Erin Bow’s Plain Kate Blog Tour: Interview and Book Giveaway!

Hey there! Welcome to YA author Erin Bow‘s Plain Kate blog tour. I’m honoured to be a part of this tour; many thanks to Scholastic for introducing me to Plain Kate and Kitchener Waterloo author Erin Bow!

First off, this tour began on September 17th: you can find the first stop at Edge of Seventeen, hosted by Mandy who did a live chat with Erin, the second stop at YA Book Shelf, a site for YA novel reviews (click here for their giveaway), and the third at Let the Words Flow, which has several contributors, all former authors. Their interview was conducted by Vanessa. Each blog asks excellent questions and receives well-thought-out answers from Erin. They also offer a Plain Kate giveaway to Canadian residents, as I will below, after my interview with Erin.

Which is a great segue into the interview. It’s a short one because I was the last to submit my questions (bad girl!), and by then Erin had already answered a ton. Sensing how tiring it must be to repeatedly answer similar questions (not necessarily on this tour but in general), I was anxious to make my questions different.

This is my second author interview here on BB and I have to say: author Q&A sessions are pretty cool. They give you such insight into the authors and their books and allow you to appreciate their work even more. So thank you, Erin, for answering the gazillion questions you did for all of us!

Let’s get started.

Kitchener Waterloo author Erin Bow. Photo by Jay Parson:

STEPH: Many authors have a writing ritual, or something in particular they do to call up their Muse. Some put on a certain CD, some have a good luck charm, some make the exact same cup of tea each time they sit down to work, etc. Is there anything you do every time you prepare to write?

ERIN: Oh, yeah, I pull out all the stops to let Lord Inspiration know he’s meant to turn up. I have a spot and a schedule. I did quite a bit of Kate in a particular coffee shop—The Atrium at St. Jerome’s University, and many thanks to them!—and now I have an office. In fact, I work in a spare room that I sublet from a pole dancing fitness studio; I may be the only children’s author whose office anteroom features feather boas and brass poles.

For Lord Inspiration’s listening pleasure, I usually play Plain Kate‘s “soundtrack” album, which is The Stone Chair by Bukkene Bruse. And I always serve MiLord fair-trade Lady Grey tea with honey in it. [Steph: Yum! One of my faves.]

And he usually stood me up anyway.

STEPH: On Twitter I told you about a particular part of Plain Kate that made me cry. Which part moved you most, and why?

ERIN: There’s a scene in the middle where Taggle tells Kate:  “I can’t cry.  I’m a cat.”  And then cries.

[Steph: I got teary several times throughout, but Taggle made me cry, too, in a different spot. That cat!]

I’m not an outline kind of writer, so my books often surprise me.  That scene—that scene knocked me flat, because I could suddenly see that Taggle wasn’t going to be a simple sidekick character. Talking had changed him, and he’d gone too far to turn back. All of a sudden I could see all the possibilities for where he was going. It really got to me. [Steph: Readers, this is why Taggle is brilliant!]

STEPH: Plain Kate is chock-full of superstition and dark arts. Are you suspicious about anything?

ERIN: I’m science-minded, and I don’t think of myself as superstitious. (Of course, neither does my husband, and he won’t sign his name with a red pen.) I do half-seriously believe in the Muse, though. Or at least, I think sometimes writers and other artists create things that are better than they themselves could have made them.

There’s an element in some pieces of writing and art that seems to come from outside the artist, from beyond. I guess believing in that puts me pretty firmly in the oogy-boogy camp.

STEPH: You mention food quite a bit in Plain Kate, especially through Taggle. What is your favourite food and what about it do you love besides the taste?

ERIN: Hot buttered popcorn!  It’s one of my favourite foods, my carb of choice for those Life-is-dumb-and-I-have-cramps days. I learned to cook it from my dad, who’s a good cook. It was the first things I was allowed to make on my own. I could make popcorn in the days when I needed a stool to see into the pot. I would put oil on, put in three kernels, and wait for them to pop. And then I’d add the corn and start shaking. I’d make a big bowl, for my mom and my sister and my dad and me. Mostly my dad and me. I was very small: maybe 5 or 7. Making food seemed like a big deal.

I’ve had a variety of popcorn-popping gadgets over the years, but these days I’m back to making it in a pot on the stove.  It’s more magic that way. [Steph: This brought back memories!]

STEPH: Linay (my favourite character in this book) is a person meant to tear you in two, I think, because while he does nasty, manipulative things, his reasons are heartbreaking and he is also sympathetically portrayed. This intrigued me. I’m wondering if there is something behind this that you want to talk about? Something about the nature of human love and grief and the lengths we’ll go to, to remember it?

ERIN: Wow, that’s a question.

It’s important to me, as an author, to keep in sympathy even with the villain. Maybe I’m kidding myself, but I don’t think there are many people who think of themselves as evil.  People do what they feel they have to do, and sometimes it’s less than they wanted, and sometimes it’s something horrible, and sometimes they are ashamed.  Sometimes they KNOW it’s horrible and they do it anyway. But very few of them are cackling and twisting their moustaches, you know? [Steph: YES! Excellent insight.]

So, I didn’t design Linay’s backstory to make him sympathetic, or to tear readers in two. It’s just—when I looked up rusalka and discovered how their fate could be undone, everything I needed to know about Linay clicked into place. It seemed obvious to me that he was doing what he was doing out of love, and love’s flip side, grief.  What else could make him do it?  What else?

STEPH: Thank you, Erin, for taking the time to answer my questions, even though I missed the deadline!

Plain Kate by Erin Bow. Arthur A. Levine, Sept. 2010, hardcover.

And now for the Plain Kate book giveaway!!

This is my first book giveaway, and I’m pretty excited about it! Scholastic has agreed to personally mail a hardcover copy of Plain Kate to the winner of this contest here on BB. I’m sorry, but it has to be Canadian residents only.

To enter, simply submit your thoughts on this interview in the comments section. And if you want more than one entry into the contest, tweet and/or facebook (send me the links, please!) this interview and/or my Plain Kate review, the link for which I give below.

To make this more fun, I’ll write all your names on a small slip of paper each (adding papers if you’ve entered more than once) and I’ll fold those papers even smaller. My hubby will draw out the winner from his ball cap on Sept. 30. With his eyes closed, and one hand behind his back. :) I was going to try and make the dog pick, but I’m not sure she would get it.

For those readers who missed my book review of Plain Kate, which I had great fun writing, and want to read it, please click here.

More about Erin and Plain Kate:

Here are the stops for the tour! Enjoy! And thank you for stopping by.

September 17th:

September 18th:

September 19th:

September 20th:

September 21st:

September 22nd:

September 23rd:

September 24th:

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    1. Steph Author

      Hi Danya,

      Thanks for the RT! And yes, Linay was my favourite character in the book. I was filled with emotion for him, and he pulled me all different ways. Certainly not two-dimensional! I don’t know if I could even call him a villain without feeling sorry for calling him that. :)

      PS. Do you have any of your own superstitions? I don’t think I have any. Kind of makes me boring!

        1. Thanks so much Steph! I’ve sent you an e-mail back with my specifics.

          Also, to answer your other question…I don’t think I really have any superstitions either, lol. But I do find them intriguing – there’s such a variety of superstitions and it’s fascinating how strongly some people believe in them!

        2. Steph Author

          Danya, I’ve forwarded your address to my contact at Scholastic; she’ll be sending you book.

          I love reading about the superstitions of different cultures. They’re an insight into a people but also interesting in how powerful they can become. They can pass into myth and legend, they can be so convincing as to rule people’s lives.


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