Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Opening the Doors to Clois and Helen by Beth Kephart

(One of the things I loved SO MUCH about You Are My Only was the relationship between Clois and Helen. It was romantic and bittersweet even though it was always just in the background. I hope to eventually actually write more coherent thoughts on this book, but I begged for this guest post because I loved them.)

I’ll be honest. Cloris and Helen are two characters who have been living with me for more than a decade. That’s right. I carried these two dear souls, these more-than-best-friends ladies, through a variety of novels I’d been writing. They were bird-obsessed in one book (not so strange, since all of my books have at least one character who is obsessed with birds). They were digging a huge hole beneath their house in another. In an early version of the book that became You Are My Only, it was Cloris who had been committed to the asylum.

I was just so happy—I really was—when I discovered that Cloris and Helen had been waiting all along to be young Sophie’s neighbors. It’s like looking at your husband after twenty-five years and realizing, Yup. That’s right. You really do belong with me. Cloris and Helen belong to Sophie. She needs them and their kooky ways, their endless baking, their shiny Airstream, their Alice-in-Wonderland dioramas, their love for Willa Cather—to show her what is kind and good and right in this world. To show her a salvation version of normal.

Cloris is wide and healthy. Helen is too thin, and wheelchair bound. Cloris bakes, and Helen can hardly eat. They share a sadness about which neither one can truly speak, and yet they are living proof of what love is, and what a shelter love can.

I loved opening the door to Cloris and Helen. I loved what they had to teach me. I loved a certain kite, but now I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s just a truly great thing, as a bird-obsesssed writer, to know that your characters have at long last flown to their proper homes. That they are roosted.

Guess what? Beth Kephart has written five guest posts about You Are My Only around the book blogsophere. Find all of them and you could win a really awesome prize. I promise they are not hidden on obscure blogs. They have not all been posted. Read all the details at Beth's blog

Your task is to find all five entries and then post them collectively on your own blog. Send the link to me, in the comment box on this page. Your name will then be entered into the drawing.

Two winners will be selected. Each will win these two things: A signed copy of You Are My Only AND a critique (by yours truly) of the first 2,000 words of a work-in-progress. As many of you know, I teach memoir at the University of Pennsylvania and served as the inaugural readergirlz author in residence. I have written in multiple genres and critique adult fiction for major U.S. newspapers. Your manuscript can, I am hinting, be in any genre, save for a screenplay, about which I have absolutely zero expertise.

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