Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I know I'm going to regret this...

My "author photo" is sadly out of date—by which I mean it makes me look younger than I really am—so yesterday my brother Joe took some new photos. Some of them are pretty good, and I'm still undecided as to which I will use, "officially." Here is one I will definitely NOT be using. Except for here. Just this once.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Rest in Peace

Last week, Peter D. Sieruta passed away. Peter was an author, a librarian, a collector of children's books, a critic, a teacher, and no doubt many other things. His death was sudden and unexpected. He was (I think) about sixty years old. Those who knew him, whether personally or through his work, feel his absence deeply.

I did not "know" Peter other than through his writings and a couple of emails, but I have thought of little else for the past several days. Peter was a remarkable man—a man who loved his work profoundly and without reservation. Check out his blog, and you'll see what I mean. I wish that we could all leave this world is such a state of grace.

My most recent interaction with Peter was on the occasion of The Big Crunch winning the L.A. Times Book Prize. Peter was one of the three judges. I was pleased to win, of course, but an even greater honor, last month, was to have my career profiled by such and astute and thoughtful critic.

I wish I'd had the opportunity to meet Peter Sieruta in person. Still, I am glad to have known him through his writings.

When I heard of Peter's death, I spent a couple of hours rereading his blog, and I became curious as to what this amazing man looked like. Was he tall, short, large, small, brown, white, bald, bushy, or...? I know it doesn't matter, but I craved some sort of visual connection. So I googled him, which is how we connect these days, and found hundreds of pictures of book covers and dozens of pictures of authors—but not one photo of Peter himself. Not even on his Facebook page.

That was frustrating, but I quickly saw that the absence of Peter's image on the web, after years of him being extremely active online, was a part of who he was. It had to be intentional. Peter D. Sieruta was all about the books and authors and things and ideas he loved, not about the flesh and blood shell in which he spent his days. A lesson for us all.

The picture above is his Facebook profile image. Naturally, it is a detail from the cover of a book he loved.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Blade, Boys...Crunch

My final bookstore event of the season (and possibly the year) will be this Friday, May 11, 7:00 p.m., at The Red Balloon. I'll be doing a short reading (not sure from what yet), a Q&A, a book-signing, a cookie-eating, and a wine-drinking.

The Red Balloon Bookshop is located on Grand Avenue in St. Paul.* They have a fabulous selection of books for young readers, and a smattering of adult titles as well. Events are always well-attended, by which I mean, All Your Cool Friends Will Be There. Please come if you can! The author will only be reading and talking for a few minutes, then you get to hang out with your friends and wash down your cookies with some first class literary plonk.

The featured books will be my new sci-fi novel, THE OBSIDIAN BLADE, and my almost new romantic comedy, WHAT BOYS REALLY WANT.

We will also have copies of THE BIG CRUNCH, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for YA Literature.

*The Red Balloon is one of many good reasons for book lovers to love St. Paul. While the number of bookstores has been declining nationwide, the doughty booksellers of St. Paul have been busy. Just down the street and around the corner from the Red Balloon, Garrison Keillor's Common Good Books has moved into a new and larger space across from Macalester College, and their old space will soon be hosting a new bookstore under new ownership. Last night, at Common Good Books, I had the pleasure of hearing Julie Schumacher read from her new (and very funny) YA novel, THE UNBEARABLE BOOK CLUB FOR UNSINKABLE GIRLS. I bet they'll have copies of that at Red Balloon too! Also, I heard a rumor that Julie herself might be on hand to crash my party. I hope so!

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Scene from The Big Crunch: the Chinese Translation

In The Big Crunch, June gets a summer job with a bank piecing together thousands of checks that were mistakenly shredded. The scene was inspired by an actual event in (I think) Minneapolis back in the 1970s.

Now, bank workers in China are performing their own version of the task. A woman with a mental disorder tore up 50,000 bank notes. Here, they are being pieced back together.

It seems to me it would be simpler to find all the right hand corners of the notes and count them, but according to the article, they are attempting to reconstruct every bill.