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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Story Secrets: DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS by Beth Kephart + Giveaway!

Perhaps you've been waiting anxiously for this day because a gorgeous, brilliant, and much-anticipated book is hitting the shelves at this very moment. That day has arrived!

Today, Beth Kephart's latest exquisite novel, DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS, is born! So if you happen to be at the bookstore for any other reason, please pick it up and savor it like the rarest and finest of chocolates.

I'm thrilled and proud to welcome Beth to a special edition of Story Secrets to spill some of her DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS secrets - and she has generously offered to give away one book (see entry info below)!


DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS is the story of twin sisters set against the backdrop of 1876 Philadelphia, the Centennial year. When the novel opens, Katherine has lost her sister, Anna, to an untimely death and, feeling responsible, is unwilling to live on. She chooses a hot Saturday in early September to make her way to the Centennial grounds, where all the noise and commotion of the international exhibition does nothing to permeate her sadness. Chased by Anna’s former lover and contemplating suicide, Katherine is saved, at the exhibition, by an unlikely turn of events and by a boy, an animal whisperer of sorts, far outside her social class. The present day story is leavened by numerous flashbacks, where we meet Anna herself, and her lover.

Holly Cupala: Such a fascinating premise, Beth! Both sisters and a beloved city. Can you tell us about how the idea began?

Beth Kephart: I had been working on a book (an unusual “autobiography”) about a Philadelphia river—a book called FLOW: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF PHILADELPHIA’S SCHUYLKILL RIVER— and I kept encountering images and stories of old Philadelphia that led me in this direction. I love my city, and I always return to it in my imagination.

For awhile I was writing DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS from the perspective of the real-life fire that threatened to raze the Main Exhibition Building on the very day that Katherine travels to the fairgrounds. I loved living in that voice and space, but ultimately I chose a very different vehicle through which to tell the story.

HC: What inspires you and your work?

BK: Gosh, that would be impossible to answer fully. My son has been my muse for years, despite the fact that he does not factor into my fiction. It’s the light in his eyes. But all of my life is dear to me—my husband, my friends, the dance that I do, the music that I yearn for, the photographs I take, gardens, the meals I like to cook. It’s all there for the taking.

HC: Do you talk with anyone about your ideas as you write, or do you keep them top secret?

BK: I used to talk a lot more about the ideas and stories. I’ve learned now to fight through most of it on my own. I have a few writing friends who will ask, every once in a while, Are you sure you don’t want me to read that? Sometimes, desperate, I consent.

HC: Have your life experiences weighed into the creation of your stories?

BK: I am a hugely flawed person. Writing enables me to explore those flaws, sometimes secretly, to discover how they might be cured, tempered, or, perhaps, leveraged.

HC: I know I find your books layered and beautiful and deep. What do you most hope your readers will take away?

Hope. A fuller knowledge of Philadelphia. A sense of just how strongly the past presses against the right now. To help facilitate that, I’ve created a teacher’s guide. It takes readers behind the scenes of that Centennial year and suggests a number of exercises for readers, writers, and history lovers.

HC: And for all of us passionate Beth Kephart fans, what can we hope for next?

I am working on two novels that are odd and surreal and desperately important to me. I am also extremely hopeful that DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS will touch enough souls that I’ll be able to write a sequel about my animal-whisperer, William, who features in this book.


Thank you, Beth!


Please comment on a) why you'd love to read this book, b) if there is a city that has captured your heart and imagination, and why, or c) if you think romance between two very different souls can blossom into true and abiding love. Comment by midnight on Monday for a chance to win!

And now, readers, I invite you to view Beth's reading of DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS:


  1. Why I'd love to read Dangerous Neighbors?
    -- The premise is absolutely scintillating.
    -- I've never been to Philadelphia, but I'd love to book-travel there :)
    -- I follow Beth's blog and she is AMAZING.
    -- Her prose is stunning and that's the thing that works best for me.

    Please, please let me win this! I want it SO much.


  2. OMG! I have been dying to read the book. I would love to enter if this is international.
    a) why you'd love to read this book
    Because Beth Kephart's novels are ALWAYS amazing. She is one of my favorites!
    b) if there is a city that has captured your heart and imagination, and why
    New Delhi because this is where I live . I love very single thing about it!
    c) if you think romance between two very different souls can blossom into true and abiding love.
    It can definitely! If the other person is too similar life can be so boring


  3. Thank you for having me here! It's such a magical, good karma space.

  4. I really want to read this because a) it sounds fantastic, b) I haven't read a good historical fiction book in a long time, and c) it's Beth Kephart! How could it not be good? :D


  5. I adore Beth ... exquisite is the perfect way to describe her and her books! I am so excited about her newest release today! Thanks for the interview!

  6. I can't wait to read this book. The story really pulls you in. Also, I'm from Philadelphia and I love historical fiction. So, it's perfect for me. I've never read Ms. Kephart before so it will be interesting to read a different writer too.

    I'm pretty sure that people from different backgrounds or with different interests can build great relationships because relationships aren't about that stuff. If you could buy love or happiness the children of the rich would be universally healthy and happy. There's no formula for a relationship. They're about deep feelings, wonderment, basic stuff like dependability too.

  7. Great interview. I'd love to read this story because I want to see how Kathryn is saved. And yes I believe in love between two very different souls. No question about that.

    Good luck Beth.

  8. I'd love to read Dangerous Neighbors because I'm intrigued by its premise.


  9. I'd love to read this book because I've heard it's a really interesting read, and I enjoy a good historical read. Thanks for the giveaway!

    cc932005 at hotmail dot com

  10. a) why you'd love to read this book- The premise sounds so very unique and exciting, heart wrenching and sad. I'm tyring to read more historical books.

    Please count me in if this is international.


  11. I want to read dangerous Neighbors because I have heard so many great things about Beth's writing style

    findjessyhere at gmail dot com

    Thanks for the interview

  12. a)why you'd love to read this book ?

    Because Beth is a new for me Author. and I'm always excited to get to know A new for me author works ! :)

    uniquas at ymail dot com

  13. A) I would love to read this because it sounds so unbelieveably original. I really think it's a book I'd enjoy. Also, I read her book The Heart is Not a Size and gave it a mixed review. I'd really like to give her books another try.


  14. I would want to read this book because I (sorry to say) have never read one of Beth Kephart's books.
    San Antonio, especially the River Walk, intrigue me. But Bora Bora! That is a place I would LOVE to visit. For a week. It looks so beautiful!