An Alternative Author Interview:
TCL’s Countdown Questions.
This week I’m featuring author
In 2018 I was invited by the Penguin Random House International Readers program to read a book called “The Kennedy Debutante” by an author I didn’t know, Kerri Maher. Well, having grown up in the post-Kennedy era (I’m old enough to remember where I was when I heard that JFK was shot, and our family watched lots of TV), this was always a family that fascinated me. So, although I already knew much of this family’s history, I knew almost nothing about JFK’s sister Kit. Well, Maher filled that hole in my education, and she made me cry so much, that this debut novel ended up on my “best of” list for that year. Obviously, when I heard she had another book out, “The Girl in White Gloves” I had to read it as well. I mean… Grace Kelly, right? For someone like me who is a lover of movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood? Yes, please! And no, Maher didn’t disappoint (as you’ll see from my review)! That’s why I asked her to answer my five, fast, and fun questions (which I’m sure filled up a few minutes of her sheltering in place time)! Let’s see her answers.
- If you could visit five (5) places you’ve never been, where would you go and why?
Havana, Cuba, for the food, music, and famous coastal beauty.
India, again for the food, but also for the amazing architecture (thinking the Taj Mahal) and natural beauty of the mountains and waters.
The Grand Canyon – The Brady Bunch. Enough said?
Egypt – Pyramids!
Seattle – for the books and restaurants, and to visit my friend and fellow writer Elise Cooper.
- Name four (4) foods or dishes that you enjoy so much that they’ve practically become part of your personality.
Well, last night I made a red wine braised short ribs with polenta dish that’s a huge hit every time with the more adventurous eaters in my life.
My 9-year-old daughter loves my chicken, vegetable, and rice bowls, and we have them at least once a week.
Fresh summer pesto on pasta or spread on baguette with mozzarella and tomatoes.
Coffee with milk every morning.
- There is the past, the present, and the future – if you could choose, which of these three (3) would you prefer to live in, and why?
The present, because I can always travel to the past or future in my imagination. In fact, I’m lucky enough to get to the past every day in my writing!
- Best and/or worst – you choose which – name two (2) of either your best moments of your life, worst moments of your life, or one of each.
Best: When my daughter, who was 6 at the time, thought I was the actual, honest-to-goodness tooth fairy. I mean, how cool is that?
Worst: Sending in a novel I’d revised for an editor who’d asked for the revision without a contract, then receiving her rejection letter.
- Name one (1) book you’ve read in the past year (or so) that you wish you had written, and why.
You know, I don’t really think this way about books and writing anymore; I feel like all writers have different and unique talents, and that’s a good thing. But: I did love Laura Zigman’s SEPARATION ANXIETY, a hilariously funny and also extremely poignant contemporary novel, and I wondered if I could or would ever write a book like that, without the scaffolding of history to hold my book up.
Thanks Kerri! I also adore a good pesto. And believe it or not, although I live right next door, I’ve never been to Egypt either!
About Kerri Maher (from website):
Here’s a bit more information about me, but really—if you want to know more, the best place to look is my book, This is Not a Writing Manual, since it’s a memoir of my writing life, starting in middle school. There are loads of stories in there about me and writing, like how much I learned from eavesdropping and watching soap operas, how I was inspired by SARK and Dead Poets Society, and how I used to hate my writer friends who were more successful that I was (don’t worry, I learned to get over that—and myself). Of course I tell you how I came to get published, and start YARN, my award-winning YA literary journal.
So I won’t bore you with all of that here.
What I will tell you here is that, I live in Massachusetts just west of Boston but I’ll always identify myself as a California girl because my parents are native Californians and live there still, and I spent the formative years of sixth grade through college in the state. But the truth is, I’ve actually lived more of my life on the East Coast, which is still partly my parents’ fault for living the first eight years of my life in Dover, MA. I also lived for six years in Brooklyn, NY, where I ate really well, and cheaply, and shopped at awesome thrift shops (sigh; I still miss it sometimes). During those New York years, I also got my MFA at Columbia, and my first teaching gig as a grad student instructor in the Undergraduate Writing Program there. I taught writing for eight years, starting as a grad student, then as a lecturer at Fairleigh Dickinson University in NJ, before moving to MA and having a baby and changing my life yet again.
These days, I write full time and hang with my daughter Elena. Together, we love taking advantage of everything the Boston area has to offer–trips to the Museum of Fine Arts, apple picking, traipsing around the Boston Common, and soaking up the history in Concord and Sturbridge Village. I also love to cook and eat, so you’ll likely see a sprinkling of delicious dishes in my Instagram feed!