Today I am happy to welcome Kristin O’Donnell Tubb to Escape Through the Pages for an interview! Kristin is the author of upcoming release Selling Hope, which is set to be published November 9, 2010.
It’s May 1910, and Halley’s Comet is due to pass thru the Earth’s atmosphere. And thirteen-year-old Hope McDaniels and her father are due to pass through their hometown of Chicago with their ragtag vaudeville troupe. Hope wants out of vaudeville, and longs for a “normal” life – or as normal as life can be without her mother, who died five years before. Hope sees an opportunity: She invents “anti-comet” pills to sell to the working-class customers desperate for protection. Soon, she’s joined by a fellow troupe member, young Buster Keaton, and the two of them start to make good money. And just when Hope thinks she has all the answers, she has to decide: What is family? Where is home?
The year, 1910, was selected because that was the Year of the Comet: on May 18 and 19, Earth passed through the tail of the Halley’s Comet. The uncertainty and the mass hysteria that led up to those dates was the story I wanted to tell.
I chose to set the story on the vaudeville circuit because I needed a GOOD reason why Hope, my main character, decides to sell anti-comet pills. It’s difficult to write a con artist and still make her likeable, you know? When I started researching vaudeville, I realized it would be the perfect career for Hope (and yes, she likely would’ve had a career at 13. Most people left school and started working at age 11 in 1910!) Vaudevillians led a grueling lifestyle; they performed the same act 4 times a day, for weeks on end. They lived in rail cars and boarding houses. They were gypsies, and it gave me the perfect motivation for Hope: she hates the lifestyle and wants OUT.
What kinds of research did you need to do on Vaudeville and life in the 1900s (if any)?
I researched life in 1910 Chicago, life on the vaudeville circuit, and Halley’s Comet for over two years before I started writing Selling Hope. Mostly I read books and newspaper articles, but I also watched hours of Buster Keaton footage on YouTube to get his character right. (Buster Keaton was a real performer, and he’s a main character in the book.) One of my favorite items of research for this story was reading joke books! Vaudeville performers were famous for their one-liners, and Hope often thinks in one-liner jokes. Tons of fun!
I absolutely love music. If you could assign theme songs to your book and to Hope, which ones would you use?
Ragtime and jazz music pop into mind first, because that was the music popular in 1910. But if we’re talking more along the lines of themes, instead of time period, I’ve have to go with the following:
-Fireflies by Owl City. I love the line “planet Earth turns slowly.” That mysterious, celestial air is what I was striving for with Selling Hope.
-Hope for the Hopeless by A Fine Frenzy (a perfect fit, actually).
-Say Say Say by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson. You have to watch the video on this one (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4C1E0EjrJs). In it, Michael and Paul are vaudeville performers/con artists who sell potions guaranteed to make you “stronger than a bull.” Hope in a bottle! J
You’re stuck in a warehouse during the zombie apocalypse and have only one book with you. Which book would it be?
Does a Kindle count as one book? 😉
Haha, I suppose so. Thank you, Kristin!
The Selling Hope tour has been arranged by Novel Noise. Clicking the link will take you to the tour’s page.