Written by Jonathan Rabb

Photo credit: Walsh Millette

Photo credit: Walsh Millette


On the first Sunday of the Savannah Film Festival, Kathryn Stockett (author of the best-selling The Help) sat down with me to talk about writing, adaptations, style, the south and anything else the students assembled at the Marshall House could throw her way. Stockett was nothing less than generous and encouraging. In fact, she felt so comfortable that, within minutes, she had her shoes off and was perched up on her chair to read a piece she had just written.

It turns out voice is all when it comes to Stockett. Plot, conflict, resolution – they just spill out from the voices she finds and inhabits. She offered up an inside look at the workings of the Hollywood adaptation machine (Reese Witherspoon, she told us, has a tendency to option a book and then sit on it – so Stockett went with her old friend Tate Taylor instead) and bemoaned the pressures of writing a second book after the whirlwind of her first. She said she’s almost done with it – almost. But most important for the students there was hearing about Stockett’s remarkable tenacity. The Help was rejected by 60 agents – yes, 60 – before one finally saw its potential. That’s what it takes to make it in the world of publishing. And that’s why Kathryn Stockett was such an inspiring guest to have in Savannah.


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