Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Allen Eskens Guest Post + Giveaway

Allen Eskens Guest Post + Giveaway

Allen Eskens is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on BookSnob for the month of February and he recently visited the high school I teach at in Minneapolis to talk to students.  He wrote his guest post about a question he didn't expect.  Allen's book, The Life We Bury is taking South High School by storm.  I see students and staff reading it everywhere.  Read on.

A question I didn’t expect.

I recently did a presentation at Minneapolis South High School and a young lady asked a question that caught me off guard. I’d given my talk about how I came to write my novel The Life We Bury, and I was taking questions when this bright young woman asked “If I could go back in time and talk to myself and give myself advise, how old would I be. I’d come prepared to answer questions about my writing process or what it’s like to publish a novel, but this question was definitely one of those outside-the-box questions.

I didn’t have time to give that question the hours of thought it deserved.  I shot from the cuff and said sixth grade. And now, after giving it some thought, I believe I got it right.

 I remember being a fairly self-confident kid up until I got into sixth grade. I used to do the readings at my church, walk fearlessly among my peers, and I even had a part in the school play. But then sixth grade came along and something happened. I wish I could tell you what that was, but I can’t. No crippling trauma. No loss of a loved one. No single incident that would explain the change. I just

I developed a form of stage fright that shrunk my world. I became unable to speak in front of people. I gaped like a freshly caught perch whenever a teacher would call upon me to answer a question in class.

For the next three years I began a slow withdrawal from life. I quit all of my extra-curricular activities. No more football, wrestling or drama club. I became introverted and awkward. Looking back now, I see that my slide was born of a complete loss of confidence.  Doubt gripped me in every aspect of my life. By the time I started high school, I had pledged that I would keep my head down and do the very minimum necessary to graduate.

But then, on a dare, my best friend and I tried out for the school play. I was terrified and expected that I’d freeze on stage. But to my relief, I made it through—and had fun in the process. Over the next four years, I threw myself into theater and by the time I graduated I was a completely different person. I regained my self-confidence, and I’ve been grabbing life by the throat ever since.

Back then, I came close to skidding down a very different path in my life. But now I am a successful attorney with a novel that is a finalist for the Edgar Allen Poe Award and a Minnesota Book Award. When I spoke to the kids at South, I wanted tell them the things I wish I could have said to my sixth-
grade self. Don’t let self-doubt be the deciding factor in what path you take. Challenge yourselves and you’ll be surprised what you can accomplish.

Allen Eskens

Author of The Life We Bury

Thanks Allen.  If you would like to win a copy of Allen's book, please enter here:  The Life We Bury Giveaway