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An Author Joins Us: Kimberly Marcus

February 22, 2011

 We have been eagerly awaiting this guest post from debut author Kimberly Marcus for many months and are thrilled to welcome her today! Exposed, Kim’s first novel, is a beautifully written, devastating novel in verse that we loved. You may remember the title since we raved about it here , and also featured a fascinating piece written by Kim’s editor, Shana Corey, sharing the very personal back story behind why she wanted to work on this book. The book is available in stores and online today, and we encourage you to read it. You will not be disappointed in this gem of a young adult novel.

I’m thrilled to be here, at Random Acts of Reading, to chat about my first novel, Exposed.

Exposed tells the story of Liz Grayson, a high school senior and budding photographer. Liz is confident about what she sees when she looks through the lens, and confident in her relationship with her best friend, Kate. But all of her confidence is called into question when Kate suddenly pulls away from her. At first, Liz thinks she knows why this is happening, but she comes to learn how very wrong she is in her assumption. The truth behind Kate’s avoidance rips apart everything Liz held to be true about friendship, family, and her own abilities, and Liz comes to learn that nothing in life is truly black and white.

Back in November, Random House gave me the amazing opportunity to tour three cities and talk about Exposed with teens at seven fabulous schools. I shared some of my writing process with students, including how the novel originally began as a story told from Kate’s point of view. It changed to Liz’s story as I came to wonder what it would be like to be in her shoes, caught in such a difficult situation.

I also spoke of how the story started out in prose before shifting to free verse form. A friend, who knew my love of poetry, suggested I try writing a scene as a poem, as an exercise to hone in on the heart of that scene. It worked, and I decided to write the whole book that way. Though not the original “stuck” scene, I can share an example of the switch to free verse. Here’s a bit of a prose scene, where Liz is trying to understand her brother:

I used to believe everything my brother said because, most of the time, the things Mike said made it all seem okay. One Halloween, when I was six, he told me not to be afraid of the guy dressed as Frankenstein, because the poor soul needed that mask to hide a monster zit. I broke out laughing and, from that day on, I stopped being afraid of masks.

Until now.

Now, more than anything else, I fear the masks you can’t see with the naked eye.

And here’s that revised scene, as it appears in the novel:

This and That

My eyes move back and forth

scanning the shelf in my room

until I find what I’m looking for.

I pull down an album of family photos

and flip through, faster and faster,

until all the memories

blur together

like those tiny books

he and I used to love,

with stick figures that seem to move

in one fluid motion

when you fan the pages quickly

with your thumb.

I stop at a snapshot,

Halloween.

I think I was six.

This boy, wrapped head to toe in gauze,

the only one able to lure a princess

in a pink gown, jeweled tiara,

and scuffed white sneakers,

out of her castle by convincing her

that Frankenstein,

coming down the front walk

of the Cohens’ house,

was just a kid wearing a mask

to hide a monster zit.

This boy, who held her hand

that whole evening long,

even when his friends ran past

spraying shaving cream

and calling to him to ditch Cinderella.

This boy, who helped her conquer her fear

and collect her treats.

How can this boy be that guy?

 

Exposed involved some interesting research, which I shared as a part of my presentation. In the story, Liz works in the concession stand on the passenger ferries that run between Cape Cod, Massachusetts and the island of Martha’s Vineyard. To learn more, I made quite a few trips aboard those ferries, talking to concession stand workers and getting “behind the scene peeks” at how they do their jobs.

Liz is an avid photographer, but my skills in this art form are pretty much limited to, “Say cheese!” So I also shadowed a fabulous darkroom photography class at my local high school over the course of a school year. This is the first photo I developed myself, in that very class. I’m grateful my photo wasn’t graded!      

Prior to my tour, teachers and librarians shared Exposed with their students, and one English class used the free verse poems in Exposed as a jumping off point to write their own wonderful poetry. Many students asked thoughtful questions leading to discussions about friendship, loyalty, and the ripple effects of trauma. Some students shared personal stories with me as well, and I thank each of them for being bra ve.

And now it’s my turn to thank you for having me here, and for all you do to connect books with readers!

If you would like to hear more from Kimberly, please follow her on the rest of her blog tour: 

2/21    Adventures in Children’s Publishing

            Confessions of a Bookaholic

2/22    Teen Reads

2/23    Write for a Reader

            BethanyHegedus.com 

2/24    Examiner.com

2/25    Poetry for Children

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Amanda permalink
    March 9, 2011 8:54 pm

    This was an excellent book. I read it several months ago and was thinking about it this weekend at sales conference, in fact! Must keep it in mind!

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