Annie's Book Stop of Worcester

The little bookstore that's bigger on the inside

Photo Credit: Richard Beban



Janet, could you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?



I’m the author of The Paris Library, which takes place in Paris and Montana. I’m originally from Montana, where my parents were wheat farmers, and grew up in a small town of 2,000 people. I was always a writer, even as a teen, I kept a journal.



When I was a child, my mother drove my grandmother, who never learned to drive, to the grocery store and to the library. From these weekly treks, I understood that books were just as nourishing as food. My mother and grandmother introduced me to books, and my mother is in every word that I write.



Growing up, I was fascinated by my neighbor, a war bride from Normandy. She made me want to learn French. Even as a child, I understood she was incredibly brave to leave behind her friends, family, and language for a new life with a G.I. she didn’t know very well.



I’m an American in France, and before that I worked in Ukraine. My first novel, Moonlight in Odessa is about an email-order bride. In both of my books, I write about starting over, and about the way place shapes us. I write about my own struggles to learn new languages and customs. I want readers to know that they are not alone.




Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)



At all independent bookstores as well as online.




How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?



I love to connect!



My twitter handle is @skesliencharles


My Instagram handle is @jskesliencharles


My FB author page is Janet Skeslien Charles



You can find a photos and short biographies of the real-life librarians; a time line of the war and a parallel timeline of what was happening at the library; Dorothy Reeder’s report about life during the Occupation; and book club guide with recipes and music at




For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from The Paris Library?



In short, it’s World War II. Paris is occupied. There’s a war on words. It’s Nazis vs. American librarians, and the librarians win.



At length, I am interested in journeys and the ways that we must reinvent ourselves through changes in circumstances, whether it is a difficult situation, marriage, divorce, retirement, having children, or travel. As a foreigner, I am always an outsider. Though this makes daily life difficult, being an outsider is good when you are novelist because you observe people and have distance from situations.



While working at the American Library in Paris, I learned about the history of the librarians during World War II. I knew it was a novel and sat down to write it. I wanted the world to know about the directress Dorothy Reeder and her belief in books as bridges. I hope that readers will fall in love with the world of the library and ask themselves what they might do in the place of the real-life characters.









What kind of research went into writing The Paris Library?  What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?



My greatest discovery was the life of Dorothy Reeder. I knew that she was incredibly brave. She stayed at the helm of the Library when the Ambassador advised Americans to leave France. In researching the book, I learned that after she left Paris, she raised funds and awareness for the Red Cross in Florida and that she trained librarians at the national library in Bogotá, Colombia. She then returned to Europe with the Red Cross. In the 1940’s, she worked on three continents!



I became an obsessive Googler, which paid off because each day archivists and librarians add to online archives. I was able to find photos, letters, and documents from all over the world, from Boise, Idaho, to Bogotá, Colombia. I tracked down people via White Pages, LinkedIn, and Facebook. I read dozens of memoirs of women who lived through the war, from journalists to an American wife of a French soldier to a Parisian madam who entertained German troops. Each had their own point of view. I read several books on World War II and several years’ worth of Library Journal to learn the concerns of librarians during the 1940s. To be honest, it’s hard to stop researching! Over a year after the book came out, I’m still tracking down characters.




What was the inspiration for The Paris Library? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?



My interests inspired this book, from my war-bride neighbor, to my time at the library, to my love of French, to my appreciation for intergenerational friendships, to the solace taken from reading. I spent years researching and conducting interviews with family members of the real-life characters. Years more writing. 




What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out The Paris Library?  How did you overcome that challenge?



The biggest challenge was getting published at all! My first agent and editor rejected the book. I queried 75 agents to find representation over a period of five years. Luckily, I was teaching at that time, and focusing on my students kept my mind off the rejections in my inbox.




What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers? What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing career?



To believe in yourself and your work. It took a decade to write and get The Paris Library published. The book has sold in 36 languages and became a New York Times bestseller. It is important to persist.




Janet, thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions!









This week there are more literary fiction books coming across our shelves than any other genre. Granted, a few types of fiction, but fiction nonetheless.  There are fiction, Asian-American fiction, and historical fiction books in the mix. Then we have one epic fantasy, one horror book, one romance and one mystery. All-in-all, a pretty good selection.




ON THE ROOFTOP by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton    fiction


A stunning novel about a mother whose dream of musical stardom for her three daughters collides with the daughters’ ambitions for their own lives—set against the backdrop of gentrifying 1950s San Francisco

Warm, gripping, and wise, with echoes of Fiddler on the Roof, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s latest novel is a moving family portrait from “a writer of uncommon nerve and talent” (New York Times Book Review).




THE FORTUNES OF JADED WOMEN by Carolyn Huynh   Asian American Fiction


For fans of Amy Tan, KJ Dell’Antonia, and Kevin Kwan, this “sharp, smart, and gloriously extra” (Nancy Jooyoun Kim, The Last Story of Mina Lee) debut follows a family of estranged Vietnamese women—cursed to never know love or happiness—as they reunite when a psychic makes a startling prediction.

A multi-narrative novel brimming with levity and candor, The Fortunes of Jaded Women is about mourning, meddling, celebrating, and healing together as a family. It shows how Vietnamese women emerge victorious, even if the world is against them.




THE HOUSE WITH THE GOLDEN DOOR by Elodie Harper   historical fiction


The life of a courtesan in Pompeii is glamorous yet perilous . . .


Amara has escaped her life as a slave in the Wolf Den, the city’s most notorious brothel, but now her survival depends on the affections of her patron: a man she might not know as well as she once thought. At night in the home he bought for her, the house with the golden door, Amara’s dreams are haunted by her past. She longs for her sisterhood of friends—the women at the brothel she was forced to leave behind—and worse, finds herself pursued by the cruel and vindictive man who once owned her. To be truly free, she will need to be as ruthless as he is. Amara knows her existence in Pompeii is subject to Venus, the goddess of love. Yet finding love may prove to be the most dangerous act of all. This is the second installment in Elodie Harper’s acclaimed Wolf Den Trilogy, which reimagines the lives of women long overlooked.



THE MARRIAGE PORTRAIT by Maggie O’Farrell    historical  fiction


The author of Hamnet—New York Times best seller and National Book Critics Circle Award winner—brings the world of Renaissance Italy to jewel-bright life in this unforgettable fictional portrait of the captivating young duchess Lucrezia de’ Medici as she makes her way in a troubled court.


Florence, the 1550s. Lucrezia, third daughter of the grand duke, is comfortable with her obscure place in the palazzo: free to wonder at its treasures, observe its clandestine workings, and devote herself to her own artistic pursuits. But when her older sister dies on the eve of her wedding to the ruler of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio, Lucrezia is thrust unwittingly into the limelight: the duke is quick to request her hand in marriage, and her father just as quick to accept on her behalf.


Full of the beauty and emotion with which she illuminated the Shakespearean canvas of Hamnet, Maggie O’Farrell turns her talents to Renaissance Italy in an extraordinary portrait of a resilient young woman’s battle for her very survival.




RUINATION: A LEAGUE OF LEGENDS by Anthony Reynolds     


Discover an epic tale of magic, revenge, and an empire on the verge of ruin in the first ever novel set in the blockbuster universe of League of Legends.


Camavor is a brutal land with a bloody legacy. Where the empire’s knights go, slaughter follows.


Kalista seeks to change that. When her young and narcissistic uncle, Viego, becomes king, she vows to temper his destructive instincts, as his loyal confidant, advisor, and military general. But her plans are thwarted when an assassin’s poisoned blade strikes Viego’s wife, Isolde, afflicting her with a malady for which there is no cure.


As Isolde’s condition worsens, Viego descends into madness and grief, threatening to drag Camavor down with him. Kalista makes a desperate gambit to save the kingdom: she searches for the long lost Blessed Isles, rumored to hold the queen’s salvation, if only Kalista can find them.


But corruption grows in the Blessed Isles’ capital, where a vengeful warden seeks to ensnare Kalista in his cruel machinations. She will be forced to choose between her loyalty to Viego and doing what she knows is right–for even in the face of utter darkness, one noble act can shine a light that saves the world.




FAIRY TALE by Stephen King   


Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes into the deepest well of his imagination in this spellbinding novel about a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for that world or ours.


Charlie Reade looks like a regular high school kid, great at baseball and football, a decent student. But he carries a heavy load. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was ten, and grief drove his dad to drink. Charlie learned how to take care of himself—and his dad. When Charlie is seventeen, he meets a dog named Radar and her aging master, Howard Bowditch, a recluse in a big house at the top of a big hill, with a locked shed in the backyard. Sometimes strange sounds emerge from it.


Charlie starts doing jobs for Mr. Bowditch and loses his heart to Radar. Then, when Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie a cassette tape telling a story no one would believe. What Bowditch knows, and has kept secret all his long life, is that inside the shed is a portal to another world.


King’s storytelling in Fairy Tale soars. This is a magnificent and terrifying tale in which good is pitted against overwhelming evil, and a heroic boy—and his dog—must lead the battle.


Romantic Suspense:


RULES OF ENGAGEMENT by Stacey Abrams   


Love is a game of chance in this romantic suspense novel by New York Times bestselling author and American politician and activist Stacey Abrams, writing under her pen name, Selena Montgomery.


Dr. Raleigh Foster, an operative for a top-secret intelligence organization, knows that her undercover work has its risks. So she doesn’t hesitate when asked to infiltrate Scimitar, the terrorist group that has stolen lethal environmental technology. But when she’s assigned a partner—brooding, sexy Adam Grayson—to pose as her lover, Raleigh discovers that the most dangerous risk of all…is falling in love.


Adam blames himself for the botched mission that got his best friend killed by Scimitar, and he believes that Raleigh may have contributed to the man’s death. But the closer he works with his alluring partner, the more his suspicions turn to trust—and intense desire. Now, as he and Raleigh untangle a twisted web of secrets and lies, the tension mounts between them…until their masquerade as a couple proves too tempting to resist.




HELL AND BACK (LONGMIRE 18) by Craig Johnson      


A new novel in the beloved New York Times bestselling Longmire series.


What if you woke up lying in the middle of the street in the infamous town of Fort Pratt, Montana, where thirty young Native boys perished in a tragic 1896 boarding-school fire? What if every person you encountered in that endless night was dead? What if you were covered in blood and missing a bullet from the gun holstered on your hip? What if there was something out there in the yellowed skies, along with the deceased and the smell of ash and dust, something the Northern Cheyenne refer to as the Éveohtsé-heómėse, the Wandering Without, the Taker of Souls? What if the only way you know who you are is because your name is printed in the leather sweatband of your cowboy hat, and what if it says your name is Walt Longmire . . . but you don’t remember him?


In Hell and Back, the eighteenth installment of the Longmire series, author Craig Johnson takes the beloved sheriff to the very limits of his sanity to do battle with the most dangerous adversary he’s ever faced: himself.







As always, thank you for making our shelves your destination.





The Woman With the Blue Star is historical fiction author Pam Jenoff’s latest book, which she talks about in this interview with Selina Lovett from Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester. She also speaks about her other writing and her thoughts about writing itself. This video was originally published on April 29, 2021.





Nancy and Figgy




Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on picture book author and illustrator Nancy Tillman. Nancy, could you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your work? How would you like us to introduce you?



 My name is Nancy Tillman.  I’m the author of 16 books, 5 of which were New York Times Bestsellers.





Where can people find your work?  



My books are online and in bookstores everywhere.




How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?



You can follow me on my website, and on Instagram and Facebook @nancytillmanauthor




For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you do?  What can readers expect from you next, or what is the last thing you worked on



My goal has always been to give parents the words to speak the love they have for their children.




What kind of research went into your last project?  What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the final product, but you loved discovering?



I can’t say that research applies to my books most of the time.  But I had a great time researching fairytales for my book “I Knew You Could Do it!”












What was the inspiration for Because You’re Mine? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished piece of work? 



It takes me about nine months to write and illustrate a book.  My last book, Because You’re Mine, was inspired by children’s wishes to know they truly belong.




What was the biggest challenge putting out Because You’re Mine?  How did you overcome that challenge?



 Every book is like a big puzzle!  So getting text and illustrations to work together well is always a challenge.  I also try to get my message across in about 350 words, in rhyme!  That’s the biggest challenge.




What draws you to the particular genre or style that you create? What do you think draws customers to these works? 



Dr. Suess had a huge impact on me as a child.  I actually think in rhyme when I am writing.  Parents tell me that my books speak the deep love they have for their children.  That is so gratifying, because that is my dearest wish.




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



My favorite part is having adults tell me that my books speak the words of their hearts, and have touched their children, even their adult children.




What piece of advice would you want to share with other artists/authors



I think good writing has to come from a pure, true place in one’s heart. 




How important has the New England setting been to your work? 



I love to put children in beautiful wide open spaces in my illustrations, of which New England has many!




What else can we expect from you in the near future?



I have no book in the works at the moment.









What is/are your passions when you’re not creating your works? How do you make time for your non-art based hobbies/things you love? 



I love to read, and I love anything having to do with animals. 




What are some of your art-related hobbies, crafts, addictions?   



I enjoy oil painting.




What does your work space look like?



What do you need to have around you while working? All my work is created digitally.  So a computer is all I need!




What is one thing that most people don’t realize about you?  



 I am left-handed.  That’s why I choose to work digitally.  I smear everything otherwise!




What has been your favorite adventure during your career? 



My husband and I have been so fortunate to spend time in several African countries where I could see many of the animals I put in my books.




While you’re working, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!   



Silence!  I must hyper-focus when I am working.




Artists very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work.  Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your creations? 



I have a little pug and a French bulldog who are always beside me when I am working.




Do you have any favorite foods or drinks that must be in the vicinity (or must be avoided) while you’re creating a piece of work



Earl Grey tea.




What do you consider the most challenging part of the publishing process? And how do you overcome that? 



Getting started is always the hardest thing… one just has to keep plugging away until the book begins to reveal itself!




What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your career as an artist/author? 



Gratitude.  That’s why I always try to respond to anyone who has honored me by contacting me.




Are there any groups, clubs, or organizations that you would recommend to other artists/authors that have helped you in your career? 



I self-published my first book almost two decades ago, and the world has changed greatly since then.  When young writers/illustrators ask me, I direct them to The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.




Nancy, Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions.







Hello, everyone. It’s the start of the school year, possibly leaving some of you with some free time on your hands to do a little extra reading. Next week we will have some new romances, two of them very light (one a romcom), and the third, a paranormal romance. Let’s start with them.








From the author of the Goodreads Choice Award winner The Spanish Love Deception, the eagerly anticipated follow-up featuring Rosie Graham and Lucas Martín, who are forced to share a New York apartment.


Rosie Graham has a problem. A few, actually. She just quit her well paid job to focus on her secret career as a romance writer. She hasn’t told her family and now has terrible writer’s block. Then, the ceiling of her New York apartment literally crumbles on her. Luckily she has her best friend Lina’s spare key while she’s out of town. But Rosie doesn’t know that Lina has already lent her apartment to her cousin Lucas, who Rosie has been stalking—for lack of a better word—on Instagram for the last few months. Lucas seems intent on coming to her rescue like a Spanish knight in shining armor. Only this one strolls around the place in a towel, has a distracting grin, and an irresistible accent. Oh, and he cooks.


Lucas offers to let Rosie stay with him, at least until she can find some affordable temporary housing. And then he proposes an outrageous experiment to bring back her literary muse and meet her deadline: He’ll take her on a series of experimental dates meant to jump-start her romantic inspiration. Rosie has nothing to lose. Her silly, online crush is totally under control—but Lucas’s time in New York has an expiration date, and six weeks may not be enough, for either her or her deadline.






From USA Today bestselling author of The Hating Game Sally Thorne comes something a little unexpected… a historical rom-com that imagines Victor Frankenstein’s sheltered younger sister, and her attempts to create the perfect man.


For generations, every Frankenstein has found their true love and equal, unlocking lifetimes of blissful wedded adventure. Clever, pretty (and odd) Angelika Frankenstein has run out of suitors and fears she may become the exception to this family rule. When assisting in her brother Victor’s ground-breaking experiment to bring a reassembled man back to life, she realizes that having an agreeable gentleman convalescing in the guest suite might be a chance to let a man get to know the real her. For the first time, Angelika embarks upon a project that is all her own.


Filled with carriages, candlesticks, and corpses, Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match is the spooky-season reimagining of the well-known classic that reminds us to never judge a man by his cadaver!




COURT OF THE VAMPIRE QUEEN by Katee Robert (Paranormal romance)


The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Neon Gods brings the heat in this sizzling tale of a vampire queen and her three consorts


All Mina ever wanted was to escape her father’s control. Half human, half vampire, she lived eternally torn between two worlds, never fully experiencing the pleasures of either—until her father chose her as the pawn in his latest political move, gifting her to the darkly powerful and dangerously seductive Malachi Zion.


Malachi is not a vampire to be trifled with. He rules with an iron fist and has a reputation for the darkest of sins. But the longer Mina spends with him, the more she realizes he’s not the monster she first thought—and as fear slowly bleeds into lust, then trust, then something more, Malachi opens Mina up to a world she never knew could be hers for the taking: including the love of Malachi’s two closest friends and companions.


Now surrounded by all three men, the center of their darkly seductive world, Mina may finally have the power to face down her father and take back the life—and crown—that by all rights should be hers.




Next, we have the thrillers, all by giants in the genre. These three authors have each written many best-selling thrillers, and continue to captivate readers worldwide.







CAPTIVE by Iris Johansen (Thriller)


Eve Duncan’s daughter Jane MacGuire seems to have found a perfect life with Seth Caleb—until a ruthless madman threatens to destroy it all, in this gripping suspense novel from #1 bestselling author Iris Johansen.


 Jane MacGuire is enjoying a period of domestic bliss as she focuses on her art and her partner Seth Caleb uses his unique abilities as an agent for the MI6 intelligence service.  But when Seth crosses crime lord Hugh Bohdan, he incurs the wrath of one of the world’s most powerful criminal empires…one whose tentacles reach across the globe and even to the idyllic Scottish retreat where Jane is working. 


 Soon Jane is on the run, struggling to stay one step ahead of Bohdan’s army and his devastating high-tech weaponry. Even with the assistance of Earl John MacDuff, she finds danger at every turn.  But with that peril comes an astonishing discovery: a 200-year-old secret on the brink of becoming lost to history.


 Jane and Seth must join forces to unlock the fascinating puzzle, even as they hurtle toward a lethal final confrontation in the Highlands.  But before their adventure is over, Jane and Seth will encounter their biggest shock of all…and realize nothing can be the same for them ever again.






Juan Cabrillo and the crew of the Oregon must track down a nuclear torpedo before it unleashes World War III in this electrifying new installment of the #1 New York Times bestselling series.


Series Overview: Juan Cabrillo is Chairman of the “Corporation,” a special U.S. government-sponsored group that operates out of a ship called the Oregon, a marvel of scientific research equipment bristling with state-of-the-art weaponry but disguised as a heap of junk.






Homicide detective Eve Dallas is faced with a conspiracy of exploitation and evil in this gripping thriller by J.D. Robb.


New York, 2061: Girls are being abducted and trapped in a living nightmare called the Pleasure Academy, where they are trained for a life of slavery and their souls are slowly but surely destroyed. Lt. Eve Dallas might not have ever found out about it if it weren’t for Mina and Dorian, who hatched a desperate escape plan. Unfortunately, Mina was killed during the attempt—and now Dorian is injured, terrified, and wandering the streets of New York.


The victim’s expensive, elegant clothes and beauty products convince Dallas that she was being groomed, literally and figuratively, for sex trafficking—and that whoever is investing in this high-overhead operation expects windfall profits. Her billionaire husband may be able to help, considering his ties to the city’s ultra-rich. But Roarke is also worried about the effect this case is having on Dallas, as it brings a rage to the surface she can barely control. No matter what, she must keep her head clear–because above all, she is desperate for justice and to take down those who prey on and torment the innocent.




Now, what would be a great thing to do after reading one of these great thrillers? Well, next week there are two new cookbooks coming out, and some of their recipes could just fit the bill.






DANIELLE WALKER’S HEALTHY IN A HURRY by Danielle Walker (Cookbook)


150+ quick and easy recipes to get healthy gluten-free, grain-free, and dairy-free food on the table fast—from no-cook lunches to one-pot dinners and simple desserts—from the New York Times bestselling author of the Against All Grain series.


Beloved author Danielle Walker proves that healthy cooking is both doable and oh-so-satisfying. In Healthy in a Hurry, Danielle presents more than 150 paleo recipes inspired by her sunny California lifestyle and diverse cuisines from around the world.






100 all-new super-simple and incredibly delicious one-pot, one-pan, one-sheet—one-everything!—recipes from the New York Times star food writer and bestselling author of Dinner in French.


Melissa Clark brings her home cook’s expertise and no-fuss approach to the world of one-pot/pan cooking. With nearly all of the recipes being made in under one hour, the streamlined steps ensure you are in and out of the kitchen without dirtying a multitude of pans or spending more time than you need to on dinner.


These are simple, delicious recipes for weekdays, busy evenings, and any time you need to get a delicious, inspiring meal on the table quickly—with as little clean-up as possible.















As always, thank you for making our shelves your destination.






Linda Addison is a Bram Stoker Award-winning author of speculative fiction. She writes mostly horror poetry and short stories, her latest being a short story in the new Black Panther Tales of Wakanda book, and a poem in the latest Weird Tales magazine. This interview with Linda includes her talking about her latest writings, and her thoughts about writing. This video was originally published on April 27, 2021.





Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on thriller author Laura Dave.


Laura, could you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?



Thank you for having me on your blog. I spent time studying writing at UMass-Amherst and visited Worcester while I was there. I’m a fan of your town!


To tell you a little about myself, I’ve written six novels, the most recent of which is The Last Thing He Told Me—which is a domestic thriller/mystery set in the world of Sausalito and Austin Texas. We are currently shooting a limited series for AppleTV+ based on the novel, which I co-created with my husband (Josh Singer, who has written several movies including Spotlight.) And I’m working on my next two novels, both domestic mysteries as well. 




Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)



I’m a huge fan of shopping at your local, independent bookstore– so definitely would recommend starting at Annie’s Book Shop. I also provide signed copies at my local bookstore, Diesel:




How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?



The best way is to visit my website: or my Instagram @lauradaveauthor




What was the inspiration for The Last Thing He Told Me? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?



I’ve always been fascinated by true crime, particularly cases that involve fraud and embezzlement. In the early 2000s, I was intrigued by the financial scandal at Enron. I remember watching Linda Lay [wife of Enron’s CEO, Kenneth Lay] give an interview proclaiming that her husband did nothing wrong. I started to imagine, then, the story of a woman who felt certain of her husband’s innocence despite mounting evidence to the contrary. I didn’t put pen to paper for The Last Thing He Told Me, though, until almost a decade later when I came to the question I wanted to explore in writing this novel. I wanted to think about what it is to know the people closest to us. To know the people we love the most. As I delved deeper into the novel, this exploration also led to questions of identity: What makes someone who he is? Is it the details he or she shares with you? The biographical checklist—I grew up here, I went to this school, I do this for work. . . . ? I believe it is something deeper, something more soulful, that makes us who we are. And I wanted to dig into the idea that we can be knowable to the people we love—that they can be knowable to us—despite any details that shift or alter along the way.









What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?



Writers write. As simple and complicated as it is, what makes anyone a writer is sitting down and doing the work. I highly recommend two books if you are trying to sit down more for yourself. On Writing by Stephen King and Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott




What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?



My favorite things to do are to spend time with my family, to cook, and (of course!) to read. I read everything I can get my hands on.




Do you have any favorite foods or drinks that must be in the vicinity (or must be avoided) while you’re writing or editing a piece of work?



My husband’s coffee!




What do you consider the most challenging part of the writing process? And how do you overcome that?



For each of my novels, The Last Thing He Told Me included, I don’t write with an outline or any involved beat sheet. This means that writing for me is a process of rewriting. I utilize the first draft to find the characters and plumb the questions I want them to grapple with. The next draft is where I begin to solidify theme and motivations. It’s usually somewhere around draft eighteen—I wish that were an exaggeration—that I find my way to the ending. Because The Last Thing He Told Me involves such intricate plotting, this process of writing and rewriting was even more involved than my other novels. And when I found my way to the heart of the story (and its ending), it was so rewarding.





Laura, thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy day to answer our questions!







Hello, folks. This week I thought I would try something a bit different. For the new books that I feel need a bit more explanation, I am adding more description to help make it easier for you to decide if it might be a good book for you to read or not. Some of the books this week sound really interesting!



First, we have an urban fantasy book, a genre we haven’t been seeing too much of lately.



Urban Fantasy


SOUL TAKEN by Patricia Briggs 


Mercy Thompson, car mechanic and shapeshifter, must face her greatest fears in this chilling entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.


The vampire Wulfe is missing. Since he’s deadly, possibly insane, and his current idea of “fun” is stalking me, some may see it as no great loss. But, warned that his disappearance might bring down the carefully constructed alliances that keep our pack safe, my mate and I must find Wulfe—and hope he’s still alive. As alive as a vampire can be, anyway.


 But Wulfe isn’t the only one who has disappeared. And now there are bodies, too. Has the Harvester returned to the Tri-Cities, reaping souls with his cursed sickle? Or is he just a character from a B horror movie and our enemy is someone else?


 The farther I follow Wulfe’s trail, the more twisted—and darker—the path becomes. I need to figure out what’s going on before the next body on the ground is mine.






Next, there is a fantasy novel, dealing with occult issues.


CACKLE by Rachel Harrison 


From the author of The Return, a darkly funny, frightening novel about a young woman learning how to take what she wants, from a witch who might be too good to be true, now in trade paperback




Non – fiction


Two interesting non-fiction books cross our paths next week. They are:




From America’s top psychic medium and the author of When Heaven Calls comes a new book that unveils the secrets of the afterlife, the truth about heaven, and why we never truly die.



WALKING IN MY JOY: IN THESE STREETS by Jenifer Lewis (Biography)


In this exciting collection infused with her sharp humor and buoyant spirit, Jenifer Lewis, the author of the hugely successful The Mother of Black Hollywood and costar of ABC’s hit sitcom Black-ish, shares the way she found the strength and courage to walk in her joy despite personal and universal hardships.




Women’s Fiction


CARRIE SOTO IS BACK by Taylor Jenkins Reid 


In this powerful novel about the cost of greatness, a legendary athlete attempts a comeback when the world considers her past her prime—from the New York Times bestselling author of Malibu Rising, Daisy Jones & The Six, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.



OTHER BIRDS by Sarah Addison Allen 


From the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells comes an enchanting tale filled with magical realism and moments of pure love that won’t let you go.


Between the real and the imaginary, there are stories that take flight in the most extraordinary ways. Right off the coast of South Carolina, on Mallow Island, The Dellawisp sits—a stunning cobblestone building shaped like a horseshoe and named after the tiny turquoise birds who, alongside its human tenants, inhabit an air of magical secrecy.


When Zoey comes to claim her deceased mother’s apartment on Mallow Island, she meets her quirky and secretive neighbors, including a girl on the run, two estranged middle-aged sisters, a lonely chef, a legendary writer, and three ghosts. Each with their own story, Each with their own longings. Each whose ending isn’t written yet.






Lastly, we have the heart-pounding thrillers:


THE INK BLACK HEART by Robert Galbraith 


The latest installment in the highly acclaimed, internationally bestselling Strike series finds Cormoran and Robin ensnared in another winding, wicked case.


When frantic, disheveled Edie Ledwell appears in the office begging to speak to her, private detective Robin Ellacott doesn’t know quite what to make of the situation. The cocreator of a popular cartoon, The Ink Black Heart, Edie is being persecuted by a mysterious online figure who goes by the pseudonym of Anomie. Edie is desperate to uncover Anomie’s true identity.


Robin decides that the agency can’t help with this—and thinks nothing more of it until a few days later, when she reads the shocking news that Edie has been tasered and then murdered in Highgate Cemetery, the location of The Ink Black Heart.


Robin and her business partner, Cormoran Strike, become drawn into the quest to uncover Anomie’s true identity. But with a complex web of online aliases, business interests and family conflicts to navigate, Strike and Robin find themselves embroiled in a case that stretches their powers of deduction to the limits – and which threatens them in new and horrifying ways . . .


A gripping, fiendishly clever mystery, The Ink Black Heart is a true tour-de-force.






It’s November 1991. Nirvana’s in the tape deck, George H. W. Bush is in the White House, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.


   Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the shocking murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father—or so he says.


   The longer she sits in the passenger seat, the more Charlie notices there’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t want her to see inside the trunk. As they travel an empty, twisty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly anxious Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s jittery mistrust merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?


   One thing is certain—Charlie has nowhere to run and no way to call for help. Trapped in a terrifying game of cat and mouse played out on pitch-black roads and in neon-lit parking lots, Charlie knows the only way to win is to survive the night.






As always, thank you for making our shelves your destination.






Trisha J. Wooldridge is a speculative fiction author. She writes horror stories, poetry, sf/fantasy with spooky elements, etc. She also writes spooky stories for children, but this interview includes a very graphic poem read by Trisha that is NOT FOR CHILDREN. It also includes her thoughts about writing, and info on her latest endeavors. Some information that Trisha mentions in this interview about her social media links are listed below:


Mailing List:
34 Orchard, where they can find “Bathtub Mary”:
Publisher page for PARANORMAL CONTACT:

This video was originally published on April 21, 2021.





Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on picture book author and illustrator Astrid Sheckels.


Astrid, can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing and illustration?



I am a children’s book author and illustrator (watercolor), in Western Massachusetts, focusing on whimsical stories for ages 3-8. Animals have always been a big source of inspiration for me, especially imaginary ones that talk and wear clothes, so it’s no wonder that they have crept into my storytelling and art as well!




Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)



My books are available in bookshops, museum stores, online – basically anywhere books are sold!




How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?



You can find me on Instagram and Facebook (handle @astridsheckelsart) where I post in-progress views of my desktop, book news, and lots and lots of artwork. Be sure to check out my Etsy shop ( where I have an extensive greeting card line, prints, bookmarks, and sometimes even a few originals. My website ( has a full listing of my books and upcoming events.




For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from Hector Fox and the Raven’s Revenge?



Reminiscent of Wind in the Willows and Winnie the Pooh, the Hector Fox series follows the delightful exploits of Hector Fox and his charming woodland friends as they seek adventure, hunt for giants, solve mysteries, and build friendships. Clues abound in “Raven’s Revenge” as the friends set about investigating why sinister birds are arriving at the Stone Tower. The gentle suspense of this story culminates in a satisfying twist what will leave readers smiling.




How important has the New England setting been to your writing and illustration?



The Hector books were totally inspired by New England. I chose animals that are native to this area (fox, bear, moose, skunk, chipmunk, cottontail rabbit). I created landscapes inspired by places I’ve hiked and paddled. I want these tales to ring true for children here in New England (and beyond), for them to go outside and imagine and explore, just like I have done, just like Hector and his friends.






Photo Credit: Elizabeth Joy Sanders



How important has the New England setting been to your writing and illustration?



The Hector books were totally inspired by New England. I chose animals that are native to this area (fox, bear, moose, skunk, chipmunk, cottontail rabbit). I created landscapes inspired by places I’ve hiked and paddled. I want these tales to ring true for children here in New England (and beyond), for them to go outside and imagine and explore, just like I have done, just like Hector and his friends.




What do you consider the most challenging part of the illustration process? And how do you overcome that?



The most challenging part is constantly doubting myself while I’m creating. I get to a point in every illustration where I feeling stuck and uncertain, questioning if it will turn out, wondering if I should keep going or start afresh. It is usually best to persevere and finish. All sorts of exciting discoveries can be made if you stick it out.




What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing/illustrating career?



I started my career as an illustrator and had five books under my belt before my debut book as an author and illustrator was published (Nic and Nellie, 2013). Since then I haven’t looked back. I love being part of things from the beginning, getting to plan each aspect of the story to have as much visual appeal as possible. The way text and illustrations interact in a young picture book is unique, each one telling an important part of the story, supporting but not repeating each other.



Since the Hector Fox series is imaginary (as opposed to the realistic look of my earlier work), I discovered that creating a whole book (and world) based purely on my imagination is actually a lot harder than I’d expected. Everything has to be made-up and yet still believable, even the clutter inside Hector’s house.





Photo Credit: Elizabeth Joy Sanders



What else can we expect from you in the near future?



There are lots of exciting things in the works! “Hector Fox and the Daring Flight”  arrives in October 2022 and “Hector Fox and the Map of Mystery” is scheduled for a Spring 2023 release. Readers will also be introduced to the charming canine-marine world of “Sea Dog” in Spring 2023.




Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions, Astrid.






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