Thursday, June 26, 2014

Interview with Nicole C. Kear, Author of Now I See You + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

I'd like to welcome Nicole C. Kear to the blog today to celebrate the publication of her new memoir from St. Martin's Press, Now I See You. Stick around until the end for a fabulous giveaway that you don't want to miss!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Nicole! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Nicole is the author of the memoir Now I See You, which was just published by St. Martin's Press and chosen as a Must-Read by Glamour, Fitness, Martha Stewart Living and Redbook, among others. Her work appears in the New York Times, Good Housekeeping, New York, Psychology Today, Parents, American Baby, as well as Salon, the Huffington Post and xoJane. Her column, “Dispatches from Babyville,” has been running continuously for nine years in the Park Slope Reader, and she chronicles her continuing mis-adventures in Mommydom on her blog, A Mom Amok.

A native of New York, she received a BA from Yale, a MA from Columbia, and a red nose from the San Francisco School of Circus Arts. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, three children, and two feisty goldfish.

Readers, here's a bit about this new book, which was published this week!

Now I See You

At nineteen years old, Nicole C. Kear's biggest concern is choosing a major—until she walks into a doctor’s office in midtown Manhattan and gets a life-changing diagnosis. She is going blind, courtesy of an eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, and has only a decade or so before the lights go out. Instead of making preparations as the doctor suggests, Kear decides to carpe diem and make the most of the vision she has left. She joins circus school, tears through boyfriends, travels the world, and through all these hi-jinks, she keeps her vision loss a secret.

When Kear becomes a mother, just a few years shy of her vision’s expiration date, she amends her carpe diem strategy, giving up recklessness in order to relish every moment with her kids. Her secret, though, is harder to surrender—and as her vision deteriorates, harder to keep hidden. As her world grows blurred, one thing becomes clear: no matter how hard she fights, she won’t win the battle against blindness. But if she comes clean with her secret, and comes to terms with the loss, she can still win her happy ending.

Told with humor and irreverence, Now I See You is an uplifting story about refusing to cower at life’s curveballs, about the power of love to triumph over fear. But, at its core, it’s a story about acceptance: facing the truths that just won't go away, and facing yourself, broken parts and all.
Buy the book from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Books-A-Million | iTunes | Kobo | Publisher

Describe the Now I See You in six words.

Hmmm, in terms of story: Girl going secretly blind learns acceptance.

Or maybe, more general: Funniest book about going blind yet.

Dealer’s choice.

As a huge fan of first lines, I’d love to hear the first line of The Stories We Tell. Could you give us a brief commentary on it?
My disguise was missing something.
I think it’s essential to have a killer first line. We’re all busy, busy people and there are a million books out there to choose from, so if I’m going to pick one over another, it better grab me from the absolute get-go. My favorite first line of all-time, hands down is, “Where’s Papa going with that ax?” from Charlotte’s Web. Who doesn't want to find out what happens next?

I started Now I See You about a dozen different ways and with about a hundred first lines. I wanted to start in medias res, and the idea of beginning the story with my incognito cane training at the abandoned area near the Gowanus Canal, felt right to me, as it got to the heart of the story’s conflict. I love having the word “disguise” in the first line because it communicates a lot of information to the reader about the narrator/protagonist, namely, that she’s kind of out there. You want a protagonist/narrator who’s a little out there, especially in a memoir, because they make for interesting storytellers.

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Some randomness...

Favorite kind of chocolate? Dark, milk, white, coffee-flavored, the kind with nuts or berries inside?? There is no kind of chocolate I would not eat in large quantities, but my favorite kind is milk chocolate with caramel. I’m just old-school that way. Stick too much fancy stuff in there—orange rind and cardamom and salt from the Black Sea—and you lose me. I’ll eat it of course, but I’ll act begrudging about it.

LOL! Most romantic thing a guy has ever said or done to you? I’ve had some grade-A, top-shelf pillow talk in my time, and received some love letters that should have book deals, but the MOST romantic thing anyone’s ever done for me is a tie between:
1. The time my husband took me out to dinner on Mother’s Day and told me we should have the third child I so desperately wanted but was nervous about having
2. The Valentine’s Day two years ago when I had Norovirus and my husband cleaned the bathroom after I nearly died in there.

Awww! He's a sweetie-pie. How do you get over heartbreak?  I don’t. I’m still holding a grudge against (and a candle for) every single guy I ever dated. That’s roughly eighty percent of the reason I wrote the book, so it’d be a bestseller, and they’d want me back.

It's an excellent strategy. Currently reading? Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time with my nine year-old son; Judy Blume’s Tales of A Fourth Grade Nothing with my seven year-old; Lucy Cousin’s Little Red Riding Hood with my two year-old, and for me: the un-put-down-able new gothic thriller novel Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore; the beautiful, brutally honest new novel Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro; and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler which I’ve only just begun but am already smitten with.

What did you want to grow up to be when you were little? A singer with hair that reached to the floor. Basically, Crystal Gayle. It’d be good if I could also act, I figured, as that would increase my options for blockbuster success. By the way, I am still ridiculously proud of my (at best) approaching-average singing voice and treasure the two times I’ve been mistaken for a “professional singer":
Time number 1: At church, where I BELLOW the hymns (I can’t make out the print in the hymnal which makes it difficult to sing along but I’m good at elongating vague vowels so it kind of melds with what everyone else is doing). Once, a long time ago, a church-goer in the pew behind me asked if I was a professional singer, which was probably just his way of asking what was wrong with me.
Time number 2: I was walking down 72nd street pushing my son in the stroller and singing him a made-up nonsense song and the guy selling vegetables on the corner asked me I was a professional singer. That was eight years ago and I bring it up all the time in casual conversation.

You crack me up! Go-to comfort food? Pasta. Any and every kind of pasta, the carb-ier, the better. If I could eat pasta with bread and rice sauce, I’d do it. My grandmother, Nonny, makes a transcendent spaghetti a la carbonara and now that my son is as big as me, I have to fight him for the last dregs of pancetta at the bottom of the bowl (I always let him win. I love to be a martyr). Her lasagna and manicotti and stuffed shells are so criminally delicious there should be a federal agency providing oversight about how they’re used.

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What are you involved in when you aren’t writing?

Extremely glamorous activities such as changing dirty diapers, nagging children to do their homework, nagging children to put their clothes in the hamper, yelling at children when they don’t do either, more changing dirty diapers and listening to various female family members call to tell me their side of the newest feud. All that and I still find time to eat macaroons!

Out of all the fantastic books out there, what makes Now I See You stand out from the rest?

It will make you cry with laughter and with sorrow. There is no better workout for your tear ducts than reading my book. And you don’t want flabby tear ducts.

What is the message in the book that you want readers to grasp?

It’s a simple one: accept yourself. Know that every single person who has ever walked the earth has had a limitation, a handicap, a cross to bear—it’s what makes us human—and you can either hide those parts of yourself and your life and stew in misery and shame and fear or you can be honest about them (which, for the record, is what I recommend). Be honest about who you are and what you’re dealing with. It may feel like a burden on others, but really, it’s a gift.

Beautiful—thank you for sharing! Where can you be found on the web?

Before we conclude this interview, is there anything you'd like to ask our readers?

If you found out you were going want to see before Lights Out?

It was an absolute pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, Nicole! Your humor and ability to reflect on a personal struggle and turn it into something wonderful, truly amazes me. Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 two print copies of Now I See You
—that's two winners total, woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is answer Nicole's question:
If you found out you were going blind tomorrow, what are the top three things you’d want to see before Lights Out?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Nicole and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to St. Martin's Press!
Giveaway ends July 10th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US/Can residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar on the right for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide—there are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!