Starting Points: Tanya Lloyd Kyi discussing Anywhere But Here

An ongoing series wherein CWILL BC writers and illustrators connect a picture or an item to one of their books.


Grace and Guidance

I had a friend in high school with a hormone-related tendency to faint occasionally. Usually, there were clues this was coming and she could pop a pill or stay home from school. But in grade eleven, without warning, she passed out in the middle of class.

I don’t remember whether an ambulance came. What I do remember is our mousy high-school counselor shoving soda crackers into my friend’s mouth, in case she had anorexia. Now, even as a sixteen-year-old, I could have told you that combining soda crackers and unconscious people isn’t the best idea. Not to mention the rumors she started about my now apparently anorexic friend.

All this is to say that when, in the opening scenes of Anywhere But Here, my main character was sent to a school-mandated counseling appointment, I made the counselor mousy, anemic, and entirely incompetent. I even made her extra klutzy. And I giggled vengefully to myself.

But then she changed.

Somehow, through the course of the book, this very minor character gained insight and assertiveness. She developed a love life. She went from uttering inanities to actually proving useful in a crisis.

Ms. Gladwell appears in a total of seven short scenes. (I just counted.) But her story makes me smile whenever I think of the book. I feel as if I pointed her toward a happier life. And maybe when I look back at that long-gone counselor from my own past, I’ll think of her with slightly more grace.

My main character on the other hand… well, Ms. Gladwell was a little helpful with his various predicaments. But mostly, he’ll have to sort out both grace and happiness for himself.

Anywhere But Here - Tanya Kyi

Tanya’s most recent book, Anywhere But Here (Simon Pulse), was released on October 15, 2013.

About Dan Bar-el

I am a children's writer. I write picture books, middle grade novels and graphic novels. Also angry tweets, once in a while.
This entry was posted in books/writing, new publications, novels, Starting Points, writing process and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Starting Points: Tanya Lloyd Kyi discussing Anywhere But Here

  1. Pingback: Squee! | Tanya Lloyd Kyi

  2. Crackers on an unconscious person is definitely not a good idea, however, I remember when I was 17, fainting in Europe from a combination of hypoglycemia and jetlag. The restaurants had closed for two hours at lunch and my stomach was mighty empty. Anyway, when I fainted, as soon as I came to, my father fed me a really big bowl of icecream. It brought me back pretty quick. Glad he didn’t feed me crackers.

  3. This beautifully and humorously expresses what we already know about the benefits of reading good literature: it creates empathy, enhances sensitivity, adds to knowledge base, etc. But the real pay-off is for the writers, or at least the good ones like Tanya, who discover that the initial urge to wreak vengeance on a childhood nemesis is transformed by the act of writing into a bigger picture, a deeper understanding, and voila, a 3-D unforgettable character is born. Brava, Tanya!

  4. Pingback: Inside scoop | Tanya Lloyd Kyi

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