Author Event: THE HELP’s Kathryn Stockett
About two weeks ago, I went to the Lincoln Center B&N to see Kathryn Stockett. My mom was supposed to come with me but she wasn’t feeling well. So I got some signed copies at her request.
One random thing that I noticed while waiting for the author to speak: the difference in paper between my copy (that was bought in March) and the ones I bought my mom. This book is already in its 56th or so printing. My copy was in its 46th printing. It looks like they are using less expensive paper at this point. Which makes sense. If you’re printing so many book each time, it’s worth going for something that costs less. It’s amazing though what the difference in paper makes to the actual thickness of a book… but I digress.
Ms. Stockett was introduced by one of her friends who is also an author and whose name I forget. He talked about how he was invited to a writing retreat with her in the South and there was a lot of questions like “When are we going to eat?” He learned that one does not go for a run in the summer in the South along the Mississippi River.
But on to Ms. Stockett! What a darling! She’s a petite blonde lady with a wonderful Southern drawl. She talked about the 60 or so rejections she got when she first wrote The Help. She never thought the book would be as big as it is. She actually wrote it not too far from where we were, because as she put it, her husband worked at home and he was too noisy, so she had to go out to write. She can be very defensive about Mississippi–she can complain all she wants about it, but someone who hasn’t been there has no right to do so, she said laughing. Which is what we all do right?
She’s been on the set of the movie. In response to someone asking if she was a practical joker in real life (based on the “awful” thing that is mentioned in the book), Ms. Stockett said that she had a very good friend growing up and they were two troublemakers, even stealing a family member’s car when they were 14 to drive and have supper. He was one of the first people to read the manuscript and he was already working in Hollywood by then. He said that the book had to be a movie, but that he couldn’t pitch a movie idea with such a huge book. So he wrote the screenplay for it, to make it easier. Then, some time later, Ms. Stockett got a phone call from Steven Spielberg, saying that Dreamworks would like to do the movie. So who is that friend of hers? Tate Taylor. And he is also the director.
She also said that Sissy Spacek is in the movie as Mrs. Walters, and because she did such a great job, they expanded her role just a bit in the movie. Oh, I can not wait to see this! The cast definitely looks promising.
The crowd that was there to see her was great. One African-American lady got up and said that she initially did not want to read The Help, because she felt the same way as others did: How could a white woman write something like this? But over time, she kept seeing it on the bestseller lists so she gave in. She said that when she finished it, she couldn’t look a white woman in the eye, even on the street. She was so angry, but at the same time, she praised Ms. Stockett for being such a great storyteller and for invoking such emotion in her. She gave the book to her sister to read and is patiently waiting for her to finish so that they could talk about it. The lady said this much better than I write it here. Ms. Stockett did say that she wrote her author’s not at the end at her editor’s insistence, who told her she had to explain herself.
Oh, and someone did ask the question we all were probably thinking: is she working on something new? The answer is Yes! She has an idea: about a group of women in the South during the Great Depression and the means to which they go to in order to survive. She admits she has to start working on it.
I’m really glad I went to see her. Maybe she’ll do some more store events near the movie’s release? Some authors like to do that….
And because I didn’t get a chance to take the photos off my own camera, I found this on the The Help’s Facebook page: