Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday Spotlight on author, teacher, and blogger Derek Strahan! Derek will be visiting our store with his newest book, New England, Then and Now, based on his blog, LostNewEngland.com. He’ll be presenting a slide show at our 65 James Street store on historic Worcester on Saturday, March 17, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM.
Thank you so much for being on our blog, Derek! Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?
I am an English teacher at The Master’s School in Simsbury, Connecticut, but on the side I run the blog LostNewEngland.com, where I post then-and-now photos along with a description of the historical background of the site, and the changes that have occurred over the years. Aside from the blog, I have written two books, which were both published in 2017: Lost Springfield, Massachusetts, and New England, Then and Now. The first of these books focuses on historic buildings and sites in Springfield that, for the most part, have been demolished or otherwise lost to history, while my second book has a format similar to my blog, with then-and-now photos and short descriptions.
What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?
I’ve always been interested in local history, dating back to when I was an elementary school student in Monson, Massachusetts. I would pore over the old History of Monson book in the school library, while my classmates were reading things like Goosebumps and The Boxcar Children, and that interest has always stuck with me. I think, for me, part of the draw is being able to give context and significance to even the most seemingly-mundane local places, and to discover new things about familiar places that we may have taken for granted.
How important has the New England setting been to your writing?
Very important, as the titles of my website and book may suggest. I’ve lived in New England for my entire life, which probably has a lot to do with my love for history in general and local history in particular. Although geographically small, there seems to be an endless amount of material to write about, and seemingly no end to the number of places to explore.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
Aside from my regular blog postings, I am also working on a Lost Berkshires book, which will be similar to my Lost Springfield, Massachusetts book in highlighting lost hotels, mansions, and other landmarks of the Berkshires region. The book currently has a projected release date of spring 2020.
What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?
My wife, Melissa, and I have a 16-month old son, Isaiah, so the question usually ends up being: when can I make time for writing? I actually wrote New England, Then and Now in about a three-month period, while I was working full-time and taking care of an infant who was only a few months old at the time! But, thanks to a lot of help from my wife – and from our babysitter! – I was able to finish it before my publisher’s deadline.
What are some of your writing-related hobbies, crafts, addictions?
Books. I already have way more than I could possibly read in several lifetimes, yet I always feel the need to get more! Along with that, I do a lot of travel and photography for my blog, and I always enjoy taking day trips and getting to explore cities and towns across New England that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise visited or been able to appreciate in the same way.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
Lost Springfield, Massachusetts can be ordered through my website, LostNewEngland.com, and it is also available through online booksellers such as Amazon, and in bookstores in the Springfield area. New England, Then and Now can also be ordered online, and it is available in a variety of bookstores throughout the region.
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
My blog, LostNewEngland.com, as well as on Facebook (facebook.com/lostnewengland) and Twitter (@LostNewEngland)
Thank you again for being on our blog, Derek! We look forward to having you visit our store on Saturday, March 17, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM to talk about Worcester’s history through your photography!