This fine Thursday, it is our pleasure to welcome Beth Ain, author of the acclaimed Starring Jules series, to the Eastern Penn Points Cafe. You can visit Beth’s web site here You can also visit Beth in person in just a few weeks, because she will be one of our faculty members for Fall Philly, and it’s not too late to sign up for her workshop! So what are you waiting for?
Lindsay: Hi there, Beth, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Cafe! As we settle into our booth, what are you drinking?
Beth: Oh, I’m a tall-icy-drink type person, as Jules would say, so this here is a chocolate protein shake with two shots of espresso.
Lindsay: And what’s that you’re munching on?
Beth: Chocolate chips and almonds. (Health food disguised as chocolate.)
Lindsay: Chocolate is the true Clark Kent of health foods. That’s why I’m having double dark death-by-chocolate cookies with my coffee. No guilt necessary!!
See? We’re both feeling better now.
So, congrats on the success of your Starring Jules series! Being named Best New Series 2013 by Parents Magazine is pretty awesome. Can you give us a little background on the inspiration of Jules?
Beth: Thank you! Jules was inspired a little bit by my own daughter and her very complicated thoughts and a lot by what I see around me–kids, their weirdness and thoughtfulness–and grown-ups too. A friend once told me that that the Jules books are like a love letter to my children, which is a wonderful thing to say. But they’re more of an ode, I’d say, to them and to the people all around me.
Lindsay: The new trailer you have up on your web site is super. Here it is, friends….check it out while Beth and I stuff our mouths with a little more health food.
Lindsay: When did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
Beth: I always say I got started in tenth grade when I was supposed to be writing an essay about The Grapes of Wrath and it ended up a creative writing piece inspired partly by Steinbeck and partly by Lifetime-movie-type images of The Dust Bowl and maybe Nanci Griffith songs. It wasn’t very good, I’m sure, but my teacher told me I was writer and I believed him.
Lindsay: Knowing how precious those encouraging words were to you, what words of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Beth: Write when you feel inspired. I know all good writers tell you to write everyday and at all costs, and this is probably what accounts for so many incredibly prolific writers. But there is no question that it just flows better and feels better and frankly, works better when it comes from a really inspired place. And no matter how much I would like to be, I don’t feel inspired every single day. Some days are just not writing days. They are PTA days.
Lindsay: Thanks, Beth! Now, pack your bags, because you’re about to take your dream vacation! Where do you go?
Beth: Is it cheesy if I say Hawaii? I really dig Hawaii. There are hammocks everywhere. Every. Where.
Lindsay: If Hawaii is cheesy, you can call me Cheddar! Sounds perfect.
Now, while lounging Hawaii with nothing in particular to do, you won a Throw Back Thursday cute baby picture contest (awww….look at those cheeks!), and your prize is $100 to spend on anything frivolous and fun. What do you spend it on?
Beth: I’m thinking I’ll treat my friends to a sushi lunch special, but I kinda don’t believe you since I’ve never won anything in my life. (I know, this is theoretical. I get it. It’s just I’ve never won anything, so it’s hard to get my head around it.)
Lindsay: BELIEVE ME! Er, um, well, maybe don’t because I don’t really actually have $100 for you, but you ARE winning an interview on Eastern Penn Points….or are WE winning?? hmm….
Okay, back to the books. What is one book that has changed your life?
Beth: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danziger.
Lindsay: Okay, now it’s time for Rapid-Fire Favorites! Name your favorite….
Book on writing
On Writing by Stephen King (I wrote Jules right after I read it. I know, so obvious: Stephen King obviously inspired Jules.)
Ice cream flavor
Mint-chocolate chip (green, not white)
Kind of shoes
winter: cowboy boots
unscented (so boring, I know)
Book to read to your kids
Skippyjon Jones–I like doing accents.
Book as a child
Lyle, Lyle Crocodile by Bernard Waber (genius)
Piece of advice you have received
Keep moving forward. (From my husband, he’s always quoting Rocky movies.)
Lindsay: Thing about New York
Beth: Street fairs. I fell in love with New York at a street fair in high school. And if you ask my kids, even though we are four years out from living in the city, they will also say street fairs. (see Starring Jules: Third Grade Debut for my ode to street fairs.)
Lindsay: Can you give us a little teaser about what to expect from you at Fall Philly? We can’t wait!
Beth: I want to talk about authentic experiences and voices in kid lit. Does that sound awesome or boring? What if I told you there will be hammocks? (There won’t be because this isn’t Hawaii. But it’ll be fun, promise.)
Lindsay: It sounds awesome, even without the hammocks. Although you could do some Antonio Banderas-style accents and Rocky quotes. Rocky quotes IN accent? Or, maybe just your very own, authentic voice.
Thanks so much for taking time out for us, Beth! We’ve had a blast, and we’re looking forward to seeing you again soon!