For her newest novel, “Lalani of the Distant Sea,” Erin Entrada Kelly turned to her Filipino ancestry to craft a mythic tale of a young girl on an epic journey. The best-selling author won the Newbery Medal for “Hello Universe,” which is being adapted by Netflix for a movie. She will speak at noon Sunday, Oct. 20 at the Dewitt Center Gym as part of the annual Boston Book Festival.
BOOKS: What are you reading currently?
KELLY: I have been going through a historical true crime phase. I was just on a plane and listened to “An Unspeakable Crime: The Prosecution and Persecution of Leo Frank” by Elaine Marie Alphin. He was a Jewish man who ran a pencil factory in Atlanta and was accused of a murdering a 13-year-old who worked for him. Before that I was listening to “The Trial of Lizzie Borden” by Cara Robertson. For some reason my audio books are very, very dark, and I fall asleep listening to them.
BOOKS: Do they ever give you bad dreams?
KELLY: For a while I was into the Russian Revolution so was lulled to sleep by sounds of that. One night I had the worst nightmare. So I decided to change gears. I started listening to Michelle Obama’s “Becoming.” Then I fell asleep and dreamt that she and I were great friends.
BOOKS: Do you have a favorite from your Russian Revolution reading phase?
KELLY: “The Family Romanov,” by Candace Fleming. I didn’t realize it at the time but it’s intended as YA. It was so accessible. What turns a lot of people away from historical nonfiction is that it can be so dense. I will learn more if I read books with specific angles into history. A book on World War II would be difficult for me to get through, but I just read “Blitzed” by Norman Ohler, which is about drug abuse in the Nazi regime. Through that one slice I learned about the war overall.
Read the entire interview as it originally appeared in The Boston Globe here.