Several months ago Kathryn Stockett—who wrote the Help; see previous post for my review—paused her book tour at the King’s English long enough to share some pearls. So clutching my s.r.o. ticket in my hands, and doing my best to control my fan-girlie giggle, I joined fellow-bloggers, Sharla of Winter Write, Melissa of One Librarian’s Book Reviews, and Suey of It’s All About Books for a delightful evening with a genuine southern belle.
Here are my favorite snippets from the Q&A session:
- She ruffled lots of feathers to write this book. People tended to close-lip when she started asking questions. Some members of her family don’t even speak to her anymore! (Which absolutely validates this book in my opinion)
- But, she wrote it thinking no one would read it, so she didn’t care if she crossed taboo lines.
- After 5 years and 60+ rejection letters, she finally stopped telling people she was writing a book.
- But, she appreciates all those rejection letters, because they gave her the “thick skin” required to deal with the strongreactions people have to her book
- The first cover for the Help, the one she fell in love with, was of a black woman’s hand holding a white child’s hand. The publishers vetoed it quickly though, and after 25 more possibilities, Stockett no longer cared what the cover looked like. However, she often wonders what the current cover has to do with anything.
- She was too afraid to write in Hilly’s voice (Hilly represents the traditional, often hypocritical façade of the time) because it “freaked [her] out” to “go there.”
- The Help receives mixed reactions from both races. Some say the book holds true to their experience, others are uncomfortable or upset.
- Vernon Jordan, adviser to Bill Clinton, once told Stockett that while he was a chauffeur for the mayor of Atlanta, he had some similar experiences to those mentioned in the book.
- One woman from Mobile said she hadn’t remembered seeing separate bathrooms for help and asked Stockett if that was exclusive to the Jackson area. Stocket claimed she read many accounts about separate bathrooms in Mobile and all over. She said she even sees them in older New York apartments occasionally.
- Stockett’s own experience growing up in the south took place as recently as the mid ‘70’s, but she set the story in the early ‘60’s to coincide with the Civil Rights movement.
- Stockett’s own maid who raised her from birth was Dimeteri, a second cook, handed down to her grandma. During Stockett’s awkward years, Dimeteri would whisper to Stocket that she was beautiful and important and talented. Stockett credits Dimeteri with establishing her self-confidence.
- Now that Stockett understands the sacrifices that Dimeteri made in order to raise her, she is overwhelmed and thankful for Dimeteri’s gift.