SMALL DAMAGES, the 14th novel from National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart, has been garnering heaps of praise in the weeks before its release. The New York Times Book Review called the book “dreamlike”, opining that “the reader is lost and found and lost and found again.” The Los Angeles Times labeled it “lovely”, and in a starredreview Kirkus said that SMALL DAMAGES was “lovely and unusual—at once epic and intimate.”
Having read SMALL DAMAGES myself, I can completely confirm all of these wonderful accolades. SMALL DAMAGES is, indeed, a beautiful, absorbing read, which is one of the many reasons we wanted to find out more about Beth herself! Take it away, Ms. Kephart:
Name: Beth Kephart
Novel: Small Damages
Available: July 19th
Who’s your favorite author, living or dead? Michael Ondaatje. He is the man.
What’s your favorite thing about your book? That it kept my imagination, my heart, in southern Spain for a very long time. A decade, to be precise.
If you could spend one year on a deserted island with one character from literature, who would you choose? Goodness. Really? I have to choose? Can’t I have a party? Is the budget too small? If I answered this question for real, you would think I was a depressed person. Therefore, I’m going to remain frustratingly coy. It is my authorial prerogative.
[Ed: Not fair! We want to know! :)]
Where do you write? [Photo of workspace above.] I type in a room that was built for that purpose; the attached photo offers proof. I write (handwrite) in another room, with my leg slung over the back of the couch. In neither room can I claim good posture.
Who is your favorite hero or heroine of history? George C. Childs, the 19th century editor of Philadelphia’s Public Ledger. He was America’s greatest philanthropist for a long while. He was so smart and so moral that both the Republicans and the Democrats begged him to run for president. He chose not to.
Do you tweet? What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever tweeted? I am only now learning how to tweet. Or. I am learning how to manage a Twitter account. I have not yet enrolled in the tweet funny-ness classes. Can I get back to you on this once I have my Twitter diploma? Can you recommend a good tweet funny-ness class? [Ed: You can find Beth on Twitter here!]
What is your favorite season? Autumn. It’s yours, too, I bet.[Ed: It is! How did you know?]
If you could teleport anywhere in the known universe right now, where would you go? Oh my gosh. Is there an Around the World in Eighty Days option on this question? Can I go to Seville, Spoleto, Venice, Berlin, London, and San Miguel de Allende all in the same 24 hours? I should also probably stop by Santa Tecla, El Salvador, to see my mother-in-law. We’re good friends, now.
Do you have any writing rituals? My very special, super secret, unpatented writing ritual involves relaxing into a half sleep. In this condition, I dream. And in dreams are…well, you know the rest.
What is your idea of earthly happiness? A long walk with my son, a glass of wine with my husband, and water, somewhere near.
What is the best concert you’ve ever been to? I haven’t gone to it yet, but it’s a-coming. Bruce Springsteen. September 2012. I have waited a lifetime.
What are you currently working on? I have three books due out within the next eighteen months, and they are all pretty close to done. At the very moment, therefore, I am working hard at reading the close to 100 books I decided to buy this past month (hey, I support my industry). The books look very pretty in their respective stacks around my house, of course. But I would grow a few necessary brain cells, I suspect, if I settled down to read them.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some of our probing questions, Beth!