Author Chat with Beth Vrabel

Author Chat with Beth Vrabel

 

Contributed by Hannah Hudson  

 

Hello YABCers! I had the wonderful opportunity to chat with Beth Vrabel, author of A BLIND GUIDE TO STINKVILLE. Her book is about the delightful, heartfelt journey of Alice as she learns about her new town and its residents. Beth was kind enough to answer a few questions I had about her new release, as well as her writing process. – Hannah Hudson

 

First, let’s meet Beth!

 

Beth Vrabel grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. She won a short-story contest in fourth grade and promptly decided writing was what she was going to do with her life. Although her other plans--becoming a Yellowstone National Park ranger, and a professional roller skater--didn't come to fruition, she stuck with the writing. Beth's background is journalism and was editor of two regional magazines and a lifestyle columnist. Beth now writes full time.

 

Now meet Beth’s Book:

 

Before Stinkville, Alice didn’t think albinism—or the blindness that goes with it—was a big deal. Sure, she uses a magnifier to read books. And a cane keeps her from bruising her hips on tables. Putting on sunscreen and always wearing a hat are just part of life. But life has always been like this for Alice. Until Stinkville.
This is a stirring small-town story that explores many different issues—albinism, blindness, depression, dyslexia, growing old, and more—with a light touch and lots of heart. Beth Vrabel’s characters are complicated and messy, but they come together in a story about the strength of community and friendship.

 

With introductions in order, it’s time to chat!

 

Hannah Hudson: Growing up in a small paper mill town, much like Alice’s Sinkville, were any of Alice’s adventures based on your own personal experience?

 

Beth Vrabel: Some of them, for sure! In my hometown, everything is named after the paper mill, just like it is in Sinkville. The whole town is centered on the mill—if you don’t work there, you know someone who does. And because of the mill’s, ahem, signature scent, it’s what everyone associates with the town.

 

I’m grateful for the mill—it provided the incredible lake where I would go fishing with my dad. It sponsored the library where I won my first writing contest. It keeps our town running.

 

But, just as Alice finds out in Sinkville, my hometown is so much more than the mill and its stink. It’s jam-packed with wonderful people and fascinating stories.


 

HH: I loved that Alice’s albinism didn’t stop her from exploring Sinkville. What was your favorite part of the town to write about?

 

BV: Without a doubt, the Sinkville Sycamore. There is a gorgeous two-hundred-year old sycamore tree here in Connecticut, where I currently live. I can’t seem to drive by this tree. Every time I try, I end up stopping, even if it’s just for a minute or two. Every time I have that same feeling you get when you first spot the ocean. That the-world-is-so-much-bigger-than-me magical feeling, you know? My children run up and greet it like it’s an old friend.

 

HH: How did you go about creating the distinct characters that Alice meets? Did you start with their stories or their personalities? Were there any characters that were more difficult to write than others?

 

BV: Their personalities definitely emerged before their stories for me. Some of these characters weren’t even supposed to have stories, but they wouldn’t stop speaking to me! Sandi, for example. I originally envisioned her as just a stuck-up girl who popped into the library once in awhile, standing in stark contrast to Kerica, who is gentle and kind—except around Sandi. But Sandi just kept cropping up, kept hinting at more, until I let her share her story. And she ended up growing just as much—maybe more—than Alice.

 

Mr. Hamlin was the most difficult character to write. I have to admit, I cried while writing about his drowned house. And I fought hard against the move he makes during the book. Alice was pretty angry with me about that one, too.

 

HH: STINKVILLE has so many powerful stories to tell, was it ever a challenge to mesh those storylines together in such a fluid way?

 

BV: I can’t French braid to save my life, and this was by far the most challenging literary plait I ever created! I’ll admit, there were moments when I was writing the Stinkville stories where I wasn’t sure how or if they’d all come together. But there is magic in storytelling. All these breadcrumbs we sprinkle create a trail for the writer—and reader—to follow.

 

HH: One of my favorite characters is Alice’s mom. Her struggle with depression isn’t hidden from Alice, but talked about throughout the story. Was that something you set out to do, or did it happen naturally as the story progressed?

 

BV: A little of both, honestly. Even though we know one in four adults in America live with mental illness, it’s an issue rarely discussed openly and almost never with children. Think about it—one in four grown-ups! That encompasses a lot of mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and grandparents. It was important to me that Alice’s mom has a realistic experience with depression. It doesn’t go away after a good night’s sleep or a special bonding moment. She inches forward on those days, sure, but that doesn’t mean she won’t stumble backward the next day.

 

A reader recently commented to me that reading STINKVILLE together with her son opened the door for her to discuss her own anxiety issues with him. That fills my heart.

 

HH: How did your career in journalism prepare you for writing Alice’s story?

 

BV: I was lucky enough to start my career as a journalist with my hometown newspaper. This was the same newspaper I brought inside every day for my dad to read cover to cover when I was a kid. The same newspaper that covered that library writing contest I won when I was nine. The same newspaper that ran my wedding announcement.

 

As a reporter, I knew that my neighbors, friends and family were counting on me to get their stories right and would hold me accountable if I didn’t. I knew they wanted more than just the bare facts—they wanted to know what made the story important to them and their town; they wanted to connect to story.

 

My favorite memory of working at the newspaper happened after a tornado ripped through town. The next morning, my mom called me. “Beth! Can you believe this? I just read about this woman who was making her family dinner, her kids upstairs, when the tornado ripped the roof straight off her house! Can you imagine? Listen to this!” She proceeded to read the article to me over the phone. “Mom!” I interrupted her. “Check the byline on that. I wrote the story!” Moments like that, I knew I got the story right.

 

I was blessed to work with editors who recognized and prioritized just how important it is to get the story right. In STINKVILLE, Alice’s mom tells her, “Every story about a person is important. To someone, that story is everything.” This is a lesson I learned again and again as a reporter. You’ve got to get the story right, keep digging until you reach the truth of the situation.

 

In so many ways, Alice is a natural reporter. She finds the story in everyone she meets.

 

 

A big thanks to Beth Vrabel and Hannah Hudson for this enlightening interview! Now read on for the latest giveaway below! 

 

 

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_a-blind-guide-to-stinkville.jpg

 

A Blind Guide to Stinkville
 
  1. By: Beth Vrabel

  2. Release Date: October 13, 2015

 

*GIVEAWAY DETAILS*

 

Five winners will receive a copy of A Blind Guide to Stinkville, US and Canada only.

 

Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. 

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link to enter the giveaway*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_hannahs-bio.jpg

Hannah Hudson lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and their very naughty chickens. In addition to being a YABC Staff Reviewer, Hannah works in a library, which means she's constantly surrounded by books. She spends her free time writing YA fantasy novels and participating in Medieval Armored Combat competitions. 

 

 

It's live!! Cover Reveal: The Darkest Hour by Caro...
Giveaway: For the Record by Charlotte Huang (US On...

Related Posts

 

Comments

Already Registered? Login Here
No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
It's Avery's senior year in high school, and she has...
Peppermint Post
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
'Twas the night before Christmas, when the North Pole's Peppermint...
Stolen from the Studio (Case Closed, #2)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Lauren Magaziner’s hilarious and high-stakes middle grade series gets a...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
What's outside Pleasant Grove? Welcome to Pleasant...
The Wizenard Series: Season One
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Reggie has never felt destined for greatness. He dreams about...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
He’s a rebel with a cause… to make my...
TURBO Racers: Escape Velocity
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Fast and the Furious meets Transformers in the second...
Bread Lab!
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
It’s a sleepy Saturday morning for most people, but not...
A Thousand No's
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
This empowering picture book teaches readers that even great ideas...
Ronan Boyle and the Swamp of Certain Death (Ronan Boyle, #2)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The hilarious sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller,...
Sharko and Hippo
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
With tongue-twisty wordplay and escalating absurdity, this is a fall-down-funny...
The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A LOVE POEM FROM A FATHER TO HIS TWO SONS,...
The Faithless Hawk (The Merciful Crow, #2)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Kings become outcasts and lovers become foes in The Faithless...
Zora's Zucchini
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The first zucchini of a summer garden is always exciting,...
Libby Loves Science
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Libby loves science! In this STEM-themed picture book, a companion...
The Hidden Rainbow
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
All the colors of the rainbow are hidden in the...

Latest Member Reviews

Peppermint Post
 
5.0
"PEPPERMINT POST is an adorable new story about Christmas and Santa. The Peppermint Post is the busiest post office in..."
Stolen from the Studio (Case Closed, #2)
 
4.0
"STOLEN FROM THE STUDIO is a fun middle grade mystery with a choose-your-own-adventure plot. Carlos travels with his mother, a..."
The Wizenard Series: Season One
 
4.0
"THE WIZENARD SERIES: SEASON ONE is written by Wesley King and created by Kobe Bryant. The MG fantasy follows Reggie,..."
The Triumphant Tale of Pippa North
 
4.0
"THE TRIUMPHANT TALE OF PIPPA NORTH combines magic and humor in a middle grade fantasy full of charm. Pippa is..."
TURBO Racers: Escape Velocity
 
4.0
"TURBO RACERS: ESCAPE VELOCITY is a fast-paced, high-stakes adventure. Mace Blazer is a TURBOnaut, a high-speed vehicle racer. He recently..."
Bread Lab!
 
4.0
"BREAD LAB! is a cute picture book that walks through the steps of making sourdough bread through the eyes of..."
A Thousand No's
 
3.5
"A THOUSAND NO'S is a cute picture book about the way that feedback can change an idea. A girl has..."
Ronan Boyle and the Swamp of Certain Death (Ronan Boyle, #2)
 
4.0
"RONAN BOYLE AND THE SWAMP OF CERTAIN DEATH is a comedic middle grade fantasy that features a young boy on..."
Sharko and Hippo
 
4.5
"SHARKO AND HIPPO is a clever and comical book about two best friends who are going fishing for the day...."
The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter
 
5.0
"THE THING ABOUT BEES: A LOVE LETTER is an informative and gorgeously illustrated picture book about bees. The book describes..."
The Faithless Hawk (The Merciful Crow, #2)
 
5.0
"THE FAITHLESS HAWK is one of my favorite reads of 2020. I laughed, I sighed, I cried, and this book..."
Zora's Zucchini
 
5.0
"ZORA'S ZUCCHINI is a delightful picture book that explores growing vegetables and sharing with neighbors. Zora is a little bored..."
Libby Loves Science
 
4.5
"LIBBY LOVES SCIENCE is a cute picture book that brings a love of science to all the fun of ice..."
The Hidden Rainbow
 
5.0
"THE HIDDEN RAINBOW is a delightful picture book that combines counting, colors, and nature in a beautiful exploration. Each page..."
The Places We Sleep
 
5.0
"THE PLACES WE SLEEP is a moving middle grade historical that takes place around 9/11. The book is written entirely..."
Dating Makes Perfect
 
5.0
"DATING MAKES PERFECT is a beautifully written YA contemporary romance that had me grinning from ear-to-ear. Winnie has two older..."
Chasing Starlight
 
4.0
"WHAT I LOVED: We think of the glitz, glamorous mega-stars, and classic movies when we think of the Golden Age..."
Paola Santiago and the River of Tears
 
3.0
"Paola “Pao” Santiago loves science and hanging out with her best friends, Emma and Dante. She doesn’t love how superstitious..."
Kamala and Maya's Big Idea
 
5.0
"KAMALA AND MAYA'S BIG IDEA is a picture book based on a true story about pursuing your goals and doing..."
Harvey Holds His Own (The Harvey Stories, #2)
 
4.0
"HARVEY HOLDS HIS OWN is a contemporary middle grade told from three perspectives: Maggie, Harvey, and Austin. Maggie is starting..."