Today I'm super excited to interview YA author, Margo Rabb -- author of KISSING IN AMERICA, which debuted on May 26th from Harper ! Margo was gracious enough to send me an ARC of KiA - which I loved, btw! - and I'll happily pass on that copy to one lucky winner from today's interview!
About the Author:
Margo Rabb is the author of the novels Kissing in America and Cures for Heartbreak. Her essays, journalism, book reviews, and short stories have been published in The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Atlantic, Slate, Salon, The Rumpus, Zoetrope: All-Story, Seventeen, Best New American Voices, New Stories from the South, One Story, and elsewhere, and have been broadcast on NPR. She received the grand prize in the Zoetrope short story contest, first prize in the Atlantic fiction contest, first prize in the American Fiction contest, and a PEN Syndicated Fiction Project Award. Margo grew up in Queens, New York, and has lived in Texas, Arizona, and the Midwest; she now lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and children.
You can find out more about her online at www.margorabb.com
Visit Margo on Goodreads.
About KISSING IN AMERICA:
In the two years since her father died, sixteen-year-old Eva has found comfort in reading romance novels—118 of them, to be exact—to dull the pain of her loss that's still so present. Her romantic fantasies become a reality when she meets Will, who understands Eva's grief. Unfortunately, after Eva falls head over heels for him, he picks up and moves to California without any warning. Not wanting to lose the only person who has been able to pull her out of sadness—and, perhaps, her shot at real love—Eva and her best friend, Annie, concoct a plan to travel to the West Coast to see Will again. As they road trip across America, Eva and Annie confront the complex truth about love.
In this honest and emotional journey that National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr calls "gorgeous, funny, and joyous," readers will experience the highs of infatuation and the lows of heartache as Eva contends with love in all its forms.
Erin: How did you come up with the idea for KISSING IN AMERICA?
Margo: When I was a teen, I thought that great love would change everything. If only I could meet and fall in love with Rob Lowe (or, if he was otherwise occupied, then my high school crush might suffice), then all the sorrows I felt so deeply—grief over my mother, who had died very suddenly, and then over my father, who died seven years later—would disappear. I’d finally be truly happy.
In many ways, Kissing in America is a love letter to who I was as a teen—a scared and grief-filled girl who desperately wanted to find love, and even more than that, to understand it. Writing the novel was a long process—I started the first draft in 2008—and a labor of love. Eva, the narrator, finds solace in many of the things that comforted and helped me when I was her age: poetry, which I loved to write and read; travel (I spent half of my teen years on buses and trains); and feminism, which I first learned about as a teen, and which changed the way I thought of myself and what I dreamed my life could be.
Erin: Your main character, Eva, deals with quite a lot throughout the pages -- covering topics from grief and friendship, to love. How are you like / unlike Eva?
Margo: Eva’s experience of grief is based on my own experience of it, but while writing her character, I didn’t feel that I was writing about myself—her voice took over, and she told her own story.
Erin: Revision is often the most challenging part of novel-writing. What was your revision process like for KISSING IN AMERICA?
Margo: I revised Kissing in America over the course of several years. My process is to start my writing day by reading a hard copy of the manuscript—I try to work in 20 page sections each day—and then read it through and mark it up by hand, rewriting it in the margins. Then I type in the changes, often adding new material. Then I print it out and repeat the process all over again.
Erin: What's next in the works for you as an author?
I’m at work on a new young adult novel and several new essays, which I’m excited to share soon.
Lightning Round Questions
1. Favorite writing snack? Chocolate
2. If you could go back and tell your 16-year-old self one thing, what would it be? Keep writing in that journal of yours
3. Favorite piece of advice for writers? “In a time lacking in truth and certainty and filled with anguish and despair, no woman should be shamefaced in attempting to give back to the world, through her work, a portion of its lost heart.”—Louise Bogan
4. What three people (alive, fictional, or from history) would you invite to a dinner party? Alice Munro, Ida B. Wells, and Colette
5. What were you reading when you were 16? The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler, Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume, and lots of classic poetry
6. What are you reading now? 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write by Sarah Ruhl
Thanks so much for the fun interview, Margo!!! We couldn't be more excited to help celebrate KISSING IN AMERICA!
Want to read KISSING IN AMERICA yourself? Enter to win an ARC here! Winner will be selected and announced on Friday, 7/24!