Pieces of Why by K. L. Going
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Release Date: September 8th 2015
From the award winning author of Fat Kid Rules the World and The Liberation of Gabriel King comes a lyrical, middle grade gem that asks all the hard questions and hits all the right notes--perfect for fans of Cynthia Rylant and Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine.
Tia lives with her mom in a high-risk neighborhood in New Orleans and loves singing gospel in the Rainbow Choir with Keisha, her boisterous and assertive best friend. Tia's dream is to change the world with her voice; and by all accounts, she might be talented enough. But when a shooting happens in her neighborhood and she learns the truth about the crime that sent her father to prison years ago, Tia finds she can't sing anymore. The loss prompts her to start asking the people in her community hard questions--questions everyone has always been too afraid to ask.
Full of humanity, Pieces of Why is a timely story that addresses grief, healing, and forgiveness, told through the eyes of a gifted girl who hears rhythm and song everywhere in her life.
1) When did you start writing?
I’ve always loved to write. When I was a child, I wrote short stories and poems. Then when I got into high school, I wrote my first novel. It was a fantasy-adventure story because that’s what I was primarily reading at the time. When reading a book, I’d think, “I wish the author had done this” or “Why didn’t the author do that?”. One summer, I got tired of wishing for my ideal book and decided to write it myself. What fun to create the exact story I wanted to read! After that, I was always working on a novel… I was hooked on writing!
2) What makes you want to write?
Excellent question! I’ve been thinking about that a lot since my son was born. I’ve struggled to balance motherhood with writing, so that naturally brings up the question of why I write in the first place. There’s an excellent quote by Dr. Hannah B. Harvey (professor, performance ethnographer, and professional storyteller) that sums it up for me:
“Story is a container for our deepest longings and hopes and fears. Stories don’t just impart life, they question life. Storytelling forces self-reflection. It puts a mirror up to yourself and to culture.”
3) Who is your favorite character in Pieces of Why?
Actually, the answer might not be the one you’d expect! It’s Dwayne – Keisha’s father. I love Dwayne because he’s a character who surprised me. Every now and then, I feel as if my subconscious takes over the writing process – the writing feels outside of my direct control, almost as if the book is writing itself. In a way, I don’t feel like I invented Dwayne; I feel like he appeared, whole and unique.
I love that Dwayne is such a source of humor and strength in the novel! Even though he’s unemployed and some people might judge him from the outside as a down-and-out person, the truth of the matter is that he’s the strongest, brightest character in the book, shining his light and sharing his wisdom with both his family and Tia. I wonder how many people are like that in real life? Dwayne challenges me to think about people in our society who are misjudged.
4) How did you get the idea for Pieces of Why?
This book was inspired by personal experience. In many ways, this is the most autobiographical of my novels. I sang in a gospel choir in college and was one of the only white people in the group at that time… so I knew exactly what Tia would experience in the Rainbow Choir.
And the inciting incident where Tia overhears the carjacking is something that happened to me when I was living in New Orleans. That incident stuck with me, and I’ve remembered it again and again as I’ve read about school shootings across the nation. They’ve become far too frequent now, which is SO tragic.
As we become less shocked by them, too often, we act as if the only people affected are the direct participants. But the reality is that anyone associated with an act of violence is affected. That includes every child at that school – even the ones who weren’t “hurt” – and every child at the school next door, and every child at the school next to that, and every child who hears about what happened on the news… We live in an age where it’s increasingly difficult to shield children from the news, and unfortunately, the news is increasingly violent, so we’re all on the periphery of tragic events because we live in a society that’s incredibly interconnected.
I know how it feels to be on the periphery of an event that’s nearly impossible to understand. To have questions that I didn’t know how to answer on my own. Pieces of Why is an attempt to give kids who experience violence – whether directly or through another avenue, such as the news or a community event – a chance to explore hard questions in a safe space.
5) What are your hobbies?
Whenever I get a chance, I love to do puzzles. I also love to travel. I’ll take any excuse for a road trip! And I love to learn. I’m addicted to The Great Courses (college courses on DVD).
6) What’s your favorite film?
The Lord of the Rings series. I know … that’s cheating, right? Naming three films instead of one? But they truly are inseparable. I grew up reading these classic novels, and the movies did them justice. I love the scope of the films – how big the settings, characters and storylines are! And they inspire me to be brave, no matter what else might be happening in my life.
7) What’s your favorite TV Show?
I watch hardly any TV. Honestly, I haven’t watched a TV show in months...
My husband and I occasionally watch movies, and every now and then we’ll get a series on Netflix and watch it from start to finish. But mostly, I read when I have free time, usually about five or six books simultaneously … If I had to name my favorite TV show, it would be The Big Bang Theory. Each Christmas, my husband and I buy ourselves the newest season to be released on DVD and watch the whole thing in a matter of a few weeks. So, not only do I love the characters and the laughs, but I also have awesome holiday memories associated with each season of this show.
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KL Going is the award winning author of books for children and teens. Her first novel, Fat Kid Rules the World was named a Michael Printz honor book by the American Library Association, as well as one of the Best Books for Young Adults from the past decade. Her books have been Booksense picks, Scholastic Book Club choices, Junior Library Guild selections, winners of state book awards, and featured by Publishers
Weekly, School Library Journal, and Children's Book Council as Best Books. Her work has been published in Korea, Italy, Japan and the UK.
KL began her career working at one of the oldest literary agencies in New York City. She used this inner knowledge of publishing to write Writing and Selling the Young Adult Novel -- a how-to book for aspiring writers, published by Writer's Digest. She has also written short stories for several anthologies and currently has two picture books under contract for future release. She currently lives in Glen Spey, NY where she both writes and runs a business critiquing manuscripts. To visit KL on-line go to www.klgoing.com.
1st Prize: Win a signed galley of Pieces of Why, a Fat Kid movie, a signed Fat Kid original book cover, a signed poster of Saint Iggy and Read Great Books bumper sticker (US Only)
2nd Prize: Win a signed galley of Pieces of Why, a signed paperback of The Liberation of Gabriel King, a sign poster for The Garden of Eve and a Read Great Books bumper sticker (US Only)
3rd Prize: Win a signed galley of Pieces of Why, an audio edition of The Garden of Eve, a signed poster for The Garden of Eve and a Read Great Books bumper sticker (US Only)