Interview with So Shelly character: John Keats

Today I have John Keats, a character from Ty Roth's great debut, So Shelly, to answer a few questions! (For the record, you won't understand why I asked the third question unless you've read the book =P)


1. When was the moment you decided to act on wanting to be an author?

I’m not sure that being an author is something I “decided” to do. It’s more like something that chose me. Although I’ve received none of the popular and critical acclaim of Gordon (to speak none of the rewards of fame and fortune) nor even the modicum of praise Shelly earned through her contributions to Trinity’s literary magazine, The Beacon, I feel that writing is the one thing I’m especially good at and the one means through which I might do something for which I might be remembered. But to answer the question specifically, I knew I wanted to be a writer the moment I read Gordon’s novel, Manfred.

2. What is your favorite memory with Shelly?

When I think of Shelly, I rarely think of a single moment. Shelly was so ephemeral and flitting that she was nearly impossible to pin down in a moment, so it’s fitting that a memory of her would be the same way. For Shelly, there was always something to be done. Life was a dynamic experience. To stop was to die.

In the story, I describe her as a butterfly. To answer your question and identify a single “favorite memory with Shelly” would force me to place her in a jar, and there are few things sadder than a butterfly in a jar. Only Gordon could or had the audacity to do such a thing, and in the end, she suffocated. So I won’t, I can’t, do that with my memory of her.

3. If you could guess, which disease do you think could be the end of you?

That’s really a strange question. I actually try not to think about the “how” I will die. As I say in the book, together, Shelly and Gordon have taught me to focus my energies on living rather than dying. It’s the living that I have some control over; the dying will take care of itself. I suppose, I could attempt to lock myself away in some kind of germ and accident-free bubble, but that in itself would be a sort of death, a death-in-life you might call it. So, for now at least, my attention is directed towards making the most out of the time I do have and trying to leave something behind for others worth remembering. It’s like Gordon said, “We all die young.” It doesn’t matter if you live to be sixteen, thirty-six, or ninety-six; there’s never enough time to experience all that living has to offer.

4. What were your first thoughts when you met Gordon Byron?

My first thought was that he was both everything I dreamed he would be and everything I knew I never would. It was on both of our first days of school at Trinity. I was a freshman; Gordon was transferring in as a sophomore. I didn’t actually “meet” him that day, but I’ll never forget the way he strutted down the main hall like he already owned the place. You have to remember, he was already a published author and a media sensation; kids in the hall gave way and parted as he approached as if he were some sort of messiah. In that moment, I loved him, but in that moment, I also envied and hated him.
Happy Reading and make sure to pick up Ty Roth's debut novel, So Shelly, it's out now!
-Harmony B.


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