Stasia Ward Kehoe grew up dancing and performing on stages from New Hampshire to Washington, DC. She now writes books for young adults and choreographs the occasional musical. She is the author of AUDITION (Viking/Penguin, 2011) and a contributor to DEAR TEEN ME (Zest Books, 2012). Her latest book THE SOUND OF LETTING GO will be available February, 2014. She tours the US with her live author appearance group, Stages on Pages and hangs out virtually on her website and on Twitter.
Let the conversation begin!
Why do you write?
I think all art—literary, performing, visual—is a grasp at immortality. An effort to prove you were here on this planet, that you made a mark of some kind. And I would be lying if I said that wasn’t part of why I write. But, it is not the only reason. After my first book came out, I found myself in that scary place of wondering whether I could do it all again. Did I want to go through the agony of seeing another novel through the editorial and publication process? I realized then that I would keep writing even if I was certain I’d never sell another book. Writing is an end in itself, an act of faith, and a part of who I am.
When are you the most productive?
I try to be at my desk working on a manuscript for about four hours every day but, honestly, 1:30-3:00 in the afternoon is the magic time.
Daily word count?
I consider 500 words a solid day. Sometimes I get more. Sometimes I find myself deleting more than I write. Sigh. Writing is hard!
What do you miss about being a child?
I wrote a long reply and deleted it. I guess the thing I miss is the chance to become a prodigy at anything. (RE the word count question, I probably gave you 200 words and now it’s only 40-ish. Sigh.)
What is the best part of writing? Worst part?
Best: Writing those breathless scenes of new discovery, and just spending time alone with words.
Worst: Generally, pages 150-200 of any manuscript. Also, the promotion of books which is stressful and really so out of your control.
What was the first live concert you ever attended?
Elvis Costello. I much prefer concerts in smaller venues, where you can feel a kind of personal connection to the songs and the artists. I try to avoid those big stadium events. To me they are the Disneyworld of music, mostly about selling t-shirts. Whatever.
If you could only write one more book, what would it be about?
Every time I sit down to write, I try to put my whole heart on the page. The exact topic doesn’t matter to me nearly so much as the truth I am trying to put into words, so I can’t really answer that beyond saying every page I write feels like I’ve completely emptied the well in a certain way.
How long have you been writing? Does it feel like yesterday?
I started writing poetry in eighth grade, plays in high school, novels after college. It seems like a minute and a very long time, too.
If you could snap your fingers and appear somewhere else, where would you be?
The Abbey Theater in Dublin, Ireland, just as the curtain is about to go up. Ideally with my kids, as I love taking them to see good theater.
If you could date any celebrity, who would it be and why?
My husband always teases me because I have a thing for old dudes. I feel a little guilty because these guys are taken but I think Ciaran Hinds is amazing and who doesn’t have an intellectual crush on Neil Gaiman?
What specific thing have you done that impressed yourself?
I’m a terrible housekeeper and sometimes not super-social so I’m always impressed when I spiff up the place and have a big party.
Where do you write?
My computer is in the corner of my kids’ playroom. I’ve discovered that if I’m nearby, instead of holed away in the bedroom, my kids let me work longer. So I write to a “soundtrack” of kids clicking together Legos and running around with Nerf toys.
Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life?
I very much admire Agatha Christie, Angela Lansbury and Julia Child–intelligent, driven women who forged their own paths with passion and dignity. They are role models. My four sons are inspirations in that I want them to be able to say they were raised by a woman who was both a loving mother and a person who had her own dreams, her own career. They keep me motivated on days when this path I’ve chosen just seems so hard.