1. While organized meetings and lunches and talks are really great, the thing that really energizes you about a show like Book Expo are the accidental conversations that you might have. It all goes back to William Whyte's classic book, City, a classic book of urban planning that doesn't even seem to be available anymore, let alone textbook price, which says that urban settings foster accidental interactions, which create the synergy to make things happen.
Gobbledygook or not (and you must understand that this is all said through the gauzy haze of reading the book 25 years ago), there was something exciting about running into Joshua Kendall, the editorial director of Mulholland Books, a division of Hachette. He was in the booth because Lauren Beukes was signing Broken Monsters (out 9/16), the follow up to The Shining Girls. I remembered that Kendall was also responsible for another recent favorite of Jason and Jen's The String Diaries, which comes out July 1. We got the inside scoop that the British and American publishers are still arguing out the title of the follow up. So many publishers just go there own ways with different titles--I'm glad that at least some folks are figuring out that a unified English title is more important in the age of the internet, so publishers should at least try to be on the same page.
It's only a few weeks from release, and you can't easily get it on Amazon anyway, so why not preorder The String Diaries, by Stephen Lloyd Jones from us?
"The String Diaries starts with Hannah driving dangerously away from some unknown evil, an evil that had found her and her family just hours before. With her is her husband, semi-conscious with stab wounds, and her young daughter, strapped in for dear life. You quickly learn that they are running from a man named Jakab; however, they do not know exactly what he looks like, as his appearance changes. Oh yes, and he has been chasing this family for over a hundred years. Stephen Jones takes you on a historical story arc, mixing in chapters that date to the 1970's England, where you learn about Hannah's parents, to Hungary in the 1870's, where you learn about Jakab's origins. The story takes twists and turns that I did not see coming; it is an amazing debut novel."--Jason Kennedy, Boswell Book Company
2. It's important for me to feel like I have a purpose in talking to folks at the show. I usually want to have a few sleeper books that I can talk up. Sometimes it's a booth--many years ago a university press, I think it was Toronto, set up a construction site with viewing holes, where you could peek through and see their releases. One time it was the fellows from Blue Orange Games, who flirtatiously played children's games with swooning buyers of both genders. We all swore that this was their game plan for conquering the American market. But this year I had a book to tell folks about that they probably weren't paying attention to.
It's Before After, by Matthias Aregui, from Candlewick (out 10/14). The reps did not have mock ups when they were selling in this title, and there was only one sample at the Candlewick booth, but boy was it wonderful. It's a wordless picture book, with two (and sometimes four) page spreads. On the left is before, while on the right is after. Many of them are straightforward, such as the coffee beans/cup of coffee tableau pictured. Others continue for several pages. Candle becomes melted candle, and then candle becomes lamp. Passenger pigeon becomes quill for writing, which then becomes typewriter, while later on, passenger pigeon becomes letter. It's definitely going to appeal to adults as well as kids. The illustrations are fabulous and the design of the book helps it cross into a number of categories. And at a $20 price point, I can see this book on an independent's impulse table, and at a number of non-book retailers. I can say all this because none of them read my blog. 4
Amity, a young adult novel that uses the Amityville Horror as it's jumping off point. In addition, I sat with the Scribner folk for the Saturday author breakfast. Breakfast, by the way, is coffee and a roll--it might be time to just make this auditorium style seating and let us get our own breakfast.
It was a star-studded show, featuring Alan Cumming, Martin Short, Lena Dunham, and Colm Toíbín and they all did a fabulous job. It was nice to see Toíbín, who is a writer, not a celebrity who writes, hold his own. His new novel is Nora Webster, which he's been working on for sixteen years, through The Master and Brooklyn (both of which I read) and The Testament of Mary and others (which I have not). It's set in Wexford, and is the tale of a widow with four kids who fears that the loss of her husband will draw her back into "the stifling world which she was born." It's nice to know that the author is as good a story spinner in person as he is in print. I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to host him. Maybe someday! Nora Webster goes on sale October 7. Why not put a copy on hold and we'll let you know when it comes in.
4. I talked with Mitch Teich about the show on Lake Effect, which aired today. I'm pretty sure Before After is the only overlap. I am going to listen later today, but I am pretty sure I did talk about how nice it was to have a literary book, David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks, (coming September 2) seemingly be the book of the show, and how that ties into a very hot trend, which is speculative works that are not categorized as science fiction or fantasy. We're working on such a display table.
Listen to Thursday's Lake Effect show here.