T.C. Boyle and Kerrie Kvashay-Boyle Rock ‘Blue Skies’

By Joanne A Calitri   |   August 1, 2023
T.C. Boyle with his daughter Kerrie Kvashay-Boyle in the Green Room prior to their performance of Blue Skies at the SBMA (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

The complexities of reviewing literature cannot be overstated, especially in the cosmic case of T.C. Boyle, an award-winning writer of 30-plus novels published in 24 languages, done on a cyclical exchange with books of short stories and other works. He writes continuously and is not here to people please anyone. Like it or love it, he has stated many times when discussing his inventory of fiction themes, “I am an artist, and want to write about what I want to. I do not think about the topic making me money or making me famous, all I care about is what I want to do next.” Truth be told, why would he or any other real artist want for anything more? Surely, many have divorced themselves from the minutiae of caring what others want or think about their work. 

Yet… I couldn’t help but wonder, with his recent novel Blue Skies accenting his recurring theme of environmental woes, climate change across the U.S., the rise of social media, and the diminished food supply chain, it does seem he has been holding his space in the protest marches all along, including four previous books, The Tortilla Curtain (1995), A Friend of the Earth (2000), When the Killing’s Done (2011), and The Terranauts (2016).

Wonder not readers! I was lucky to have a one-on-one with him and his daughter Kerrie Kvashay-Boyle in the Green Room at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA) on July 20, prior to their performance and reading of an excerpt from Blue Skies

I acknowledged his dystopian muse and asked if he would share with whom it is that he has been musing all the years, and to wit he replied, “It’s magic! You know it comes and I write. It has been with me since college, and all that Timothy Leary stuff … you know…”

As expected, he kept his muse close, but did offer, “Yes, of course I am consumed by what is around us here that are human concerns and planetary concerns. And our democracy being lost to fascism while I was in the midst of writing Blue Skies, so I just published a short story titled ‘Sanctuary’ this month in Esquire, to satisfy what made my blood boil when a certain person was president.” He shared that his daughter Kerrie has basically written the pilot and outlines for the episodes for a limited TV series of Blue Skies. She agreed, however, due to the writers strike, work is halted, and a release timeline could not be realized at the moment.

Following our photo op, it was time for their performance at the Mary Craig Auditorium. Their acted reading of the novel to the twice sold-out house, made it come alive in a new way. People were intrigued. 

Boyle then fielded questions from the audience, followed by a book signing. 

Key points he made were:

I am constantly re-writing to get to a state of mind where nothing else exists.

– I started writing late in life when I was in my 20s.

– No, it is NOT easier to write when you get older; it is always hard, but you have to ‘Jones’ it and do it again and again.

– It is hard to write fiction if you have an agenda; it does not work in the creative process.

– I have ideas for my next work, I jot things down like, “man eats own head and gets married.” 

– I am writing another novel; it is beautiful and I don’t know what it is yet.

– I have so many stories, strongly placed, and yes, I am open to having films and TV series made from my works. I have many film students doing their thing with my writings.

– The great mystery of humans, how we live, where we live, this planet… there is no answer for that.

Seen at the event were SBMA Board of Trustees members Joan Davidson and Laura Wyatt; SBMA PhotoFutures Chairs Carol Vernon and Bob Turbin; former Chair SBMA Board of Trustees Betsy Atwater; SBMA Women’s Board President Isabel Wendt; and Immediate Past President SBMA Women’s Board Paula Farrington with her husband, Greg, who is a member SBMA Docent Council.  

411: www.sbma.net


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