I am so excited to be hosting Kim Zarins as part of the Meet the Newbies debut feature, organized by the one and only Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books! Stay tuned for an interview with Kim + a giveaway!!!
Author Most Likely to Tell You to Drop Everything and Read Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales Out Loud in the Original Middle English
Nickname: Medieval Girl
First Day of School: September 6, 2016
Homeroom: Simon Pulse
Grade: YA Contemporary (though some stories within the story are fantasy, dystopian, paranormal romance, and more, heh heh!)
Extracurricular Activities: Field trip to Washington D.C. with an all-day storytelling competition with everyone on the bus, punctuated by coffee breaks, erotic tension, asthma, bickering, secrets, regrets, bookish conversation, nerdhood, and doughnuts.
Favorite Class: English. Always. I’d wanted to be a marine biologist, but when plankton wasn’t giving me the feels, I became a medievalist. I did add a dolphin to the novel, though!
Favorite Quote/Motto: Since this is a Chaucer book, I have to quote Chaucer’s take on love (but really, it’s about writing!):
“The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.
Th’assay so hard, so sharp the conquerynge,
The dredful joye alwey that slit so yerne:
Al this mene I by Love.
The Parliament of Fowls, lines 1-4.”
Why did you decide to retell The Canterbury Tales?
I LOVE The Canterbury Tales! They are the most amazing, hilarious, grim, seductive, disturbing, varied stories—and there is something so teen-friendly about characters telling over-the-top tales to each other. It was a joyful project.
Which character was easier/hardest to write and why?
Jeff Chaucer (the narrator) came pretty easily. We both have the introvert-thing down. His ex-best friend Pard was the most challenging to write yet the most rewarding. I read many books (nonfiction, fiction, Chaucer scholarship, etc.) trying to figure out his character, what needed to be on the page, and what realistically would go unsaid.
What’s your favorite food? Curious minds want to know 😉
Dark chocolate, 72% or higher, is my craving. I eat it almost every day. In fact, excuse me for a moment…
I noticed that your debut book was a picture book. Why did you decide to start writing YA?
Like many writers, I’ve been writing novels (notice the plural there?) for years—before I started writing picture books, actually. It’s just that this is the first novel you are seeing! Publishing in YA is a dream come true, and I’m thrilled that Sometimes We Tell the Truth is my debut novel because it brings together my passion for YA and medieval literature.
Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what type of music?
Never while I write, but surfing the radio can get me thinking of the characters when I’m on my commute to and from work. For example, I’ll hear some AC/DC and imagine this big, redheaded guy named Rooster grooving to it, and then I’m smack in the character’s head and ready to write.
How did you come up with the idea that the best story got an A in Mr. Bailey’s class?
I can’t remember if that was my editors’ suggestion or mine—theirs, I think! In Chaucer’s original, the winner is supposed to get a free dinner, and we needed the stakes to be a little higher. For high school seniors, getting a guaranteed A seemed like a more enticing prize!
About the Author
I’m a medievalist at Sacramento State University, and I also teach a ton of children’s literature. I’m coming out with my debut YA novel in Fall 2016, a modernized retelling of the Canterbury Tales. You don’t have to know anything about Chaucer to enjoy the story, and if you know the Canterbury Tales, you’ll see the novel on a whole other level. I hope you’ll like it!
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