Christopher Golden has written books in many genres, and has written for television, most recently in the Horror genre. In this interview for Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, Christopher talks about his latest works, including his comic book, The Witch Queens #1, and his latest book, Red Hands. He also talks about being a writer. This was published on April 14th, 2021.
Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on British illustrator and author Steve Small.
Steve, can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your work?
Hello. Thanks for inviting me here on your blog. My name is Steve Small, and I am a fairly recent children’s picture book author and illustrator with a long career in drawn animation.
Where can people find your work?
I publish in the UK with Simon & Schuster and have been lucky enough to also create co-editions with a number of very good publishers worldwide including Henry Holt and Co and Simon & Schuster in the US.
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you do? What can readers expect from your next project?
My first outing in picture books was illustrating Smriti Hall’s “I’m Sticking with You.” It’s about a bear and a squirrel who discover that even the best of friends sometimes need to get the balance right. I also write and illustrate my own stories, and the first of these was called “The Duck Who Didn’t Like Water.” My most recent solo book is called “Wellington’s Big Day Out.” It’s a story about a young elephant who can’t seem to grow up as quickly as he’d like. Plus a third installment of the “I’m Sticking with You” series comes out next year.
What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the final product, but you loved discovering?
I recently found out that a bear’s sense of smell is 100 times greater than that of a dog.
What is your favorite part of being an artist/author? Of the whole art and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
I love reading, and the pleasure of picture books is in the way words and pictures explore different approaches to storytelling and emotion to a reader. They can sometimes offer an interesting counterpoint to each other or use each other’s range, for example, the way a drawing can convey a feeling and a mood of a character in just one image in combination with the emphasis and clear detail a few sentences can bring to a story moment, to broaden the reader’s understanding of the narrative.
This is an important aspect for me, as storytelling in picture books provides plenty of space for a story to involve the reader’s perspective. Both writing and illustrations give the illusion that a lot of information is being conveyed, and yet, compared to say, a film, books provide readers plenty of room for interpretation, in a way that is not as available to the watcher of a movie or documentary. I think that books extend an invitation to readers of all ages to bring their own mindset and impressions to stories and to participate in significant ways. A movie, with its comprehensive layers of sound, movement, performance, and scene length etc., creates a more formal, definitive, and more choreographed narrative structure, while the spare quality of book storytelling allows for some picture books to exist as almost personal memories in our thoughts for years after reading, furnished with distinctive characters and events to which we have in some part, contributed.
What piece of advice would you want to share with other artists/authors?
I suspect it’s too early for me to offer any worthwhile advice to budding picture-book makers. I am still feeling my way around the process of crafting a book and making the most of its unique ways of conveying stories. However, one thing that I discovered straight away, that might surprise those who are embarking on making a book, is how little space there is to tell a rich story. Several times now, I have reflected on my favourite books made by authors and illustrators, feeling certain that their stories had many more pages than my own books, in order to tell such deep stories.
But no, their page count is as slender as one of my books. Moreover, their word count is also surprisingly trim. Their storytelling skills have just deftly packed everything that the authors needed to say in a few page turns, giving vivid and far-reaching glimpses into another world and into their characters. This gives me renewed respect and admiration for the authors and illustrators of great books who manage to supply such a lasting and complete story with so little.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
In the past 4 years that I’ve been making picture books, I’ve accumulated about over 50 sketchbooks, all packed with snippets of stories and ideas just waiting to surface and am still sketching every day. I’ve been waiting for a long time to get into making books and I think that these ideas have perhaps been patiently biding their time in the back of my thoughts, until there was a way of expressing them. I’m looking forward to dipping back into my sketchbooks, every now and then, to see which story tells me it’s ready to be a book.
What are some of your art-related hobbies, crafts, addictions?
I have worked in animation for a long time now, and though it’s my job, it does tend to occupy my spare time too (when I’m not making a new picture book). Whether it is designing, directing or animating, there is a lot of craft-learning and skill-honing to be done. I doubt anyone ever stops learning if they are a dedicated animator. I am always discovering techniques and approaches that I have never tried before. It’s intense work, and even though software provides us with powerful tools, there is nothing more powerful than our imagination, so I suspect this career/hobby shall continue for a while yet.
While you’re working, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
There’s a certain aspect to writing picture books that seems to be about assembling a pleasingly tight puzzle. You don’t have the room to expand on an idea or an event with the same number of words available to even a short story writer. I need to concentrate to create that type of interesting brevity, so for me, silence is usually best. Occasionally, an instrumental piece can help to sustain an emotional landscape that seems right for the work.
But when it’s time to illustrate, I’m the opposite. I like to listen to audiobooks, podcasts, and music. I have always done this since I was a kid, and nothing seems to get in the way of focusing on painting or designing.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your career as an artist/author?
I haven’t got a great lesson. How about two good ones?
They are related to each other and are about the benefits of casting a fresh pair of eyes on even your favourite piece of work, no matter how well it’s going.
Firstly, I always give myself a reason to leave the desk and come back a little bit later to resume where I left off. I have spotted and corrected so many errors this way. It could be a tea-break or a decent night’s sleep. But giving yourself a fresh perspective can be the most important part of my process. I like to leave the room, have a cuppa and walk back into the room looking at the work as I approach it. Seeing it from far away and on the move seems to engage parts of my eye-to-brain connection differently, and I can suddenly see things I didn’t notice before.
Secondly, (and I know a few people who would disagree with this) when you’ve finished a sketch or even a final piece of work, and you are (horror of horrors) asked to change it- no matter how wedded you are to your original idea, don’t reject the proposition out of hand without trying it first. A small sketch before saying ‘it’s a terrible idea and won’t work!’ can produce interesting results.
I’ve had a few occasions when, despite being convinced that it was a far lesser idea, a quick revised layout opened up new possibilities. The main reason for this is that by the second time around, my mind will have already become very familiar with the idea and the composition and might have, in the interim, quietly come up with a surer approach that really lifts the composition when drawing it the next time. This doesn’t always work, of course. Sometimes spontaneity should be protected at all costs, and an overworked image can remain flat, no matter what you do to it. But at least a little sketch will clarify it. There’s something about the act of drawing that is always a little ahead of our conscious thought, and for all the intellectual reasoning back and forth, there is nothing quite as refreshing as a sketch that either makes bad ideas work or else reveals that one’s attachment to the previous idea was just attachment itself and not because it was a better idea.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Steve!
Hello, Everyone. I hope that you are doing ok in the weather, wherever you are. With the wildfires, floods and heatwaves, it’s been a tough Summer.
To take some of you away from those problems, we have some great new books arriving in the next 2 weeks:
THE RABBIT HUTCH: A NOVEL by Tess Gunty – “The Rabbit Hutch is a stunning debut novel about four teenagers—recently aged out of the state foster-care system—living together in an apartment building in the post-industrial Midwest, exploring the quest for transcendence and the desire for love.” Goodreads.
WE ARE NOT LIKE THEM: A NOVEL by Christine Pride. A story of a lifelong bond between two best friends, one black and one white, and when a tragic event occurs their lives become indelibly altered. This is a book about race, and how it can affect people’s daily lives.
HARLEM SHUFFLE: A NOVEL by Colson Whitehead. “A gloriously entertaining novel of heists, shakedowns, and rip-offs set in Harlem in the 1960s.” Goodreads.
RECKONING by Catherine Coulter. An FBI thriller with Agents Savich and Sherlock, who are enlisted to help women with traumatic pasts who are in mortal danger.
THE FAMILY REMAINS: A NOVEL (THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS #2) by Lisa Jewell. This is a standalone sequel to The Family Upstairs. It is a haunting novel filled with stories about the lengths we will go to protect the ones we love and uncover the truth.
THREE ASSASSINS: A NOVEL by Kotaro Isaka is a thriller set Tokyo’s criminal underworld, and it pits one ordinary man whose wife has been murdered, against a network of highly skilled contract killers.
HEAT 2: A NOVEL by Michael Mann. This novel is an all-new story about what happened before and after Mann’s classic movie HEAT.
WRONG PLACE WRONG TIME: A NOVEL by Gillian McAllister. This is a time travel mystery. A woman looks out her window and sees her 17-year-old son kill a stranger, and then get put into custody. She finally falls asleep, and wakes up the previous day. And then she wakes again. And it is the day before that.
DUNE: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL, BOOK 2: MUAD’DIB by Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson (Adaptors). The second book in the Graphic Novel adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune.
Non-Fiction – Biography:
PATH LIT BY LIGHTNING: THE LIFE OF JIM THORPE by David Maraniss. This is the biography of Indigenous Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe, America’s greatest all-around athlete.
As always, thank you for making our shelves your destination.
Horror Writer and Poet Meg Smith talks about short stories in her new book, The Plague Confessor, and also speaks about herself and her writing in this interview with Selina Lovett from Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester. This was originally published on April 13, 2021.
Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on author Jamie Ford. Jamie Ford is the great-grandson of Nevada mining pioneer, Min Chung, who emigrated from Hoiping, China to San Francisco in 1865, where he adopted the western name “Ford,” thus confusing countless generations. His debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, spent two and a half years on the New York Times bestseller list and went on to win the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. His second book, Songs of Willow Frost, was also a national bestseller. Jamie’s latest novel is The Many Daughters of Afong Moy. His work has been translated into 35 languages. (He’s still holding out for Klingon, because that’s when you know you’ve made it).
So, Jamie, where can people find your work?
Wherever you buy books, check out books, or listen to books.
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
What was the inspiration for The Many Daughters of Afong Moy? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
There was a study at Emory University in 2013, where researchers showed how genetic markers in lab animals, thought to be wiped clean at birth, were used to transmit a single traumatic experience across generations.
That study haunted me. I couldn’t stop wondering that if we inherit trauma, what else might we be encumbered with at birth? What about predilections to certain phobias? What about anxiety and PTSDs? And if we inherit negative things, could we also inherit positive experiences and useful psychological traits? How about our ability or inability to care for other people?
That’s when I set off to write what is essentially an epigenetic love story.
What kind of research went into writing this book? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
Fortunately, scientists, biologists, chemists, and geneticists at Emory University, MIT, Sarah Lawrence, and Harvard (just to name a few) have done a copious amount of research and as a writer of fiction I’m able to stand on their shoulders and look taller (and smarter) than I really am. Their trailblazing work is documented in countless scientific papers, which are written for peer review, not pleasure reading. My job was to harvest as much science as I could and present it in a way that would not only be understandable, but compelling. While also projecting where I think this technology might take us in a few short decades.
In a way, it’s analogous to how Arthur C. Clarke proposed the concept of satellite communication in 1945 before Sputnik 1 was launched into orbit in the late 50s. I have this vain hope that the concepts presented in the book might someday become reality, if only so I can iron out the wrinkles in my own epigenetic past.
What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?
I loved writing Greta’s story. Not because I’m a tech executive but I did take computer programming classes at Olympic College while in junior high, so I was kind of a turbo-geek. Or as Greta says, “I’m polynomial in a non-polynomial world.” I can relate to that struggle to fit in. I mean, I was a kid taking Pascal, and everyone else in the HP computer lab seemed like they were in their 70s. (In retrospect, I’m sure they were in their late 20s or 30s and I probably made them feel just as old as they made me feel like a toddler).
And in case anyone’s wondering, after being asked to write a program to track hotel occupancy (and not create video games as I’d hoped) I quit. Thus, becoming that rare fourteen-year-old college drop-out.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, Jamie. I look forward to speaking with you at our YouTube Interview!
Hello, folks. July and August are pretty quiet months in publishing, so in this blog I am telling you about some of the books that will be coming in in the next week or so.
Let’s start with the thrillers. We have:
THE LOST KINGS by Tyrell Johnson. This is about a girl whose alcoholic father came home bloodied one night, and disappeared the next day along with her inseparable twin brother. Her entire world was stripped away from her including Maddox, a boy who she was beginning to think she might love. Twenty years later she is in London still running from her past when Maddox finds her in London claiming he has tracked down her dad.
BLACK DOG by Stuart Woods. This is a Stone Barrington mystery/thriller #62.
The next two novels are both LGBTQ related, but are in two different genres:
HUSBAND MATERIAL by Alexis Hall. This is the sequel to boyfriend material. In Boyfriend Material Luc and Oliver met, and now it seems like all their friends are getting married. Can these two manage to figure out what they are going to do?
A BROKEN BLADE by Melissa Blair. Keera is the King’s favored assassin. She is forced to hunt down the Shadow, a mysterious figure making moves against the crown. But is the Shadow who/what she thought? Things are not what they seem, and she can’t help but wonder who her enemy truly is.
THE LAST WHITE MAN by Mohsin Hamid. One morning Anders wakes to find that his reflection is different – he doesn’t recognize himself. His skin has turned dark. Other people are also turning darker, and people see the transformations in different ways. Some, as something to be resisted to the bitter end, and others as a chance to see each other anew, face to face.
MERCURY PICTURES PRESENTS by Anthony Marra . The epic tale of a brilliant woman who must reinvent herself to survive, moving from Mussolini’s Italy to 1940s Los Angeles.
THE MANY DAUGHTERS OF AFONG MOY by Jamie Ford. This is also a tale of magical realism in which Dorothy Moy’s 5-year-old daughter begins to remember things from the lives of their ancestors, as Dorothy has been doing for years. In order to prevent her daughter from enduring the depression that has marked her own life, Dorothy seeks help. Through an experimental treatment designed to mitigate inherited trauma, Dorothy intimately connects with past generations of women in her family. She finds that trauma isn’t the only thing she has inherited, though. There is also a stranger that has loved her throughout all of her genetic memories she needs to deal with.
MIKA IN REAL LIFE: A NOVEL by Emiko Jean. A laugh-out-loud funny, and utterly heartwarming novel about motherhood, daughterhood, and love—how we find it, keep it, and how it always returns. 35-year-old Mika is at a low point in her life when her daughter she gave up for adoption 16 years ago contacts her, and wants to forge a relationship with her. Mika doesn’t want to disappoint her, and makes up a fake life – which is actually all her hopes and dreams. She shares these with her daughter, Penny. Can this actually all become reality? Especially since her heart belongs to Thomas Calvin – Penny’s adoptive widower father.
As always, thank you for making our shelves your destination.
Hello to all our friends at the little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside! Before we commence with all the information in this week’s blog, we need to make something absolutely clear…
WE ARE NOT CLOSING!
In fact we’re doing better than ever, seeing lots of new faces and old friends, adding to our staff, and bringing in lots of exciting new titles.
Several of our customers told us this week they’d heard we were closing, and we think the source of the misunderstanding was the recent article in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette about the closing of Annie’s Clark Brunch on Main Street near Clark University. We wish Annie Jenkins and Megan Zawalich all the best of luck in their new endeavors.
July is rapidly drawing to a close, and hopefully so is the worst of the current heatwave. Our fastest sellers have been the traditional “beach read” authors, like Elin Hilderbrand and Nancy Thayer, and the suggested and assigned school summer reading titles. Please feel free to look through our database of books that are in stock or are in transit to us; you may find some great surprises there!
Our sidewalk sale carts continue to make great perusal for bargains, parked outside in front of our windows every day, a little preview of the best selection and discounts on new and used books in the city of Worcester.
Inside, our displays are just as effervescent.
Our publisher specials for the month of August cover many genres. All publisher specials are discounted 42% off retail price.
FUZZ by Mary Roach
THE BOOK OF DELIGHTS by Ross Gay
THE DISAPPEARANCE by Bentley Little
THE WAR LIBRARIAN by Addison Armstrong
THE LADY ADVENTURERS CLUB by Karen Frost
AMARI AND THE GREAT GAME by B. B. Alston
Our Youtube channel has nearly ONE HUNDRED filmed interviews and Q&As with various creators… writers, illustrators, editors and more!
Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester has been honored to have the amazing author team of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller to our store and blog several times – And they’ll be back this coming Friday, July 8 with their latest book, Alliance of Equals from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM. This week, we have a special spotlight, though… today we get the special privilege of interviewing the major overseers of Sharon and Steve – their kitties!
Welcome feline overlords of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller! We’re very honored to have you here on the Spotlight at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, and we hope the catnip and tuna treats are to your liking.
Your humans often post your updates for you on a variety of social media, but for those who haven’t yet met you and worship you, can you introduce yourselves and tell us how you met your humans?
The next two weeks offer many thrillers (as usual), a few fiction books, and an interesting non-fiction book about Ice-T. The books that are in next week I have noted with a *. July has been a slow month for new releases, which is why I have doubled up on the weeks. Billy Summers will come out 8/2/22.
THE PRESIDENT’S DAUGHTER by James Patterson and Bill Clinton (paperback edition). The President’s daughter is kidnapped by a madman. A former President is a co-author of the book.
THE RETREAT: A NOVEL by Sarah Pearse. A retreat on an island with a past history of a serial murderer begins to have unexplained deaths.
*56 DAYS by Catherine Ryan Howard. 56 days ago, two people meet in a supermarket in Dublin just at the start of COVID. 35 days ago, when lockdown threatens to keep them apart, they decide to move in together, without really knowing who – and what – each other really is. TODAY, Detectives arrive at Oliver’s apartment to discover a decomposing body inside.
**BILLY SUMMERS by Steven King. A thriller about a hit man who wants out. But he has one last job to do.
*ABANDONED IN DEATH by J.D. Robb. An Eve Dallas homicide detective story.
*A HUNDRED OTHER GIRLS: A NOVEL by Iman Hariri-Kia Fiction – a look at the infighting magazine world through the eyes of a female Middle-Eastern-American aspiring writer, who is crashing on her sister’s couch. Expect some romance, friction, fun and a profound exploration of what it means to chase your dream.
*SUGAR AND SALT: A NOVEL by Susan Wiggs Fiction – A tale of commercial kitchen sharing between a male San Francisco baker and a female barbeque chef, a budding romance, and a past that comes back to haunt the chef from Texas.
SPLIT DECISION: LIFE STORIES by Ice-T, Spike & Douglas Century. This is a biography of Ice-T and a friend of his youth who were on the wrong side of the law, theft being their crime of choice. Ice-T then changed his life by working on his music, then got into acting, and gave up his unlawful life. His friend Spike ended up continuing his life of crime, and ended up in jail for 35 years. This biography goes into how decisions in their lives led them to their different fates.
As always. thank you for making our shelves your destination