With a Little Help from our Friends

Author Kathryn Stockett at SPA Luncheon

PC Staff
October 01, 2012

The SPA chairmen won’t need help with this year’s luncheon. Blockbuster bestseller Kathryn Stockett takes the stage to discuss her book The Help at the Society for the Performing Arts Annual Luncheon Wednesday, October 10, on the Jones Hall Stage. Lucinda Loya chairs, with honorary chair Karen Pulaski. Mariquita Masterson will receive the Ann Sakowitz Performing Arts Advocate Award. Jackson and Company serves the courses, and PaperCity’s Curate bookshop will sell deluxe editions of The Help ($30) for signing and inscribing. Tickets from $250 (limited availability). Tables from $2,500, through 713.632.8103; william@spahouston.org.

We took a few minutes with Ms. Stockett to see if there’s a sequel coming down the pike, and what she’s reading herself.

PaperCity: We understand 60 not-so-smart literary agents rejected The Help. Did you ever find out why? I got a few notes scribbled on the edges of the rejection letters … “Not a saleable story in New York … Too risky.” I started sending out the book to publishers early in its development, and it changed a lot. So maybe the first 50 were right.

Have you heard from any of the rejecting agents since it became a blockbuster? Not really ….

You are all things Southern: Favorite Southern city? Natchez, Mississippi.

You spend so much time in hotels on book tours. What are your top picks? The Elysian Hotel in Chicago, The Greeenwich in NYC. Soniat House in New Orleans is my absolute favorite — it’s full of old things and antiques, so you don’t feel like you’re in some shiny new Target.

You’re reading? Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It’s fantastic, with a very literary edge to it. I love her, I could stalk her.

For generations, The Help will surely sit on Southern bookshelves with To Kill a Mockingbird and Gone With the Wind.
What other books should be on that shelf? The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

Sequel or a completely new book? It’s book two, God help me, about women in the South in Mississippi in the ’20s during a depression. It’s kind of relevant to today — we’re not starving to death like so many people did in the ’30s, but it’s the same issues. This group of women, who were not raised to be independent, nor do they have any marketable skills, wake up one morning, and the men are gone, run off, died — and they start a rather risky business. There’s no title for the book yet. That comes at the end.