Archives: Author Interviews

Echo Bridge

Today, we’re here to chat with Kristen O’Toole, author of the just-released YA novel Echo Bridge, from new publishing imprint Full Fathom Five Digital.  In Echo Bridge, high school theater star Courtney Valance’s picturesque life is envied by all her peers–until one night she turns up missing, her clothes washed up on the river bank. All of us at Lucinda Literary loved this book so much–it’s not everyday we read YA novels delivered in such a deeply thoughtful and mature tone–that we had to invite Kristen to tell us how it all came about.

We found the characters and themes explored in Echo Bridge to be, um, very mature–not for the soft of stomach. Is the sort of subject matter you deal with in your novel typical of the genre, or were you striving for something more darkly realistic? 

Oh, boy–I think the moment someone tries to define a genre, an exception to that definition is born! YA contains multitudes. I kept my own teenage taste in mind while I was writing Echo Bridge, and I had a pretty dark turn of mind back then (I have lightened up a lot with age). I was a little unsure about the tone at first, until I remembered one of the first YA books I ever read: Die Softly by Christopher Pike. I got it as a present for my 11th birthday. Even within Pike’s oeuvre, it’s a doozy.

Echo Bridge itself is so eloquently described, it really brings that setting to life.  Is there a real-life ‘Echo Bridge’ or other landmark where you hung out as a teen?

There is a real Echo Bridge! It’s in Newton, MA, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. My parents took me there a few times as a kid, and later I heard from friends who lived nearby that it was an after-dark meeting place. I grew up in a different town and my teen-dirtbag hangouts were closer to home. We had our own secret spot on the Charles River near my high school, though it wasn’t as picturesque as Echo Bridge.

What is high school popularity all about anyway? Why, at that period in our lives, is the need to be popular so all-encompassing? What ‘kid’ were you in high school?
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Today we are announcing the publication of a heartbreaking, morally provocative, and finally optimistic new novel by internationally renowned author Douglas Kennedy. Already a bestseller in England and Ireland, you can see a full summary of FIVE DAYS below. For those who read it, in book clubs or independently, we’re eager to hear what you think!

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“With FIVE DAYS, Douglas Kennedy has crafted a brilliant meditation on regret, fidelity, family, and second chances that will have you breathlessly turning pages to find out what happened in the past and what will happen next. At once heartbreaking and hopeful, it is a powerful new work of fiction by an internationally acclaimed writer at the height of his powers.”

— Will Schwalbe, author of THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB

Laura spends her days looking at other people’s potential calamities. She works in the radiography unit of a small hospital on the Maine coast, bearing constant witness to the fears of patient after frightened patient. In a job where finding nothing is always the best possible outcome, she is well versed in the random injustices of life, a truism that has lately been playing out in her marriage as well. Since being downsized, her husband, Dan, has become withdrawn, his emotional distance gradually corroding their relationship. With a son in college and a daughter soon due to leave home, Laura has begun to fear that the marital sounds of silence will only deepen once the nest is truly empty.

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When did you begin your writing career?

I began my writing career in 2005, after I was fired from my first job out of college. I started writing for Gay City News and The Villager—mostly covering exotic events (like dog parades) and some local politics, such as the mayoral race. I started at the bottom of the totem pole, picking up whatever stories I could get assigned.

My very first article was in Gay City News—a good friend’s uncle was an editor there and they took a chance on me. In 2008, when I was 26, I was given my first assignment from The Wall Street Journal and later, The New York Times.

How is it you didn’t even go to journalism school? Did that put you at a disadvantage—or an advantage?

I know there are many schools of thought about journalism. There are definitely moments I’ve thought seriously about [going to journalism school], but I thought I would lose momentum. The tradeoff never made sense for me. In journalism, on the ground experience and writing is the best training ground. But let me caveat that with—there are also a whole host of new media skills and a lot of technical things one can learn in journalism school. I kind of see it from both sides, but for me there never seemed to be a right moment to do it. There’s an opportunity cost to going back.

As a 20-Something author, you broke into the business of book publishing fairly early. What do you think it was that landed your proposal an agent, and subsequently a book deal?

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The Ten Most Overused Terms in Publishing
Do you know how MBAs all tend to use the same terms (“the space,” “leverage,” “revenue opportunity,” etc.?) Here is our equivalent vocabulary for publishing–and we’re all guilty.

What Your Publisher Can’t Tell You About Your Book’s Publicity
Surprise: there’s alot you didn’t know. Here are some positive ways to take action in promoting your own book.
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Today, I’m interviewing Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner, whose debut popular psychology book and style guide just hit shelves. Jenny, as nicknamed, was referred to me through a colleague who had found her on Psychology Today, where her blog column about “fashion psychology,” had made a big splash. Below she talks about her original concept, the one that hooked me, and what it takes to write the book you want the public to see.

 

You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal About You

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