Friday, September 14, 2012

Blog Tour: Don't Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde: Q&A and Excerpt


Catherine Ryan Hyde
Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 18 published and forthcoming books. 

Her newest releases are When You Were Older,  Don’t Let Me Go,Jumpstart the World , When I Found You and Second Hand Heart. Forthcoming is Walk Me Home (Transworld UK, Spring 2012). 

Other newer novels are Becoming ChloeLove in the Present TenseThe Year of My Miraculous ReappearanceChasing Windmills  The Day I Killed James, and Diary of a Witness
Both Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List.  Jumpstart the World was chosen as a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards, received a third place Rainbow Award for Young Adult/Coming of Age Fiction and a tie for first place in Bisexual/Transgender Fiction. Love in the Present Tense enjoyed bestseller status in the UK, where it broke the top ten, spent five weeks on the national bestseller list, was reviewed on a major TV book club, and shortlisted for a Best Read of the Year Award at the British Book Awards.

Older works include the story collection Earthquake Weather, and the novels Funerals for HorsesPay it Forward,Electric God, and Walter’s Purple Heart

Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than 23 languages for distribution in over 30 countries.  The mass market paperback was released in October 2000 by Pocket Books and quickly became a national bestseller.  It is still in print, and was rereleased in a trade paperback edition in April of 2010.

More than 50 of her short stories have been published in The Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, The Sun and many other journals, and in the anthologiesSanta Barbara Stories  and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog is my Co-Pilot. Her stories have been honored in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for Best American Short Stories, the O'Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize.  Three have been cited in Best American Short Stories.

She is founder and former president (2000-2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with Americorps members at the White House and shared a dais with Bill Clinton. 


Q.  What inspires your writing?
A. People. Human nature. I never base any of my characters on real people. Never have. But I'm endlessly fascinated by humans as a whole. I think we are a quirky lot (in a generally nice way) and I can't stop being curious about why we do what we do (and don't what we don't). When we're mad, why do we say we're not? How can so many of us be scared and not even know it? Why do we reach out to others sometimes, pull back from them other times? If we all started to behave quite normally and predictably, the world would be a wonderful place in which to live. But I'd be out of a job. It's the unpredictability in human nature that keeps me from ever running out of characters and ideas for novels. 

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being an author?
A. The work itself. Churning out page after page of a story that's working. I love the fact that I can make my own schedule. Work the whole day in my pajamas if I like, take a break when I need one, not at any set time. And I love hearing from readers, and hearing that what I wrote touched or changed them in some way, or meant something to them, or even just entertained them. Those are lovely moments. At its heart, writing is a form of communication, and when it brings me together with a reader, that's the best thing ever.

Q.  What is the toughest part of being an author?
A. Probably hearing harshly negative feedback on the work. Don't get me wrong. I'm quite resigned to bad reviews. I know I can't please every reader, and everyone is entitled to his or her honest opinion. And I'm pleased to say that the strong majority of feedback I get is good. But it's never all good, and no matter how much you've thickened your skin, it's always the downside of my work.

Q.  If you could not be author, what would you do/be?
A. Ah. I hope I never have to find out, Because I can't imagine anything that could ever suit me so perfectly. If I were to make up a dream job, I'd like to be one of those park rangers who lives a big part of the year in a fire tower in the middle of some beautiful mountain landscape. If I were to be more realistic, if I could no longer make my living as a writer, I would teach writing. I love to teach. But I love to write more. And I probably always will, whether I make a living at it or not.  

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?
A.  "No Plan B." Because that, I feel, has been my secret to success. When I was a teenager, my mother told me (quoting someone, but we never figured out who) "The problem with a fallback position is that you tend to fall back." So that's my secret to being an author. No Plan B.

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?
A.  Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.

Q.  Which part of your book(s) was the easiest to write?
A: Beginnings are usually pretty easy. Getting a story off to a good beginning is usually fairly simple and fun. A little bit like setting off on a long road trip. You pack some food and clothes, get a good map, and off you go. All full of optimism. You know where you're going, of course, but that doesn't mean there won't be a lot of navigating ahead. So middles can get a little boggy and require more effort. But it's always great fun to drive away from the curb.

Q.  Which part of your book(s) was the hardest to write?
A. Endings are always hardest, I think. Because you have to leave the reader in a place that feels satisfying. And hopeful. But not so hopeful that it no longer feels real. No one knows exactly what any given reader will find satisfying, so paying off at the end of the story is always the trickiest bit, in my opinion.

Q.  Which character from any book are you most like?
A:  A good friend once asked me if I knew I was Jordy from Becoming Chloe. I hadn't, really. But I accept it. Despite the fact that he's a 17-year old gay young man. And despite the fat that I've never lived on the street, or had most of his experiences. I guess it was something about the way he wanted to protect Chloe, maybe combined with the fact that forming new friendships wasn't really his strong suit, though he managed. I guess the reason I believed that assessment is because I feel more of a heart connection with Jordy than most of my other characters. So there must be something there.

Q.  What is your favorite season?
A: Autumn. I don't live where the leaves turn in a big way, but I like to visit places where they do. I like to go hiking in the national parks in Autumn, because they're not too crowded, but the weather is great. Not snowy, not too hot for a good hike.

Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book(s).
A: Well, it wasn't on a physical tour, but while promoting online I learned there was another book coming out at a similar time called Don't Let Me Go. The author, J.H. Trumble, and I had a mutual friend in a book blogger named Brent. So rather than it being any kind of problem or competition, we became friends and joined forces. She sent me a picture of her with both the books, and I sent her one of me. And we cross-posted a couple of blog posts about the two Don't Let Me Go books. It was a fun way to promote.

Q.  Are you working on something new?
A:  Always. I am always working on something. I just wrapped up a new novel, and sent it to my agent for her thoughts. Then within a couple of weeks I was putting together the next one in my head. I have it fleshed out enough that I could write a 3-5 page synopsis right now. And I can start working on it at any time. But I'm also working on getting my four out-of-print backlist titles out again as e-books, which involves writing four author notes for the new editions. And of course I'm working on posts for this tour. So I'm purposely taking a little break before I cut the ribbon on the new one.

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
A: I think I'd like to say that I am very open to meeting (usually virtually, but not always) and talking to my readers. I'm on Twitter and Facebook, I have Pinterest boards, I have a Tumblr blog. My contact info is on my own website, and I have a blog at that same address, and I welcome comments. If you go to the "Contact Me" page of my website, the email address there is my actual email address. I don't have an assistant or a secretary. You're writing directly to me. And I will answer. If you send me an email and don't hear back for some reason, please try again. I didn't get it for some reason. If It get it, I will always respond. 

Q. Can you tell me a little about the inspiration behind your book cover(s)?
A: I have about 19 books, if you count the ones that will be out very soon. And many are in multiple editions. And in most of those cases, I can't tell you a thing about the covers, because I had nothing to do with them. They are traditionally published books, and the publisher just came up with something. Sometimes I liked it, sometimes I didn't. Sometimes I told the publisher I didn't and got something better. Other times I got stuck with it anyway. But Don't Let Me Go is the third in a series of my novels that were traditionally published in the UK first, but now we're bringing out indie editions for US readers. So these covers I control. The inspiration for the Don't Let Me Go cover was actually the UK cover. I loved their use of the girl with a key on a string around her neck, because that fit Grace's character so well. I went off to find a similar stock photo...and actually found the same one. They had cropped the girl's face out, and made her shirt very pink. We ended up using the same photo (with their okay), but it's a very different-looking cover. I'm really quite pleased with it. Of all my books, the US Don't Let Me Go is my very favorite cover.

Book Description

June 16, 2012

Former Broadway dancer and current agoraphobic Billy Shine has not set foot outside his apartment in almost a decade. He has glimpsed his neighbors—beautiful manicurist Rayleen, lonely old Ms. Hinman, bigoted and angry Mr. Lafferty, kind-hearted Felipe, and 9-year-old Grace and her former addict mother Eileen.

But most of them have never seen Billy. Not until Grace begins to sit outside on the building’s front stoop for hours every day, inches from Billy’s patio. Troubled by this change in the natural order, Billy makes it far enough out onto his porch to ask Grace why she doesn’t sit inside where it’s safe. Her answer: “If I sit inside, then nobody will know I’m in trouble. And then nobody will help me.”

Her answer changes everything.

Read an excerpt....

 He looked over the edge of the patio at Grace.
            “Why are you crawling on your belly?” she asked, in her famous voice.
            “Shhhhh,” he said, instinctively.
            “Sorry,” she said, with only the tiniest bit less volume. “I always have trouble with that.”
            “It’s a long story.”
            “Tell it.”
            “Maybe some other time. I came out here to ask you a question.”
            “Why are you sitting outside?”
            “You asked me that the last time.”
            “I know I did. But you didn’t answer me.”
            And, at least for the first few moments, she didn’t answer this time, either.
            “I mean, I know your mom is somehow doing something other than looking after you. That much is clear. But you have a key. You could still sit inside.”
            “So, why?”
            “Maybe you should tell me the story about crawling on your belly first.”
            “I don’t think so. I think we do my question tonight.”
            “Why yours?”
            “Because I asked first.”
            “No, you didn’t. I asked first.”
            “I asked the other night. You said so yourself.”
            “Oh, that’s right,” Grace said, solemnly, as if accepting that the rules were quite clear on that. “You did. Well, it’s like this. If I sit inside, then nobody will know I’m in trouble. And so then nobody will help me.”
            Billy’s heart fell. Literally, from the feel of it. He felt physically aware of the sensation of it falling, hitting the organs in his poor lower belly. None of which could have happened, of course. But all of which carried a felt sense of itself all the same.
            “Oh, you’re in trouble, huh?”
            “You didn’t know?”
            “I guess I knew.”
            “See, it has to be somebody who lives here. Because that way I can still stay with my mom.”
            A silence. Billy could see and feel where this train was headed, which is why he offered no reply.
            “Can you help me?”
            Another long silence fell, during which Billy was aware of the pebbly nature of the patio surface against the front of his chest and legs.
            “Baby girl, I can’t even help myself.”
            “Yeah. That’s what I figured,” she said.

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