Fans of Ellen Hopkins and Patricia McCormick will enjoy Exposed by Kimberly Marcus, a debut novel written in free verse. Marcus investigates what happens when a girl—a passionate photographer—is torn between her brother and her best friend after a terrible accusation.
BookPage caught up with Marcus to find out why she wrote in free verse, which book she thinks is a must-read and what she’s working on next.
Describe your book in one sentence.
Exposed is the story of Liz Grayson, a high school senior and budding photographer who is forced to turn the lens toward herself when she is caught between people she loves.
Your novel is written in free verse. Why did you choose to write in this format?
I first discovered free verse when reading Sonya Sones’ fabulous novel Stop Pretending, and I was impressed with her ability to say so much in so few words. Exposed, however, started out in prose. At one point in its writing, I became stuck on a scene. A friend, who knew my love of poetry, suggested I try recreating the scene in free verse as an exercise to get unstuck. It worked, helping me to create a snapshot of emotion, so I decided to write the whole book that way.
Your main character is a photographer—are you, as well? Who or what is your favorite subject to photograph?
When I was young my father was a photographer. I have always loved photography as an art form, but I am not a photographer myself. To research Liz’s passion, I was lucky enough to be able to shadow a darkroom photography class at my local high school over the course of a school year. I learned things as I thought she might have, though she’s far more talented than I am!
How has your career as a clinical social worker informed your writing?
As a therapist, I came into the writing of Exposed with a knowledge of the effects of trauma. However, I have vivid memories of questioning myself and how I fit into different social situations during my teenage years. I think these memories, more so than my clinical background, informed my writing in Exposed.
What's the best thing about writing for young people?
I think the best thing about writing for young people is the young people I write for!
Name one book you think everyone should read.
That’s a hard question to answer! If I can limit my response to another teen novel that deals with the effects of trauma, I’d like to point to The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin. It’s an important book, and one that has stuck with me in the years since I’ve read it.
Can you give us any hints about your next project?
My next book to hit the shelves is a picture book coming out in April from GP Putnam’s Son’s, called Scritch-Scratch a Perfect Match. It’s a rhyming romp, illustrated by Mike Lester, about how a flea brings a lonely dog and a lonely man together. My next novel, with Random House, is still in the writing phase. It’s called From Here on Out, and deals with a tough girl forced to navigate her way through a tough situation. Stay tuned!
Also in BookPage: Read a review of Exposed.