About Kip Wilson
Kip Wilson is a freelance writer from Boston, MA. She earned her Ph.D. in German from SUNY Albany, and has lived in both Germany and Austria. She is a regular contributor to FACES magazine for children, and loves traveling to new places and writing about them. Some of her favorite topics include language, food, history, and travelling with small children.
Latest Posts by Kip Wilson
From YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday #130: It takes about 12 hours to read a book, but the book spends a lot more time than that in the home, as a doorstop, a place to hide jewelry, even an old-fashioned petal press. Is there anything you do with books before/after you’ve read them?
I love the Road Trip question this week, because I’m a chronic book re-reader, so I keep the books I love very close.
But when I really, really love a book, I also buy a copy to give to the person who MUST read said book. So when my now-husband and I moved in together, we wound up with quite a few duplicates. Just one example is NORWEGIAN WOOD, the fantastic love story by one of my favorite authors, Haruki Murakami.
This book is full of memories of True Love to me, and I still pick it up and re-read the same scene I read back then to my then auditioning-to-be-boyfriend:
So I made up my mind I was going to find someone who would love me unconditionally three hundred and sixty-five days a year.
The scene goes on to describe an act we began to call “strawberry-shortcaking,” whereby a boy brings a girl strawberry shortcake because she asks for it, but when she changes her mind when he arrives with it, and he’s OK with this because he’d do anything for her. The clincher is of course that it must be mutual for it to be True Love, and thus our theory of “mutual strawberry-shortcaking” was born.
And now we have two well-worn copies of Norwegian Wood on our shelf. Not bad, Mr. Murakami.
Even though I had a crazy-busy month and didn’t get to read as much as I wanted, I still had a hard time picking my favorite book out of the five (only five! so sad) that I read.
Going for a two-way tie, my faves were:
THE DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor. What I loved about this book was that I am not a paranormal fan and yet I found those aspects of the story exquisite. I bought this book because of the art student in Prague angle, and hadn’t actually realized how far this book would take me down the paranormal path, but the writing pulled me willingly along. What a gripping love story!
THE GIRL IN THE STEEL CORSET by Kady Cross. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this book because I’d never read anything from Harlequin Teen, but I was pulled in from the very beginning and couldn’t put it down. What they say about teen romance being about the anticipation and buildup more than fulfillment is so true here. So well done! Plus all that steampunky stuff is pretty cool too.
It’s been a wonderful reading month thanks to Christmas and birthday gifts!
Here are some of my recommendations:
DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth (YA), which I loved as much as everyone on GoodReads, apparently. Can’t wait for the sequel!
THE PARIS WIFE by Paula A. McClain (Adult), which I got together with Woody Allen’s MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, totally throwing me into Paris in the 1920′s. Delicious.
And because I’m lucky enough to have my birthday on Twelfth Night, I also got:
FLUTTER by Erin Moulton (Middle Grade), which was as gorgeous and delicate as wild and adventurous. A beautiful story of sisterly love–made me wish I had a sister!
A MILLION STARS by Beth Revis (YA), which already has me fidgeting for Book Three in the series. Such an exciting read, and by that I mean the characters as much as the plot.
Favorite books read of the 2011 year! Enjoy!
IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma. The title and the cover immediately grabbed me, and as soon as I started this book, I had to know what happened. This book took me places I couldn’t have imagined, with an absolutely unique voice and a plot that stretched the boundaries of reality.
PLAIN KATE by Erin Bow. This also came out in 2010, and the combination of beautiful writing and fairy-tale setting grabbed my attention from the very beginning. A girl without a shadow? A talking cat? Yes, please.
STOLEN by Lucy Christopher. This gripping story also kept me up turning pages. Beyond the constant tension, the unique second-person telling added an amazing emotional element that I didn’t expect.
THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson. This is the one that kept me up all night this week. If you’ve read it, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, run to the bookstore! So good!
NOWHERE GIRL by A. J. Paquette. A coming-of-age adventure set in Thailand–sign me up! This story is both beautifully-written and a page-turner to the very end.
PETER NIMBLE AND HIS FANTASTIC EYES by Jonathan Auxier. This book had me with its title, seriously. Then once I started reading, the incredible imagination of the author had me following along with my mouth dropped open half the time. Fans of Lemony Snicket will love this book.
WINK: THE NINJA WHO WANTED TO NAP by J. C. Phillipps. We also have another WINK book, and my girls love both of them–everything from the colorful artwork to the active antics of their favorite ninja.
EL FANDANGO DE LOLA by Anna Witte. (English version also available at Barefoot Books: LOLA’S FANDANGO) My girls could not love this book more–about a little Spanish girl like them who learns to dance flamenco.
Please welcome author AMMI-JOAN PAQUETTE, whose debut novel NOWHERE GIRL just came out on September 13th, 2011.
Hello, Joan! Most people in children’s literature circles already know you as a fantastic agent with the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, so let’s just get that out of the way. You’re an agent! *applause*
But … you’re also an amazing writer, and today we are focusing on that. I am thrilled that NOWHERE GIRL is hitting the shelves this month, so let’s start there. This novel has been described by acclaimed author Mitali Perkins as “a lovely Cinderella tale” and by Publisher’s Weekly as a “memorable thriller about identity and belonging.”
Having read an early draft and other snippets, I couldn’t agree more. This novel has it all: beautiful writing, a unique setting, a character on a self-discovery quest facing a mounting set of obstacles. Everyone should run out and read it now! In the meantime, let’s tackle how you were able to pull all of those pieces together so well.
Q: Beautiful writing: There are some beautiful lines throughout NOWHERE GIRL, but I have a favorite line (a definite zinger!) from your manuscript back when I first read it—do you have a favorite line in the novel? Please share!
A: This is a tough one! I’m not sure that I can single out a specific line, but one of my favorite scenes comes early on in chapter 3, where Luchi thinks back to a time when she was very young and, in playing around among the prison bars, gets caught and trapped in them, unable to get loose. When this image fell into place for me, it seemed to do more than just describe an incident in Luchi’s past; it extended into a metaphor depicting her life as a whole. The larger-than-life feel of this image lingered with me long after its writing.
Q: Character: above all, NOWHERE GIRL is a very authentic story that rings very personal. Were you able to pull any experiences out of your own life to bring this authenticity to Luchi’s voice?
A: There wasn’t much in Luchi’s physical journey or life events that overlapped with mine, but I have definitely drawn from experience in her emotional progression. That feeling of sometimes not quite fitting in, of wanting to belong or being unsure exactly who you are while growing up—I think many people experience this to a certain extent, and with all my travel and assorted life paths, I’ve certainly had more than my fair share. If some of that early insecurity can translate into authenticity and a ring of truth for Luchi’s journey, then perhaps all of those years will have been well-spent after all!
Q: Plot: without any major spoilers, Luchi has to face a lot of obstacles from beginning to end of the novel. Did you, your agent, and/or editor make any major changes along the way?
A: The biggest changes that were made from the first draft was to go more in-depth with Luchi’s journey and the challenges she faces on her way. The basic plot and the story itself was pretty much unchanged from how I first envisioned it, but my editor encouraged me to build on the framework and flesh out certain areas to develop tension and to solidify the structure. The encounter with the pickup truck on the road to Sukhothai, for example, is one that I added in a later revision.
Q: Process: for all the other budding writers out there, could you provide a snapshot of the writing, revising, and editing process and how long it took for this manuscript?
A: Let’s see: I first thought of this story and wrote a very few opening paragraphs in the spring of 2005. After losing track of it for a few years, in 2008 I pulled the idea out again, dusted it off, and started getting serious with research and getting to know this character. The first draft was finished in late 2008; in late 2009 I received a detailed revision letter from Stacy Cantor at Walker, who loved the story but wanted me to do some further work on it before taking it to acquisitions. The final offer arrived in May 2010, and is being published in September 2011.
Q: Beyond NOWHERE GIRL, you also have several other books (picture books and another novel) in the works. Can you share a little bit about them?
A: My next book to be released will be THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO CHASING MERMAIDS, a companion book to THE TIPTOE GUDIE TO TRACKING FAIRIES (Tanglewood, 2009). This will be out in spring next year. I am also hard at work on a YA science fiction novel with Random House (title still being determined). This should be out in spring 2013, along with a picture book from Candlewick, GHOST IN THE HOUSE, in fall 2013.
Q: And finally the question everyone probably wants to know: how do you do it???? As a successful agent, wife, mom, critique partner, and writer, you manage to get everything done, and done well. Any strategies that are working for you that you could share?
A: This is a tough one to answer, but mostly I think a lot of it just comes from loving what I do. We all wear many different hats, and for every one thing you do there’s always something else that you end up not having time for. But I feel so lucky that I love my work, and I guess that gives me the incentive to squeeze little bits of it in anywhere I can. Which reminds me… I’d better get back to it!
Thank you so much, Joan, for giving us a window into your debut novel and life as a writer! So excited to see this in print!!
When I first started my current WIP—a YA historical novel—I was hoping to use the facts exactly as they were and just fill in the holes with my fantastic story. *coughs* I wrote about 20K words using this plan.
Unfortunately, I hit a wrinkle.
When I started writing my detailed outline, I realized that my story would be soooo much better if I could change some of the facts.
And yet I waffled.
Some things I wanted to change probably wouldn’t be a big deal in regards to remaining true to history. I wanted to change the age and date of death of a rather obscure individual who most people don’t know. I think I’d be OK there. But I also wanted to push the dates that a hugely famous poet wrote a likewise hugely famous series of poems to four years earlier. Ouch.
Could I get around it? Probably. But it might be weird for other cryptic reasons. So I’m still waffling.
How close to history do you keep your historical fiction? Any rules or guidelines that you always follow? Any examples where you decided to break the rules?
We had our first heat wave in Boston last week, so it was time to throw together one of my favorite cold dinners: ceviche.
Ceviche is a great dish because it’s so quick and easy to prepare, refreshing and delicious, and actually good for you. The only caveat: you have to do your preparations far enough in advance that your citrus has the time it needs to “cook” the seafood. I usually prepare it in the morning to eat that night (6-8 hours later).
- 1 pound of seafood (my favorite to use is sole, but flounder, tilapia, shrimp, and calamari work well too), cut into thin, small pieces
- the juice of 7 limes and 1 lemon
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1/2 vidalia onion, diced
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 1-2 jalapeño peppers (optional)
- 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
The instructions couldn’t be simpler: just slice the seafood in small pieces, chop the vegetables and cilantro, juice your citrus fruits, then throw everything together in a big bowl and put it in the refrigerator to cook.
Bostonians can thank Oliver Wendell Holmes for a nickname that stuck. He dubbed the State House “the hub of the solar system” back in 1858, and people still call Boston “the hub of the universe” today.
So why is this relevant for tourists? Boston is an awesome place to live, but it’s also a great place to visit. Now that visiting season is gearing up–the three months it’s actually warm and pleasant here–it’s a good time to take a look at ten must-see highlights.
- Fenway Park. The oldest baseball park in the country, and the home of the Boston Red Sox. Tickets are hard to come by, but you can try www.stubhub.com or at least take a tour of the park and grab a beer at Boston Beer Works.
- Newberry Street. Perfect for people-watching and window-shopping. Set yourself up at a café like Sonsie and watch the world go by.
- Public Garden. Especially if you’ve got kids along, you can’t miss a ride on the swan boats and a visit to the duckling statues made famous in Robert McCloskey’s MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS.
- Canoeing on the Charles River. Rent a canoe or kayak for an hour or more and paddle along the river between Boston and Cambridge: http://www.paddleboston.com/main.php
- Museums. Depending on what type of peeps you come with, consider hitting the Boston Children’s Museum, the Science Museum, the Museum of Fine Art, or the Aquarium.
- Freedom Trail. Don’t miss the trail marked in red paint that leads you to many of the historic sites from the American Revolution: http://www.thefreedomtrail.org/ Visit everything from the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown to the Paul Revere House and Old North Church in the North End, then treat yourself to a delicious cappuccino and tiramisu in Caffe Vittoria on Hanover Street or have a pizza at the famous Pizzerina Regina on Thatcher Street.
- Quincy Market. Tourists love Quincy Market with good reason. Fun shops and a whole hall full of tasty restaurants on one end, and the historical Fanueil Hall (also on the Freedom Trail) on the other. Head around the corner for a fresh Guinness at the Purple Shamrock or raw oysters at the (likewise historical) Union Oyster House.
- Chinatown. Right beside the theater district you’ll find scores of authentic restaurants, bakeries and shops well worth a visit.
- The T. Boston is a very walkable city, but don’t miss a ride on our subways that also go above ground in places. One of the best views of Boston is when crossing the river to Cambridge on the salt-and-pepper bridge.
- Trolley tour or duck boat. A great way to get your bearings in the city when you first arrive, but make sure you get off it and into the streets yourself when you finish!