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Chris Scotton’s The Secret Wisdom of the Earth takes you to Kentucky where Kevin’s mother seeks refuge after tragedy. Sitting on the steps of his grandfather’s porch, Kevin listens to the talk of old men sipping sour mash whiskey. If Kevin could, though, he’d add a little heat to their glasses – Kevin has a small problem setting fires. So I did that for him.
2 oz. Michter’s Sour Mash Whiskey
.25 oz. Simple Syrup
3 Dashes Bittermen’s Hellfire Habanero Shrub Bitters
Add all over one large piece of ice in an old-fashioned glass. Stir. No garnish.
San Francisco resident Katie Coyle grew up in Fair Haven, New Jersey, and has an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh. Her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in One Story, the Southeast Review, Cobalt, and Critical Quarterly. This is her first novel.
Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple never believed in the evangelical Church of America, unlike her recently devout parents. But when Vivian returns home the night after the supposed "Rapture," all that's left of her parents are two holes in the roof. Suddenly, she doesn't know who or what to believe. With her best friend Harp and a mysterious ally, Peter, Vivian embarks on a desperate cross-country roadtrip through a paranoid and panic-stricken America to find answers. Because at the end of the world, Vivan Apple isn't looking for a savior. She's looking for the truth.
1. What was your inspiration for writing Vivian Apple at the End of the World?
I was really fascinated by Harold Camping’s Rapture/Apocalypse prediction in 2011, and had read an article about a family split along similar lines as Vivian’s—the parents were devout believers, and the teenage children were very much not. That tension was extremely interesting to me. I was also looking to write something about a girl taking control of her own destiny, which is pretty much the only thing I ever read. The two threads seemed to work together, and lo, Vivian Apple was born.
2. Vivian’s parents are devout believers. What kind of religious upbringing did you have?
I was raised Catholic but am not Catholic anymore.
3. Following the apocalypse (or rapture) Vivian comes home to find her parents gone and holes in the roof of her house. Would you react in the same way Vivian does? If not, how would you react?
I think I’m a lot more prone to pure panic than Vivian is. She essentially goes into a state of shock, but is all-business by the time she comes out of it. If the people I loved disappeared in a Rapture-like event, I would probably do a lot more screaming and running around in circles.
4. How much research did you end up doing for Vivian Apple?
Not a whole lot! I did some very cursory reading on cults when I first started exploring the idea of the story (and specifically the powerful religion Vivian’s parents belong to), and I read Lawrence Wright’s excellent book Going Clear, about Scientology, during revision.
5. Are there specific genres or authors you tend to avoid reading while you’re working on something new? Are there any authors or novels that have inspired your writing?
I tend to avoid the specific genre I’m writing in—I’d read (and loved) a ton of YA dystopias before starting Vivian Apple, but once I was working on it I stayed away, just for the sake of keeping my own vision clear. Vivian Apple doesn’t have any direct literary inspiration, but there are of course many writers who have helped me hone in on the kind of writer I want to be. Some of my favorites are J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, George Saunders, Kelly Link, and Aimee Bender.
6. If your book were turned into a movie, who would you like to see cast?
This is my very favorite question! I love the young actress Hailee Steinfeld, who appeared in the Coen Brothers’ True Grit a few years ago—she has a very natural intelligence and toughness that I think would serve Vivian well. Harry Styles from One Direction should play Peter, because they are both very dreamy. When I was writing the novel, I couldn’t stop picturing Amy Poehler as Vivian’s beloved teacher Wambaugh—I think she’d be great in that role, and I also like to imagine that we’d start a lifelong friendship on set.
7. If you weren’t an author, what would be your ideal career?
I would be a Hollywood casting agent. See above answer for my credentials.
8. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I plot extensively when I’m writing something novel-length, because my brain is usually very scattered and if I don’t tell myself that today I am writing this particular scene in which these particular things happen, everything tends to go off the rails. But I do like to play it a little looser with short fiction—I tend to start with a general premise and then watch it come together in a weird, haphazard way. The first method is more effective, but the second’s a little more fun.
9. Coffee or tea?
10. Favorite movie? TV show? Band?
The Philadelphia Story. Doctor Who. The Monkees. (I contain multitudes.)
Head to Books Inc. Opera Plaza on January 6th and meet Katie in person to ask her all the questions we didn't answer here!
In this tour de force, master storyteller Gregory Maguire offers a dazzling novel for fantasy lovers of all ages.
Elena Rudina lives in the impoverished Russian countryside. Her father has been dead for years. One of her brothers has been conscripted into the Tsar's army, the other taken as a servant in the house of the local landowner. Her mother is dying, slowly, in their tiny cabin. And there is no food. But then a train arrives in the village, a train carrying untold wealth, a cornucopia of food, and a noble family destined to visit the Tsar in Saint Petersburg -- a family that includes Ekaterina, a girl of Elena's age. When the two girls' lives collide, an adventure is set in motion, an escapade that includes mistaken identity, a monk locked in a tower, a prince traveling incognito, and -- in a starring role only Gregory Maguire could have conjured -- Baba Yaga, witch of Russian folklore, in her ambulatory house perched on chicken legs.
With great gusto and enthusiasm, Maguire spins his literary magic on this whimsy of a fairy tale. Set in Tsarist Russia, in the poverty-stricken village of Miersk. Thirteen-year-old Elena Rudina works hard to take care of her ill mother with no food or medicine, and with one brother working abroad and the other conscripted into the army. Ultimately, Elena convinces herself to travel to St. Petersburg to ask the Tsar for help. Meanwhile, Mademoiselle Ekaterina de Robichaux (Cat for short) is traveling with her governess to be presented at the Tsar's ball (also in St. Petersburg). As fate would have it, the train is derailed in a nearby abandoned village. It is there that Cat and Elena meet. The two girls immediately notice that they have similar facial and body features. When the train takes off unexpectedly, Elena is trapped aboard and Cat is sent tumbling out the door and into the path of the folkloric figure Baba Yaga--a hilariously sarcastic child-eating, metal-toothed crone who dwells in a hut carried along on a pair of chicken legs. Baba Yaga forewarns of the disasterous consequences that would come should the natural order not be restored to it's former glory. Cat and Baba Yaga head to St. Petersburg (and Elena) to alert the Tsar. All three characters must band together to restore the world's order and magic. Maguire manages to knit together a tale that incorporates the elememental foundations of known tales such as Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Twain's The Prince and the Pauper. This book is a worthwhile adventure that people of all ages will enjoy.
Carla from Books Inc. Airport T3