Interview with E Katherine Kottaras, Author of How to Be Brave
01 Jan 2016
Though the story is not autobiographical, much of it is “true” in the sense that it was written after a difficult period of my life. I lost my father when I was seventeen and my mother when I was thirty. After my mother passed away when my daughter was ten months old, I found myself sandwiched between the death of my best friend and the presence of this new life. The act of writing was a way for me to work through my own grief and to also find new purpose my life.
HOW TO BE BRAVE specifically started as a thought experiment to see what my relationship with my dad would have been like had my mom died first. As I started writing, Georgia became her own character with her own struggles. As Georgia discovers, there are many different ways to live a life of courage – whether it be by skydiving or taking a trapeze class (numbers 3 and 4 on Georgia’s list), by learning how to draw or dancing to your heart’s wild content (numbers 6 and 10), or by reaching out to others in their time of need (not on the list, but equally important). I hope this book encourages readers to reflect on their own fears and to face life bravely.
What’s your favorite thing about Los Angeles?
I originally moved here for the weather, but I’ve stayed for the people. I have a wonderful community of friends here in L.A. who I love dearly.
Who was your childhood hero?
Michael Stipe. I was in the seventh grade when I discovered R.E.M., and besides loving their music, I always admired the fact that Michael Stipe was outspoken about issues he cared about. I loved that he could be poetic and insightful, dignified and cool. I still hold great respect for him, more than twenty-five years later.
You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?
Edith Wharton, Maya Angelou, and Douglas Coupland. It would be an odd mix, but I’d be curious to see what they would have to talk about.
We asked our readers this question, now it’s your turn! What would be at the top of your “Ways to Be Brave” list?
1. Learn how to roller skate and/or ice skate without using the wall.
2. Ride my bike to yoga. (Bike lanes scare me!)
3. Hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (and all the way back up, I guess…)
4. Visit every continent (I’ve only been to two.)
What fictional literary world would you most like to visit?
Mount Olympus, though I’d be a little scared of meeting Zeus.
What are you currently craving?
Pizza. Always pizza. More specifically, Chicago-style. (Cornmeal crust with cheese on the bottom, sauce on top.)
What’s your favorite quote or scene from How to Be Brave?
“Being brave isn’t about living every minute exhilarated. It’s about waking up and knowing that despite the worry and the sadness and the deep, dark fear, you’re going to go forth anyway. That you’re going to try anyway. That you have a choice, and you’re going to choose to live, today, bravely.”
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
“Understand the power of a single action.” As I mentioned earlier, my obsession with R.E.M. goes back to middle school. This statement was written on the back of the 1989 Green World Tour t-shirt, and it remains my favorite motto.
E Katherine Kottaras is the author of the new book How to Be BraveBuy The Book
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