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Friday, March 26, 2010

Cafe Chit Chat: Steve Kluger

Steve Kluger is the wonderful author of My Most Excellent Year [Click HERE for reivew], for those who haven't read it...you should!! Highly reccomended :) It was one of those books that I stayed up late, so I could finish in one sitting.

Now, onto the interview...

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Wdebo: Please describe yourself in three words.

Steve Kluger: Depending on the day of the week? “OUT OF CONTROL,” “TOTALLY LAID BACK,” “SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN,” or “RED SOX FAN.” On all days of the week: “WORLD’S BEST UNCLE.”

W: Can you describe a typical day?

SK: Depends. When I’m working on a book, I write from 10:00 to 6:00 Monday through Friday. If I’m not involved in a creative project, I’m working in civil rights law, which is usually 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. between leaving home in the morning and getting back in the evening.

W: How did you come up with your idea for My Most Excellent Year?


SK: My then-6-year-old niece Emily was watching The Princess Diaries and sighed at the end about how much she loved Julie Andrews. The idea was born on the spot.

W: Could you give a short summary of My Most Excellent Year for those readers who might not be familiar with it?


SK: Best friends and unofficial brothers since they were six, ninth-graders T.C. and Augie have got the world figured out. But that all changes when both friends fall in love for the first time. Enter Alé. She’s pretty, sassy, and on her way to Harvard. T.C. falls hard, but Alé is playing hard to get. Meanwhile, Augie realizes that he’s got a crush on a boy. It’s not so clear to him, but to his family and friends, it’s totally obvious. There’s also a 6-year-old deaf kid who’s convinced that his life is going to get back on track once Mary Poppins comes to stay with him. Told in alternating perspectives, it’s a story of a most excellent year, where these three friends discover love, themselves, and how a little magic and Mary Poppins can go a long way.

W: Are any of your characters based on anyone you know?

SK: Hucky Harper is a deaf version of my nine-year-old nephew Noah, right down to the hangaburs, his mad face, and his stuffed dog named Shut-the-Door (the purple balloon story happened to us when he was 3-1/2); my sister-in-law Lori (Noah's mother) is Lori Mahoney, replete with her pathological refusal to sneak down to the empty expensive seats during a ball game; my sister-in-law Alejandra (who goes by "Alé") always said that the one role she always wished she could have played was Lilli in Kiss Me, Kate (her audition song when she first moved to New York was "The Music and the Mirror"), Phyllis Bryant is one of my dearest friends; Lee Meyerhoff and I have known each other since we were in third grade; Augie is me when I was that age; T.C. is me when I became a Big Brother to an 11-year-old without a father; Ted is mostly my brother Garry (with a touch of my father, who built the planetarium and the state map for two of my school projects); and when I was 15 years old and wanted desperately so see the Tony Awards (which were sold out), I snuck out of boarding school in my school blazer and slacks, took the train into New York, tried without success to find a standing room ticket, and wound up pulling open the gold-painted stage door at the Shubert and telling the stage doorman that my mother--Carol Channing--had forgotten to leave my ticket at the box office. Two things worked in my favor: (1) I may have been 15, but I looked 12, which made it appear extremely unlikely that I was pulling a fast one; and (2) I was obviously telling the truth since it would have been so easy to prove that I was lying. "Miss Channing, is this your son?" "Why, no, dear. I've never seen this boy before in my life." So he waved me in and told me where to find Mom's dressing room. When he wasn't looking, I took a detour up the stairs leading to the stage and watched the entire thing from the downstage left wing with Angela Lansbury and a handful of other celebrities. (Funny--that's the only part of MMEY that people occasionally think is simply too over-the-top to be credible. But Angela Lansbury is my witness.) That's why I always felt that this particular novel was more a matter of creative reporting than creative writing--though I get a big kick out of sharing the emotional by-line with the people I love.

W: What is your favorite color?

SK: Blue–especially aqua.

W: If you were stranded on an island and could only bring five things what would they be?

SK: Oh, boy. An iPod with my entire CD collection on it, the Fireside Book of Baseball, and three boxes of Snackwell’s Devil’s Food Cookie Cakes.

W: Are you working on a project right now? And if so, can you tell us a little about it?

SK: Nothing in the writing venue; I’m spending a lot of time on the anti-bullying programs in schools.

W: Who are some authors you look up to?

SK: Bel Kaufman, Mark Twain, Madeleine L’Engle, John R. Tunis, William Manchester, and Mark Harris.

W: What is your FAVORITE book in the whole entire world, one that you think everyone should read.

SK: The Southpaw by Mark Harris, Iron Duke by John R. Tunis, and Tom Sawyer by Mr. Twain have always tied for my number 1 slot.

W: Do you have anything else you would like to add?

SK: Fingers crossed for the Red Sox in 2010!

W: Thanks for letting me interview you!

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Click HERE to visit Steve's website! And don't forget to support My Most Excellent Year!

Wdebo :)

2 comments:

  1. In 1973 I spent a year in Worcester and went to a Red Sox game in which they beat the Yankees. Still a fond memory.

    My latest release, Angela 1: Starting Over, the first in a series of three set in a coastal Texas high school, deals in part with bullying and how the main characters have to deal with it because the school doesn't. If interested, just click on my name and follow the link to my web site. Thanks!

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  2. This is such a coincidence since I'm just now reading My Most Excellent Year. I'm almost done and it's fantastic! I can't wait to review it. It's funny and touching. HOWEVER I am a Cubs fan first, Yankees fan second, no room for Sox of any kind (though I do like Big Papi). So all the Red Sox references are annoying me ;) (unless it's in reference to the Yankees beating them. Then it's all good).

    I want to meet Hucky. He sounds like the cutest thing! The other character I'm dying to meet is Wei (Augie's mom) she sounds like a riot. I must admit, Ale playing hard to get is a bit annoying (are we girls really like that?) but I love the whole cast of characters. especially in how the parents are so cool and they aren't just in the background.

    I didn't know Excellent Year is practically autobiographical =D

    I'm a bit disappointed to hear that Mr. Kluger isn't working on anything new, but anti-bullying programs are important.

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