Today we have author Kim Zarins as a special guest talking about her book, a modern day retelling of The Canterbury Tales! Let’s take a look at Sometimes We Tell The Truth!
Title: SOMETIMES WE TELL THE TRUTH
Author: Kim Zarins
Pub. Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
In this contemporary retelling of The Canterbury Tales, a group of teens on a bus ride to Washington, DC, each tell a story—some fantastical, some realistic, some downright scandalous—in pursuit of the ultimate prize: a perfect score.
Jeff boards the bus for the Civics class trip to Washington, DC, with a few things on his mind:
-Six hours trapped with his classmates sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.
-He somehow ended up sitting next to his ex-best friend, who he hasn’t spoken to in years.
-He still feels guilty for the major part he played in pranking his teacher, and the trip’s chaperone, Mr. Bailey.
-And his best friend Cannon, never one to be trusted and banned from the trip, has something “big” planned for DC.
But Mr. Bailey has an idea to keep everyone in line: each person on the bus is going to have the chance to tell a story. It can be fact or fiction, realistic or fantastical, dark or funny or sad. It doesn’t matter. Each person gets a story, and whoever tells the best one will get an automatic A in the class.
But in the middle of all the storytelling, with secrets and confessions coming out, Jeff only has one thing on his mind—can he live up to the super successful story published in the school newspaper weeks ago that convinced everyone that he was someone smart, someone special, and someone with something to say.
In her debut novel, Kim Zarins breathes new life into Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales in a fresh and contemporary retelling that explores the dark realities of high school, and the subtle moments that bring us all together.
And now to the guest post!
Four Fantastic Women Get on a Bus: Sometimes We Tell the Truth Character Introductions!
One fun thing about retelling Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is that I got to flesh out the few women he did have, as well as add several more! I wanted to introduce you to four characters you will meet on the all-day bus ride, and give you a little hint as to what their stories will be about. (If you want to meet one more awesome young woman, check out the romantic excerpt from Sophie’s paranormal tale on 8/29 on Novel Novice.)
#1 Reiko. In Chaucer’s original, she’s a male character, but I thought it would be more powerful to have her be a woman because her tale shows the difficulty many women have with operating in an abusive society in ways both large and small. If you’re a woman and you’ve ever had a man in your family tell you how to vote, her story will hopefully resonate with you. (Her tale is my agent’s favorite story!)
#2 Cece. Cece’s the girl who gets told she’d be so much prettier if she smiled…which makes her furious. I took a risk with Cece because I made her unpopular, a sort of frustrated Cassandra figure fighting for women’s equality, because it felt real to me that someone as passionate as Cece would get a cold shoulder. (High school is not the most forgiving place for passionate people, but Cece is going to LOVE college!) My hope is that, as with other stereotypes on that bus, other characters and readers begin to see that how right she is about so many things, and that her feminism (as well as the other feminisms on the bus) has value.
In Chaucer’s version, Cece’s a nun without a name—phooey on that!—and tells the story of a female martyr named Cecilia. I gave Cece that martyr’s name and courage. I love Cece’s absolute determination to fight the Patriarchy, no matter how unaccepting other men (and other women) are. She’s still developing her mode of feminism, and she’s not perfect, but I love her refusal to compromise and wish I had some of her in me—I’m a smiling, please-all woman, and that can be so taxing. Also, I adore her tale about a girl who puts her boyfriend first…until she meets a dolphin. I wear a dolphin necklace and have had this story on my mind for years and am thrilled I could give it to Cece.
#3 Lupe. In Chaucer’s original, there’s a man called the Manciple who’s tough and argumentative, and I gave all that to Lupe. Her name comes from the Latin word for wolf, and I wanted someone smart, beautiful, fierce, and a touch sly. The Manciple tells a love story gone horribly wrong, featuring a Greek god and a talking crow. Lupe tells that basic story, including the crow, but she adds a wicked fangirl paranormal twist.
#4 Alison. She’s by far my favorite and is based on Chaucer’s beloved Wife of Bath. Like Chaucer’s original, she’s bold and adventurous in her relationships with guys. She’s also a woman with some pretty tough experiences that made her grow up fast, and she’s still balancing her strength as a sexually liberated woman and some negative experiences she’s had with men. I suppose she’s what Roxane Gay lovingly calls a ‘bad feminist’—someone who is a fighter but will also dance to music with sexist lyrics, because Alison’s gotta dance. In other words, she’s complex, fun-loving, and real. She’s a powerful young woman, and I love her to pieces.
Pre-order giveaway: if you pre-order the book by its release date, September 6th, drop Kim a message on her website or Twitter and she’ll send you a sticker featuring spot art from the book (perhaps Cece’s dolphin, Alison’s Liberty Bell, etc. You pick!), along with a bookmark and signed bookplate!
Kim Zarins has a PhD in English from Cornell University and teaches medieval literature at Sacramento State University. Her YA contemporary retelling of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Sometimes We Tell the Truth, will be released on September 6, 2016. When she isn’t reading, writing, or teaching, she hangs out with her family in Davis, CA, and coaxes a scrub jay named Joe to take peanuts from her hand.
10 winners will receive a finished copy of SOMETIMES WE TELL THE TRUTH & stickers, US Only.
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