Thursday, February 4, 2010


Before I start this interview I want to clarify a bit of confusion. When I say tenner's I mean an author who has a book coming out 2010 not just the "specific" Tenner group. I can change the title of this feature if anyone is offended. Please just email me.

Anyways today Irene Latham, author of LEAVING GEE'S BEND is here to chat

1. What has been the most exciting part of getting published?
The whole process has been SO exciting, it's hard to pick just one part. But I can say that seeing the cover for the first time was hugely emotional for me -- something about those bare feet and how one is raised, actually walking -- that really got me. Because that's Ludelphia. That's my girl

2. How long did it take you to get published?
I published first in the genre of poetry, but moving to fiction was quite a leap. From the time I first started writing prose pieces to the point of sale was about four years.

3. Were you faced with rejection at first? How did you handle it?
I subbed to a few editors first - not just LEAVING GEE'S BEND, but other stories I was working on - and got lovely, warm rejections. Which are nice, but what I wanted was a sale. So basically I got impatient and decided to pursue an agent. LEAVING GEE'S BEND at the time was a novel in verse (poetry: my comfort zone), and when I sent it to my now-agent, she said, "I like the concept, but I can't sell it." She didn't ask for a rewrite, but I took it as a challenge and rewrote the darn thing in prose. When I resubmitted, I didn't mention the previous submission -- just threw her the new story, as if I'd never contacted her previously. This time she said, YES.

4. Where did you get your ideas for this book?
LEAVING GEE'S BEND was inspired by The Quilts of Gee's Bend art exhibit, as seen at The Whitney Museum of American Art in 2003. I was moved by the colors and textures of the quilts, and the voices of the women. The more I read, the more fascinated I became, especially by the history of this community of strong survivors. I knew I wanted to write a story that included the real-life 1932 raid on Gee's Bend and the subsequent Red Cross rescue.

5. What do you think or hope readers will gain from your novel?
That no matter if your feet are bare and it's cold outside and you're all alone, go your own way. Create the life you want, and tell your story -- maybe even in a quilt.

6. When writing do you outline or just begin?
I start out with a character who has a strong desire. Then I "outline" the obstacles and ultimate resolution. This basically amounts to a sentence summary for each chapter. So I always know where I'm going. But all the in between stuff? I let that fly.

7. What authors inspire you?
So many! I really enjoy "brave" writers, ones that aren't afraid to give kids credit for their depth of emotion. Writers like Katherine Paterson and Sharon Olds.

8. Complete this: While writing this book I learned... not to use so many exclamation points!
9. Complete this: You should buy my novel because... "Ludelphia Bennett defines survival and reaffirms the human spirit in this beautifully stitched quilt of a novel." (Richard Peck said it, and he's awesome!)

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