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Author interview: Lesley Kagen

December 15, 2011

As part of the blog tour for Good Graces, by Lesley Kagen, I was provided with this interview with the author.  I think it gives a fun little peek into her personality and hope you do too.

Q.  Are there any tips you would give a book club to better navigate their discussion of your work?


A.  Maybe not drink too much wine?  (Laugh)  I LOVE book clubs.  They’ve been one of the true joys of becoming published.  Writing is such a solitary venture, so having the opportunity to get out of the house, hang out with some wonderful, goodie-making women is a ball!  One of the best places to start a discussion about any of my books is to head to my web site.  There’s a list of discussion questions that I hope will start off the conversations.


Q. What question are you never asked in interviews but wish you were?


A. My favorite color.


Q. Okay, what’s your favorite color?


A. Sky blue. Thanks for asking.


Q. Has a review or profile ever changed your perspective on your work?


A.  Not much.  I tend to dismiss reviews, both good and bad.  Aren’t they just another anonymous person’s opinion?  In order for me to alter my work in any way, the critique would have to come from someone I knew and respected.


Q. What would be the first thing you’d do, if today was your last day?


A.  Surround myself with my family and animals. And eat a ton of cream-filled coffee cake.


Q.What’s your vision of a perfect society?


A. One is which everyone’s basic needs are met.  Healthy food and a warm place to sleep at night would be priorities.  For entertainment, the folks in Wall Street, would be chained to tractors and drug through the streets every weekend.  Lots of books, lots of music and art.  A slower pace.  Free air travel so we could all visit our family whenever we wished.  (No charge for baggage:)


Q. What’s the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you with a fan?


A.This was weird AND cool.  I was speaking at a library event, talking about Whistling in the Dark and going on about the kids in my neighborhood.  Telling everyone what a tough block it was, and how I suspected that most of those little hoodlums had ended up in jail, when from the audience a man yelled out, “Ha!  Talk about calling the kettle black, Kagen. You’re the one that narrowly escaped Sing-Sing!”  It was a pal of mine from the old days that I hadn’t seen in over 40 years!


Q. Which of your books was the hardest to write?


A.  Absolutely, Tomorrow River.  The complicated situation the Carmody girls find themselves in is heart-wrenching.  I cried almost everyday while I wrote about them and their family.


Q. Which of your books was easiest to write?


A. Hmmm…well writing in general is hard work, but the book that seemed to flow the easiest was my newest one Good Graces. 


Q.  Anything else you’d like to add?


A.  I’d just like to wish everyone a happy, happy holiday.  It’s been a tough year for a lot of us and we all deserve some holiday cheer!
About the book:

Whistling in the Dark captivated readers with the story of ten-year-old Sally O’Malley and her sister, Troo, during Milwaukee’s summer of 1959. The novel became a New York Times bestseller and was named a Midwest Honor Award winner.

In Good Graces, it’s one year later, and a heat wave has everyone in the close-knit Milwaukee neighborhood on edge. None more so than Sally O’Malley, who remains deeply traumatized by the sudden death of her daddy and her near escape from a murderer and molester the previous summer. Although outwardly she and her sister, Troo, are more secure, Sally’s confidence in her own judgment and much of her faith have been whittled away. When a series of disquieting events unfold in the neighborhood-a string of home burglaries, the escape from reform school of a nemesis, and the mysterious disappearance of an orphan, crimes that may involve the increasingly rebellious Troo-Sally is called upon to rise above her inner demons. She made a deathbed promise to her daddy to keep Troo safe, a promise she can’t break, even if her life depends on it. But when events reach a crisis point, will Sally have the courage and discernment to make the right choices? Or will her false assumptions lead her and those she loves into danger once again?

Lesley Kagen’s gift for imbuing her child narrators with compelling authenticity shines as never before in Good Graces, a novel told with sensitivity, wit, and warmth.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. December 15, 2011 6:34 am

    Interesting answers; she sounds very fun. I have Good Graces in an eBook but haven’t read it yet.

  2. December 15, 2011 6:49 am

    I LIKE her! She needs to come visit Orlando for some warm weather and visit a wine-swilling book club.

  3. December 15, 2011 7:00 am

    I agree with Diane — she does sound fun!

  4. December 15, 2011 8:41 am

    What great questions you asked! And fun answers! I have to get this book; I don’t think I have found any set in Milwaukee yet!

  5. December 15, 2011 9:23 am

    I loved this interview, and think she sounds like a really fun and interesting person! I would have to agree with Sandy and mention that we would love her for our book club! I might just have to suggest that we read her book for our next meeting!

  6. December 15, 2011 9:37 am

    She sounds just as charming as her books!

  7. December 15, 2011 9:46 am

    I simply MUST add Lesley’s books to my list. Thanks for sharing the fun interview, Kathy!

  8. December 15, 2011 10:32 am

    Kathy, I’m a HUGE fan of your blog so thanks again for hosting Lesley today.

    I love the story about the “heckler” at the library event. You never know who’s in the audience.

    I think you would all like Lesley very much. She’s a great person as well as a great writer. Thanks for taking the time to comment on her interview.

  9. December 15, 2011 10:58 am

    It’s probably just me but these answers seemed a tad flippant. No? If I were an author, I wouldn’t cry into my pillow over a bad review, but I think I’d question whether the criticism is valid or not. You don’t have to know someone personally to admit that they might have a point.

  10. December 15, 2011 12:00 pm

    I read this book and liked it a lot, a great interview!

  11. December 15, 2011 12:12 pm

    Oh gosh. I love that she saw her friend at a random reading that she hadn’t seen in 40 years. What a bit of luck!

  12. December 15, 2011 12:25 pm

    I agree with everyone – she does sound fun. I haven’t read anything by her yet but many of her books have captured my attention.

  13. December 15, 2011 12:57 pm

    I think that, in France we have less book-clubs than in U.S. ! I ‘d like to find one !
    Your interview was very interesting, but I don’t understand what she says about folks in Wall Strret ! I know who they are (we have the same in France).

  14. December 15, 2011 3:38 pm

    I’ve never read this author before but after this fun interview, I will definitely keep my eyes open for her books.

  15. December 15, 2011 4:13 pm

    It’s funny because I just put this book into my wish list…but really only because my brother lives in Wisconsin and I thought it would be interesting.

  16. December 15, 2011 6:52 pm

    Fabulous interview! That fan incident made me laugh!

  17. December 15, 2011 8:03 pm

    Lesley called in to my book club once. She’s terrific!

  18. December 15, 2011 8:15 pm

    I loved her responses!!

  19. December 20, 2011 12:30 am

    Great questions (and answers)! I am all for fighting the power but feel I must defend those Wall Streeters. Not all are ginormous, selfish asses, only a majority! The rest, well, they are not evil.
    Other than that she sounds fun 🙂

  20. December 30, 2011 12:43 am

    I loved Whistling in the Dark and to this day it’s still one of my favorite books to recommend. I was completely unaware that Good Graces was coming out so I am excited as well as grateful to you again for giving me a “head’s up”.

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