41 Kerry Hudson
4:41
Kerry Hudson: 
...though Janie expereinces poverty in context she always has somewhere to sleep, access to to school and - of course!! - libraries.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:41 Kerry Hudson
4:43
Kerry Hudson: 
In response to Nora's earlier question one of the most surprising responses was people expressing surprise that that level of poverty exists in the UK though...well-educated city dwellers who apparently couldn't see disenfranchised kids on lots of street corners.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:43 Kerry Hudson
4:43
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Here's another question:

What in particular about the 1980’s made you set the book in that decade? How might Iris and Janie’s story been different set say in the 1990’s or 1970’s?

Jennifer
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:43 Nora - EarlyWord
4:45
Kerry Hudson: 
Hi Jennifer! Great question...in absolute truth it's because that's when I was growing up so it was an era that was easy for me to reach (I was born in 1980). I think in the 90's it would have been much the same but in 2000's they would have been far less isolated thanks to the internet and mobile phones...
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:45 Kerry Hudson
4:46
Nora - EarlyWord: 
You worked for a children’s charity. How does it feel to work with kids who face many of the same challenges you did. Does it make you more or less sympathetic?

Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:46 Nora - EarlyWord
4:46
Kerry Hudson: 
...one thing I remember is my own single mum's absolute isolation when we didn't have a home phone - she literally had almost no contact with her family.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:46 Kerry Hudson
4:47
Kerry Hudson: 
Nora - It wasn't my intention to awaken people to the conditions around them but it's been gratifying to hear people say it's made them view that section of society differently...that they don't just write those kids on the street corner off as hoodlums anymore. That's made me really happy (and hopeful).
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:47 Kerry Hudson
4:50
Kerry Hudson: 
Regarding working for a children's charity and one which works specifically with vulnerable children. Yes, coming from that background made me very passionate about their work. I have huge compassion for how hard it is to be poor anywhere, not just in Britian....how hard it is to believe you won't amoutn to anything from a really early age. Working for that charity showed me that what Janie experiences is the tip of the iceberg unfortunately.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:50 Kerry Hudson
4:51
Kerry Hudson: 
I'm not going to generalise and say that is always the case but that was my experience and so that is what I reflected in the book. I think that there is a certain hopelessness which is easy to fall into when you have no prospects, feel marginalised, have constant worry about making ends meet...while men can try and seek escape I just think women have a stronger protective, maternal instinct which means they 'keep it together'. Lots of the women I observed growing up - women in the worst kinds of circumstances kept themselves going by hook or by crook for their children...like Iris does I suppose.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:51 Kerry Hudson
4:52
Nora - EarlyWord: 
However, the men in Tony Hogan are feckless at best; it’s the women who take care of things.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:52 Nora - EarlyWord
4:53
Kerry Hudson: 
Exactly...I thought there would be a backlash but I think people understood that I wasn't saying 'this is how things are' just 'this is how this story is for these women'...
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:53 Kerry Hudson
4:54
Kerry Hudson: 
...and you have to remember Iris is a fishwife - they're made of strong, strong (slightly terrifying!) stuff...she was always going to hold it together.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:54 Kerry Hudson
4:55
Nora - EarlyWord: 
I'm trying to think of something similar to fishwives in the U.S., but am coming up empty!
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:55 Nora - EarlyWord
4:56
Nora - EarlyWord: 
We're close to the end of the chat, so it's a good time to ask you about your next book.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:56 Nora - EarlyWord
4:56
Kerry Hudson: 
Imagine if there were female dock-workers...big-armed, foul-mouthed, handy with their fists and sharp with their tongues!
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:56 Kerry Hudson
4:57
Kerry Hudson: 

My second novel THIRST is a fragile love story set between Siberia and East London...it's out in the UK next July.



Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:57 Kerry Hudson
4:57
Kerry Hudson: 
Also, I'm more than happy to answer additonal questions via email is anyone wasn't able to ask!
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:57 Kerry Hudson
4:57
Nora - EarlyWord: 
How can they reach you?
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:57 Nora - EarlyWord
4:58
Kerry Hudson: 
They can email kerrythudson at gmail dot com or contact me on twitter (or just come tell me what you had for breakfast!) @kerryswindow
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:58 Kerry Hudson
4:59
Nora - EarlyWord: 
TONY HOGAN BOUGHT ME AN ICE-CREAM FLOAT BEFORE HE STOLE MY MA is coming out at the end of January and is available as a Digital Readers Copy via Edelweiss and NetGalley until pub date.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:59 Nora - EarlyWord
4:59
Nora - EarlyWord: 
You are active on Twitter -- do you think that influences your writing in any way?
Wednesday August 28, 2013 4:59 Nora - EarlyWord
5:00
Kerry Hudson: 
I work completely alone each day (unless I'm teaching writing which I do sporadically throughout the year for a few weeks at a time) so Twitter has become my office canteen, water-cooler and after-work bar all in one. It hasn't changed my writing but it has changed my career...I've made so many friends, gotten so much work just by being accessible and it allows people who read and like Tony Hogan to tell me so - and that's one of the best bits of the whole job!
Wednesday August 28, 2013 5:00 Kerry Hudson
5:01
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Thanks, Kerry. It's been fun talking to you.

Thanks to those of you who joined us and remember that this conversation will be archived on the EarlyWord site.


Wednesday August 28, 2013 5:01 Nora - EarlyWord
5:02
Kerry Hudson: 
Thank you so much for having me...apologies on behalf of my glitchy brit internet but thanks for all of the fascinating questions!
Wednesday August 28, 2013 5:02 Kerry Hudson
5:03
Nora - EarlyWord: 
One final comment from Jennifer is a good reminder:

That comment about how isolated Kerry and her mom were without a phone is a foreign idea today…look at how we are chatting across the ocean in real time. It sometimes gives me pause and I wonder how much we are really saying is important and how much is just because we can, and how alternate ways of communication (notably letter writing) have really gone by the wayside.


Wednesday August 28, 2013 5:03 Nora - EarlyWord
5:04
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Over and out -- thanks everyone!
Wednesday August 28, 2013 5:04 Nora - EarlyWord
 
 

Live On-Line Chat with Anton DiSclafani

Monday, May 13th, 2013

LIVE CHAT with Taiye Selasi

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013
 Live Chat with Taiye Selasi, GHANA MUST GO(02/06/2013) 
3:41
Nora - EarlyWord
Cover of Ghana Must Go; Chat Begins at 4 p.m., Eastern
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:41 
3:46
Taiye Selasi: 
Hello. Taiye here!
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:46 Taiye Selasi
3:47
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Hey, Taiye! We'll be starting in a few minutes. Thanks for coming early.
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:47 Nora - EarlyWord
3:47
Taiye Selasi: 
Of course. So much looking forward.
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:47 Taiye Selasi
3:49
Nora - EarlyWord: 
While we're waiting to begin, I'm going to post some news and background on GHANA MUST GO.

It has been getting some great pre-pub attention. In the UK, it was picked as a “Waterstone’s Eleven,” one of the most anticipated books of the year by that bookselling chain and Taiye was interviewed in the Telegraph. In the U.S., the book was picked by independent booksellers as an “Indie Next” pick for March.
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:49 Nora - EarlyWord
3:49
Nora - EarlyWord
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:49 
3:49
Nora - EarlyWord: 
And, here's the quote:
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:49 Nora - EarlyWord
3:49
Nora - EarlyWord
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:49 
3:50
Nora - EarlyWord: 
To help orient us to where many of the events in the book are set, here’s a map of the countries of West Africa:
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:50 Nora - EarlyWord
3:50
Nora - EarlyWord
West African Countries
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:50 
3:50
Nora - EarlyWord: 
And one that shows the cities:
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:50 Nora - EarlyWord
3:50
Nora - EarlyWord
Map Showing Accra and Lagos
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:50 
3:51
Nora - EarlyWord: 
The following are some of Taiye’s photos of Kokrobitey Beach in Ghana. a setting of some of the scenes in the book.
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:51 Nora - EarlyWord
3:51
Nora - EarlyWord
Boat on Beach, Kokrobitey Beach, Ghana
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:51 
3:51
Nora - EarlyWord
Fishing Boats, Kokrobitey Beach, Ghana
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:51 
3:51
Nora - EarlyWord
Boat Launch, Kokrobitey Beach, Ghana
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:51 
3:51
Nora - EarlyWord
Fleet of Fishing Boats, Kokrobitey Beach, Ghana
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:51 
3:52
Nora - EarlyWord: 
And, here’s a shot of Taiye in Togo:
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:52 Nora - EarlyWord
3:52
Nora - EarlyWord
Taiye in Lome, Togo, West Aftica
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:52 
3:58
Nora - EarlyWord: 
I'm seeing some people gathering; welcome everyone. We're almost ready to begin. You can send your questions through at any time. They'll go into a queue, and I’ll submit as many of them as I can to Taiye before the end of the chat. Don’t worry about typos – and please forgive any on our part.
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:58 Nora - EarlyWord
3:59
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Taiye -- You’re in Rome right now and it’s pretty late there. Thanks for joining us and for sending us some photos of Rome today, so we can all envy your surroundings.
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:59 Nora - EarlyWord
3:59
Nora - EarlyWord
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:59 
3:59
Taiye Selasi: 
my pleasure.
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:59 Taiye Selasi
3:59
Nora - EarlyWord
Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:59 
4:00
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Unfortunately, we’re going to have to end this chat around 4:45, ET, so we need to move quickly. Apologies in advance if we don’t follow rules of punctuation and please forgive typos!
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:00 Nora - EarlyWord
4:00
Taiye Selasi: 
its one of my favorite things to photograph, windows
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:00 Taiye Selasi
4:00
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Taiye; we talked just before Christmas, when we recorded our podcast chat, which is now up on EarlyWord. Since then, advance attention has been building for GHANA MUST GO, as I noted above. Pretty amazing for a debut. Is it fun, or crazy-making?
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:00 Nora - EarlyWord
4:00
Taiye Selasi: 
a bit of both!
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:00 Taiye Selasi
4:01
Taiye Selasi: 
since i was four years old, i've wanted to publish a novel, and so to watch this dream coming true is a bit of a dream itself.
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:01 Taiye Selasi
4:01
Nora - EarlyWord: 
And, what's driving you crazy?
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:01 Nora - EarlyWord
4:01
Taiye Selasi: 
the waiting. i've always lacked a bit of patience.
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:01 Taiye Selasi
4:02
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Ha! Welcome to the book publishing time line!
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:02 Nora - EarlyWord
4:02
Taiye Selasi: 
just yesterday, i received the first hardcopy in the mail, a bit like seeing one's first child for the first time, i'd imagine. but there are still weeks to go until publication, and the waiting is a bit stressful.
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:02 Taiye Selasi
4:02
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Where does the book’s title come from?
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:02 Nora - EarlyWord
4:02
Taiye Selasi: 
the muses, i suspect.
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:02 Taiye Selasi
4:03
Taiye Selasi: 
when i first began writing the novel in copenhagen, microsoft word asked me to save the document, as per usual.
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:03 Taiye Selasi
4:03
Taiye Selasi: 
the first thing that came to mind was ghana go home, an alternative to the expression used often in nigeria.
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:03 Taiye Selasi
4:04
Taiye Selasi: 
when i arrived in ghana a few months later, my mum -- to whom the book is dedicated -- suggested ghana must go instead.
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:04 Taiye Selasi
4:04
[Comment From Your NameYour Name: ] 
Hello Taiye and Nora. I'm happy to be joining you to talk about this amazing book.
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:04 Your Name
4:04
Taiye Selasi: 
she liked the alliteration, and ive never met an alliterated phrase i didn't love.
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:04 Taiye Selasi
4:04
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Where does that phrase come from?
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:04 Nora - EarlyWord
4:05
[Comment From CathereineCathereine: ] 
Oops. Forgot to add my name! Glad to be joining both of you and the others logging in.
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:05 Cathereine
4:06
Nora - EarlyWord: 
Where does the phrase, GHANA MUST GO come from?
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:06 Nora - EarlyWord
4:06
Taiye Selasi: 
in 1983 the nigerian government summarily deported over 2 million ghanaians from the country. nigerians were growing ansty about ghanaians' increasing commercial power, and it was a convenient way to distract from existing domestic political troubles. as the ghanaian population left, they packed their things in cheap plastic bags, and were taunted as they went: ghana must go, ghana go home.
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:06 Taiye Selasi
4:06
[Comment From Your NameYour Name: ] 
Hello, I am Corinne and I am very happy to join the conversation
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:06 Your Name
4:07
Nora - EarlyWord: 
So, it's fraught with many painful memories.
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:07 Nora - EarlyWord
4:07
Taiye Selasi: 
as often happens with derogatory phrases, this one was adopted by ghanaians themselves, and is used cheerfully in ghana -- and by luis vuitton.
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:07 Taiye Selasi
4:07
Nora - EarlyWord: 
When I googled it, I found the Vuitton bags...
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:07 Nora - EarlyWord
4:07
Nora - EarlyWord
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:07 
4:08
Taiye Selasi: 
amazing, no?
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:08 Taiye Selasi
4:08
Nora - EarlyWord
Ghana Must Go on the Runway
Wednesday February 6, 2013 4:08 
4:08
[Comment From CorinneCorinne: ] 
Di