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Kim Powers Kim Powers
Capote in Kansas

Capote in Kansas: A Ghost Story

Truman Capote and Harper Lee were children when they met. Twenty-five years later, Capote had taken New York's literary world by storm, while Lee struggled to put pen to paper and sweat out the story of her childhood in the same city. They would reunite in the desolate plains of Kansas to create In Cold Blood. And they would start talk of an even greater mystery: What happened between them—and who really wrote To Kill a Mockingbird? How did two innocents from a backwoods Southern town achieve such fame, and why did they stop speaking to one another? Kim Powers has conjured a death-bed confession from Capote, in which he picks up the phone to Harper Lee one last time to tell her is being haunted—a tale she doesn't believe, until she is forced to. What do the ghosts of the Clutters want, as they appear one by one to confess their secrets and their anger to the most unlikely mediums of Capote and Lee? Capote in Kansas is an unforgettable "what might have been"—a fantasia of ghosts seeking resolve and revenge, and memories and regret for a past that was, that will never be again.

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Interviews/Guest blogs About Capote In Kansas

Jamesreadsbooks.com—a wide-ranging interview on many things literary
August 21, 2014
"I do believe in ghosts, by the way, but mine aren't the type that go bump in the night. They're the ghosts that come to us in our dreams, or the ghosts of guilt that haunt us (me, at least) during our waking hours."
Read the interview

ABC News Now's "Influential"
"I sort of wanted to present the story that I thought a lot of people didn't know, actually... the bizarreness of them growing up in this little, you know, podunk Alabama town in the Depression in the 20s and 30s. And that he went on to great acclaim as a writer; she became his assistant then."
Watch the interview

Bookgirl's Nightstand—Meet the Author
September 20, 2008
"I loved the idea that this woman we assumed was so sentimental and lyrical could get into the blood and gore of a true crime story. Mind you—doesn't that sound Southern?"
Read the interview

Estella's Revenge—discovering reading as a child and my early trips to the library
October 8, 2008
"In the fourth grade, I checked out what I considered my first grown-up book, a biography called Storming Heaven about the Roaring Twenties evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson. I took it on vacation with me and accidentally left it in the back seat of our hot car. Its plastic cover melted, and another battle over a library fine began with Mrs. Jerry Lewis, the not-so-funny librarian. I felt like I gave most of my allowance—fifty cents a week—to that woman. But the books were worth it."
Read the article

Diary of an Eccentric—about my writing process
October 22, 2008
"The sight and sounds of me writing: it used to look like an outtake from The Exorcist, or something from The Three Faces of Eve. Scary."
Read the article

October 10, 2008
"I tried a sort of roman a clef approach at one point, changing their names, but it fell flat. I think for something artistic to work, it needs to be a little risky, a little dangerous, and this was definitely something risky."
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Books and Cooks
October 27, 2008
"If you could have Truman Capote and Harper Lee over for dinner, what would you serve them?"
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Sulphur Springs News Telegram—McKinney native Kim Powers talks about imagination, broken friendships and the writing process
February 27, 2008
"I'm pleased with my portrait of Lee; I think it's a full—blooded, passionate character. I wanted to bring alive someone who had written one great book, and then gone silent."
Read the interview

The Advocate—A Fictional Take on Famous Frenemies
October 8, 2007
"Both Swimming and Kansas are suspenseful, with quick-moving plots. 'This might come from my years writing for TV,' Powers says. 'Or it could be that my literary influence is Nancy Drew.'"
Read the interview


"I thought I knew the story of Truman Capote and Harper Lee. I was wrong. Kim Powers brilliantly brings their strange relationship alive in a way a standard-issue biography never could. Weaving together fact, speculation and fantasy, he creates a sort of emotional biography that will haunt you long after the last page...just as the ghosts of the slain Clutters must have haunted them."
   —Oscar Hijuelos, Pulitzer Prize winner for The Mambo Kings Sing Songs of Love and Mr. Ives' Christmas

"Powers astutely summons the intense sorrow behind a life-long friendship gone awry."
   —Entertainment Weekly

"Fans of In Cold Blood and To Kill a Mockingbird will welcome this off-beat novel."
   —Publishers Weekly

"[An] exceptional first novel...[Powers] succeeds brilliantly in blending fact and fiction to produce a sensitive portrait of two lost souls. Heartily recommended."
   —Library Journal (starred review)

"[A] blend of fact and fiction about perhaps the greatest back story in American literature."
   —USA Today

"Well-written and at times intriguing...Raises thought-provoking philosophical issues about how writers should use the lives of real people."
   —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Through fiction, [Powers] intriguingly focuses on the end of Capote's self-absorbed life, exploring the demons that haunted his final days...An engaging narrative that sensitively explores the intricacies of transgression and forgiveness within friendship."
   —New Orleans Times-Picayune

"[A] thrilling new novel...[An] unusual tale, which combines elements of historical fiction with a classic ghost story."
   —The Advocate.

"Powers guides us, Virgil-like, into the underworld of haunted houses, haunted books, and haunted psyches...hair-raising and clever...If you're involved in a serious book club (or literature seminar), Powers' novel would be the only place to begin an incredible examination of the works and lives of Truman Capote and Harper Lee."
   —The Bloomsbury Review

"[A] boldly constructed novel...This book, with its snake boxes and grand ballrooms, will fascinate and please Capote and Lee fans who long for more closure on their sadly frustrating relationship."
   —Curled Up with a Good Book

"Part mystery and part literary homage, Capote in Kansas is a tale about ghosts both literal and figurative--and a tribute to an enigmatic friendship...This is an incredible 'what might have been' story."
   —Tucson Citizen

"Touching and often hilarious...Powers weaves a deft and clever rewriting of what is known and fabricated about these two mysterious authors."
   —Bay Area Reporter

"A richly detailed story...The characters...are so real that they almost speak from the pages they appear in. The ancillary details, including events from the shared past of Capote and Lee and the separate adult histories of each of them, give fascinating glimpses into their private lives and into the backgrounds of their famous novels."

"This fictionalized account of their relationship and the story of two Southern backwoods residents who each became one of the biggest writers of their time—and stopped speaking to each other—makes for an engrossing, fantastic blend of strong characterization and gripping plot. Any who would categorize this as simply quasi-biography, fiction or ghost story will find its power and enchantment simply undeniable: an outstanding recommendation for general lending collections strong in fictionalized facts."
   —Midwest Book Reviews

"Powers manipulates the novel into a fascinating combination of fact and fiction to deliver a powerful portrait of two of America's literary icons...[A] riveting and haunting examination of two extraordinary lives."
   —The Advocate, Pegram, TN

"Mines new territory...in such a compelling way that I was sorry it was only 250 pages long...A tidy little mystery that not only explores the strange relationship between Capote and Harper Lee, but also answers a question many have asked—'did she write To Kill a Mockingbird or did Capote?'...Powers does a sensational job of keeping either personality from running away with the story. His portrayal of Capote is rich and nuanced, and he takes us inside Harper Lee's head to show us how 30 years of rumors can obscure even the most incontrovertible truths."
   —Out Front, Denver

"Kim Powers reminds us with his first novel how irreverent, offbeat, and wonderfully engaging a novel should be...With an elegance and depth too often missing from many fictional works these days, Powers crafts a masterful tale of ghost literally crawling out of literary beauty, and in so doing, probes the deeper possibilities of human emotion with a world of passion intermingled with pain."
   —Metro Spirit

"...the story progresses to a satisfying conclusion, its final pages—about reconciliation, gifts, and forgiveness—the most moving of all. It's worth the journey to get there."

"Like its subject matter, Capote in Kansas is compelling and intense. Powers's glimpse into the world of two of America's most respected writers sheds light on the burden of fame and great talent...."
   —Sulphur Springs News-Telegram

"Capote and Lee's past and present are blended brilliantly by the visitations and Powers' commanding imagery of words...Powers has fashioned an original, touching story of friendship and what might have been. An imaginative fabrication of ghosts and troubled souls, this story lingers long after the last page has been read."

"...even more thrilling, thoughtful and heartbreaking than I ever expected... moments of pure, simple tragedy that jumped off the page and left me breathless... I cried and I wanted to turn back to the very first page and start all over again."
   —Estella's Revenge.blogspot.com

"...a fascinating story of what-if?... an imaginative tale while will make you think and perhaps lead you to make your own conclusions about these literary greats."
   —Bookgirl's Nightstand

"...pacing perfect and the storyline gripping..."

"...a fascinating and eerie novel... full of imagery and mood..."

"Powers expertly created a fictional story about two very real, very famous people. The book flows seamlessly from the past to the present, and the characters come to life on the page."

"Powers' writing is gripping, compelling and nearly impossible to put down... Powers' sense of pace is exquisite..."

"Powers put his own spin on some of the most compelling—and inextricably-linked—literary mysteries of our time...He captures Capote's beloved cattiness and Lee's legendary loner status, fashioning fully-realized characters that engage the reader by coming alive on the page. Fans of Capote and Lee will learn some interesting facts about their lives and the inspirations behind their greatest works...Capote in Kansas allows readers one last adventure with the creator of Boo Radley and one last waltz around the Black and White Ball with Truman and his caustic wit."
   —Hipster Book Club

"Powers' approach is a fascinating one...Capote in Kansas will be a fine ghost story of the read-by-the-fire-on-a-cold-night type. Powers casts the book as a novel, not a memoir, and this is precisely what gives it its power."

Carroll & Graf, hardcover, November 2007, ISBN: 9780786720330
Da Capo Press, paperback, September 2008, ISBN: 9780306817496