One of us lives on the east coast. One of us lives on the west.

One of us lives in a rural community. One of us lives in a city.

Both of us wander. Both of us witness. Both of us write.

This is a record of what we find.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Interview with Jennifer Wolf Kam

Sharry: It’s Halloween week and time for all things ghostly—who doesn’t love a good ghost story? (We do!) So we’re especially excited and proud to have our VCFA classmate and good friend Jennifer Wolf Kam here today to talk about the narrative landscape in her spooky, dark debut YA novel Devin Rhodes Is Dead. Welcome Jen!
Jen: Thank you guys--I'm thrilled to be here. =)

Sharry: So, could you tell us about the concept of landscape that inspired the story of Cass and Devin?

Jen: I would say the landscape that inspired Devin Rhodes Is Dead, is the landscape of friendship--its smooth plains and lustrous gardens along with its weather-beaten marshes and craggy ledges. Friendships are fluid and can often be tenuous, but they have the ability to be life-sustaining.

Sharry: Oh! I love your description of friendship’s landscape—really beautifully evocative! It makes me think about my own friendships and what their landscapes might look like. Can you tell us more about the atmosphere/mood of this landscape?

Jen: The landscape of the story is varied, but certainly leans more towards the treacherous. The floral imagery contrasts with the ravine to show both extremes.

Sharry: This is fascinating Jen. How would you say that these treacherous and flourishing aspects play a part in your story? 

Jen: I think many of us have relationships in our lives that are difficult, relationships that cause others to wonder why we have them in the first place. Friendships are complicated, some more than others. At times, the landscape of a friendship becomes too difficult to traverse. Other times, we manage it, but not without peril. The complexity of Cass and Devin's relationship in Devin Rhodes Is Dead, is what drives the story forward.

Sharry: This theme of complicated friendships is one that I think everyone can relate to. What do you hope that readers might come away with after reading Devin Rhodes Is Dead?

Jen: In the tween and teen years, friendships can be fragile, delicate things, fraught with difficult choices and challenges. But I think they teach us how to navigate a lifetime of relationships, when to pull away, but also when to invest the effort.

Sharry: Jen, thank you so much for taking time to visit with us at Kissing The Earth.

Readers, win your very own copy of Devin Rhodes Is Dead simply by following these instructions: 

1. Leave a comment below.
2. You must have a US or Canada mailing address to win.
3. Enter by Wednesday, November 5th midnight EST. A winner will be randomly chosen (by Emma the Sheltie) and announced here on Thursday the 6th.

Jennifer Wolf Kam began writing stories as soon as she could hold a crayon. Today she holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Devin Rhodes Is Dead is her debut novel and the winner of the National Association of Elementary School Principals Children’s Book Award. She is also a four-time finalist for the Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing, offered by the journal, Hunger Mountain. She lives in New York.


  1. Thank you for this Jen. So interesting, this unique way of looking at friendship, through the a landscape metaphor. I LOVE it. Congratulations on the book!

  2. Great interview, Sharry and Jen! Relationships as landscape will have me pondering all day.

  3. Great interview, ladies! Sounds like an engaging read

  4. Thanks so much, Tam, Ann and Annemarie!

  5. Hmmm... Either my comment vanished into the ether (& I'm blaming Devin!) or you'll hear from me twice... but! Oh! I am angsting all over the place that I haven't read this yet. I know those treacherous friendships oh too well!

    (But I love to think of our friendship as a different kind of landscape!)

  6. Love this concept of the landscape of friendship. I can't wait to read Jennifer's book. Thanks for an intriguing interview!

  7. Wonderful interview, Shari. After reading it, I am intrigued and will definitely get the book. Friendships are such an important part of our lives and have a major influence on our tweens/teens. A very rich topic!

  8. Friendships are certainly complicated, often times life-saving and breath-taking, other times treacherous and numbing. Can't wait to explore the landscape of friendships with Cass and Devin. Thanks for a great interview, Jennifer and Sharry!

  9. Congrats, Jen! So proud of you!

  10. What fun to hang out with you both, though I wish it could have been longer. Thinking (way) back on my teen years, I remember the angst of so many of my crazy friendships. Super interview!