Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Beth Kephart talks about Small Damages, Spain, and so much more
I don't remember when I first met Beth Kephart, but what I do remember is the immediate warmth I felt. This is a woman you'd want to live next door to because you know she'd always be there for you with a plate of pie and a cup of tea and conversation. She's not just a wonderful writer, she also has a heart the size of Jupiter and I'm honored to consider her my friend. I wanted to celebrate the publication of her extraordinary new novel, Small Damages, and I'm jazzed to have her here on my blog. A million hugs, Beth, and a thank-you! For the blog and for everything.
You are now the diamond in the sky. A rave NYT review, praise everywhere, and rightfully so, for a novel that is as luminously moving as it is smart. You and I have talked about the struggle to be published well, to find the right home with a publisher, to feel appreciated, and the absolute joy when that happens. So tell us about it, the struggle and the joy. Did you know when you were writing this novel that it was somehow different in some way, and that you were going to shine?
You and I have talked, first of all, because you are such an incredibly generous and open writer who yields so much to others. So that first.
Second, Small Damages is my fourteenth book. It arrives after five memoirs (in which life’s big questions were examined, as opposed to Epic Personal Tragedies), an uncategorizable foray into poetry and history, a twisted corporate America fairytale (which became corporate Everywhere fairytale after a dozen translations), and several young adult novels that have primarily been read by adults. In short, I have not been an easy writer to peg, my work hasn’t always been easy to shelf, and I fear I’ve been more of a conundrum than anything else. I have not made for easy publishing fodder.
Through all these years I have been working on Small Damages, a book inspired by my travels to Spain, where my brother-in-law lived for a long time. Place is story to me. Seville and its rural outposts was a world I could not leave in my imagination. I read, I thought, I dug deep into history, I took photographs, I interviewed people, and I wrote eighty drafts of a novel that kept changing its foreground, but never its background. A few times this book seemed close to finding a publishing home, but then things would ebb away. It found the home it did find because Philomel’s Jill Santopolo, with whom I had worked at Harper, had slipped a copy of Ruta Sepetys’ Between Shades of Gray to me at the ALA a few years ago (the same ALA when I read Pictures of You in my hotel room!); the book had been acquired and edited by Jill’s Philomel colleague Tamra Tuller. “This book made me cry,” she said, “and I think it will move you, too.”
Well, I thanked her, put the book in a safe place, turned to talk to someone else, and when I looked back the book was gone. Jill kindly sent me another copy, and I read at once. Here was a smart book, a literary book, an important book, an unusual book. I was in love, sight unseen, with anyone who would acquire a book like that. I sent Tamra an email with Small Damages attached. The rest, as they say, is history.
Philomel is exquisite. At Philomel I have a home. There I have never felt like a fringe writer, a secondary writer, a marginal, will-she-please-fit-a-category, we’ll-get-to-you-when-we-get-to-you writer. Michael Green, Philomel’s president, is a most generous person, and correspondent. Tamra—beautiful, intelligent, thoughtful, embracing—approached the editing of this book, the design of its cover, and the preparation of it for the world with the greatest care, and in the process we became great friends. Jessica Shoffel, a wildly wonderful and innovative publicist, wrote me a note I’ll never forget after she read the book and her devotion to getting the word out has been unflagging, sensational. The sales team got in touch a long time ago and has stayed in touch. And on and on.
But no, I never knew I would shine. I don’t think of myself as a diamond or a star. I never think in those terms. I just keep writing my heart out. And when you are collaborating with a house like Philomel, when you are given room, when your questions are answered, when you are given a chance, there are possibilities.
What I loved so much about Small Damages was how unexpected it was. Kenzie weighs the future with her baby not in America, but in Spain, where she is a cook's assistant. Where did that idea spark? What was the research like?
I have the privilege of knowing some incredibly wonderful young women who found themselves pregnant at a very early or uncertain time in their lives. They have raised exceptional children. They have had to persevere with great courage. I always knew there’d be a cook, there would be gypsies, there would be heat and bulls. Kenzie entered this story late. I fell in love with her. I fell in love with writing, again, about maternal love.
What's your writing life like now?
For the first time in probably twenty years I am not writing. I just completed three books, and they will appear over the next eighteen months—a book for another fantastic Penguin imprint (Gotham) called Handling the Truth (about the making and consequences of memoir, the subject I teach at the University of Pennsylvania), a boy-centric YA historical novel for Philadelphians called Dr. Radway’s Sarsaparilla Resolvent (featuring Eastern State Penitentiary, Baldwin Locomotive Works, and my favorite 19th century city characters), and another novel for Tamra, which takes place in 1983 Berlin. I need to dream, to stand, to walk, to see, to not hurry toward anything new.
What's obsessing you now and why?
Living well, living quietly, teaching, my family, the garden, the rain that does and does not fall, the 100 books that sit in stacks to be read, and of course the corporate work, which is part of every day, the tock in the clock of my existence.
What question didn't I ask that I should have?
My goodness, if you asked me anything more, can you imagine how long this would be!!?? I’m just grateful to be here, Caroline, and grateful for you.
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
Can I be your neighbor, Caroline? A million trillion zillion thanksfor this. I loved answering your questions, loved being given the chance, love being here. And I apologize to the grammar gods everywhere for misspelling "shelve" and for not seeing that until this very moment. What would my elementary school teachers think of me now, were they to see this! :)
What a wonderful interview :) Your personality comes shining through!
I never realized how important it is for author’s to find a publisher who “fits” their style. Reading about your experiences over the years, and now in your discussion of Philomel, I can definitely see how publishing houses differ and the ways that can impact your relationships with them, and the way your work is perceived.
I’m so glad you’ve found such a good fit!
I love reading these interviews with Beth. She's such a kind-hearted soul. I love that her life has a passion and a purpose and it stems from her family...and her family of characters and settings. I am eager to read Small Damages, but I am waiting for my day off from the day job to sit and absorb all of Beth's words without rushing.
Great interview. Loved the insights about the publisher.
I don’t even understand how I stopped up right here,
but I thought this submit used to be great. I
don't realize who you might be but definitely you are going to a well-known blogger when you aren't already
My website :: http://www.catral.biz/
I’ll immediately take hold of your rss as I
can't in finding your email subscription link or newsletter service. Do
you've any? Please let me recognise so that I could subscribe.
Feel free to visit my webpage ... http://www.weatherspain.net
I’ll immediately snatch your rss feed as I
can't find your email subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service. Do
you've any? Please allow me realize in
order that I may just subscribe. Thanks.
my page > elcheproperty.net
Somebody necessarily assist to make critically posts I'd state. That is the very first time I
frequented your web page and so far? I amazed with the
research you made to make this actual submit
amazing. Wonderful task!
My blog ... Www.Jobsinspain.Org
Excellent beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your site, how could i subscribe
for a blog web site? The account aided me a
acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast
offered bright clear
My homepage :: illegalpropertyspain.com
Hello, you used to write great, but the last few posts have
been kinda boring… I miss your great writings.
Past few posts are just a bit out of track! come on!
Also see my site > http://www.thespainforum.com/f204/
Just wish to say your article is as surprising.
clearness in your submit is just spectacular and i can assume you are
knowledgeable on this subject. Fine together with your permission
allow me to clutch your feed to stay up to date
with approaching post. Thanks one
million and please carry on the enjoyable work.
My webpage : king charles spaniel puppies columbia sc
Hi there, I found your web site by means of Google
even as searching for a comparable matter, your website got here up, it seems good.
I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.
Here is my blog post :: Videos.Michaelchall.Org
Hey very cool web site!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your
web site and take the feeds also…I'm happy to find a lot of useful
information here in the post, we need develop more strategies in this regard, thanks for
sharing. . . . . .
Also visit my web blog : zaragoza Spain Bed breakfast
obviously like your website but you need to check the
spelling on several of your posts. Several of them
are rife with spelling issues
and I find it very troublesome to tell the truth nevertheless
I’ll certainly come
Stop by my webpage :: http://www.spaininvestmentproperty.us
Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This
is a really well written article. I’ll
make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information.
Thanks for the
post. I’ll definitely comeback.
Feel free to surf my website : brede
I like what you guys are up too. Such intelligent
work and reporting! Keep up the
superb works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to my blogroll.
I think it will improve the value
of my web site :)
Have a look at my web page : www.diysolarheatingspain.com
I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the
layout on your
blog. Is that this a paid theme or did you modify it
yourself? Either way stay up the excellent quality writing, it’s
rare to peer a great weblog like this one today..
Also visit my page ; debouche
Fantastic post but I was
wondering if you could write a litte more on this topic?
I'd be very thankful if you
could elaborate a little bit further. Thank you!
my webpage :: http://theculinaryqueenbee.blogspot.ru/
Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board
and I find It
really useful & it helped me out much. I hope to present one thing again and help others such as you aided
Visit my webpage - nosing
Hey there! I've been following your blog for a long
time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Humble Texas! Just wanted to say
keep up the excellent job!
My web-site - ironical
My wife and i ended up being comfortable when Edward managed to
his web research through your precious recommendations he acquired in
your blog. It is now and again perplexing to just continually be freely
giving tips and hints which often some other people have been
making money from. Therefore we fully grasp we now have the writer
to give thanks to because of that. These illustrations
you've made, the simple website
navigation, the friendships you help foster - it's most incredible,
and it's facilitating our son in addition to the family feel that that concept is fun, which is
rather vital. Thanks for all!
My blog ... revealer
You actually make it appear really easy along with your
presentation but I find this topic to be actually something
which I feel I would never understand. It seems too complicated
and very vast for me. I am
taking a look forward to your next put up, I’ll try to
get the hold of it!
Stop by my blog post ... visit the following webpage
We are a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community.
offered us with valuable information to work on. You have done an impressive job
and our whole community will be thankful to you.
Also visit my site : peasecod
You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter
to be really
something which I think I would never understand. It seems too
complicated and very broad for
me. I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get
the hang of it!
Also visit my webpage :: http://www.script-pag.com
Thanks for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were
just preparing to do a little research
about this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think
I learned more from this post.
I'm very glad to see such excellent info being shared freely
my website :: bewraps
You completed certain good points there. I did a search on the
issue and found nearly all
persons will go along with with your blog.
Here is my web blog ssrct.org
You completed certain good points there. I did a search on the
issue and found nearly all
persons will go along with with your blog.
Also see my site: ssrct.org
I would like to show appreciation to you for bailing me out of
crisis. After researching throughout the world-wide-web and getting
ideas which were not
pleasant, I figured my entire life was
gone. Being alive minus the
solutions to the difficulties you've sorted out by way of this write-up is a crucial case, and the ones that could have negatively
affected my entire career if I hadn't come across your web site.
Your primary mastery and kindness in taking care
of every aspect was crucial. I'm not sure what I would've done if I had not come upon such a point like this.
I am able to at this moment relish my future. Thanks a lot
very much for this professional and
results-oriented guide. I will not hesitate to recommend your
web blog to anybody who desires direction
on this problem.
Check out my web page : prudential financial
It’s in reality a great and helpful piece of
information. I am happy that you simply shared this useful
info with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you
Feel free to surf my website gametrailers com
My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find most of your post's to be what precisely I'm
looking for. Does one offer guest writers to write content available for you?
I wouldn't mind publishing
a post or elaborating on a few of the subjects you write
related to here. Again, awesome web log!
Also see my page - cdw
Woah! I'm really loving the template/theme of this blog. It's simple, yet effective.
lot of times it's tough to get that "perfect balance" between superb
usability and appearance. I must say
you've done a superb job with this. Also,
the blog loads extremely fast for me on Opera.
Feel free to surf my web-site : www.kelskitchen.co.nz
When we look at the purpose of your message really like, with comparison to its a loving relationship by using a different, yet as the sense that's engendered should you have miltchmonkey a better relationship on your own also : or perhaps for a experience of bigger unity family members as well as human race ( space ) it then will become all the more crystal clear that most anybody wants to have is enjoy.
We're a bunch of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in our community.
Your website provided us with helpful information to paintings
on. You've performed an impressive job and our
neighborhood will probably be thankful to
Feel free to visit my blog - http://history.apdaweb.org/dir/index.php?title=User:ColleneBell47
My web page :: conergy stock price
bookmarked!!, I really like your blog!
I’ll immediately grab your rss as I can't find your email subscription
link or newsletter service. Do you have any? Please let me know in order that I
could subscribe. Thanks.
My page: http://phpfox.123flashchat.com/
Feel free to surf my blog ... Air fare Santa Pola
Thanks , I've just been looking for information
about this subject for ages and yours is the best I have came
upon till now. However, what concerning the bottom
line? Are you positive concerning the source?
Here is my web site :: seki-kowa.org
Does your blog have a contact page? I'm having a tough time locating it but, I'd like
send you an e-mail. I've got some recommendations for your blog you
might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it improve over time.
Feel free to visit my web-site :: odbike.co.kr
I must show thanks to
this writer for bailing me out of such a
difficulty. Because of exploring throughout the internet and seeing
strategies which were not productive, I was thinking my life was
done. Being alive minus the
solutions to the issues you've solved as a result of your main write-up is a critical case, and those
that might have negatively
damaged my entire career if I had not noticed the blog. Your personal talents and kindness in taking care of
everything was valuable. I don't know what I
would've done if I hadn't come upon such a solution like this.
It's possible to at this point look ahead to my future. Thanks for your time so
much for this professional and
result oriented help. I won't
think twice to propose your blog to any individual who would like care
on this subject matter.
My webpage > omansky.blogspot.fr
very nice put up, i definitely love this web site, keep on
My page - http://www.amsafety.com
I would like to thank you for the efforts you've put in writing this website. I
am hoping the same high-grade blog post from you in the upcoming as well.
Actually your creative writing skills has encouraged me to get my own web site
now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a good
example of it.
Here is my web site lori10524.pixnet.net
I was just searching for this info for some time. After six hours of
continuous Googleing, finally I got it in your web site. I
wonder what is the lack of
Google strategy that don't rank this type of informative sites in top of the list.
Generally the top websites are full of garbage.
Take a look at my page ; socialcircle.stock-options-picks.com
Post a Comment