The secrets behind Dr. Radway’s Sarsaparilla Resolvent by Beth Kephart

This week in North Philly Notes, Beth Kephart, provides a self-imposed interview, and tells the story behind the story of her new book, Dr. Radway’s Sarsaparilla Resolvent

drradwaybigWhat is the working title of your book?
 
The title of this book, for real and for good, is Dr. Radway’s Sarsaparilla Resolvent.  See the cover above?  We’re not changing it. 

Where did the idea come from for the book?

William, my hero, is obsessed with the medicines of the time, for he is searching for a cure for his heartbroken mother.  Dr. Radway lived in Manayunk and his Sarsaparilla Resolvent was world-renowned for curing everything, perhaps even sleep insufficiency, in which case I am ordering me up a bottle.  Today we know this medicinal magic as root beer.  Does anybody have a glass of ice handy? 

What genre does your book fall under?

This lady, who is not a fan of labeling fiction, would, if forced to do it, describe Dr. Radway as historical fiction for middle grade/young adult/adult readers with two teen male protagonists at its heart.  Simply and non-boastfully put, Dr. Radway is a good book for everyone.  I am so good at non-boastful. 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

There’s a young prostitute, named Pearl, who is integral to this story.  She’s tough, she’s big-hearted, and she saves the day.  Jennifer Lawrence is my Pearl.  William has a grieving, beautiful mother—Marisa Tomei or Amy Adams.  As for William and his best friend, Career, Alex Shaffer (Win Win) and Josh Hutcherson (Hunger Games)  Josh looks exactly like my Career (so long as you give him a pipe to suck on).  Alex was brilliant in Win Win, which is, by the way, one of my favorite indies and the brain child of my friend Mary Jane Skalski.  But I digress.  There are others in the story—the ghost of an older brother (not yet cast), a father in prison (Sean Penn, but younger), and a little sprite of a girl who lives next door.  Let’s give that role to Mackenzie, the youngest dancer in that whacky reality TV show, Dance Moms.  She’s so cute I have to stop myself from reaching through the TV and pinching her cheeks.  But why am I watching that show anyway?  And, since we are on the topic, Are mothers really like that?  Have you ever met anyone like any of those moms?  Okay, back to the topic.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Since this book is a prequel to Dangerous Neighbors, my 1876 Philadelphia Centennial novel, I have been working with my lead character, William, for more than seven years.  A requited love affair, fictionally speaking.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
 


I try not to compare.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

My love for Philadelphia history.  My absolute love for William.  I could not let him go.

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