I have met one of the most amazing writers.
A little back story here.
It seemed there was quite a buzz about a book called “Please Ignore Vera Dietz” written by A.S. King. It’s a Young Adult (YA) book about a girl who was secretly in love with her neighbor and who has to deal with her guilt and some secrets when he dies.
Please, my simple description of this book doesn’t do it any justice. Quite simply put, this book is brilliant and one of the most intelligent and creative books I’ve ever read both in YA and Adult fiction. In Vera Dietz, there are chapters from different points of view (some views are even from inanimate objects), there are flowcharts, wonderful dialog, and a to-die for main character who is smart (really smart), compassionate, and confused. It’s a kick-butt combination.
I read the book and adored it, so I passed it on to my son Logan (aged 14) who is willing to read anything I say is good. I wasn’t too sure about this one though because the main character in this book is a girl and well, you know how young teen boys can be about girls.
Here’s the incredible thing: Logan literally could not put the book down. He finished it at night under the covers with his flashlight (and for the record Logan, I knew but I decided it was for a good cause and so let it be).
Do you know how hard it is to find books that teenage boys will read? Well Vera Dietz is one, and so is 100 Dogs.
King also wrote The Dust of 100 Dogs – which is an equally compelling brilliant story of a pirate who is cursed to live her life re-incarnated into the lives of 100 dogs. Trust me it works and that is what is so exciting. This author can make the most incredible combinations work, and she makes them work extraordinarily well.
King’s books may not be for everyone but if you or your kid is intelligent, thinks outside of the box, had a sense of humor, and a grain of compassion, then these are the books for you.
Being the writer that I am and also being a mom-owner of 6 kids including 4 boys, I wrote to Vera Dietz’s author A.S. King and thanked her for a well written book that transcended stereotypical readers’-gender boundaries.
Amy (the A. of A.S.) wrote back thanking me for thanking her. She was stoked. Of course, if you know anything about me, I wrote back and mentioned our chickens. Amy pointed me to a post she wrote about writing and chickens. (Be still my heart – seriously how could you not adore someone who learns from chickens?)
In our conversations, I also discovered that Amy knew, I mean she actually knew what an Appenzeller Spitzhauben was. I ask you, how could anyone not be eternally impressed with a woman like that? Amy and I appear to be twin daughters of different mothers. One thing led to another and I asked her if she would be willing to be a “Good Egg” in our flock and have one of our birds named after her.
Amy who used to raise exotic birds in Ireland (and based on that alone has become one of my favorite people on earth) jumped at the opportunity. She completed the interview and here it is.
Welcome our newest member of the flock: A.-S.-King, for Amy’s bird we chose the leader of the 3 witches we got this summer (all sisters, 1 a Frizzle, 1 lame, and 1 who is the leader). We refer to them as witches not because they are mean or evil in anyway but because they, like the witches of Macbeth, are always found huddled together getting into some sort of mischief.
Be sure to check out the end of this post for an interview bonus.
Good Egg Interview with A.S. King
What is the best advice an older relative or family member gave you?
Before she died, my grandmother Edith wrote in my autograph book (now lost) “Hitch your wagon to a star. Hold on tight and you’ll go far.”
If you were given one wish to use any way you wanted, what would you wish for?
The true equality—worldwide—of human beings. Yes, it may cause confusion and a lot of hassle at first, but if we were all truly fair to each other and believed each human life had equal value, so many things would change.
If you were allowed the use of a large billboard over a well traveled road, what would you put on the billboard?
What’s the passion that drives you to get up every morning?
I love writing books. And I always feel behind schedule. So, really, what gets me out of bed (aside from that lovely first cup of coffee Mr. King brings to me) is the feeling of urgency to catch up and get to writing the next book. I think it’s more like panic than passion, but it works.
What is your ideal dinner? What would you eat and with whom would you share it?
I would make a fresh corn pie. And I mean fresh. Fresh eggs—hard boiled only seconds after plucking them from under the hen. Corn blanched and cut off the cob within an hour of picking it. Use the extra pastry for some fresh apple dumplings, and we’re set. Who? That’s the tough question. As much as I love my family, it presently includes a toddler who has not found her volume knob, so I’m thinking adults. I would like to eat with adults.
Do you have any favorite chicken stories or memories?
In Ireland, we would drive for hours to go to shows to find other “crazy chicken people” like us. But there was this one woman I did a good bit of business with and she had such an amazing smallholding filled with so many different types of birds. Geese, ducks, runners, bantams, peafowl (which I will own one day) and just about anything rare or strange. Each time we went, more coops would have been built by the equally awesome husband who always had a rolled cigarette hanging out of his mouth, to house more treasures. I loved going to her place because she would walk us around and show us her birds and we’d have a cup of tea in the kitchen, where she had many incubators going and stacks of feed, and chickens just walking around on the newspaper-covered floor. I completely forgot about her until you asked this question. She was completely insane, but so kind and she loved birds so much. For the life of me, I can’t remember what we sold to/bought from her. I think it was the modern game bantams. And I know we’re not supposed to have favorites, but I loved those little guys. The way those roosters crowed so high-pitched and weird. They were awesome.
Thanks for being such a Good Egg Amy!
A.S. King (you can call her Amy) has recently returned from Ireland, where she spent a decade dividing herself between self-sufficiency, teaching adult literacy, and writing novels. She has also been a rare poultry breeder, photographer, master printer, contractor, life skills and juggling teacher, summer camp counselor, pizza delivery driver and, for a week or two, a complete loser who did nothing at all.
Her first published work was an article about patios and several poems that a lot of people didn’t understand. Her short fiction for adults has been widely published and was nominated for Best New American Voices 2010. Her most recent YA novel, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is a Kirkus Reviews Best Book for Teens 2010, has received several starred trade reviews, is a nominee for ALA Quick Picks as well as YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults and is a Junior Library Guild selection. Her first YA novel, The Dust of 100 Dogs, was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, an Indie Next pick and a Cybil award finalist. Next up:Everybody Sees the Ants from Little, Brown in 2011.
Another exciting chicken story from Amy – (some of us just can’t get enough of this stuff)
When I lived in Ireland among the Crazy Chicken people, I had a good friend at the literacy center from the south if England and she raised runner ducks. Adorable things. But she lived on a river and every year a few broods would be stolen by the mink and the stoats who would pop up and grab every last duckling, the greedy little things. So, one summer, she named two of the Indian runner ducks after me and my husband. Amy was taken early in the year, but Topher (the one named after my husband) survived for quite some time. One night after a long day working in the center, she came into the back classroom where I was and said, quite bluntly, “Topher is dead.” And at that moment, I nearly died because I’d completely forgotten that she’d named a duck after my husband and I thought she was telling me this horrible news in such an odd way. Then, I remembered that she was talking about a duck and I let out a sigh of relief and she was mortified.