Please Join Literary Writers Network for a Special Literary Engagement, featuring critically acclaimed Chicago Author Stephanie Kuehnert, on Thursday, September 17, 2009, at 7 p.m. at the Book Cellar, 4736-38 North Lincoln, Chicago.
I'll be reading from Ballads as well as doing a Q&A and signing of course.
The some writers from the Literary Writers Network will be reading before me: April Galarza, Stephen Markley, and Nancy Werking Poling. You can find more out about their work and the event in general (with all kinds of talking up of my book that I felt weird copying and putting here) on the Literary Writers Network blog. They are a very cool group, so check them out.
Okay, so as you probably know, especially if you follow me on twitter, I've been struggling with a new novel proposal since I went away on my writing retreat. I sent that proposal into my agent last Tuesday, but um, the synopsis part is still all scattered because I'm terrible at figuring out where my books are going until I'm in the middle of it. So I'm still trying to figure out that and in the meantime I'm crossing my fingers and toes that she likes it enough to allow me to figure out exactly what it's deal is because I really, really like it.
I swore off talking about work in progress because I talked about that Persephone idea quite a bit and then that didn't work out the way I wanted and now it's on the backburner as I try to figure it out and I just feel silly. But I completely dropped out of the writing zone last week when everything happened with Domino, so I thought maybe if I talked about it just a little it would inspire me again. And it would give you a little bit of an answer to that dreaded "What are you working on?" question.
Right now the working title is: Anarchists, Soap Stars, and Regulars. It is called this because the main character Zoë is a very political teenager with an anarchist boyfriend (or ex-boyfriend) who keeps breaking her heart, an estranged father who she refers to only as the Soap Star "because that’s what he was—although the “star” part was only in his head", and a bartender mother, Ivy, whose regulars teach both Ivy and Zoë a lot about life. The other major characters include Bender, a homeless punk kid who was Zoë's best friend until he kissed her, and Jake, who is like Zoë's brother and is struggling with a recent bipolar disorder diagnosis.
I love all my quirky characters already and am finding it fun to incorporate my love of soap operas and my bartending experiences into a book. (Last night's near bar fight between one of my regulars and a Packers fan who dared grace the bar, totally going in. Especially the part where another regular--a very annoying one--started blowing a whistle in the middle of it all. In the fictional version I think I'll introduce a squirt gun per my friend Alison's Facebook comment about the incident...) Also I think each of my main characters embodies some sliver of my teenage self: Emily had my passion for music (though she was more talented), Kara shared some of my inner demons (though she was more troubled), and Zoë will have my desire to change the world (though she'll have more to fight against in 2005 than 1995).
Okay, that's all I'm going to say because I feel like I've said too much already. The last thing I'll leave you with is the first paragraph, which could totally change, but will give you an idea of the direction and tone of the book:
On Sunday, August 28, 2005, Mayor Ray Nagin declared a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Katrina. Meanwhile in Seattle, my mother, Ivy Petersen, came into my bedroom, removed her engagement ring, and told me she didn’t think she could marry Clay, her fiancé of two-and-a-half years.