Kara Lee Corthron is the author of The Truth of Right Now, winner of the Parents' Choice Gold Award. Her plays, including What Are You Worth?, Welcome to Fear City, AliceGraceAnon and Holly Down in Heaven, have been performed across the U.S., and she's a multiyear MacDowell Fellow and a resident playwright at New Dramatists. She also writes for the TV drama-thrillers You, The Flight Attendant and M. Night Shyamalan's Servant. Her sophomore YA novel, Daughters of Jubilation (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers), is available now.
On your nightstand:
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo and so far it's beautiful and haunting.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. The first time I read it, I was way too young to fully understand what was going on, but it was the first book that I didn't want to put down and didn't want to finish. I desperately wanted to be a member of the Pre-Teen Sensations.
Your top five authors:
Narrowing the list down to five is not easy, but I'll go with James Baldwin, Octavia Butler, Shirley Jackson, Katherine Mansfield and Toni Morrison and I'll try not to feel guilty later about all the authors that didn't make the cut.
Book you've faked reading:
Anything by Jane Austen. Whenever her books come up in conversation, I nod thoughtfully and try to remember details from movie adaptations in case I feel the need to contribute.
Book you're an evangelist for:
I've gone through phases when I became obsessed with one book or another, but the book that I've consistently recommended and gifted for years is Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle. It's horror, it's drama, it's sisterhood, it's twisted girl power... this book is all good things.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Stitches by David Small, because it scared the hell outta me.
Book you hid from your parents:
Wifey, my second Judy Blume mention. I didn't exactly hide it, but I certainly didn't read it out in the open.
Book that changed your life:
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. Before reading this book, I didn't realize just how deep into a character's psyche an author could go and that was a revelation for me. And it put a controversial idea into my head that has remained there: when it comes to human behavior, sometimes mystery is more satisfying than clarity.
Favorite line from a book:
"I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had." --from We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
There's also this wonderful line from The Talented Mr. Ripley about how happy Marge gets when it's time to eat that made me laugh out loud when I read it (because I know that feeling), but I couldn't find the exact quote.
Five books you'll never part with:
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret. I've had the same copy for about 30 years! The pages are brown and they used to be eggshell! It comes with me wherever I go.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle (based on the above, this is probably obvious).
The Sound and the Fury, because I return to it often.
Kindred by Octavia Butler. She's a never-ending source of inspiration.
No Name in the Street by James Baldwin. Baldwin is one of the few truth-tellers of the 20th century and this particular book belongs on every progressive thinker's bookshelf.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
I really wish I could read Morrison's masterpiece Beloved for the first time with my current brain as opposed to my 19-year-old brain.
Book I wish I could have read when I was 15:
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, because sometimes it is totally cool to swoon.