Today I am pleased to introduce one of the best authors I know. Her writing flows off the pages and is breathtaking. While I've only read one of her books I can't wait to read her others. So without further ado I present today's amazing author Beth Kephart.
Beth is here today to celebrate the upcoming release of her latest novel House of Dance. This is a great book that deals with learning to treasure the last days with a loved one. It will have you in tears and make you really sit back and contemplate your life. Click here for my review. Beth Kephart is not only a fabulous author, but she is also a breathtaking photographer. To see some of her great pictures be sure to check out her blog. I hope all of you enjoy the interview with Beth and that you will all go and run out to the store on Tuesday (May 27th) and buy House of Dance. You will certainly not be disappointed.
P.S. Read all the way down to the bottom and you'll find an extra special surprise!!
In your latest novel House of Dance, Rosie finds a passion for dance. Do you share her same passion? If so how were you introduced to dance?
I have always loved to dance. Always loved to put the music on, loud, and get lost inside it. I danced as a little girl, I ice skated (which is dancing on ice), I danced alone with my own shadow for years. Two years ago, my husband, who had never danced, decided he wanted to learn ballroom dancing (DANCING WITH THE STARS was on TV) and suddenly we were there, at this wonderful studio, taking lessons. I’ve been dancing ballroom ever since and it’s proven to be the most challenging, most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done. Every single time you think you understand a particular move, a particular beat, a way of following, you realize that you are still such an amateur, still just scratching the surface of the rumba, cha-cha, samba, fox trot, waltz, tango, bolero...the dance of the hour.
Where did you get your inspiration for House of Dance?
HOUSE OF DANCE emerged during a very sad time in my life. I had lost a friend, quite suddenly, to cancer; there wasn’t even time to say goodbye. I was angry with me for not knowing that my friend was sick. I wanted to write a story in which a character—Rosie—did the right thing for a loved one at the end of a life. In the course of writing HOUSE, my own mother grew gravely ill. So there is a lot of lived emotion in this book.
How did Rosie’s character come about?
Rosie was the name my grandmother called me when I was a little girl. There is some of me in Rosie’s way of seeing, but Rosie’s life details are entirely fiction. You write a first sentence, then another. You discover your heroine.
I know that authors find it hard to pick their favorite character, but which of your characters is your favorite? Which one is most like you?
Hmmm. I really don’t think I could do that. I’ve written a book in which a river tells her own story, in her own words, and I loved that character (FLOW: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF PHILADELPHIA’S SCHULYKILL RIVER). I admire Elisa’s spunk in UNDERCOVER and Rosie’s goodheartedness in HOUSE. The characters really do become their own creatures—and when a book is done I see them as being quite separate from me, not characters I’m entirely responsible for. So in the same way that I’d never choose a favorite friend or a favorite child, I don’t think I can choose a favorite character.
What’s one of the hardest parts of being a writer? The best?
Hardest is having to work all the way through a book, by myself, feeling at risk and in danger. Will anyone like this book? Will anyone buy it? Am I just talking to myself? The best is getting to the end of that first draft and, if it works, being able to stand back, by myself, for that unjudged, private moment, and say: I did it. I made it through.
What’s your ideal writing environment?
I need absolute quiet. I am writing more and more of my work by pen and pad, at first. Sometimes on the deck outside, in the shade. Sometimes (early mornings) on the living room couch. And then I come into my beautiful tiny office and try to read my own chicken scratch and type in what I’ve handwritten. It’ll all go through 20 rounds of editing, at least, before it is done.
What are your top three favorite books of all times?
Wow. This is always so hard. Michael Ondaatje’s RUNNING IN THE FAMILY or COMING THROUGH SLAUGHTER would have to be on the list. Wallace Stegner’s CROSSING TO SAFETY. Alice McDermott’s WEDDINGS AND WAKES. Though tomorrow I’d put a Colum McCann novel on the list, or a book of Stanley Kunitz poems, or a fragment from Pablo Neruda, or Seamus Deane’s READING IN THE DARK.
What’s one quirky thing that you care to share?
Oh dear. Well, let’ see. This isn’t quirky, but it’s true: I run a business, and so most of my time is spent working for clients—researching and writing annual reports, commemorative books, marketing materials. Most of my literary friends don’t quite understand this about me; they think it rather odd. As for quirky: When I believe I’m alone on a city street, I will sometimes dance a bead of bolero.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I have two more YA novels due out in the next two years from HarperTeen — NOTHING BUT GHOSTS and THE HEART IS NOT A SIZE. I’ve just completed a first draft of a novel tentatively called DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I have to let it sit and stew awhile. I also have a children’s picture book in the works.
This is a totally unrelated question, but which came first your love of photography or writing?
Well, that’s a very interesting question. When I was in fourth grade (I think it was fourth grade) a teacher took me to her house one weekend and showed me how to build a pinhole camera. I was fascinated from the first. But I was also writing my first (poor) poems at that time. I’ve always put my photos and my writing together, when I could — in scrapbooks, in real books (my third book, STILL LOVE IN STRANGE PLACES, is a memoir about being married to a Salvadoran man, and a series of photos of his country), on my blog. Both writing and photography are about ways of seeing; they are tools that enable me to see more clearly. I find them both to be essential.
Now for that extra special surprise!! Beth (and Harper Collins) have given me some books to give away so that means I have not one, but THREE copies of House of Dance to giveaway!! All you have to do is comment or send me an email to be entered. In your comment tell me the title of your favorite book read this year and what book you are looking forward to most this summer!! All comments/emails must be in by next Thursday, May 29 at midnight. Winners will be announced next Friday. Good luck to everyone!!