Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Our Sweet Six: An Interview with E.M. Kokie, Author of PERSONAL EFFECTS

For today's Sweet Six interview, I'm talking with E.M. Kokie, whose beautiful, compelling debut PERSONAL EFFECTS is currently on shelves. The book was selected for YALSA’s 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults list and was recently named a finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards. In other words, it's kind of a big deal. For those not in the know:

From Goodreads...

Ever since his brother, T.J., was killed in Iraq, Matt feels like he’s been sleepwalking through life — failing classes, getting into fights, and avoiding his dad’s lectures about following in his brother’s footsteps. T.J.’s gone, but Matt can’t shake the feeling that if only he could get his hands on his brother’s stuff from Iraq, he’d be able to make sense of his death. But as Matt searches for answers about T.J.’s death, he faces a shocking revelation about T.J.’s life that suggests he may not have known T.J. as well as he thought. What he learns challenges him to stand up to his father, honor his brother’s memory, and take charge of his own life. With compassion, humor, and a compelling narrative voice, E. M. Kokie explores grief, social mores, and self-discovery in a provocative first novel.

Yes, this book is as good as it sounds. I loved it, and for those wanting to read guy-POV young adult, PERSONAL EFFECTS delivers. Now, on with the show!

The Valentine's Sweet Six

1) Your book has been out in the wild for 6 months now. Congratulations! What's been your favorite part of the debut author journey!
Hearing from readers. Hands down, the most amazing part has been hearing from people, especially teens, who are reading and discussing Personal Effects.

2) What scene in your book do you LOVE the most? 

Oh, wow, I think of the book as a whole, not the sum of its parts. So, I don't think I can pick a "favorite." And then there are spoiler issues -- some of the bits of which I'm most proud would give away key plot points. But, okay, from early in the book, I am really proud of the scene between Matt and his father in the kitchen discussing the fight. That scene has been there from the first draft, but with each revision I think it gained focus and tension. It has all these sharp-edged sentences and heavy silences that I love.

3) If you had to pick a literary character you LOVE (and not your own), who would you pick and why?

 I love so many characters, especially when they are supporting characters who encompass a lot of complexity. Like Severus Snape -- he is so wonderfully complex and layered. A great character.

4) What's the craziest/most memorable valentine you've ever received?

Nothing too crazy, and the ones that are memorable are too personal to share. ;)

5)  If you were a Brach's heart, what phrase would be written on you?

Be True

6) The all-important choice: Flowers or Candy? 

Candy (good answer!)

 Thank you so much for stopping by the blog and talking with us. You can follow E.M. on Twitter, Facebook, and her blog


  1. This book sounds so good! Cannot WAIT to pick it up!

  2. Gah- great pull with Severus Snape.

    A few weeks ago, I actually recommended PERSONAL EFFECTS to one of the boys I tutor. His brother is in Afghanistan. Great interview!

  3. I've really wanted to read this one. Must not delay!

  4. AAAHHH!! I'm drooling. This sounds so good!

    Great interview, Philip! I'm all over this book!

  5. I can't wait to read this book!!! Sounds fantastic. I'm a sucker for the guy POV too.:)

    Awesome interview, and thanks E.M. for hanging with us!

  6. Great interview, Philip! This book sounds AH-mazing! Thanks, E.M., for visiting the Valentines!

  7. Yay for male POV. I have one of those coming out too :) My fave thing about these interviews so far is the answer to the Brach's heart question. So telling to make people sum themselves up in 10 characters.