talking about friends, talking about writing, talking and blogging, here we go

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Writer, editor, mother, yoga-ist, friend—Katrina Kenison has been there, over and again, in my writing life. One of the first to read and write of my first book about reading and writing: Seeing Past Z: Nurturing the Imagination in a Fast-Forward World. One of the first to read and write of my second book about reading and writing: Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir (I had arrived, at long last, at the grave of my great-grandfather, Horace Kephart, in Bryson City, NC, when Katrina's note about Handling floated in—perfect timing, for Katrina had once found and sent to me as a gift a rare copy of one of Horace Kephart's books).  

Katrina has understood what few others haven't. She has written memoirs that I have loved and celebrated—Mitten Strings for God, The Gift of an Ordinary Day, Magical Journey. She edited, for many years, Best American Short Stories, and so she knows a thing or two about fiction, too. And her blog? Beloved.

When Katrina asked if I might participate in the latest blog-a-thon (is that a word? I don't know), I said yes. Because another very dear friend, Patty Chang Anker (Some Nerve, a memoir about facing the things we fear), had asked me the same question a few weeks earlier, when I was deluged, I'm tagging her back here. Patty and I recently shared the most spectacular night in New York City, when both of our books were nominated for a Books for a Better Life Award. Check out her popular blog and find out what this former non-cyclist spent her weekend.

I have two other friends/writers/editors I'm eager to introduce in this very blog post. So I'll quickly move through the a-thon questions. Here we go:

What am I working on?

On April 1, Going Over, my Berlin 1983 novel, was released. I am working on — well, I'm working on surviving the angst/suspense/fear/release that goes along with the publication of each book. I'm getting better at this. I'm trusting fate more. I'm living with who I am, which is this sort of idiosyncratic YA writer whose YA books don't fall into easy categories, which is to say they aren't easily marketed, which is to say, I'm still just Beth Kephart, A Moonlight Writer if Ever There Was One. Real life, for me, is the boutique marketing communications business I run, the stories I write for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the reviews I write for Chicago Tribune, and, in the spring, the creative nonfiction class I teach at Penn. That class recently ended. I'm still sobbing. But I digress.

A few days ago, Publishers Weekly kindly announced my next two books. And so, cheatingly, I share that announcement here:

As reported in PW Children's Bookshelf, April 28, 2014:
Tamra Tuller at Chronicle has acquired two books by NBA-nominated author Beth Kephart. Set in Florence, Italy, One Thing Stolen follows Nadia Cara as she mysteriously begins to change. She's become a thief, she has secrets she can't tell, and when she tries to speak, the words seem far away.This Is the Story of You takes place in an island beach town in the aftermath of a super storm; Mira, a year-rounder stranded for weeks without power, hopes to return storm-tossed treasures to their rightful owners, and restore some sense of order to an unrecognizable world. Publication is scheduled for spring 2015 and spring 2016; Amy Rennert of the Amy Rennert Agency did the deal for world rights.
How does my work/writing differ from others in its genre?

So many ways to answer this question. But I'll be brief. What I write is Kephartian. Linguistically intense. Erupted from the heart. Framed by big questions of history and humanity. That works for some people. It doesn't work for others. And this is not to say (because that would be a lie) that others in my genre don't pursue the same humanity, history, and heart. Others do. In a minute you'll meet A.S. King. You'll see what I mean.

Why do I write what I do?

Because I can't help it. I know that sounds flippant, or something (would flippant be the right word?). But it's as honest as I can be. I write what I must write, what draws me to it urgently, what can't be suppressed, what wakes me up. It all comes from the gut, and then from a heck of a lot of research. I wish I had a plan. I just have instincts.

How does my writing process work?

I could write on and on and on (blog pages!) about all the times the process doesn't work. When it does work, I kiss the wing tips of some theoretical muse (or the nose of my tall wooden giraffe, which is my actual muse) and ask no questions. Thank you thank you thank you thank you. That's what I say. Then pray I'll get the ineffable good-luck process back some other day.

All righty, all righty, enough on me. Now I get to get back to my friends, A.S. King and Karen Rile, who are going to answer their own questions on their own blogs next week.

So let's start with A.S., who is also Amy, who is also (to me) King, who is also Dude. Or. Wait. Dude is what Amy calls me. What Amy calls us. Dude is the name of our extended family. Whatever it is, you know her. She is, perhaps, the most starred YA author working today. She has awards falling out of her overall pockets. John Green has called her a goddess, but Beth Kephart called her a goddess first, and in this case, Beth Kephart Rules. The Dust of 100 Dogs, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, Everyone Sees the Ants, Ask the Passengers, Reality Boy, the forthcoming Glory O'Brien's History of the Future. These are King books. This is the King legacy. You can read all about them here.

And you can read what I wrote about King on her most recent birthday here.

Then there's Karen Rile, aka editor of Cleaver Magazine, aka my dear friend at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches fiction and other things to loving students, while teaching how to be a teacher to moi. Cleaver has rocked the lit world, since it was founded not long ago. Below are the facts as Karen provides them. Here is what I had to say when Cleaver launched.

Cleaver Magazine shares “cutting-edge” artwork and literary work from a mix of established and emerging voices. We were founded in January 2013 and are currently preparing our 6th full-length issue, which will launch on June 11, 2014.

We are a web-based magazine. In our first year we received 60,000 unique visits and over 100,000 hits. To give an idea of our readership: over the past three months, we had visits from 119 countries, although about 80% of our readership is American. Our editors have deep ties to the Philadelphia community. We are an international magazine, but maintain a commitment to publish about 25-30% Philadelphia-based writers in each issue.

We publish poetry, short stories, essays, flash prose, visual art, and reviews of poetry books and other small press publications. We publish quarterly, in March, June, September, and December. In each issue we present several emerging writers and at least one emerging visual artist alongside established writers and artists. We see ourselves as facilitators and stewards of the literary and artistic work that we publish.

We are independent and self-funded and are grateful for support, in part, from the Philadelphia Cultural Fund and Kelly Writers House.

I cede the stage....


Serena said...

I love this post...

Katrina said...

My world got bigger today, thanks to your beautifully generous post (more writers to follow!). I never tire of reading about process and inspiration, the combination of sweat equity and time and luck and grace behind every sentence that finds its way to the page. Love this and am so grateful to you for jumping aboard!

  © Blogger templates Newspaper II by 2008

Back to TOP