SATURDAY 22nd DECEMBER 2012
Hurrah! Despite what the Mayans said we have survived the End of The World – it’s great to see you all on the other side! So here’s to new beginnings and with that, I would like to welcome back author Kathleen Shoop to my blog whose novel, Love and Other Subjects is out now.
So get that kettle boiled, grab that cuppa and your favourite biscuits (umm I could just eat a shortbread right now now nom nom) and get all snug as we find out more about Kathleen Shoop and her new novel….
Love and Other Subjects is the third novel by bestselling Kindle author Kathleen Shoop. Her debut novel, The Last Letter, garnered multiple awards in 2011 as did her second novel After the Fog in 2012. A former Language Arts Coach with a Ph.D. in Reading Education, Kathleen lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.
Synopsis of Love and Other Subjects:
In Love and Other Subjects Carolyn Jenkins strives for two things—to be the greatest teacher ever and to find true love. She’s as skilled at both as an infant trying to eat with a fork. Carolyn’s suburban upbringing and genuine compassion for people who don’t fit effortlessly into society are no match for weapon-wielding, struggling students, drug-using colleagues, and a wicked principal.
Meanwhile, her budding relationship with a mystery man is thwarted by his gaggle of eccentric sisters. Carolyn depends on her friends to get her through the hard times, but with poverty-stricken children at her feet and a wealthy man at her side, she must define who she is. The reality of life after college can be daunting, the road to full-fledged adulthood long and unscripted. Can Carolyn take control and craft the life she’s always wanted?
Hi Kathie and welcome back! It’s great to have you here and congratulations on the release of the new book! Where did the inspiration behind this book come from?
The inspiration for Love and Other Subjects came from my own experiences during my first two years of teaching. But in addition to all the new teacher escapades in the novel, I also drew from my experiences in doing research during my PhD studies and working in schools across the country for the last 20 years. The scenarios—Carolyn’s, Nina’s and Laura’s failures and triumphs were in some cases exaggerated, but unfortunately some “inspired by real life” situations had to be dialed BACK to be believable. Carolyn’s love life is complete fiction although I had my share of breakups and wondering if I would ever meet the man of my dreams. This romantic plot was a chance for me to introduce some humor to balance the more serious school issues. As far as the plot thread dealing with Carolyn and her friends, that comes from much of what I experienced while living with a group of new teachers, all of us experiencing young adulthood and our first classrooms together. I created Carolyn, Nina and Laura by pulling from all of our personalities (at least six of us!) creating streamlined “people,” and issues rather than having the reader try to keep track of too many characters. I suppose the heart of this novel—the post-college coming of age theme is as “true” as nonfiction in the sense it captures the unwieldy days after college when people have no idea what they’re doing, but they’re damn sure they’re smarter than you’re appearing to be. I think readers, no matter what their profession, will recall the same feelings that the characters experience.
Well, for one thing, this was so much more fun. Though the educational thread in Love and Other Subjects is serious, there’s a lot of levity, facing adversity with humor, seeing characters transform into the people they want to become. So much of what happens in After the Fog and The Last Letter is shaped by a world that Jeanie and Rose are not equip to manage—they are powerless in some ways. Carolyn, due in part to the era in which she comes of age, has the ability to demand the world change, she has the means to carve out the existence she wants because she has an education, she is independent and not yet saddled with family and children. Although it takes Carolyn a while to figure out how to access her abilities, to recognize her strengths, she knows somehow she’ll figure things out. I feel like the historical fiction I’ve written is heavier in nearly every sense. This book is quirky, light, and fun.
I have read Love and Other Subjects and thoroughly enjoyed it. You had me hooked in the first chapter where I really felt the tension and panic that you built up in that classroom as well as thinking ‘where is the going’ making me really want to read more! What made you choose (without giving too much away) that particular set up as your first chapter?
I’m so glad you liked it, Gemma! That is just the best to hear! I chose to write the first chapter like I did so the reader would know right away what Carolyn was up against every day, but also to show there would be humor in the story, that it would address serious issues with respect, but also with hope and levity. For me, being able to laugh at problems helps me deal with them—it doesn’t mean roadblocks are silly or unimportant, but humor allows me to work through problems that would be too weighty to address otherwise. I think this comes through in the first scene and early chapters. At least, I hope it does.
I really empathized with your character when having to deal with the principle, Klein, who was a character I loved to hate. His attitude towards Carolyn really wound me up. There was a point where I had a slight wobble towards him, but he inevitably did something equally annoying to change that pity. Who was your favourite character to write?
Well…I loved writing Jeep because he is sort of a fantasy guy in a lot of ways. He had his issues, yes, but I loved that he seemed to “know” Carolyn instantly and fall in love with her and all of her shortcomings. But, really, I have to say I loved all these characters, the students, the teachers because in drawing from real-life experiences I could craft people to suit my needs—who doesn’t love that? But, I agree, Klein’s a great character—he is severely limited in his ability to mentor people, but he has his moments of compassion, that hopefully round him out a bit…but he is a good villian.
And finally, tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
Well, in keeping with this book, I’d say that I wrote my dissertation and worked on research projects that put me in the homes and lives of children, observing the ways their families used text in throughout their day, throughout their work and play. That type of research offered an inside view of how people’s lives work, it stripped away all I thought I knew about people and where they were coming from. It was incredibly transforming to experience this—to be in the role of the “other” in someone else’s world.
Thank you for being here today Kathie
Readers – here is where you can purchase Kathie’s books:
Love Missuswolf xxx
- Cuppa and a Catch up – An Author Interview with…. Robert B. Lowe (missuswolf.wordpress.com)
- Cuppa and a Catch up – Author Interview with… Van Heerling (missuswolf.wordpress.com)