Stasia Ward Kehoe grew up performing on stages from New Hampshire to Virginia. She holds a BA in English from Georgetown University and an MA in Performance Studies from New York University. She now lives in western Washington state with her husband and four sons. THE SOUND OF LETTING GO is a Junior Library Guild selection and just received a starred review from PW.
Visit her online at www.stasiawardkehoe.com.
At what age did you start writing?
I STARTED WRITING IN EIGHTH GRADE, INSPIRED BY A FANTASTIC ENLISH TEACHER, MR. ARENA. HOWEVER, I NEVER ASPIRED TO BE A WRITER. EVEN IN COLLEGE, WHEN READING AND WRITING WERE MY FAVORITE ACADEMIC ACTIVITIES—AND I WROTE POEMS AND PLAYS AND PAPERS AND ALL SORTS OF THINGS. IT WASN’T REALLY UNTIL I STARTED WORKING ON THE BUSINESS SIDE OF THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY, AND BEING EXPOSED TO MANY, MANY WONDERFUL BOOKS, THAT IT OCCURRED TO ME THAT I COULD TRY TO BE AN AUTHOR IN MY OWN RIGHT.
Patty Campbell talks about the germ for a piece of writing being like the sand in the oyster. What is your grain of sand? Do you begin with character or setting or something else?
I USUALLY BEGIN WITH A CHARACTER WHO BOUNCES AROUND MY HEAD FOR DAYS, WEEKS, YEARS…UNTIL HE OR SHE COLLIDES WITH A “WHAT IF” SORT OF QUESTION. IN THE CASE OF MY NEWEST BOOK, THE SOUND OF LETTING GO, I BEGAN WANTING TO WRITE ABOUT A COOL, TOUGH, TRUMPET-PLAYING GIRL. THEN THE QUESTION OF “WHAT IF SHE LIVED IN A HOUSE WITH AN AUTISTIC BROTHER WHO COULDN’T BEAR LOUD SOUNDS (LIKE TRUMPET) OR UNPREDICTABILITY (LIKE JAZZ IMPROVISATION)? AND THE STORY GREW FROM THERE.
Do you outline before you write or just dive in?
I DO NOT OUTLINE AND TEND TO WRITE CHRONOLOGICALLY (BEGINNING-TO-END). I CANNOT WRITE SCENES TO “PUT IN LATER,” THOUGH I KNOW AUTHORS WHO CAN AND DO. THAT SAID, I AM MORE THAN WILLING TO COMPLETELY REWRITE AND CHANGE MAJOR PLOT AND CHARACTER ELEMENTS IN REVISION. So, IN A WAY, I LOOK AT MY ENTIRE FIRST DRAFT AS A SORT OF OUTLINE. NOT SUPER-EFFICIENT BUT THAT’S HOW I ROLL.
Why do you write for Young Adults or Children or Adult (whichever is pertinent)?
I DON’T. I WRITE STORIES THAT INTEREST ME ABOUT CHARACTERS WHO INTEREST ME. AND THEN MY AGENT AND EDITOR TELL ME THEY ARE YA. IN MY HOUSE, I HAVE A THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD WHO ACTS FORTY AND A SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD WHO CAN BE SORT OF IMMATURE. SO, I GUESS I FEEL LIKE YOUNG ADULT (LIKE EVERY OTHER READING CATEGORY) IS A STATE OF MIND. DON’T KNOW HOW ONE COULD WRITE TO A STATE OF MIND…
It’s the dawn of the zombie apocalypse, what 3 things are a must to take with you when you flee your home for refuge from the undead hordes??
THREE? ONLY THREE THINGS? I WRITE 400-PAGE NOVELS ABOUT ENTIRE TOWNS! SHORT LISTS ARE NOT MY FORTE. AND I’M NOT GOOD A CLEVER, SUCCINCT SNARK. SO…
--A BLACK FLEECE TRACK SUIT (I LOVE ANYTHING MADE OF SUPER-FUZZY FLEECE AND DARK’N’WARM SEEMS LIKE A GOOD IDEA)--COFFEE (LIFE IS ALWAYS BETTER CAFFEINATED AND I IMAGINE IT’D HELP WITH THE RUNNING-FROM-ZOMBIES ACTION)
--THE COMPLETE WORKS OF ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE (PREFERABLY MADE OUT OF SOME SORT OF EDIBLE, CHOCOLATE-FLAVORED PAPER, JUST IN CASE, YOU KNOW, I GET REALLY HUNGRY)
Come meet Stasia at the
on February 15th at Lone Star College - Montgomery.