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-
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