Welcome Back To The Spotlight – Jo Knowles!

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Welcome back to Jo Knowles, this time to celebrate the release of her newest novel, See You At Harry’s! Keep reading to find out how you can enter to win a free signed copy of this fabulous book! Jo is the author of Lessons From A Dead Girl (Candlewick  Press), Jumping Off Swings (Candlewick Press), and Pearl (Henry Holt).  See You At Harry’s (Candlewick Press/2012): Twelve-year-old Fern often feels invisible in her family, everyone seems to be busy with their own issues – Dad with running the restaurant, Mom and her meditation, eldest sibling Sarah who is spending a gap year helping out (but not really) at the restaurant, and 14-year-old brother Holden who seems to be struggling with his identity. The only family member who seems to pay her any attention (excessive in Fern’s mind) is 3-year-old Charlie, constantly happy and the center of everyone’s world. When tragedy strikes, and guilty feelings abound, the family must come together, or be lost. Fern and her family feel so incredibly real, full of all the uncomfortable and feel-good moments families share. There is pain and there is love. A must read to be cherished for favorite characters you won’t want to let go of.

Spotlight on Jo Knowles:

What was the initial spark for See You At Harry’s?

Many years ago when I put up my first Web site, I described growing up in the restaurant business on my bio page. My agent, Barry Goldblatt, read and loved the description of the trouble my brother, sister and I used to get into and said, “You need to write a book about this!” I agreed! But there wasn’t really a story there, just a setting. In addition to that, I knew writing any story that involved memories of my brother would be painful (he died 8 years ago). But, Barry’s suggestion stayed with me. One day, I decided the only way to write the book was to sit down, open a new file, and see what happened. So I did.

I adore Fern, the main character in See You At Harry’s – she is vulnerable, kind, and feels a little invisible. What were the challenges in getting to know her and the other family members in the story?

Oh, thank you! I love Fern too. She’s the me I wish I was. We have a lot in common, but Fern has way more spunk and snark than I do. For me, the big challenge was making this family different from my own. When I first started writing, I found myself rewriting real scenes from my own childhood, and that was keeping me from finding my way into the fictional world of this other family. But as I worked my way deeper into the plot, the “truth” of each of us slipped away, and I was able to discover who each of these characters were and what made them unique and special.

I love the diner – you grew up in a restaurant family. What are some of your favorite memories?

I loved the ice-cream. What can I say? J My dad’s first restaurant was also an ice-cream factory. In the back of the restaurant, there was this huge room where the mixing tanks were. When the batches were ready, my dad would fill big containers with the fresh ice-cream. He always let us have some right out of the tank. When it first comes out of the machine, it’s still soft, like “soft serve” I guess you’d say, but it was sooooo much better than soft serve because it was far more rich and creamy. I also loved it when my parents let us make our own sundaes, and we could pile on as much chocolate and caramel sauce and whipped cream as we wanted. But mostly, my favorite memories are simply of all of us being together in what was basically our second home.

Little Jo loves her ice cream! :)

For more about Jo and her books, visit her site, read her blog, visit her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Win a signed copy of See You At Harry’s!

Jo has generously offered to send a signed copy of her book to a winner of this drawing! Make sure you follow the rules! This is a book you don’t want to miss reading! If you are reading this via a feed, click here to comment/enter the drawing.

1. Comment on this post – and for fun, tell me the name of your favorite ice cream flavor! If you’re like me and can’t eat ice cream, tell me the name of your favorite substitute! Mine is dark chocolate sorbet.

2. Please include your email address so I can notify you if you win.

3. Leave your comment by midnight EST, Friday, May 18th. Winner will be announced on this blog on Tuesday, May 22, and will be contacted by email.

4. Winner must have a US or Canada mailing address.

Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

39 responses »

  1. I purchased my copy of Meet You At Harry’s at the New England conference and Jo signed it, but…(page turn!
    I lent it to my granddaughter who “couldn’t put it down” when she started reading and is now going to pass it on to her favorite librarians to read! I need another copy so one will end up at a local library. Favorite ice cream is raspberry cream (made locally)

  2. Jo’s story about the ice cream factory in the back of the restaurant is great. Every kid should have a childhood memory like that. My personal favorite ice cream flavor is Mocha Almond Fudge and as soon as I lose 7 more pounds I’m going to have some. Please enter my name in the draw, Thanks!

  3. Yes, some day I will leave my email address in the original post…maybe.

    carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

  4. What a great interview, Debbi and Jo! I have been wanting to read Meet Me At Harry’s since I first heard about it! I’d LOVE to win a signed copy! My favorite ice cream flavor is pumpkin and if I can’t get that, I go for dolce de leche. Fingers crossed on the drawing! Sharry (swrite@sbcglobal.net)

  5. Ooh! I love Jo and can’t wait to read her newest book! My favorite ice-cream had always been mint chocolate chip. I especially appreciate Breyer’s. I’ll include my favorite Creemee flavor too, it has to be German chocolate. Yum.
    Thanks for the chance to win
    Blackeyedsue21@gmail.com

  6. My mom grew up working in her dad’s restaurant–I love all her stories about it, and can’t wait to read Jo’s “restaurant story!” (Favorite ice cream flavor–just one??? I guess cookies-and-cream–because my kids can’t believe that for a large chunk of my childhood, there was no such flavor!)

  7. I’ve been wanting to read this book since the last time you featured it. Now I want to read it even more after reading the story behind the book!

    I’m allergic to milk but that doesn’t stop me from eating ice cream, though I mostly make my own with non-dairy substitutes. Coconut or blueberry sorbet are some flavors I like.

    Thanks for the awesome giveaway! (readingdate @ gmail)

  8. I always get a little jealous when I hear about kids who worked for their parents and DIDN’T have to clean out animal runs, (try to) help xray a cat, and hold down HUGE dogs who were not happy about being examined. Peter Jackson’s kids got to act in The LOTR movies, and Jo got to eat ice cream. Sigh. (Okay, yes, the newborn puppies and kittens did make it all worthwhile, so I’ll stop whining!)

    Please do enter me!

      • I actually did love the job, most of the time! And I’m guessing even if I hold the record for largest numbers of scoops, I bet you beat me easily on size! BTW–favorite ice cream: Homemade blueberry ice cream at the Red Room in Santa Cruz. You should go try it!

  9. I can not wait to read this book! I’ve read so many great reviews about it on blogs and on Twitter.
    My favorite “ice cream” is Soy Delicious Peanut Butter and Chocolate.

  10. Excellent interview – thank you! I can’t wait to read this book. I have loved all of her other books, especially Pearl.

    I could eat Heavenly Hash ice cream every night of the week. A secret – I pretty much do!:)

    ajswrites
    email: starowiczandrew@gmail.com

  11. Love, love, love this! Thank you for sharing.

    I actually do not like ice cream. Or milk at all really. When I was a child I loved cookies and cream ice cream though. And, I remember that I loved going to Baskin Robbins to get the bubble gum flavor [this was wayyyyy back in the day!] I loved all of the little bubble gum that was in it! My daughter loves Dutch chocolate ice cream. It can not be just regular chocolate either. She will be able to tell the difference! haha.

    Thanks so much for this awesome opportunity!
    -Amy
    amydelrosso@gmail.com

  12. Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this book! And Blue Moon is always, always my fav ice cream flavor–tastes like Fruit Loops :-)

    romie1673 at gmail dot com

  13. I already read (and adored) this book, and bought several copies for my library. Would love a signed copy to give to one of our teens as a summer reading club prize this year! As for ice cream, I’m partial to pistachio.

  14. I love Abbott’s vanilla custard with either Snickers OR Reese’s pieces mixed in. Can you notify me via Twitter at Nicmedia123 OR is there somewhere I can send you my email privately? I really would love to have a copy of the book. Then I can Tweet and blog about it.

  15. Really can’t wait to read this one! Sounds like a box of kleenex will be necessary. Chocolate almond on a sugar cone or chocolate malt. Or pistachio. Gold medal ribbon if I’m at a Baskin Robbins.

    kdubaygillis at gmail dot com

    Thanks!

  16. Pick Me!

    My favorite ice cream really depends on my mood. Strawberry always, but sometimes coffee hits the spot. And then there’s jamocha almond fudge.

    Mmmmm….

    Thanks for the chance to win a book I’m dying to read!

  17. I have been hearing so many wonderful things about this book. It is on my summer reading list. I enjoy hearing how authors came up with ideas for their books. I think these stories are powerful when sharing with students. My favorite ice cream is plain old vanilla!

  18. I’d love to read Jo’s new book! Along with a scoop of sticky, chewy chocolate (actually a favorite childhood flavor I can’t find anymore). lynnrabinbauer @ gmail.com

  19. My favorite ice cream is Smurf ice cream- blue with marshmallows- from my hometown in Iowa. I get it whenever I go home

  20. Love love this book! Read it on NetGalley but will definitely need to own an actual copy of the book. Thanks for the great interview – is fun reading people’s favorite ice cream flavor. Without a doubt mine is coconut – or anything involving coconut.
    - Kristin
    mcilhagg@msu.edu

  21. Yes, it is a great interview. Thanks Becky for posting it on facebook! My favorite ice cream is coconut pineapple dipped in chocolate. I used to get this ice cream cone at Polar Bear Ice Cream in Capatola, now gone. I would love to win a copy of this book!

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