Today's the Day!

After years of writing and waiting, it's finally here--my book is out in the world! It is SO bizarre and wonderful.

Yesterday, after hearing about some SALT & STORM sightings in the wild from friends, Dave and I headed out to the bookstore, and there, on a shelf in a store where actual people can see it and buy it, was my book. Dave and I cheered while the other people in the aisle gave us weird looks, and I wanted to grab them and say THAT'S ME!!! I'M THIS BOOK!!!!

As we were walking out, Dave asked me how I was feeling and I told him, "Eh, just fulfilled a childhood dream. No bigs." But seriously, I actually have this very weird tendency to downplay good things that happen to me, and so with this book, I've kind of had to sit myself down and explain to myself what a big deal this is.

So.

This is a book that came out of my head two years ago. Went through countless drafts. Found me my agent. Found me a home at the most wonderful publisher I could imagine. Connected me with fellow writers and readers around the world.

I *loved* writing SALT & STORM. This was the first thing I wrote where everything just clicked. It took me on a wonderful journey, and I am so happy that it's *this* book that made it out there.

The last few months have been a whirlwind, and the last few weeks I've been in a post-baby haze that has turned my brain into finely-grated cheese,* but I'm excited, thrilled, grateful that this day is finally here.

And I am *so* happy to finally share this book with the world!

 

*The baby, by the way, celebrated publication day by peeing all over me and the bed this morning. Keepin' me humble...

After the Launch Comes the Launch PARTY!

Boston-area readers! I'll be celebrating the launch of Salt & Storm this TUESDAY(!!!) at Brookline Public Library! Here are the details of the event (held in conjunction with the *fabulous* Children's Book Shop):

 

Join us Tuesday, September 23rd to celebrate the release of talented author Kendall Kulper's debut YA novel, Salt & Storm.

SALT & STORM
by
KENDALL KULPER

Tuesday, September 23rd
7:00 pm

at the Brookline Public Library Teen Room
Main Branch

 Salt & Storm is a sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.  

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea. But when Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself. Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it requires unimaginable sacrifice.

     

If you're unable to make it to this event, but would like to have books signed, please contact us in advance and we'll be happy to take care of it for you.

The Children's Book Shop

237 Washington Street
Brookline, MA 02445

617.734.7323
thechildrensbookshop.net  

Hours
MondaySaturday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
Sunday - 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Happy Book Birthday to THE WITCH OF SALT & STORM!

I am still technically on leave, taking care of a very special delivery,* but I wanted to celebrate the release of the UK version of my book: THE WITCH OF SALT & STORM!

Yes, if you're in the UK or the British Commonwealth,** you can get your paws on my book a full NINETEEN DAYS sooner than in the States, courtesy my wonderful UK publisher, Orchard Books!

You can find out more about Orchard Books (and, if you're in the UK, order a copy for your very own), here!
 

*More on *that* later...

**I still don't know how many countries this exactly involves, but it sure is fun to say!

It All Comes Back to Identity

I wrote this post for the Fall Fourteeners blog, where it originally appeared, and as it's one of the favorite and most personal things I've written online, I decided to repost it here. Enjoy.


I have curly dark hair, green eyes, and the kind of fair skin that burns whenever anyone says the word sunshine. Growing up, I always thought of myself as one hundred percent Irish, like the majority of kids in my Catholic elementary school. My mom is Irish, after all, freckly with red-blond hair and my same green eyes, and I felt like I fit in with the rest of my small, Irish Catholic family.

And I am Irish. But I also had a Puerto Rican grandmother and a gigantic Puerto Rican family.

For some reason, growing up, I never saw myself as Latina. I can distinctly remember the moment when I put two and two together and realized if Gam (my grandmother) and Titi (my great-aunt) were Puerto Rican, that meant so was my dad, and so was I. I was probably eight or nine years old, and it frankly did not make sense to me. I looked white. I spoke hardly any Spanish. I somehow knew, intellectually, that I had Puerto Rican family and yet I also somehow divested myself of that heritage. I didn’t look the part like my cousins, aunts, and uncles, and so I subconsciously subtracted that part of my identity.

But as I got older, I began to realize that, no knock to my Irish (or Polish—my dad’s dad) roots, my Puerto Rican heritage was a huge part of who I was and am. I grew up listening to my grandmother and great-aunt bicker and laugh and gossip in a rolling stream of Spanish and English. I can still remember the taste of Titi’s chicken with rice (and it’s one of my bigger regrets that I never got her recipe before she died). I had a quinceañera, the traditional party for Latinas on their fifteenth birthday. I took four years of Spanish in high school and eventually minored in it in college.

Still, it’s strange. I find, often, that people I meet want to deny me my heritage. I’ll go to the doctor’s office and see the nurse check me in and tic off the “WHITE” box, skipping the “LATINO/A” box all together.

“Excuse me,” I say. “I’m also Latina.”

When I applied to college, I was so proud to mark that box on my form, and when I eventually got accepted at Harvard, my grandmother literally could not stop herself from telling every person on the planet. And then I started to hear rumors that I only got in because I said I was Puerto Rican (never mind, of course, that I was a top student, took more AP courses than almost anyone else in my school’s history, had been awarded for my writing and art, and was an Olympics-hopeful archer…).

I am Puerto Rican. I’m Irish. I’m also Polish and French, married to an Italian, and have a Chinese sister-in-law. I, like a lot of Americans, cannot fit into one small box, and it is very strange to me that my daughter, who will be born in only a few short (oh lord, too short) weeks, who will almost certainly come out into this world with curly dark hair, fair skin, and blue or green eyes, will most likely come to be defined as “White,” when her background suggests something much more complicated.

I wonder how she’ll react when I tell her that she’s Puerto Rican. When she visits her aunt and uncle in Hong Kong. When she learns how to make her dad’s family’s tomato sauce, a recipe tweaked and perfected over generations of Italian-American chefs. Will she be surprised? Will she feel any connection to these cultures, to her own personal history? Or will she look in the mirror, on the television, in books and politics and newspapers and see only one story, a white story, reflected back at her? Will she choose to adopt and embrace only one small piece of her identity, simply because that is presented as the only option?

There is something so terrible about denying a vital part of yourself because the message is that that part is not important. Or, even worse, because that part simply never even occurred to you, because even though you grew up listening to Spanish or eating chicken and beans or hearing about your cousins in San Juan, you had been told, taught, trained to think of the world in boxes and appearances.

That is why diversity matters. That is why we need books that tell more than one kind of story, protagonists who embrace their whole identities.

To me, YA is all about identity. It’s all about figuring out the kind of person you are, the kind of adult you will be. It’s about knowing the difference between “this is who I am told I am” and “this is who I really am.” How could race and culture not be a huge part of that question?

As an author, these are the questions I hope to address head-on, not just because they are questions I grapple with on a daily basis, but because I know I’m not alone, and because I want my daughter to grow up the opposite of color blind. I want her to see differences and understand them.

And that is just one of many reasons why we need diverse books.