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Monday, September 7, 2015


by Kelly Loy Gilbert

Kelly Loy Gilbert

This past Friday, September 4, 2015, Marcy and I posted our answers to Kelly’s debut novel Conviction. Today, you get to read Kelly’s favorites.

Great in depth answers and insight in to your characters, Kelly! We can’t wait for our readers to read the novel. And hopefully to give us a few of their favorites, too.

1) What is your favorite line or paragraph from the novel as it relates to the main character's development and/or growth?

There are so many demons Braden has to face down, and one that always haunts him is whether or not he's a good person, whether he's worthy of all the things he hopes and believes--and whether he's ever even known how to measure himself against any standard that wasn't his dad, what it means to be a good person when nothing is the world is what you always thought.  

Maddie was wrong, it turns out: in some ways, some of the worst ways, I am exactly like my dad.  

2) What is your favorite chapter ending or cliffhanger?

My favorite is the very ending!  But, to avoid spoiling the whole book, another is this scene leading up to the night when the officer died:

“I forgive you,” he said in my ear.  “All right?  That was a terrible thing to do, but I forgive you.  I love you, B.  I love you so much.  I’m sorry you got scared.  I’m sorry.  It’s just because I love you.  Because you scared me.” 

I didn’t move.  I don’t know if he even realized he was doing it but he was gripping my shirt in his fist like maybe he’d thought I was going to try to get away.  That’s the part I think about now, how he did that.  Because what did he think I was going to do?  Where else did he even think I had to go? 

I don’t know how long we stood there, him re-tightening his grip around me every time he started to relax.  I was starting to go numb, to not feel anything anymore at all.  And he told me again: he loved me more than anything, and he was sorry, and everything was fine.  And it was true, wasn’t it? All of that.  Because eventually he led me back inside, he heated up a pizza for me and scooped ice cream into a bowl and made me have seconds, he sat me down on the computer and told me to buy myself something, anything I wanted, and then we watched ESPN highlights until we both fell asleep on the couch and the cops went back to their own houses, I guess, and for that night everyone was fine.

3) Who is your favorite secondary character and why?

He's been a somewhat polarizing character, but I'll put in a third vote for Braden's older brother, Trey.  I think it takes courage to come back to a place that nearly broke you, the way Trey does to avoid Braden being placed in a group home when their father is arrested, and I've always been compelled by the gap between the person Trey wants to be and the person he fears he actually is.  And, too, I'm always interested in what it looks like when a character hates himself and yet still has to wake up and somehow face himself day after day.

4) What is your favorite line or paragraph of description?

This passage when Braden's describing a time his father took him on a surprise trip:

He was so happy afterward.  And at the time I thought it was just that I got over something you aren’t supposed to be afraid of and that I did it because he asked, because I wanted to make him happy.  And that was part of it, maybe.  That meant something to him.  But I think even more than that, he was so happy because he felt the way you do you when you’ve put things right in the world around you, because he’d told me something that was as true to him as anything else had ever been.  Even at the time it felt like some kind of prophecy spoken over me, a truth I’d be bound by and owe something and belong to, the thing I would again and again come back home to.  

5) What is your favorite line of dialogue?

I have a soft spot for Braden's friends, who stand with him in their own way even as they can never really look outside their own perspectives:

Chase Singer goes off about how it’s going to be a bloodbath when we play La Abra this year, how I’ll need a bodyguard, and my catcher, Colin Sykes, smacks him and snaps, “Real sensitive.  Maybe try shutting up,” and tells me I have nothing to worry about, that I know they’re all behind me. 

Congratulations to Kelly on her debut novel, Conviction!


Kelly Loy Gilbert is a fiction writer who believes deeply in the power of stories to illuminate a shared humanity and give voice to complex, broken people. She is passionate about social justice, the San Francisco Giants, and organizing things by color. She studied writing at the University of California—San Diego and at San Francisco State, and enjoys serving on the NaNoWriMo Associate Board and teaching creative writing workshops. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family in a home teeming with books.

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