Skip to main content

#AuthorApril: J is for Julie Murphy in our #AtoZChallenge

Dear Kim,

Thank you for sharing a bit about your new INKSpell publishing family. Those covers! Shoot. They are all awesome. I cannot wait to see your cover for Starr Fall.

Speaking of covers. How about this one?



Dumplin'. Yes, D -fucking fabulousumplin! I love so much about this book, and its author, Julie Murphy that I may start to ramble a bit on this, the day of "J" in #AuthorApril. But, my dear Kim, I know that you appreciate a good ramble, so here I go...


-Me devouring Dumplin circa September 2015, Cocoon Coffee House
I was intrigued last spring when the buzz for Dumplin' started and was full on hooked by the time I saw this...



Do you think I pre-ordered?


Oh, you know I did. That Julie Murphy-- I am going to give her all the credit here, marketing teams be damned-- she knew how to run a pre-order campaign. I wore my Dumplin' pin with pride. (Secretly a bit jealous of the curvy lady it portrayed who was brave enough to wear a hip hugging red dress. Something this girl would never have the guts to do.)

By the time the book came with its cover (same fox working that red gown), I had to know every detail about her. What I'd learn after my first read of Dumplin' was that this girl, this Willowdean Dickson, was everything I ever needed a female character to be. 
She was smart. 
So funny. 
She owned her body. 
All of it. 
She was a good friend (except when she wasn't). 
And she adored Dolly Parton and reality TV. 
Sound like anyone you know?

Okay maybe not the "owned her body" but I'm working on that, because of books like Dumplin'. I have a major #CharacterCrush. Just look at the lines that Murphy feeds Willowdean:



Image from HiddenStaircase.net



Artwork commissioned by Julie Murphy produced by Simini Blocker






Our author, being a true friend to her readers, delivers us Ellen and Willowdean. Best friends were never better written in young adult fiction than Julie Murphy writes here.

The girls are in the middle of finding out who they want to be and what part of their past they can keep intact. This is a juggling act that most, if not all, female friendships go through, especially nearing the end of high school. And Murphy writes it flawlessly. 

I love that we learn more about Willowdean's character through the fight she has with Ellen. A fight that is nearly all her own fault. We are left to watch the sheer stubbornness of this character erupt day after day. It makes Willowdean real. It makes the fight real. Murphy plunks her readers in Clover City, spectators of this fight. Front row seats. Have I mentioned how well Murphy does characterization? 

Before we get to watch said fight unfurl Murphy builds this best friendship like a sculptor at her clay. There is one scene between Ellen and Willowdean that I dream about as a writer of fiction. Such a quiet moment between the two girls and yet it demands that we stop to contemplate their friendship. 


      "We lay nose to nose in my bed with the lights off. 'How did it feel?' I ask. 'Not it, but like, how did it make you feel?'
      She closes her eyes for a second. 'I felt... in control. Like, of my life.' She opens her eyes. 'And loved. But I feel funny, too.'
     ...

     I nod. I nod with fervor because pared down to those terms, I understand.
     With the tips of her fingers, El touches my cheeks and, for the first time, I notice the sparse tears rolling down my face. She touches her forehead to mine and I don't know who falls asleep first."

Friendship. Real and honest friendship played out word by word, page by page.

Kim, there is so much I want to say about this book. I feel like I could write for days about the characterization alone, because, if you will notice, I only scratched the surface with one external relationship. (And one morsel of Willowdean's relationship with herself.) I'll leave it as I strongly recommend this book and this author. 

Julie Murphy will continue to turn out beautiful words and strong characters because that is what she is made to do. Stay tuned for her next release. 

Kim, I know how much you love a good TO DO LIST. If I may, your TO DO LIST for tonight:

1. Julie's book does so much RIGHT for body image in YA lit, please also follow Sarah Hollowell (@sarahhollowell). Click on her name and consider her message too.

2. Read the interview here on SmartGirls with Julie Murphy because of quotes like this:
"Growing up I was always the biggest person in the classroom. I’ve always been tall and I’ve always been a fat person. I was always very aware of space and how much space I took up. We’re all too ready to tell women in our society how much space they can take up and that men should take up more space. At the end of the day I just want women to be comfortable with their bodies and know that they’re not born and allotted a certain amount of square footage. Your body is your body and you’ve only got one of them. The other thing is that I made this conscious decision to really aggressively love my body and not crash diet and think I was failing if I had a negative thought about myself one day. I had to learn that every day you have to wake up and say, 'I’m going to be kind to myself today and that means I’m going to be kind to my body and my mind, and sometimes those two might be in conflict with each other.' Self-love is a roller coaster."
3. Look at these Dumplin' inspired dresses. SCBWI costume party, here I come.
For the love of O.


More character costume ideas at Gillian Berry's blog.

I'm obsessed with this.
She is my inner tigress.



You'll have to wait and see my Dumplin' interpretation at the party. You better believe I'll bring some DOLLY with me!



Much Love,
Alison


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

FIRST SNOW by Bomi Park: Classroom Activity and Review

Dear Kim, Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! We had fun with Bomi Park's gorgeous FIRST SNOW last week. We used the book as a mentor text to explore personal narratives and poetry.  We also explored watercolor resist techniques. (We also made a mess-- which is kind of my modus operandi during writing workshop. Sorry, Kelley! ) I used the sentence starter from the jacket copy: Look up. One flake falls, then another. And just like that—it's __ __ __ __ __ __ __ . The kids worked cooperatively at their table groups to discuss what word might fill in the blank. I love hearing them chat.  "Well it is a snowflake because 'one flake'."  Followed by: "No. It has seven letters, snowflake has nine."  And: "It is an action. A-- what's that called-- a verb because it is something falling."  Eventually we filled in the blank by using spelling clues to check our thinking, which might not sound like a whole lot of fun, but spell

New Adult Scavenger Hunt: Team Green's Lynn Stevens, Author of Full Count

Dear Alison and friends, It's that time of year again...Time for the New Adult Scavenger Hunt!!!!!  Welcome to the New Adult Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was inspired as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes!  ** KIM BONUS: I included my own RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY at the bottom. Don't forget to enter to win some free books!!  At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team ! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 96 hours! Go to the New Adult Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are TWO contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the Green Team –but t

KIM NEEDS YOUR HELP!! Please, oh please!

Today is the day! STARR LOST, BOOK 2 of the STARR FALL SERIES is only... and I need your help. I've purchased ads from some major social promoters, and if all goes well, STARR LOST will make it to the bestselling list.  Amazing things happen to authors and their books when they make the Bestselling list, so if you could purchase a copy or two (or three) for 99 cents it'll help hurl me to the top. So, let's see what happens when we all combine our buying power together. SUPPORT KIM BUY STARR LOST Ebook for $.99 AMAZON USA AMAZON CANADA AMAZON UK AMAZON AUSTRALIA And to thank you for your WRITER LOVE, I'm running a  $10 AMAZON GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY... to enter, email a copy of your receipt to KimBriggs [@] KimBriggsWrite.com. a Rafflecopter giveaway Write on, Kim