Mundie Moms

Friday, September 9, 2011

Guest Post with Author Beth Kephart

Today's the first stop in Beth Kephart's The Story Behind The Story Treasure Hunt and today we have Sophie, one of the main character's from You Are My Only.

The (furious) metamorphosis of Sophie
Several years ago I began to write a novel for adults that had a certain Sophie as its focus. She was in her late thirties and her boyfriend, Vin, had recently left her. She was alone, a writer, and trying to piece together the unresolved oddments of her past. Strange things were being left on Sophie’s doorstep—signs, masks, even a pot of soup—and the only thing that Sophie knew for sure that she was being lured to an abandoned asylum on the other side of the woods by people she wasn’t certain she could trust.

The Sophie chapters of that book, which I had titled Nothing is the Color Gone, were written in third person past tense. They had the fist of poetry slammed through them. They were terse and tense and, perhaps, a tad brittle. The novel opened like this:

Outside Sophie’s bedroom window it had all begun again: The hydrangea blooms rush whispering. The owl concentrating its wings. The fox scotching beneath the underskirt of the viburnum. Hurry and hold.
Don’t move, she told herself. Stay still.
The moon was fold and specter, a shimmer past white, a texture. The moon was trespass, and between the actual and the imagined a line had been blurred; someone was closing in.
Calm yourself, Sophie thought. Grow up. But with Vin gone a whole month now, her heart was a wild, torn-up muscle. Her heart was threadbare, and untrue.

Sophie’s story was, then, a recovery story, a remembering story. But what would happen, the editor Laura Geringer asked me one day last summer (was it really only last summer?), if I reversed things? What would happen if I told the story of Sophie as a 14-year-old girl?

I was about to set off for a week in the Cayman Islands to celebrate my father’s birthday with family. I took pen and paper with me. I wrote the first 25 pages of Sophie young. I knew who she was. I knew what she had lived through. But what was the sound of her voice? What did she, at just that moment, understand about the life that she was living? That was my challenge, and I took it on—changing rhythms in my head until Sophie was first-person and exceedingly present:

My house is a storybook house. A huff-and-a-puff-and-they’ll-blow-it-down house. The roof is soft; it’s tumbled. There are bushes growing tall past the sills. A single sprouted tree leans in from high above the cracked slate path, torpedoing acorns to the ground.
Splat and crack. Another acorn to the ground.

Writing Sophie young was a furious incarnating process. I knew who she was and I knew the danger she was in. But I had to write on and on and furiously on to know just what or who might save her.

I hope my father and my family forgive me for not chasing the bright Cayman Island fish during that week of mad creating.

Here's a little bit about You Are My Only, which is Sophie's story:

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 opens Sophie’s eyes, giving her the courage to look into her past. What she discovers changes her world forever…
The riveting stories of Emmy and Sophie—alternating narratives of loss, imprisonment, and freedom regained—escalate with breathless suspense toward an unforgettable climax.

This book will be released on October 25th, 2011 via Egmont USA.

To find out more about You Are My Only, visit Beth's site, and follow her on twitter. You can also find out more about her book on Egmont's site.

You can pre-order the book from: Amazon| Barnes & Noble

Thank you to Pam from Bookaliciouspam for making this guest post possible and to Beth for visiting with us today!


  1. I am so privileged to be here!! Thank you, Mundie Mom, for hosting me. This is officially part one of the Story Behind the Story Treasure Hunt — for details about the whole program (which includes two partial manuscript critiques as part of the giveaway), please visit me here:

  2. Hi Beth! THANK YOU so much for being with us!!! I'm include this link into the post itself as well.

  3. Wow!! Great interview! I liked both editions of the story! Thanks!

  4. You did so great with this post!

  5. Lola- Thank you so much! I'm so glad to know you liked both editions. I can't wait to read it.

    Pam- THANK YOU so much for asking me to be apart of this!

  6. I really enjoy learning about writers' behind the scene processes, and this is another great gem. I look forward to reading the other posts in the treasure hunt...if I can find them.

  7. I loved this - I love hearing the stories of how an author comes to her novel...I loved hearing about Sophie as a mature woman too. Terrific post!

  8. Serena- I do as well. Learning about the behind the scenes process makes me admire authors that much more.

    Wendy- I'm so glad you enjoyed! Thank you so much for your comment.

  9. I find this post of Beth's fascinating because I like to write a little bit here and there but I am still intimidated by the idea of changing the entire story surrounding a character or changing the entir setting including time period. Yet here's Beth changing not only Sophie's age but her voice. It's astounding and a terrific example to me that the author can change and rechange and add and take away however she wants as often as she wants until it feels right!

    it's also wonderful to read how well Beth knows Sophie. I always love learning about an author's relationship with their characters.

    Thank you so much for this wonderful, eye-opening post!