I’ll begin by telling you a bit about myself. I grew up in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, the middle child of five siblings. We all played soccer, and we all did ballet, tap, and tumbling at the local dance school, even my two brothers. I was an avid reader growing up: science fiction, fantasy, thrillers (had a particular taste for serial murder), poetry, Gothic romance, etc. You could call me an omnivore—I certainly devoured books, sometimes staying up with a flashlight under my bed until 2 or 3 AM so I wouldn’t disturb my sisters.
My siblings seemed destined to become performers (three of them eventually danced professionally) while I was more academically inclined. I went to Yale as an undergrad in literature, and then just kept going. I am working on my second doctorate now, and my degrees alternate between dance and writing. To make sure I could make rent and eat while I was in school, I have taught dance and yoga and freshman English classes. I’ve worked in a bookstore, for a caterer, as a paralegal. I’ve written grants for non-profits and a few for myself. I’ve lived in Connecticut, New York, Iowa, Georgia, and now I’m back in Pennsylvania—Philly. Somewhere along the way, I married a molecular geneticist and gave birth to three boys.
When I first began to write, I thought poetry was my thing. My first two books are poetry books, and when I started my third, I thought it would be too. However, the ideas that were percolating in my brain could not be contained in a poem, or three, or even in a Homer-style epic. My first novel was recently released by Coffee House Press. Sleight is a mystery—or, rather, it is a novel woven out of several mysteries. It is the tale of four main characters as they try to make sense of their art form.
The art form itself, the “sleight” of the title, is an imaginary combination of poetry, dance, circus performance, and sacred geometry. Discovering how sleight came to exist—blooming from its first seed in the tortured mind of a French Jesuit missionary in the 1600’s—is one of the mysteries of the book. I also reveal, in a painfully slow and oft-interrupted burlesque, the dark thread that led each of the main characters to become obsessed with the art and its potential to make sense of a world that simply doesn’t make sense. When Lark, Clef, Byrne, and West come together to take a local serial murder and transform it into the core of their next performance, it is clear something is not-right, with the art form and perhaps with them. What happens as a result of this not-rightness is the central mystery of the novel.
The book takes everything I have ever read or done, and all the types of language I have encountered while reading and doing, and braids them together. In Sleight, there is straightforward narrative, script-dialogue, theater reviews, obituaries, poetic passages, and academic-style footnotes. Schizophrenic?—a bit. But also reflective of the media we all encounter each day. Sleight also features strong female characters, the strange momentum that comes from moving forward and into backstory with equal fervor, and a repulsively attractive villain. Because so many of them are.
In short, it’s a very literary ride provided by a girl who loves to watch Criminal Minds, Masterpiece Theater, and Dr. Who. I tend to think my insatiable need to mix genres (mystery, sci-fi, family drama) is at least honest: we are all stange amalgamations—are we not?
You can visit my sleightworld here: kaschock.wordpress.com, and you can follow me on twitter if you are so inclined: @sleightist.