Saturday, January 30, 2016

1 Kim Culbertson, author of THE POSSIBILITY OF NOW, on trying too hard to make a book “important”

THE POSSIBILITY OF NOW is the latest novel by Kim Culbertson, and we're delighted to have her stop by to chat about writing.

Kim, what did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

I’ve been a high school teacher for 18 years. When I started out to write this book, I knew I wanted to explore our current educational culture and the pressure I see on young people right now to be constantly busy and perfect and forward-thinking. However, my first draft fell flat. My editor, agent and I brainstormed and they both showed me that, honestly, I was trying too hard to make the book “important” or “serious” in that first draft. Because of this, I was missing my voice, my sense of humor and, in many ways, the hopefulness I had in my earlier novels. Once they encouraged me to go back and explore the same subject matter but also employ all of my strengths as a writer that were missing, I truly found the heart of the novel.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

The first novel I wrote ended up in a drawer, which is really where it belongs. It taught me a lot about how to write a novel, but it was a hot mess by the end of it. I set that aside and, over the next five years, wrote another novel, Songs for a Teenage Nomad, which was first published by a small press and then reissued by Sourcebooks in 2010. My next novel was Instructions for a Broken Heart, also published by Sourcebooks in 2011. I wrote a novella after that, The Liberation of Max McTrue, but we couldn’t find the right publisher for it, so my agent and I decided to make it an eBook in 2012. I still love when someone writes to tell me they discovered Max. That feels like my little secret book. In 2014, Scholastic published Catch a Falling Star and I went under contract with them for two more books, The Possibility of Now, and a new one that will be out in 2017.

What are you working on now?

In some ways I’m writing a road trip novel, but it takes place in six European cities over the course of a few weeks. The travel is fun, but this is ultimately a story about how a friendship changes shape. In the novel, two friends are trying to figure out where their friendship fell apart in the last year. This book is very much a love story about friendship – come for Europe, stay for the friendship. That’s my hope.


The Possibility of Now by Kim Culbertson
Released 1/26/2016

Kim Culbertson is back with another fantastic new novel about what happens when you've been planning for the future, but everything falls apart now.

Mara James has always been a perfectionist with a plan. But despite years of overachieving at her elite school, Mara didn't plan on having a total meltdown during her calculus exam. Like a rip-up-the-test-and-walk-out kind of meltdown. And she didn't plan on a video of it going viral. And she definitely didn't plan on never wanting to show her face again.

Mara knows she should go back, but suddenly she doesn't know why she's been overachieving all these years. Impulsively, she tells her mom she wants to go live with her estranged dad in Tahoe. Maybe in a place like Tahoe, where people go to get away from everyday life, and with a dad like Trick McHale, a ski bum avoiding the real world, Mara can figure things out.

Only Tahoe is nothing like she thought. There are awesome new friends and hot boys and a chance to finally get to know Trick, but there are also still massive amounts of schoolwork. Can Mara stopping planning long enough to see the life that's happening right now?

Purchase The Possibility of Now at Amazon
Purchase The Possibility of Now at IndieBound
View The Possibility of Now on Goodreads


KIM CULBERTSON is the award-winning author of the YA novels Songs for a Teenage Nomad (Sourcebooks 2010), Instructions for a Broken Heart (Sourcebooks 2011), Catch a Falling Star (Scholastic 2014) and The Possibility of Now (Scholastic 2016). Much of her inspiration for her novels comes from the work she’s done as a high school teacher for the last eighteen years. In 2012, Kim wrote her eBook novella The Liberation of Max McTrue for her students, who, over the years, have taught her far more than she has taught them. Kim is currently at work on her fifth YA novel (Scholastic 2017) and lives in Nevada City with her husband and daughter.


Have you had a chance to read THE POSSIBILITY OF NOW yet? Have you tried writing an important or serious book? Do you employ all your strengths as a writer? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Erin, Susan, Sam, Lindsey, Sarah, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting! As a teacher of various flavors, I've watched kids become more and more burdened, and wondered where it will end, and if it accomplishes anything. I'm glad it wound up being more of a light-hearted book. Sneaking messages into books is hard enough, but the book has to be fun to read, otherwise nobody gets the message. :-)


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