I had the chance to meet author Heidi Willis in person when she flew from DC to Seattle for my book launch, and I am so glad she did!

Not only did we have a blast, but I’ve had her book SOME KIND OF NORMAL on my TBR pile since it came out in December (but, you guys, my stack of books is so high that I may have never gotten to it). So when I heard she was coming, I bumped her book right to the top. And, OMG, I just have to say: I LOVED THIS BOOK! Lovelovelove loved it! It’s the first non-YA book I’ve read in ages (not because I don’t love grown-up books, but just because there are so many great YAs I want to read), and this book SO did not disappoint!!!

But here’s the deal, the book itself sounds serious and deep, maybe even a little depressing, and at its core, the issue of a twelve-year-old girl dying from Type 1 Diabetes is a heavy one, but that’s not this book at all. This was a book about a family, it was about a woman trying to find herself, it was a love story, but mostly, it was about a mother’s choices. And all of these things were handled with such perfect care that they felt real and poignant, and at times, funny and bittersweet.

Ashley’s mother, Babs, is an uneducated white woman living in the bible belt of Texas and wondering why she doesn’t have the same unflinching faith that everyone around her does (including her husband and children). She goes through the motions, attending anti-abortion rallies and mouthing the words in church, but privately she worries that God will strike her down for lack of faith.

It’s Babs’ voice that keeps you reading, she’s just so unapologetic about her lack of education, and so genuine, and she has a great sense of humor that is just self-deprecating enough to be endearing. One of my favorite things is that throughout the book Babs refers to the fact that she’s secretly studying her son's SAT vocab words, and she sprinkles them into her internal monologue, explaining the meaning to the reader (as if we’d never heard the word “surreal” before). I honestly fell in love with this woman. I already have a thing for Southern voices, and Heidi Willis nailed these characters for me.

So not only should you buy the book (and here’s the link to order it!), but I’ve invited Heidi to stop by and answer a few questions for us:

1) You get into an elevator and someone immediately asks you what your book is about. What’s your elevator-pitch description? Keep in mind, there are only 3 floors in our imaginary building and you just pushed the button for floor 2.

An uneducated Texan mom finds out her 12 year old daughter is dying from a rare and incurable complication of diabetes, and she determines to find a cure, even if it's an unethical treatment that will cost her her friends, family, and even possibly her daughter. But it's funny. There's this hilarious Willy Wonka scene. And a teenage boy with a multi-colored mohawk. Only, you'll probably cry too. Maybe that was just me, though. Is that the fastest elevator in history or what?

2) Where do you get most of your writing done? Better yet, can you show us a picture (before you clean up) of where all of the magic happens?

If I was entirely truthful, I'd send you a photo of the pool where my daughters have swim team practice, because I probably write more words there than anything. Something about lack of internet, I think. Or possibly the kitchen sink, where I spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning dishes. (Seriously, how do those things multiply like breeding rabbits??). But I mostly plot there - you know, write in my head. I don't actually write, because...you know... it's wet. And my hands are busy.

So this is where I usually write when I'm home:

I know this doesn't look like a serious workspace for a writer, but I hate desks. I used to use a couch that was VERY comfy, but we have a puppy now that has to be at my feet all the time, usually dropping slobbery toys in my lap and on the computer. I discovered that he LOVES this window, and will spend hours looking out growling at the squirrels and deer, and nap in the sunlight, affording me a much greater chunk of time to focus. Also, the internet is very sketchy in the kitchen, which is a bonus for getting work done without constantly checking emails and such.

(I'm not going to call Heidi a liar or anything, but c'mon, neither my kitchen nor my writing area look that clean before I pick up! Who are you kidding, Heidi???)

3) What book or series do you wish that you wrote? And, no, you can’t say Twilight or Harry Potter because those are my answers.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. The characters are so well drawn, the plot is incredible, and the writing is nothing short of stunning. (I named my puppy Scout - does that tell you anything?)

4) Ok, your book just won the SUPERFABLOUSGREATESTBOOKEVER award and you are asked to give an acceptance speech. Who are the top three people you thank and why?

Can I choose three groups? I'm going to pretend you said yes.

I'd like to thank my family - my fabulous husband and kids - for letting me take all this time to obsess – I mean write – when I should have been folding your clothes or cleaning toilets or fixing edible meals on time. And thanks to my writing group, without whom I might have given up after the 100th query, or gone on Prozac. And who made the book so much better than its first scribblings. Lastly, thanks to my parents, who always told me I should write; especially my dad who constantly hounded my poor husband as to why I wasn't writing. I love you all!!

5) Recently, the blogosphere had a day dedicated to all the great things our agents do for us. Can you tell us something you love about your agent? If you don’t have an agent, tell us something great about your editor.

My editor always wrote positive notes in the margins of my manuscript along with editing suggestions. Things like, "I cried right here," or "This paragraph is so beautifully written," or "I had to read this section three times because I kept forgetting to edit it... I got so drawn in by the characters and story, even though I've read it so many times!" Every time I got a section, I'd go through to read these comments first. It made the rest of revising and editing so much easier.

6) We know you are really, really good at writing, but what is something that you are you really, really bad at?

Team sports, especially if it involves a ball. Once an ophthalmologist asked me what I did when someone threw a baseball towards me. I said, "duck."

To find out more about Heidi, check out her website. And to order her book (because you should SO order her book!), click here!!!!

And because I really want to convince you, you should watch the trailer too:


Your post and the trailer have convinced me, I've added this one to my wish list.
I'm no stranger to the faith vs. science issue. My mother was a very religious, very stubborn, Southern woman. I lost her a few years back to AIDS. When she was diagnosed she chose not to take any of the medications available to her, but chose to rely on her faith in God to heal her. Sigh...needless to say, my thoughts and emotions on this are intense. Sum it up to the battle of admiring her for never swaying when it came to her beliefs vs. being angry at losing her too soon for never swaying from her beliefs. That of course is the simplified version.
Looking forward to (and a little scared of) reading this book. Thanks for the post.
Kristi Faith said…
I also loved this book! Great interview, Kimberly! Good job, Heidi!
Heidi Willis said…
Thank you Kim!

And oh my gosh, do you see how pathetic that cactus looks?? I was vacuuming around it and knocked it over two weeks ago. That was a heck of a mess. There is A LOT of dirt in that pot. (Well, considerably less now)

But for the record, my kitchen really does look that way. Just don't look in my closet. :)
Great interview. I will add it to my TBR list. And beautiful kitchen by the way. ;)
V&T - You'll have to let me know what you think of it!

Heidi - Maybe I should stop making my kitchen the bills and homework depository. Then I could have a tidy kitchen too.
Heidi Willis said…
Karen, thank you! We redesigned it when we moved in. It was a hideous 70s model! It's my favorite place in the house now, which is probably one reason I write there. (and it's close to munchies...). I hope you like the book as much as the kitchen!

Kim - the kitchen is where I spend 80% of my time, so it bugs me if it isn't clean. And what you don't see is the bookself on the back wall where there are a million baskets for everything...graded homework, art projects, bills, misc. mail.... Everything that comes in the door gets dumped in one of those!

And I have four computer bags which aren't pretty. But they zip so I can't see the mess. :)
Pam Jeter said…
This has nothing to do with the topic I am commenting on, however, I just had to share.
Check this out Kim, you are library material now!

I was looking for a book by Steve Jobs or Curtis Bonk and they aren't even in the libarary system.
You Rock!
Terri Tiffany said…
Oh wow! This is an awesome review and also a great interview:) And BTW, I want those hardwood floors:)
Ok--when I'm employed again, I'm buying your book. It sounds wonderful and the kind I would read!
Patti said…
Great review. This book has been sitting in my TBR and now I'm a quarter of the way through and I agree the voice of Babs is awesome.
Jessie Oliveros said…
I feel special because I get to say, "I already read it, and loved it." And Heidi, oh yes, the first thing I thought when I saw your picture was not "Oh my goodness, clean woman," but "Look at that pathetic cactus."
Great interview and review! And I do believe Heidi when she says that her kitchen really looks like that. I just wish she lived closer and could help me make my work space look just as lovely. (Instead of the crammed, paper-stuffed little corner in which I currently reside!)

I am officially moving Some Kind of Normal to the top of my TBR list!
Brit said…
Just got around to reading this interview! Great job Kim! And Heidi!

I'm jealous of the kitchen....seriously. :D
Heidi Willis said…
Okay, Kim, you win. Today it looks like a paper factory threw up on my counter. And there's a Percy jackson sword and some nerf medieval-looking weapon(a cross bow maybe?), and two thermoses and three empty bags. And a cookbook.

BUT in my defense, I did not write here today.
Heidi - I knew it couldn't be perfect all of the time! Mine looks really good sometimes...like when we have company over and everything gets shoved into drawers and cupboards. Not much of a filing system though!
Tam said…
Awesome interview, Kim. And great review, too!

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