Hi everyone, please help me welcome Barbara Shoup, the author of Looking for Jack Kerouac on the blog today! I’ve honestly only heard of Jack Kerouac in passing, having never studied him or his work previously. This interview gave me the opportunity to finally research him, and I must say some of his work is just beautiful.
But without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Barbara who has penned an amazing eight books. Wow!
* * *
Synopsis: “When Paul Carpetti discovers “On the Road” in Greenwich Village while on a class trip to New York City, the world suddenly cracks open and he sees that life could be more than the college degree his mother is determined for him to achieve, a good job and, eventually, marriage to his girlfriend, Kathy. But upon his return, his mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer and his world falls apart.
Set in 1964, “Looking for Jack Kerouac” tells the story of how Paul’s dreams of a different life and his grief at the loss of his mother set him on a road trip with his rowdy friend, Duke, that includes a wild night on Music Row in Nashville, an all-too-real glimpse of glimpse of racism; and an encounter with a voluptuous mermaid named Lorelei – landing him in St. Petersburg, where he finds real friendship and, in time, Jack Kerouac. By then a ruined man, living with his mother, Kerouac is nothing like the person Paul has traveled so far to meet.
Yet, in the end, it is Kerouac who gives him the key that opens up the next phase of his life.”
If you had to describe your new book “Looking for Jack Kerouac” in only one sentence, how would you explain it?
Looking for Jack Kerouac is a book about a broken-hearted kid who hits the road for St. Petersburg, Florida to find the author of a book he loves; meets salesmen, truckers, bigots, soldiers, good Samaritans and mermaids (yes, mermaids!) along the way; falls in love with the ocean, makes new friends and, ultimately, tracks down the author, who’s nothing like he imagined, but who eases his heartache and sets him on the path to the next phase in his life.
What is it about being a writer that gets you the most excited? (New book idea, seeing your book on shelves etc)
What I love best is revising: trying and failing and trying again countless times to make the first draft of the novel I’ve managed to put in words come closer to the novel in my head and heart. It’s like working a puzzle, a combination of intense frustration and satisfaction. I’ve been known to work 10-12 hours at a stretch, wrestling words. The real world recedes; time goes away. I’m happy.
The other thing I love is making a connection with a reader, learning that my book made them feel less alone for awhile and maybe even brought some insight that made life a bit easier for them.
Who are your top three writing muses?
A woman who was a wonderful mentor to me said, “The muse is you” and I think she was right. For me, it’s all about sitting down at my computer every day I can, writing whatever I can write until the good stuff begins to flow.
If you were to adopt a pseudonym, would you be brave enough to write in a completely different genre? If so, what genre would you write in?
I’d write mysteries, but wouldn’t feel like I needed to adopt a pseudonym to do it because I really admire the best writers in that genre. Elizabeth George, S.J. Rozan, Ruth Rendell, Peter Mays, PD James, James Lee Burke, Peter Robinson, Louise Penny and others write insightful, page-turning stories that grow from the nature of the characters they’ve created. I would love to be able to that.
“Looking for Jack Kerouac” is another coming-of-age novel. What appeals to you the most in regards to writing about this aspect of a character’s life?
Adolescence was a very difficult time for me. I knew nothing I needed to know to navigate the world. I had the social skills of a newt. I think I’m drawn to writing about this time in life because I’m still trying to understand it. Maybe some wistful part of me believes it’s never too late to be popular in high school.
If there was one novel/series you wished you’d penned, what would it be?
Whenever I read a book I wish I’d have written myself, I feel both intense pleasure (there’s nothing better than an extraordinary book!) and a sort of sinking feeling (this book is so good, why am I even trying?) It doesn’t happen a lot, but it’s happened enough that it’s impossible to name just one. So I’ll tell you the book that most recently gave me that reaction: We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart. Part coming-of-age story, part mystery, part ghost story, it’s a book about a girl piecing together what happened in the hours before a mysterious accident that wiped out her memory—addressing issues of family, wealth, class, friendship and first love along the way.
Thank you for much for your time Barbara!
About the Author
To say Barbara Shoup is passionate about writing would be an understatement. The award-winning author has been recognized with multiple honors for her work, and in August, she will release her eighth novel “Looking for Jack Kerouac” with Lacewing Books, the young adult imprint of Engine Books.
Shoup is the author of seven other novels, including “Night Watch” (1982), “Wish You Were Here” (1994/2008), “Stranded in Harmony” (1997/2001), “Faithful Women” (1999), “Vermeer’s Daughter” (2003/2014), “Everything You Want” (2008) and “An American Tune” (2012). She is the executive director of the Indiana Writers Center and the co-author of “Novel Ideas: Contemporary Authors Share the Creative Process” (2000) and “Story Matters: Contemporary Short Story Writers Share the Creative Process (2006).”