Ladies & Gents:
I am pleased to introduce to you the incredibly interesting, devastatingly talented, wholly terrific author of my favorite read of 2011, Kathe Koja!
Kathe is here today to celebrate The Literary Others and to talk a bit about her book, Under the Poppy; more specifically, she’s here to talk about love, both in the story and in the world. Please give her a warm welcome!
A REAL LOVE STORY
Only Rupert is real, has ever been, through all the cold boyhood nights, the young men’s journeys, the play upon play upon play; and Rupert is gone.
This is the heart of my novel UNDER THE POPPY: the love story of Istvan and Rupert, the way love makes another person, once a stranger, so joyously, terribly real that to suffer that person’s loss is to suffer the end of the world. Loving so thoroughly makes the lover real in a new way, too, brings out tenderness or fury or some other qualities entirely; anyone who’s ever loved knows this is true.
Is UNDER THE POPPY a gay love story? Yes. And no. Yes, because the two true lovers are men; no, because any real love story is universal, the sweep of pleasure and loss is the same for us all. What can and does change is how that love will be experienced by that particular character in that setting in that writer’s hands: and that’s the business of fiction, of creating people who are people, whom we readers can feel for, root for, be exasperated by, yell at on the page. And if, in the story’s time and place, it’s difficult or forbidden for one man to love another openly, then that becomes part of the story, and of the love as well. But not because the men are gay: because the society insists on their separation. That same separation might affect two young people in warring Verona, a star-crossed pair, say … Does it change the story, if Romeo’s a boy and Juliet’s a girl? For sure. Does it change the love? Not at all. Because love in all its manifestations is universal at its heart.
Rupert’s smile is slower, but sweet to Istvan when it comes, Istvan’s gaze a boy’s when he murmurs as sweetly, “Shall I come to you? Later on?” Rupert’s look in return is one of helpless heat, and cherishing, calamity and love …
That’s love. That’s human. That’s real.
Kathe Koja has another special gift for us! She is going to be giving away one SIGNED copy of her book, Under the Poppy, to a lucky participant of The Literary Others event. All you need to do is leave a comment on this post, saying you’d like to win. Please also leave your email, in this format: roofbeamreader(at)gmail(dot)com. The giveaway is open until Sunday and Kathe is willing to ship Internationally!