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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.

Friday, September 4, 2015

First Friday - Five Favorite Things - Debut Novel Day

by Dave Amaditz and
Marcy Collier

Welcome to September’s version of - First Friday - Five Favorite Things - Debut Novel Day. In this monthly series, we ask five simple questions about a debut novel that will hopefully entice anyone reading this post to pick up the novel and read it themselves, and/or give them at a glance some insight into the author's writing style and voice as well as how some of the characters might think or act. We do this by presenting, first, answers to our Five Favorite Things, followed by the author's answers in a follow-up post.

This month we're pleased to highlight debut novelist, Kelly Loy Gilbert and her novel, Conviction. When Braden’s dad gets arrested for murder, he struggles through difficult times and must rely on his faith to make a life changing decision.

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

Dave –  Maybe it’s because of what I have going on in my life right now, but this particular line struck me.

Faith always makes more sense when you can look back later on, but when you’re in a bad place you don’t know that’s not where your story ends.

Marcy – Maddie, who Braden is beginning to like more than a friend, confides in Braden that she doesn’t think he’s at all like his dad. This is a turning point when Braden realizes people see him differently than he sees himself.

“You know, I don’t really think you look like your dad.”


“My parents listened to him sometimes before we moved here, and I remember being really surprised the first time I met you because I thought you’d be more like him. I didn’t expect you to be like you were.”

“And what was that?”

“Quieter. More private. I can’t imagine you talking on a public broadcast every day.” She hesitates. 

“And…nicer. I remember when we were picking lab partners in Science and you asked Austin O’Connor when you saw he was all by himself.” She unfurls herself – I can trace the line of her calves in the low-lit dusk – lies down on the sand, too. “And I remember when my younger sister spilled grape juice on you at church when we were doing Communion and you were really nice about it. Your dad’s … more intimidating.”

2) What is your favorite chapter ending or cliffhanger?

Dave - This ending comes from earlier in the novel.

It’s not particularly great, as jokes go, but it makes her laugh anyway. And it’s funny about that laugh - it makes me feel a kind of calm I haven’t felt much these days, like something twisting and then settling inside me. I smile back at her. I wish more things felt like this.

Marcy – Braden is at the field punishing himself for going soft during a baseball game by running up and down the bleachers 100 times. His buddies try to convince him to go hang out and asks how many sets he’s done already.

He sighs and shoves his cap back. “God Braden, you’re such a drama queen sometimes. How many have you done so far?”

I mutter that I’ve done thirty.

“Okay,” he says. “Well, seventy over five is…crap. Fifteen? That’s not right, is it?

Fourteen, moron,” Chase says. “What did you fail fourth grade?”

"All right, fourteen, Mister Mental Math.” Colin motions with his head, and the four of them come and line up on the bottom step of the bleachers, flanking me.

"We’ll split them with you, Raynor. Fourteen each. Let’s go.”

3) Who is your favorite secondary character and why?

Dave – Just like Marcy has indicated below. Trey. He’s an in-depth character, and although it doesn’t always show, he cares about his brother.

Marcy –  Braden’s brother, Trey is my favorite character. He cares deeply about his brother but expresses how he feels subtly, like in the below paragraph.

“So how did you know I don’t throw cutters?”

“I read when you told that woman from the Stockton Record you don’t have much use for them. I” – he pauses like he’s embarrassed, then makes an expression like, Eh, screw it –“ I get it sent to me in New York.”

“You what?” You don’t have papers there you like, or what?”

“I don’t have time to read the paper. I just read about your games.”

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

Dave -  Braden’s father ran over a police officer with this car and is in jail, ready to go on trial for murder. I think this captures well how Braden feels when someone finally approaches the subject around him.

It has been all over the news, but so far everyone’s at least had the decency to not say stuff like that around me, and this is how it feels when you hear that said aloud for the first time: like someone’s pouring acid down your throat.

Marcy -  This paragraph hit home and concisely describes how Braden feels in that particular moment, how anyone would feel in his situation.

This is why I hate when people tell me I don’t know how you’re surviving – because that implies you get a choice. What do they think, you’re actually going to die?  Because that’s not how it works. You don’t get an escape into nothing; you get a brother who half the time acts like he can’t stand you anymore and you get a seashell-themed bathroom in your pastor’s house to escape to because a nice dinner with people who believe what you wish you could about God is more than you  can take.

5) What is your favorite line of dialogue?

Dave - I think this line shows what a caring kid Braden is. He is talking to one of the younger kids on his baseball team who is nervous about facing a pitcher in one of the first baseball games his father has attended.

“Everyone gets nervous. You’re supposed to. I’m still a wreck before each pitch. If you don’t feel that way, because you don’t care. Okay? You’re in a good place.”

Marcy – The day Braden’s mom dropped him off to his dad when he was only a baby. This was Braden’s dad’s reaction of disbelief.

“You want to leave your kid with me?”