Comments

At M. E. Kerr’s request, this is a Comments page where visitors may leave comments without creating accounts. Comments will still be reviewed and may be edited for content. There will be a slight delay in posting new comments but don’t worry. You will see your comment within a day and we will respond if you ask a relevant question!

Please scroll down to the bottom of this page or go to Comments, continued for more.

Here are previous Guestbook entries. Perhaps we’ll add even older ones later on down the road.

72 Responses to Comments

  1. Susan Cortes says:

    I’ve been reading your books for 30 years since I discovered them in a young adult literature class I took in college. I just finished Edge and was wondering if you’re currently working on a new novel. Love your work!

    • Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

      Susan- Sorry for the late response! M.E. Kerr’s most current project that has spanned over time is a memoir. No publishing date yet. I also enjoyed Edge! She is such a captivating and accessible writer! Totally biased opinion, I know. Thank you so much for visiting the site and leaving a comment. We both truly enjoy the interest and feedback!

  2. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    Happy New Year! Things to do in 2016 include checking out M. E. Kerr’s recently released collection of short stories Edge, and with the spotlight on the movie Carol, attention has been put on her other work including Marijane Meaker’s memoir Highsmith.

    Click here for more information about Edge.

  3. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    We are pleased to see more spotlight on the writing of Marijane Meaker as herself and as Ann Aldrich in relation to the movie Carol and Patricia Highsmith. This reference is in The New Yorker.

    A Critic at Large NOVEMBER 30, 2015 ISSUE

    Forbidden Love
    The passions behind Patricia Highsmith’s “The Price of Salt” 

    By Margaret Talbot

    One evening in 1959, a thirty-two-year-old writer named Marijane Meaker was having a drink at L’s, a lesbian bar in Greenwich Village. Meaker wrote lesbian pulp novels for the Gold Medal imprint; her first was “Spring Fire,” published in 1952, under the pseudonym Vin Packer. She had learned—because her editor had insisted on it—to make sure that these stories didn’t end well for their heroines. At the time, paperbacks were often sent to readers through the mail, making them subject to censorship by the postal authorities. Although the novels could depict “perverse” sexuality, they could not be seen to endorse it: those who indulged had to return to the straight and narrow or be punished. (At the conclusion of “Spring Fire,” about two lovers in a sorority house, one of the young women rediscovers her true heterosexuality and moves into a dorm; the other has a car accident and a nervous breakdown.) Meaker was a woman of multiple pseudonyms. She was also Ann Aldrich, the author of “We Walk Alone.”

    At the bar, Meaker began talking to an attractive dark-haired woman in a trenchcoat who was drinking gin and smoking Gauloises. It was Highsmith, and to Meaker, who was six years younger, she “looked like a combination of Prince Valiant and Rudolf Nureyev.” By then, Highsmith was a celebrated author—she had won the Grand Prix de la Littérature Policière—and Meaker idolized her. She and the other customers at L’s knew that Highsmith had written “The Price of Salt,” and they loved it for one reason in particular. As Meaker notes, “It was for many years the only lesbian novel, in either hard or soft cover, with a happy ending.”
    ….

    Read Marijane Meaker’s memoir Highsmith for more.

  4. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    With the rave reviews of Carol, the movie adaptation of Patrica Highsmith’s The Price of Salt, it is wonderful to see a spotlight on the works of Marijane Meaker.

    In New York Magazine, November 18, 2015
    Frank Rich on Patricia Highsmith’s Carol and the Enduring Invisibility of Lesbian Culture in America references Marijane Meaker’s memoir Highsmith.

    It’s hard to appreciate now the impact Highsmith’s book had on gay women when it was first published. “It was for many years the only lesbian novel, in either hard or soft cover, with a happy ending,” wrote Marijane Meaker in a wry 2003 memoir about her romance with Highsmith circa 1960. Under the pseudonym Vin Packer, Meaker herself wrote a lesbian pulp novel, Spring Fire, published the same year as The Price of Salt, in which one woman ends up returning to heterosexuality and another ends up in a mental institution, because an editor instructed her that only an unhappy ending could protect the book from being seized by the postal authorities as “obscene.”

    In the same issue. Marijane Meaker’s Springfire and Shockproof Sydney Skate are featured in the article 28 People on the Lesbian-Culture Artifacts That Changed Their Lives.

    Spring Fire by Vin Packer (Marijane Meaker), 1952
    If you were a lesbian in the 1950s, you were almost certainly bewildered, isolated, and desperate for information. And then, out of the miraculous blue, came the lesbian pulp paperbacks, written by and for women you recognized, women in love with other women, women of energy and passion. Their joy in each other overcame the crises in their lives. In Spring Fire, I read about two beautiful college students. I was too naïve to recognize them as classic models of butch and femme, but no depths of ignorance could mask the delight and relief I felt, reading about their emotional life. —Ann Bannon, novelist, the “Beebo Brinker” series

    Shockproof Sydney Skate by Marijane Meaker, 1972
    I wish my first glimpse of lesbian culture had come from this hilarious, glamorous, and aspirational novel about a teenager who, unbeknownst to his mother, has unlocked the secrets of the coded language she uses when gossiping with her lesbian circle. Those witty, beautifully attired, hard-drinking New Yorkers sometimes found true love and sometimes got their hearts broken, but they always seemed glad to be gay. (Instead, it was Going Down With Janis, a biography of Janis Joplin that had been passed around school so many times the pages featuring lesbian sex scenes were almost transparent.) —June Thomas, editor, Outward at Slate

  5. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    (Click here for more information about Edge.)

    We are very pleased with the critical response to M.E. Kerr’s collection of short stories Edge.

    Balkin Buddies: School Library Journal review

    School Library Journal

    Kerr, M.E. Edge: Collected Stories. 200p. ebook available. Open Road. Sept. 2015. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781504009911. 
    Gr 8 Up–This collection of 15 short stories is intriguing, thought-provoking, and surprising. Each tale is written from a teen’s perspective, and the settings range from the recent past to modern-day to both the near and distant future. Taken together, the selections address almost every area of a young person’s life, including dating, siblings, parental expectations, sexuality, and planning for the future. But they go beyond teen issues, exploring larger truths about loss, cruelty, race, bigotry, and war. The book ends with a personal history of the author and her own struggles, not only as an author but also as a gay woman. These tales are written in a compelling and readable style. VERDICT Although short story collections do not currently enjoy the popularity that full-length novels or series do, this book is one that almost any teen will connect with.–Tara Hixon, Piedmont High School, OK

    Kirkus Review

    “Expertly crafted, with enduring relevance.”

    Family, honesty, and status emerge as themes in a collection of prolific author Kerr’s short stories for teens. A girl’s ne’er-do-well adopted brother returns to her as a ghost. A Holocaust survivor understands her lesbian granddaughter better than the girl’s mother fears. A school outcast visits an inmate at the town prison, pretending to be his son, and thinks he’s lucked into a fortune. Most stories here wer e originally published in the 1990s, but despite occasional dated preoccupations, the subject matter still feels fresh and the telling, crisp. Each piece is tautly constructed and economical, the longest clocking in at 16 pages. A couple are gently speculative, like wry opener “Do You Want My Opinion?” in which kissing and sex are engaged in casually, but philosophical conversation is intimate and risqué. Most, however, draw out subtle, everyday conflicts and experiences. As it’s been many years since Kerr has written actively for teens, more introductory material than the current plot-based teasers would have provided valuable context for readers new to her work. A biographical note at the end, however, complete with black-and-white photographs, gives readers background on Kerr’s life, career, and multiple pseudonyms. Expertly crafted, with enduring relevance. (Short stories. 12-18) 

    Booklist

    Issue: October 15, 2015

    Edge: Collected Stories.
    Kerr, M. E. (Author)
    Sep 2015. 172 p. Open Road, paperback, $11.99. (9781504009911). Open Road, e-book,
    (9781504009898).
    Teens will find much in common with the characters in this collection of stories spanning back to 1984. Kerr’s finely crafted tales capture both real-life and otherworldly dilemmas in tones both earnest and satirical. The traditional teen love story is turned on its head in “Do You Want My Opinion?,” where sex is practically mandatory and sharing one’s innermost feelings taboo. Deep questions of inheritance plague the protagonist of “Like Father, Like Son” when a foul-mouthed kid comes to live with a family who doesn’t share his proclivities. Perhaps most haunting of all, “I Will Not Think of Maine” addresses the aftermath of love and death. Stories are told with the immediacy of youth but also with a slight cushion of reflection, just enough so that young readers can begin to appreciate the insight that distance brings. Educators should take careful note of this collection, as the issues raised by the resolution of their situations (or lack thereof) will get even the most reluctant readers chatting. Kerr’s unique characters are not easily left behind.

    — Erin Downey Howerton

  6. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    Happy Banned Books Week! M. E. Kerr has joined the ranks of authors who have works banned for various reasons. I will re-post previously gathered information below:

    As it is Banned Books Week, it seems like the right time to note books by M. E. Kerr that have been banned or challenged over the years. I will list what I know and I hope M. E. Kerr will chime in and make additions or correct me.

    Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack -Banned or challenged for “references to religion, drug use and potential use of heroin.”

    Gentlehands – Banned or challenged for “showing one Nazi in a positive light.”

    Hello I Lied – Banned or challenged for “homosexual content.”

    I’ll Love You When You’re More Like Me – Banned or challenged because “a character has a gay friend.”

    Night Kites – Banned or challenged for “discussing AIDS and homosexuality.”

    I believe the following titles were “challenged” which means questioned but not banned:

    Deliver Us from Evie

    Fell

    Slap Your Sides

    What Became of Her

    Related links:

    http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek

    http://bannedbooksweek.org/

    http://www.washoecounty.us/repository/files/8/bb%20list.pdf

    http://wiu.libguides.com/content.php?pid=217701&sid=1816633

    http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/ideasandresources/free_downloads

  7. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    Exciting Announcement (Click here for more information.)

    “M.E. Kerr’s new book, EDGE: COLLECTED STORIES, is due out September 2015

    We’re pleased to announce that M.E. Kerr has a new collection of short stories coming out on September 15, 2015. EDGE: COLLECTED STORIES, published in paperback and as an e-book by Open Road Media, will include 15 short stories for young adults previously published in other sources. From a teenage girl coming out in “We Might as Well All Be Strangers,” to “The Sweet Perfume of Goodbye,” which explores questions about God, life, and death, to “Do You Want My Opinion?,” which parodies social norms, the collection epitomizes the kind of work M.E. Kerr is famous for: edgy stories with complex characters, complicated problems and thought-provoking issues — in short, the kind of stories teenagers love. M.E. Kerr is the winner of several awards, including ALA’s Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement to Young Adult Literature.

    Open Road Media also publishes a number of paperback and e-book editions of M.E. Kerr’s other books, including those shown below. We hope you’ll include all of them in your collection for young adults.”

  8. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    rainbow flag

    We are pleased to share that in celebration of Pride Month 2015, “HELLO,” I LIED, NIGHT KITES and SHOCKPROOF SYDNEY SKATE are being featured by Open Road Media. Click to read more.

    Hello, I Lied 1997 Lang goes to spend the summer on Long Island with his mother on a rock legend’s estate where she’ll be working. He has to leave his boyfriend, Alex, in New York City, where they both live. Enter Huguette, a girl who means a lot to the rocker and could mean a lot to Lang by summer’s end.

    Night Kites 1986 Erick Rudd, a teen, narrates the story of how his family deals with life when his older brother, Pete,returns home living with but slowly being overcome by AIDS. This book was written in the early days of AIDS awareness, before people were very educated about the virus. In fact, this book has the status of being one of the first books written about the subject in either young adult or adult fiction. The uncertainty and fear stirred up by Pete’s poor health is reflected by family members and citizens of the town. M. E. Kerr says that when she wrote this book, she really thought that the epidemic would be short-lasting and that a cure was around the corner. Little did she know that people would still be able to relate to this story over a decades later.

    Shockproof Sydney Skate 1972/2003 “Sydney Skate has dubbed himself “Shockproof”: He decoded his mother’s gossip with her glamorous lesbian girlfriends at age eight (but has never let on to her that he knows she’s gay). He easily shrugs off his father’s demands to skip college and join him in the exciting world of swimming pool sales for suburbanites. During his summer days, he deftly cares for snakes at the local pet shop. And he has memorized the sex scenes of every book he’s ever read in order to better seduce women. Nothing, however, has prepared Sydney for his mother sweeping Alison Gray, the girl of his dreams, off her feet.

    Witty and perceptive, Sydney’s coming-of-age story has been a classic of lesbian literature since it was first published in 1973. It was a Literary Guild Alternate and a Book Find Club Selection. Hailed as the Catcher in the Rye for the seventies, Shockproof Sydney Skate exposes the confusion of its time and remains keenly relevant to the sexual absurdities of today.”

  9. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    M. E. Kerr and I both found this message to Vin Packer interesting and wanted to share it. I hope it’s okay with the person who wrote it. It’s edited a bit here.

    N. wrote: Hello, Vin! That’s the name I remember you from from a particularly potent short story, the collection’s name it was in I unfortunately forget now. It was something to do with hot snow, hot ice, something like that. Very poignant and noiry all at the same time! About a heroin addict if I am correct. Anyway, what advice would you give to someone who has all these ideas and would like to write? Thank you!

    Vin Packer/M. E. Kerr/Marijane Meaker responded: Hi N.! What a good memory! The story you’re thinking of was Hot Snow published in Justice magazine, 1956. As to your question about writing: why not look for a contest for short story writers? The length might be right for someone trying out, and there are more short stories wanted than novels. Self-publishing is very popular now, too….I think when I wrote Hot Snow I was eager to get published, and even a short story was good for the ego. I entered all kinds of contests. Try that. Both The Writer and Writers Digest lists magazines that want them…Also, if you could find a group or START a group of writers, that helps.. Good luck to you. Vin Packer. I have a collection of short stories coming out in September. Publisher Open Road. Under my pseudonym M.E. Kerr. Collection called EDGE.

  10. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    I know that previous picture is a little French New Wave. Here’s a more typical warm, smiling rendition from earlier this year of both of us:

    Happy Birthday

  11. M.E Kerr says:

    My editor one day told me that the Fell books were not “falling off the shelf”-
    his way of saying they were not selling, so I didn’t do another. Thanks so much for
    your interest. I really enjoyed writing them. Mekerr.

  12. Daniel B. says:

    Hi,

    I imagine you’ve been asked this before, but I couldn’t find it answered anywhere here on the site:

    Why was there not a fourth book in the Fell series?

    Fell Down, like the previous two installments, certainly ends on a whammy of a cliffhanger, and the trade reviews at the time anticipated a subsequent volume as well. What happened?

  13. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    Thank You card from Mr. House’s class for visit and talk from M.E. Kerr

  14. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    Happy New Year!

    Things to do in 2015: Enjoy listening to a book or two by M.E. Kerr on your iPod, MP3 player, car, etc. Browse the audiobook collection here: M.E. Kerr audiobooks.

  15. I knew a French woman named Huguette Herzog, no longer with us.
    Cheers! M.E. Kerr

  16. ninyabruja says:

    Did you know Huguette Clark IRL? I noticed that you used her first name several times.

  17. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    Merry Christmas!

    Snakes Don't Miss Their Mother

    Since it came out, I am always reminded of Snakes Don’t Miss Their Mothers around this time of year.

    Snakes Don’t Miss Their Mothers by M. E. Kerr makes for great seasonal reading (and at all other times)!

    Snakes Don’t Miss Their Mothers 2003 Card catalog description: ”The animals at Critters animal shelter look forward to Christmas as well as the ever-present possibility of adoption.”

    As fans of M.E. Kerr know, she is a long-time fan and supporter of her local animal shelter ARF. Snakes Don’t Miss Their Mother is a wonderful homage to ARF and fellow animal-lovers.

  18. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    We are excited to announce that the books of M.E. Kerr and Mary James are now available as audiobooks at Audible.

    The following titles are available:
    Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack
    Snakes Don’t Miss Their Mother’s
    Frankenlouse
    Fell
    Gentlehands
    Slap Your Sides
    I’ll Love You When You’re More Like Me
    I Stay Near You
    Shoebag
    Shoebag Returns
    If I Love You Am I Trapped Forever?
    Hello, I Lied
    Night Kites
    Someone Like Summer
    What I Really Thinks of You
    Love Is A Missing Person.

    Please click here to browse: M.E. Kerr and Mary James audiobooks.

  19. Emma Schultz says:

    Hello!

    I’m currently in school to become an English teacher. For one of my classes about adolescent literature, my professor had us pick an acclaimed author to do a display about and I chose you! “Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack!” and “Gentlehands” are the two books I have read for this project, so I’m wondering if you would at all be willing to give me a few words of encouragement to young adults that have to do with the themes of these books. If not, that is completely fine as well, just thought I would ask. In any case, I thoroughly enjoyed your writing and would like to thank you for taking the time to read this.
    Emma Schultz

    • Dinky Hocker was about a girl who couldn’t get her do-gooder mother’s
      attention, She’d put on weight she was so ignored by the mother and nervously noted how her mother only gave attention to juvenile kids using drugs, smoking pot, shooting smack(taking heroin). One night her mother is honored close to home and Dinky, in rebellion,chalks DINKY HOCKER SHOOTS SMACK on all the sidewalks where everyone can see. She wants to shame her mother…Her mother finally gets it…Humor doesn’t always work when you’re trying to point something out, like you’re fed up with seeing mother give all her attention to those kids…but it’s better than anger, and this mother finally got it.
      GENTLEHANDS is harder. How can you forgive a man who tortured women
      prisoners in a concentration camp? Yes, many years later he’s completely
      changed, but HOW do you overlook his past.? Some readers forgave him.
      As the writer, I never forgave him, but I wanted to pose the question to
      kids. Is there forgiveness for such a thing.? Some will say “Never!” Others
      will believe there is always a way to forgive if someone has completely changed….It’s up to the individual. What would you do, Emma?, Thank you for participating. Cheers! Mekerr

  20. Katie LaPorte says:

    Thank you so much. He took the book to his teacher today. He had to get it approved. The project “Write a letter to the author of a book” is due November 18th. The letter will be mailed then. Before he even got the book approved he was on Chapter 5! He loves reading Shoebag! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  21. Katie LaPorte says:

    My son has to choose a book and write to the author. I taught 5th grade years ago and the class fell in love with Shoebag. My son found my copy and wants to read the book and write to M.E Kerr. Is this a possibility? He has to write a formal letter and mail it to her. I can double check with his teacher but she did not mention emailing.
    Please let me know if it would be possible to have M.E. Kerr’s address.

    Thank you for taking the time to consider this!

    Katie LaPorte

  22. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    Banned Books Week is the last week of September. A number of works by M.E. Kerr have been banned over the years. Here is a free ebook facilitating discussion of some of these works: Common Core Standards and Banned Books Week.
    The books reviewed are Deliver Us From Evie, Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack, Gentlehands, Hello, I Lied and Night Kites.

  23. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    May 27 is M. E. Kerr’s birthday! I made a card for her on behalf of us fans.

  24. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    Marijane the Spy

    It is the 50th anniversary of Louise Fitzhugh’s beloved Harriet the Spy. Marijane Meaker, aka M. E. Kerr writes about her relationship to this book in Me Me Me Me Me: Not a Novel

    M. E, Kerr was curious about her neighbors as a child and organized kids to spy and report back to her. Her brother even put a sign on her door that said, Marijane the Spy.” M. E. Kerr told her friend Louise Fitzhugh about this and when Harriet the Spy came out, she certainly recognized the similarities.

    Louise Fitzhugh photo courtesy of M. E. Kerr

  25. amy soule says:

    Thank you so much for your novel “Deliver Us from Evie”. It captured my heart completely due to its realism and its unflinching depiction of Evie, may I learn to be as assertive as her.

  26. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature

    Just wanted to express support for Peter Sieruta’s book Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature co-written with Betsy Bird and Julie Danielson. Peter Sieruta was an avid fan of M. E. Kerr and made many valuable contributions to the site over the years. He passed away last year after complications following a fall. The children’s literature world gets one more contribution from this wonderful and talented individual!

  27. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    While we’re on the subject, let’s celebrate the digital availability of Shoebag and Shoebag Returns courtesy of Open Road Media!

    “Shoebag likes his life as a cockroach. Like the others in his “tribe,” he was named for the place of his birth—in his case, a white summer sandal. He enjoys living in a Boston apartment building with his parents, Drainboard and Under The Toaster, although they’ve lost countless relatives to jumping spiders, water bugs, beetles, and the deadly fumes of the dreaded exterminator. So when Shoebag discovers that he’s been transformed into a person, he’s horrified. But the worst is yet to come.

    Shoebag is adopted by the Biddle family and renamed Stu Bagg. Mr. Biddle enrolls him in Beacon Hill Elementary School, and every night for one hour before bedtime, he watches television with Eunice “Pretty Soft” Biddle, his new seven-year-old sister, who loves the color pink and is the star of toilet paper commercials. At school, Shoebag tries to fit in as a human, while back home he tries to protect his insect family from spiders, cats, and the Zapman.

    Then Shoebag discovers a secret formula that could change him back into a roach. All he has to do is choose.”

    “In the hilarious sequel to Shoebag, the cockroach uses his magical abilities to help a lonely boy at an all-girls’ school

    Shoebag and his roach family have taken up residence in the Lower School at Miss Rattray’s School for Girls in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Shoebag and his parents, Drainboard and Under The Toaster, like their new home because it’s close to the kitchen. But lately, Shoebag has been dreaming about the time he was transformed into a person named Stuart Bagg—probably because the all-girls’ school has just admitted its first boy.

    Homesick ten-year-old Stanley Sweetsong doesn’t think he’ll ever be good enough to join the Betters, the school’s most exclusive club. What he needs is a pal—someone to help him hatch a plan to outsmart these snobs. So Shoebag uses his secret formula to transform himself back into Stu Bagg. Suddenly, Stanley has a new roommate who inspires him to come up with a better, even more elite club: the Butters. Stanley and Josephine Jiminez, his only other friend at school, are the charter members. When the club is banned by Miss Rattray, they’re forced underground—but with Shoebag’s help, Stanley and Josephine concoct the perfect recipe for revenge . . .”

  28. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    Great news! Frankenlouse by Mary James, another pen name of Marijane Meaker’s, is now, available digitally through Open Road Media!

    by M. E. Kerr

    “A fourteen-year-old boy invents a comic-book fantasy world ruled by a book-dwelling insect named Frankenlouse

    I am called Nick. I was fourteen the year of this story, the year that changed my life . . .

    Nick Reber is a cadet with cartoonist dreams. Nick’s father, a by-the-books control freak, believes his son’s creative aspirations are a waste of time. As commanding officer of Blister Military Academy, he makes Nick march in step—or else. Nick misses his mother, who ran away, although she promised to one day send for him. As a form of escape, Nick creates a whole world inside his head—a comic strip featuring an insect that lives in the pages of Frankenstein. All the other book lice in the library fear Frankenlouse.”

  29. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    I’ll Love You When You’re More Like Me
    Lizzie Skurnick Books./ Publisher Ig Publishing /Elizabeth Clementson Publisher
    Coming out March 18, 2014

    Lizzie Skurnick Books is devoted to bringing back the very best in young adult literature, from the classics of the ’30s and ’40s to the thrillers and novels of the ’70s and ’80s.”

    “M.E. Kerr’s beloved 1977 young adult classic tells the story of two very different teenagers, both struggling to stand up to their parents. Whether it’s going to college instead of taking over the family funeral parlor, coming out in a town where homosexuality is considered akin to demonic possession, or choosing between a life of fame or normalcy, the young characters in I’ll Love You When You’re More Like Me bravely struggle to become who they want to be—even when they don’t yet know themselves.

    M. E. Kerr was a winner of the American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement and the ALAN award from the National Council of Teachers of English. She has been described by the New York Times Book Review as ‘one of the grand masters of young adult fiction.'”

  30. Adrienne Donald says:

    My father, Roger Donald, was your editor for “Shockproof Sydney Skate.” My mother, Diana van der Vlis, was in a Stratford, CT production of “As You Like It” with Zoe Kamitses. I just got off the phone with my father, in which we talked about how much we both adore “Shockproof,” and I regaled him with my best impressions of Sydney’s girlfriend doing impressions of Katherine Hepburn. We also talked about “Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack,” which we both loved, as well.

    I realize that you’ve posted an email address above in the comments; but instead of taking advantage of that, I’d like to ask your permission to write to you at your email.

    Thank you so much for such wonderful books – “Shockproof” was special meaning for me, since I read it, again and again, when I was just beginning to come out. My father says, it’s a great book about finding your parent impossible – who can’t appreciate that?!

    Best wishes,

    Adrienne Donald

  31. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    I always enjoy seeing what M. E. Kerr and Mary James books are on the shelves of the bookstores and libraries I visit.

    I usually take a picture but I don’t always remember to post them. I will post pictures of Slap Your Sides and Snakes Don’t Miss Their Mothers at a library in Chicago below.

    Slap Your Sides at the library

    Snakes Don't Miss Their Mothers at the library

  32. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    At M.E. Kerr’s request, I am editing this down.

    I excerpted M. E Kerr mentions below from great children’s literature pioneer Charlotte Zolotow’s obituary.

    Charlotte Zolotow, Author of Books on Children’s Real Issues, Dies at 98

    Read on forum.

    Read at New York Times online.

    Charlotte Zolotow, a distinguished author and editor of children’s books whose work — both her own titles and those of the writers in her stable — offered even the youngest readers a forthright view of emotionally fraught subjects like anger, envy and death, died on Tuesday at her home in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y. She was 98.

    As an editor, Ms. Zolotow worked for many years at Harper & Row (now HarperCollins Publishers), where she presided over her own imprint, Charlotte Zolotow Books.

    The celebrated writers on her roster included M. E. Kerr (author of the 1986 novel “Night Kites” and the 1983 autobiography “Me, Me, Me, Me, Me”); Karla Kuskin (“The Philharmonic Gets Dressed,” 1982); Robert Lipsyte (“The Summerboy,” 1982); and Patricia MacLachlan, whose 1985 novella for Ms. Zolotow, “Sarah, Plain and Tall,” about a mail-order bride newly arrived on the American prairie, won a Newbery Medal, the country’s highest honor for children’s writing.

    In her editorial capacity, Ms. Zolotow was known as a midwife of books of immense emotional honesty: Ms. Kerr’s “Night Kites,” for instance, was among the first novels for young adults to deal with AIDS. In editing writers for younger children, Ms. Zolotow was also a skilled matchmaker, pairing them with many of the illustrators whose work adorned her own books.”

  33. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    Click here to see cover for Shockproof Sydney Skate.

    Cool article by June Thomas at Slate.


    What to Read on National Coming Out Day: Shockproof Sydney Skate

    OUTWARD
    EXPANDING THE LGBTQ CONVERSATIONOCT. 11 2013 3:44 PM
    What to Read on National Coming Out Day: Shockproof Sydney Skate

    By June Thomas

    Back in my youth, when people still wore buttons declaring their political and sociological allegiances, I had a pin that read, “How Dare You Assume I’m Heterosexual!” Whenever I wore it, my friend Ian would peer at it and declare, in his best Bette Davis voice, “As if for a minute anyone would!”

    Perhaps that why every time National Coming Out Day rolls around, and we recognize the importance of reminding family and friends that they shouldn’t treat straight as the default orientation, I always think of Marijane Meaker’s brilliant and hilarious 1972 novel, Shockproof Sydney Skate.

    In Shockproof Sydney Skate, the eponymous character is a 17-year-old boy who loves to read, to chase girls, and to spy on his mother, M.E. Shepley Skate. Like many only children, he keeps things to himself—including the fact that he knows his mother is a lesbian. As the novel begins, Sydney is listening to his mother’s telephone conversation, and as usual, she is speaking in a code that he broke when he was 8 years old.

    Carl was Corita of Judy and Corita, if the discussion was about Judy and Corita. But if the discussion was about Judy and Judy’s drinking, Judy could become Judd, as in the sentence, “I had a hell of a time getting Judd out of the Running Footman last night.”
    George was Gloria of Gloria and Liz, but Liz could easily become Lew if they weren’t talking about Gloria and were discussing Liz’s old affair with the wife of a famous politician.
    Conversely:
    Edie was Eddie of Eddie and Leonard.
    Mary was Martin of Martin and Ralph.
    Vickie was Victor of Victor and Paul.
    But if it were Eddie, Martin or Victor talking, Leonard, Ralph and Paul could quickly become Laura, Ruth and Pauline.

    Of course, Shep uses the code to protect her son from concepts beyond his ken—she thinks he’s intelligent but not sophisticated—but she’s also responding to ambient homophobia. She’s a successful casting director at a large ad agency who travels in sophisticated circles, but she still finds her gender-switching code necessary at the office. And although her pockets and handbags are always full of matchbooks from the glamorous restaurants and bars she frequents, she takes great care to hide the matches she picks up at Stay, a lesbian bar.

    Over the course of the summer before he heads off to college, Sydney falls for Alison Gray, the Bryn Mawr girl his mother is also courting, an awkward situation. In this novel, though, it leads to a breakthrough for Skate family relations: Sydney finally lets his mother know that he understands what’s going on, and Shep drops her code. In other words, they stop lying to each other, the key to the coming-out process.

    Shockproof Sydney Skate and Highsmith: A Romance of the 1950s, a memoir of her relationship with writer Patricia Highsmith, are the only hard-copy books currently in print that bear Marijane Meaker’s name, but she wrote dozens under pseudonyms, including lesbian pulps as Vin Packer and young-adult novels as M.E. Kerr. It seems fitting that this funny, touching book about setting aside polite pretense and acknowledging the truth about complicated relationships should have her real name on the cover.

    June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBT section. Follow her on Twitter @junethomas.

  34. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    Happy Banned Books Week! M. E. Kerr has joined the ranks of authors who have works banned for various reasons. I will re-post previously gathered information below:

    banned books week 2012

    Reprinted by permission of the American Library Association

    As it is Banned Books Week, it seems like the right time to note books by M. E. Kerr that have been banned or challenged over the years. I will list what  I know and I hope M. E. Kerr will chime in and make additions or correct me.

    Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack -Banned or challenged for “references to religion, drug use and potential use of heroin.”

    Gentlehands – Banned or challenged for “showing one Nazi in a positive light.”

    Hello I Lied – Banned or challenged for “homosexual content.”

    I’ll Love You When You’re More Like Me – Banned or challenged because “a character has a gay friend.”

    Night Kites – Banned or challenged for “discussing AIDS and homosexuality.”

    I believe the following titles were “challenged” which means questioned but not banned:

    Deliver Us from Evie

    Fell

    Slap Your Sides

    What Became of Her

     

    Related links:

    http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek

    http://bannedbooksweek.org/

    http://www.washoecounty.us/repository/files/8/bb%20list.pdf

    http://wiu.libguides.com/content.php?pid=217701&sid=1816633

    http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/ideasandresources/free_downloads

  35. Glad to oblige.
    E-mail me at above address. MM

  36. John S. says:

    I read “The Son of Someone Famous” in high school and through it was introduced to the poetry of A. E. Houseman. I want to thank you for that introduction. I can still recite some of his poems by heart. I’ve gone on to read and write a great deal of poetry and have won some awards. Thank you for writing compelling stories.

  37. Jamie says:

    Hi Ms. Meaker,

    My name is Jamie and I’m writing to inquire about potentially doing an interview with you in regards to a documentary series we are producing for REELZ Channel about Marilyn Monroe’s death. You book entitled “Sudden Endings” is a compelling look at Monroe’s death that we would love to include in our documentary series. If interested and available please email me at the email listed above.

    Thank you so much and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Best,

    Jamie B.

  38. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    The Golden Crown Literary Society is dedicated to the recognition and promotion of lesbian literature, and to provide educational opportunities for authors,editors, and readers about many facets of writing lesbian novels.

    The previous Trailblazer winners selected Spring Fire(Vin Packer) to win the Lee Lynch Classic Book Award. Additionally, and without knowledge of this, the GCLS membership nominated Marijane Meaker (Vin Packer) to win the 2013 Trailblazer Award…No one has ever won both of these awards, let alone in the same year. These are the two most prestigious awards offered by the GCLS. Their website is at http://goldencrown.org.

    Marijane Meaker also writes as M.E. Kerr for Young Adults. Her YA
    gay books, published by HarperCollins, are Deliver Us From Evie,
    Hello, I Lied, and Night Kites. Night Kites(1986) was the first hardcover book written about AIDS which featured homosexual males, and not (as was the custom in early days) people who had received it from a blood transfusion.

    Under her own name she has written Shockproof Sydney Skate(1972) first published by Little,Brown, now also published by HarperCollins.

  39. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    Happy Birthday, M. E. Kerr!

    Happy Birthday ME Kerr

  40. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    I added a bunch of pictures to the site. Go here for the links: Forum. Thanks. Michelle

  41. Dear Ms. Meaker,

    I’m a reporter at The New York Times whose beat includes buildings, landmarks and civic history. I write for the City Room blog and the New York section of the newspaper.

    I’ve been given the terrific assignment of writing a piece that would appear Wednesday (when opening arguments are heard in Windsor v United States) about the Portofino Restaurant at 206 Thompson Street, where Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer met in 1962 — in other words, where this landmark case was born.

    The article would look at the restaurant itself, who ran it and worked there (Elaine Kaufman was on staff), and at the social scene of the time.

    In the 1960s, where could women go who wanted to meet other women? What customs applied? What perils awaited?

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this. I appreciate your consideration.

    Sincerely,

    David W. Dunlap
    The New York Times
    [email protected]
    212 556 7082

  42. Maria Lucinda de Almeida says:

    Dear Mrs. Meaker, just yesterday i was finishing to read your biography “Highsmith: A Romance of the 1950’s” unfortunately not translated into Portuguese, but as I speak several languages, fortunately I managed to get a copy of “Diogenes” in German.
    What led me to read your book, it was first the fact that I have read the translated Brazilian biography from author Joan Schenkar where I found a lot of information about Patricia Higsmith. This book “The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith” is very unsympathetic. Hard and somewhat devastating. I was curious as to what would be the opinion of someone who had lived closer to Patricia Highsmith, because it seemed that it was just horrible the report that J. Schenkar was making about P.Highsmith life and work. And so, I struggled to find this your version, your book, that I met on a German version. I was pleasantly surprised by the begin of your description of P. Higsmith and finally saw her so much kind and friendly and personable. After all she was a woman capable of loving gestures and was also very loving, devoted and a nice person, althoug all. But I just do not get it, why after such wonderfull 2 years relatioship that you had with her, you finish that biography also quite bad. Your opinion about her, was so radically changed again, on the last part of the book. She went from a gentle lover, to an old nag and drunk scorned old woman, like you tell on the last pages of your book. What a shame. How sad. I know, too, personally how we can sometimes get to hate somebody, after a failed love affair/relationship. But so much aversion, about someone whom was our fromer lover is nonetheless surprising and amazing. Apparently she was able to arouse great passions and at the end of his life, large aversions. But why? After all, through what I’ve read about her, she was only a woman sicking for love, afection, and devotion. Someone who have been several and often abandoned from her lovers, and waht about her drinking problem? I wonder why none of his girlfriends or friends couldn’t help her on this regard. When began she to drink and why? In your book “Highsmith: A Romance of the 1950’s”, what struck me most was in final, your gesture of throwing out the soap when she was gone back to Europe, after to visiting you one last time at your home in Hamptons. I found this a terribly significant gesture.
    I only wish that no one, never will have this gesture about me. I must confess that that emotional gesture have disturbed me more than anything else in this book.
    I do not know if you will comment this my text. But if you do it I would be glad about it. Anyway, I wish you all the best. Thank you for reading these words of mine.Maria Lucinda.

    • Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

      Hi Maria Lucinda-

      I just emailed you but I wanted to leave a response here as well. Marijane Meaker read your comment and wants to respond directly to you. You should receive an email from her shortly. Thank you so much for visiting the site and leaving such an interesting, thoughtful comment!

      Michelle

  43. What is the best way to reach Ms. Kerr?

  44. Linde Lund says:

    We miss Peter Sieruta so much.

    What a loss!

    He was sending your books to his friend and Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel in Germany.

  45. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    I am quoting from an earlier interview:
    http://www.mekerr.com/interviews-etc/2000-interview/

    Q: If you look on the message board, many questions are about Gentlehands. Would you say this is the most popular of your books to be taught in school? And what gives it that kind of appeal? Also, when you speak to children, do you find that they enjoy the book or do they view it more as an assignment?

    A: Yes, Gentlehands is the most popular book. Kids are fascinated by the holocaust, and why not? It is still unbelievable to me, that in my liftetime such a thing could happen. I believe it should never be allowed to be forgotten. When I wrote Gentlehands, I had no idea there was such a thing as holocaust literature. I was trying to add more depth to a story taking place next door to me, a love affair between a have and havenot…I was also reading about this one Nazi, about his cruelty and his stunning looks. I was trying to figure out how anyone could be so sadistic, trying to discover reasons why…Now I am older, and I don’t think you ever discover why someone is evil, anymore than you ever find out what makes some people “saints.”

    Some kids really get into reading, and some are reading because they have to.
    Again, teachers have a big influence here. So do parents, in the examples they set…Kids are different today because they have so very many media opportunities…and through the internet they have more ways of learning. It is a strange new world, and we all have adjustments to make and challenges.

  46. ricky ehrlich says:

    I just finished Gentlehands and loved it. But I was a bit confused by the ending.
    Did the grandfather really commit those heinous acts or not? Was he really the Nazi officer who murdered people and played opera at the same time? I believe the ending could work well with either answer, but I’m curious what you had in mind. Again, a great novel.
    PS
    I may use your book with my ninth-grade class so I would appreciate as in-depth an answer as you feel up to at the moment.
    Thank you very much.
    Ricky Ehrlich

    • Marijane Meaker says:

      Ricky, Trenker was Gentlehands. Men in combat or in charge of imprisoned enemy are very often trained or inclined to view the enemy as treacherous, less than human etc. For example we have our own soldiers in Vietnam,
      in My Lai. See news report below:
      *********************************************************************My Lai was a village of about 700 inhabitants some 100 miles to the southeast of the US base of Danang. Shortly after dawn on March 16th, three platoons of US troops from C Company, 11th Brigade, arrived in the Son My area having been dropped off by helicopters. 1 Platoon was commanded by Lieutenant William Calley and was ordered to My Lai village. They were part of Task Force Barker – the codename for a search and destroy mission. They had been told to expect to find members of the NLF (called Vietcong or VC by the US soldiers) in the vicinity as the village was in an area where the NLF had been very active.
      When the troops from 1 Platoon moved through the village they started to fire at the villagers. These were women, children and the elderly as the young men had gone to the paddy fields to work. Sergeant Michael Bernhardt, who was at My Lai, was quoted in 1973 as stating that he saw no one who could have been considered to be of military age. He also stated that the US troops in My Lai met no resistance. An army photographer, Ronald Haeberie, witnessed a US soldier shoot two young boys who he believed were no more than five years of age. Other photos taken at the scene of the massacre show bodies of what can only be very young children.
      Those who returned to the village claimed that it took three days to bury the bodies. They were later to report that some of the children had their throats cut and that some of the bodies had not just been shot but had also been mutilated.
      *********************************************************************
      In writing Gentlehands I hoped to provoke discussion about war and what happens to ordinary civilins once they are confronted with the enemy. I
      think I was working through my own experience with my older brother, a
      graduate of Yale law school, a good-looking, fun-loving young man who
      became a war “hero” in WWII, flying a torpedo bomber over Japan, being
      well-rewarded for killing whole villages of Japanese dropping napalm bombs
      on innocent people, never reluctant or hesitant to perform his duty.
      Trenker was based on a case study I’d read in college of men active in
      Nazi concentration camps. I couldn’t forget the description of this
      privleged Nazi officer, one of the cruelest, a man who as a civilian had
      so much to be thankful for, yet became a sadistic beast in charge of
      a major concentration camp.
      This is not uncommon, nor particular to one or another country. My brother
      was not unique. There were many like him. I was interested in learning
      reasons, listening to others’ feelings, hearing others’ stories. I would be glad to answer any questions you or your class asks. I would also be glad to hear
      comments from reader. Thank you for your interest in Gentlehands.
      Mekerr13[at]aol.

  47. Marijane Meaker says:

    Marijane Meaker
    For those of you who’ve never read Collecting Childrens Books, Peter Sieruta’s blog. it is still there, Treat yourself to his take on Mother’s Day and his tribute to
    Maurice Sendak. He was the best! M.E. Kerr

  48. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    My post is also under Forum but I wanted to add it here as well.

    At the end of last week, we lost a dear friend to the M. E. Kerr site, Peter D. Sieruta. He passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. His family and friends were surprised and devastated. Peter was passionate and incredibly knowledgeable about all things related to children’s literature. His job was as a librarian at Wayne State University. His calling was to share his love and wealth of memories and knowledge of children’s books with everyone. I started this website dedicated to M. E. Kerr and Mary James in 1998. In 2002, Peter made his first contact with us. He asked an obscure question and we were both intrigued.

    Here is an early note to Marijane Meaker uncovering a fact I did not know yet! He discovered her first choice for a pseudonym for her YA author and revealed his endearing enthusiasm and deep fascination with, respect for and desire to know everything about children’s literature:

    M. E. Kerr wrote to me:

    I bet you didn’t know that Lisa Ballesteros was my first choice of a pseudonym. Kerr came after my agent told me LB was bad. Liza, after my cat. And Ballesteros after my landlady….I’d forgotten all about it. Look what your website produced!

    Peter wrote the following [abridged]:

    Dear M.E. Kerr:

    Do I win the Kerr trivia contest with my Liza Ballesteros question? I didn’t read it in an interview, though. A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit the Kerlan collection at the University of Minnesota. I called ahead and got a list of all the manuscripts and archival materials in the collection and was excited to see Dinky Hocker on the list (at that time it was the only Kerr title they owned; don’t know if they have acquired more since then.) Anyway, I couldn’t wait to see the original manuscript of Dinky Hocker, curious about missing scenes, cut lines, editorial notes, etc. I even brought a paperback copy of your book with me, so I could compare the typescript with the published copy. Imagine my surprise when the librarian brought the box to my table, I opened the lid and saw the first page: DINKY HOCKER SHOOTS SMACK! by Liza Ballesteros. WHO? I then figured this was probably a pseudonym that you had planned to use at some point, then changed your mind. Of course I didn’t know the derivation of the name until you told me just now. But I’m sure that even Liza-the-cat (after getting over the slight) would agree that M.E. Kerr is a purr-fect choice for a pen name: bold, memorable, and, because of the initials, containing a hint of mystery. Incidentally, I was so impressed to see the original manuscript of this book. With the exception of a couple cut lines about Sonny and Cher and Mama Cass Eliot, there were basically zero changes. In fact the margins were filled with nothing but praise: “Wonderful!” “Lovely!” “Great!” “Terrific!” At one point there’s a note that says: “UN: I love this ms!” and beneath it “CZ: I do too!” which I’m sure came from Ursula Nordstrom and Charlotte Zolotow. I had the opportunity to look at several dozen manuscripts by other authors on my visit. Most of them were marked up beyond recognition by editors, making me even more impressed by how little work your manuscript required.

    I love hearing that you visit the library so often. Me too. Often, on my way home from working at the library, I will stop and visit the public library. And if it’s not a library, it’s a bookstore.

    I will send my books to you this weekend. You can write anything you like in them, and I’ll include a note to that effect with the books. Thanks again!

    Peter D. Sieruta

    Since then, Peter was a frequent contributor to the forum (we have since re-hauled the site but you can imagine his loving and informational posts). He also sent me factoids, book cover images and ideas for the website. He created the Fan Photo page. He always let me know his concerns about the state of the site related to broken links, hinky looking forum visitors (spammers) and other crucial feedback. The three of us corresponded through the site and otherwise. He and Marijane became friends. I viewed Peter as a co-webmaster. I was very pleased for him when he started his blog Collecting Children’s Books. He soon learned that the children’s book world was starving for what he had to offer. He filled a big gap with his heartfelt essays about his passion for collecting, loving, analyzing and remembering fondly the role of children’s books in all of our lives.

    Here is a collection of other tributes to Peter by his friends and fans. He was a wonderful friend to the site and his eagle eye, sparkle and revelations will be missed!

    http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/afuse8production/2012/05/27/goodbye-peter-peter-was-my-friend/

    http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/?p=2358

    http://medinger.wordpress.com/2012/05/27/the-world-of-childrens-literature-has-just-lost-another-great-one-peter-d-sieruta/

    Friend of his posted a link to an article by Peter in The Horn Book:
    http://archive.hbook.com/magazine/articles/1998/nov98_sieruta.asp

    http://daughternumberthree.blogspot.com/2012/05/death-of-blogger-peter-sieruta-1958.html

    http://bybeebooks.blogspot.com/2012/05/peter-sieruta-rip.html

    I recommend reading all of these posts to get an idea of how Peter left his indelible impression on so many of us. I thought I was an M. E. Kerr fan until Peter showed up. Thank you, Peter for discovering the site and sharing your friendship and fandom!

  49. Michelle Koh Michelle Koh says:

    Debbie- I would love to see a movie based on Shoebag. Alas, one does not exist! Mary James did base Shoebag on Kafka’s The Metamorphosis including nods to character names so that might also be why elements of Shoebag seem familiar. Also, I have to agree it is a vividly written story! Thanks for visiting the site!

  50. Debbie says:

    I think I remember seeing a movie based on “Shoebag” and can’t remember the title. Am I mistaken or was the imagery in the book so amazing that I could see it all in my mind?

  51. Marijane Meaker says:

    Hi Mona, Good to hear from you – it’s been such a very long
    time. You can write me at Mekerr13 [at] aol. I look forward
    to hearing from you. Just spoke with Sandy the other
    night. Cheers! Marijane.

    Note- Edited by Webmaster

  52. Mona Lee Wylde says:

    Marijane – thank you. I met you about 30 years ago through Sandy C. When I moved out to Los Angeles, I believe you put me in contact with Alison Leslie G. (I haven’t been in touch with either of them.) Tuesday evening I was scouring the shelves in the library at the Center for The Price of Salt, and I came across your book Highsmith. (Thank you, I finished it yesterday. I was sorry it ended.) I had plowed through Joan Schenkar’s The Talented Miss Highsmith (I thought it vindictive.) – so your disposition of humor was very refreshing. I found this website through Facebook. I wanted to send you a more personal note. May I do that? How? Mona Lee Wylde

Leave a Reply to Susan Cortes Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *