Emmy Rane is married at nineteen, a mother by twenty. Trapped in a life with a husband she no longer loves, Baby is her only joy. Then one sunny day in September, Emmy takes a few fateful steps away from her baby and returns to find her missing. All that is left behind is a yellow sock. Fourteen years later, Sophie, a homeschooled, reclusive teenage girl is forced to move frequently and abruptly from place to place, perpetually running from what her mother calls the "No Good." One afternoon, Sophie breaks the rules, ventures out, and meets Joey and his two aunts. It is this loving family that gives Sophie the courage to look into her past. What she discovers changes her world forever.You Are My Only will be published on October 25, 2011. Beth Kephart, the author of this book, challenged us to a treasure hunt, giving us the rules on September 8. We were to look for five guest posts she would do. Each one would tell part of the story about the making of You Are My Only:
- The transformation of Sophie from the 40-year-old character she began her (fictional) life as to the 14-year-old at the center of this book.
- The voice of Emmy — where it came from, how it seized Kephart.
- The history behind the asylum that inspired a key setting in the book.
- The story behind Cloris and Helen, characters Kephart had been developing for more than ten years.
- The story behind the book's title (and insights into titles that were considered, then rejected).
Two winners will be selected. Each will win these two things: A signed copy of You Are My Only AND a critique (by yours truly) of the first 2,000 words of a work-in-progress. As many of you know, I teach memoir at the University of Pennsylvania and served as the inaugural readergirlz author in residence. I have written in multiple genres and critique adult fiction for major U.S. newspapers. Your manuscript can, I am hinting, be in any genre, save for a screenplay, about which I have absolutely zero expertise.So here are links to Kephart's guest posts (along with the dates published):
- Sept 9 @ Mundie Moms ~ "The (furious) metamorphosis of Sophie"
- Sept 21 @ My Friend Amy ~ "Opening the door to Cloris and Helen"
- Oct 10 @ The Story Siren ~ "When Emmy called, I listened"
- Oct 11 @ Chick Loves Lit ~ "What name should we give this book?"
- Oct 11 @ Bookalicious ~ "I was obsessed with an asylum"
What would happen if I told the story of Sophie as a 14-year-old girl?
Cloris and Helen belong to Sophie. She needs them and their kooky ways, their endless baking, their shiny Airstream, their Alice-in-Wonderland dioramas, their love for Willa Cather—to show her what is kind and good and right in this world. To show her a salvation version of normal.
Below are the first Emmy words I ever wrote, and the fact is, in draft after draft after draft, I barely changed them. "The baby is missing. The baby is not where I had left her—checked the rope and strapped her in, pulled my weight into the branch above, and said out loud, This is good and nice and sturdy."
"But nothing was right. Nothing fit just so. Too grown-up. Too childish. Too familiar. Too obscure."
"What would it have been like to be committed against one’s will in an institution like Byberry?"
posted yesterday on her blog:
"I live my quiet writer life knowing this: stories make their way to the right readers."