crossed country

 

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I flew from Oakland, CA to Charleston, S.C. last week for YALLFEST, two days after the presidential election. Having never visited South Carolina, I’m not sure what I expected. Was I leaving my bubble or was I entering someone else’s? The answer was both yes and yes, but in a way, the unknown was just what I needed. Because I want to understand what I can’t possibly know and I also want desperately to hold on to my faith that most people–most of the time–are doing the best that they can.

The morning after I arrived, I discovered that the hotel I was staying in was located directly across the street from the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church, which is where Dylann Roof shot and killed nine black parishioners during a prayer service last year in the hopes of starting a race war. The kind woman who picked me up to drive me to the Charleston Charter School for Math and Science informed me of this. She quickly added that Roof was from out of town, that Charleston didn’t have problems like that.

(The school visit was wonderful, by the way. The middle and high school students were funny and astute, and they were brilliantly passionate about stories and psychology, which made for great discussion.)

While I’m not all that familiar with Charleston’s problems, I do know the Bay Area’s, which has seen the likes of Jim Jones, Dan White, Brock Turner, the Oikos University shooting, and the murder of Oscar Grant–just to scratch the surface. Yes, we have our problems, but we are fundamentally good people.That’s what I’ve always believed, although I watched a bit of that goodness fade last Wednesday, when my youngest child came home from school and asked if being part Mexican meant we’d have to move to Mexico and leave his daddy behind. Like Roof, the danger may have originated somewhere external, but our community, all of our communities, are still the ones who must reckon with it.

Fortunately, both the writing community and Charleston rose to this challenge last weekend; YALLFEST was a wonderful event during a difficult time, filled with throngs of authors and readers and tireless volunteers, all buoyed by a collective sense of purpose and humility, of the realization that our whole is so much more than the sum of our parts. Even in our grief and despair and our anger, it was an affirmation that yes, we are all doing our best.

And yes, we must do far better still.

-sk

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Rabbits, horror films, YALLFEST, and other fine things

img_9776October is my favorite month. In part, because it’s the month I was born, but I also love the changing seasons, the Autumn Wind, the rabbit shows. My family also participated in this year’s #31horrorfilmsin31days challenge, and it was somehow more fun than ever this time around. This was because we put more thought into what we wanted to watch ahead of time, rather than only relying on what was streaming on Netflix (although, we did that, too). We also got to the theater twice, including taking advantage of the chance to see Kubrick’s The Shining on the big screen. And we watched our very first G-rated horror film: The Legend of Boggy Creek. The full list of the films I watched is pasted below.

Other good things have happened in the last 31 days. I was lucky enough to get a chance to do an interview for MPR about the allure of YA and The Smaller Evil. You can listen to that interview here. I’ve also been finishing up the final changes on my next novel, which will be out in August of 2017. I will hopefully get to share more about that book soon. It’s one that’s very special to me, in both process and content.

A couple of future updates:

This Friday, I will be at the California Library Association conference in Sacramento.

Next week, I will be traveling to Charleston for YALLFEST, and my Saturday schedule there will be:

12:00 pm
Panel: DRAMA VS. DRAH-MA in the American Theater — Ballroom
Moderator Stephanie Kuehn with Susan Dennard, Brendan Kiely, Jason Reynolds, Ruta Sepetys, and Julie Murphy
1:00 pm
Panel: KEEP YA WEIRD in the American Theater — Ballroom
Moderator Libba Bray with Stephanie Kuehn, Samantha Mabry, Nova Ren Suma, Justine Larbaliester, Barnabas Miller
2:00 pm
Signing:  Blue Bicycle Books tent

I am very excited for both events and hope to see you there! Happy November!

-sk

The films:

31. SINISTER It just goes to show, snuff films are always scary. P.S. Writers are still the worst. #31HorrorFilms31Days

30. OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL Always say goodbye…. #31HorrorFilms31Days

29. GOSSIP College roomies Lena Headey, James Marsden and Norman Reedus slip down a deadly rumor rabbit hole. #31HorrorFilms31Days

28. BURNT OFFERINGS The perfect home. The perfect price. A bad tumble out of a window. Set at Oakland’s Dunsmuir House #31HorrorFilms31Days

27. THE PERFECT HOST Kind of a Weekend at Bernie’s meets Salad Fingers sort of a thing. #31HorrorFilms31Days

26. IDENTITY The mind of a killer is a lot more rainy than you might imagine. #31HorrorFilms31Days

25. THE SHINING God, writers are the WORST. #31HorrorFilms31Days

24. SUSPIRIA Ballerinas – among other things – dropping like flies. #31HorrorFilms31Days

23. FINAL DESTINATION Is it really possible to cheat death? Bonus Candyman cameo. #31HorrorFilms31Days

22. THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT Protip: to keep the haunted house scary, sometimes you gotta kill a few guests. #31HorrorFilms31Days

21. TRICK ‘R TREAT Throwback to CREEPSHOW & TRILOGY OF TERROR, featuring 4 stories & a creepy kid with a burlap head. #31HorrorFilms31Days

20. HOUSE OF THE DEVIL Satanic cult fails at knot tying. #31HorrorFilms31Days

19. FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC Well, Netflix had it listed as a “Halloween Favorite,” so I’m counting it. #31HorrorFilms31Days

18. THEY’RE WATCHING A wild and froggy episode of International House Hunters. #31horrorfilms31days

17. DR. GIGGLES Man afflicted with one-liners goes on killing spree. Takes the Freudian thing to an unforeseen extreme #31HorrorFilms31Days

16. LAKE DEAD no. No. NO. #31HorrorFilms31Days

15. THE EVIL DEAD Instructional tape clearly advises “bodily dismemberment” of possessed beings. Ash doesn’t listen. #31HorrorFilms31Days

14. THE EXORCIST still one of the best. #31HorrorFilms31Days

13. PUPPET MASTER When the puppet master’s away, the puppets will…..vomit leeches and bore holes in your body. #31HorrorFilms31Days

12. HOUSEBOUND girl is sentenced to house arrest and has to live with her MOTHER. Terrifying. #31HorrorFilms31Days

11. THE AMITYVILLE HORROR Ryan Reynolds remake. Meh. Needed more flies and oozy walls. #31HorrorFilms31Days

10. THE BELIEVERS It all started with spilled milk… #31HorrorFilms31Days

9. TUSK Life lessons: Heartless podcaster learns that if empathy makes us human, someone else can make you a walrus. #31HorrorFilms31Days

8. ALMOST MERCY childhood friends become disaffected teens tumbling toward violence. But is it a love story? #31HorrorFilms31Days

7. JAWS 3 Worth it for the slo-mo 3D shark attack at the end + a great shot of Dennis Quaid falling out of a golf cart #31HorrorFilms31Days

6. THE BOY Oh, just your average woman-takes-nanny-job-only-to-discover-the-child-is-a-doll story. #31HorrorFilms31Days

5. THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK There may not have been a “plot” or a “story,” but that furry Fouke Monster has heart. #31HorrorFilms31Days

4. THE HOLE Hypothetically, if you’re in charge of keeping hell locked up, find a good hiding spot for the keys. #31HorrorFilms31Days

3. THE FOG Truth: I mistook this for The Mist. And it wasn’t even the John Carpenter version. Disappoint. #31HorrorFilms31Days

2. PONTYPOOL Quit the baby talk! When the end of the world is told through a radio broadcast, words mean everything. #31HorrorFilms31Days

1. THE INVITATION Man, we love our cults here in California. I mean, we really, really love them. So much it hurts. #31HorrorFilms31Days

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THE SMALLER EVIL is out!

Hello all!

IMG_9253It’s August 2nd, which means THE SMALLER EVIL is now officially out and in the wild. It’s a book I love for all its strangeness and questions; its moral ambiguity and its pursuit of what it means to belong. The main character, Arman, is tasked with figuring out whether the source of his unhappiness is internal and external. Is something wrong with him? Or is it his environment?

I was speaking just yesterday with someone about the ways in which the scientific method allows us to understand our physical, measurable world. Philosophy, on the other hand, allows us to understand the rest of our experiences, the universal, the esoteric, and the unique. Perhaps, then, psychology is a mix of the two–an understanding of where the physical and the abstract come together to make us who we are. Arman’s conflict is in integrating these parts of himself, as well as understanding his own values. It’s a conflict I know I still grapple with. I imagine we all do.

I am so very grateful for everyone who made this book come to life. To Michael Bourret, Andrew Karre, Anne Heausler, Ryan Gesell, and everyone at Dutton and DGLM–thank you! Thank you also to all my readers–you are the best.

Lastly, if you are in the Bay Area, please come to THE SMALLER EVIL launch party! It will be this Saturday, August 6th, at 4:00 pm at Mrs. Dalloway’s in Berkeley. Much fun will be had.

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Purchase THE SMALLER EVIL:

Indiebound  Amazon  Barnes and Noble  iBooks

DELICATE MONSTERS wins the 2016 Northern California Book Award

IMG_8639I was thrilled a few weeks ago to learn that DELICATE MONSTERS had been nominated for this year’s Northern California Book Award in the Children’s Literature for Older Readers category, along with Tamara Ireland Stone’s fabulous EVERY LAST WORD, Sabaa Tahir’s gorgeous AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, and Kate Schatz’s amazing and beautifully illustrated RAD AMERICAN WOMEN A-Z: REBELS, TRAILBLAZERS, & VISIONARIES WHO SHAPED OUR HISTORY…AND OUR FUTURE! (illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl).IMG_8639

I was lucky enough to get to attend the award ceremony this past weekend in San Francisco, and it was such a special event. Having grown up in Berkeley, in a writing household, it was wonderful to be surrounded by that community and to feel connected to the unique literary world that exists in our neck of the woods. There’s really nothing like Northern California, and to have the chance to hear Fred Cody Award recipient Susan Griffin talk about the political significance of creating literature and the role it plays in our democracy, was nothing short of inspiring.

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I was stunned, of course, when DELICATE MONSTERS won–oh, it’s such a tough, dark, book, but it holds so much of my heart–and somehow stumbled my way through a flustered speech. More than anything, I am so very thankful for everyone at Poetry Flash, the Northern California Book Reviewers, the Women’s National Book Association, PEN West, and the San Francisco Public Library for all of their hard work in making these awards happen, and for making me feel like a valued part of the community I grew up in. This is my home.

-sk