Three new books all came out in the last month.
Why all in the last month? Because when it rains books it rains them in threes, I guess.
Always is about a dog and his girl. I love dogs, in case you couldn’t tell from reading this blog, and this is my homage to doghood.
The idea originally came from a three square-inch pencil sketch that Pascal Lemaitre sent me: a tiny dog guarding a large castle.
The tiny pencil-sketch dog reminded me of the valiance of dogs, their fearlessness when it comes to guarding their homes and their humans, and how – unlike their humans – dogs are only and always themselves.
I wrote the words, Pascal the artist did the lovely pictures, and thar she blows: Always.
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Julia Gillian and the Quest for Joy is the second book in a trilogy that Drazen Kozjan, another amazing artist (how do they do it? I break out in a sweat when I try to draw, say, a smiley face), and I are collaborating on.
Julia Gillian is a ten-year-old with a first name for a first name and a first name for a last name, and everyone always calls her by both names, which is something that she enjoys.
And which I enjoy too, because that’s one of the perks of being a writer – if you want to enjoy yourself sometimes, you can.
Julia Gillian has a St. Bernard (see, I told you I love dogs, which is another perk of being a writer – if you love something, you can stick it in a book) named Bigfoot. His name was originally Tiny, but I abandoned that in favor of Bigfoot, partly because a friend told me that Tiny was too cutesy when referring to a St. Bernard, and partly because I’ve always wanted to find Bigfoot tracks in the snow.
Her best friend besides Bigfoot is a boy named Bonwit Keller, and they’re both going into fifth grade, and they’ve been looking forward to learning the trumpet (which they can do once they’re fifth-graders) because their dream is to become world-famous jazz trumpeters and tour the world together, especially Paris.
At any rate, what more can I tell you about this book? Probably a ton, but I stink at synopses, and besides, if I told you more then I’d be giving away some of the mystery, which would detract from your pleasure in reading the book. If you found it pleasurable at all, that is.
So there you have it: Julia Gillian and the Quest for Joy. Drazen’s and my previous book together, Julia Gillian and the Art of Knowing, is just out in paperback, too. Affordable!
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And finally we come to Song of Middle C, in which our unnamed and extra-confident piano-playing heroine suffers a crisis of confidence once she’s finally up on that stage.
Scott Menchin, another artist (so many great artists in the world, and I’m jealous of all of them and what they can do with their pencils and pens and brushes) and I collaborated on this book.
Piano recitals were a formative part of our childhoods, and this is our ode to long-suffering piano teachers everywhere.
I simply cannot tell you anything more about this book and its unnamed heroine because if I did I would totally be giving away the ending, but suffice it to say that the piano piece she plans to play (four P’s in a row, wow – we call that alliteration, don’t we, even though it was unintentional alliteration) is called “Dance of the Wood Elves.”
And she’s wearing her lucky underwear.
And she says HOO BOY a lot, which is something that I really enjoyed saying while I was working on this book, which is yet another perk of being a writer – if you’re taken with a particular phrase at a particular time in your life, you can sprinkle it liberally throughout the book you’re working on.
Of course, one of the un-perks of being a writer is that sometimes you become disenchanted with a particular phrase, but if you’ve sprinkled it liberally throughout a book, and the book gets published, you’re stuck with it for life. Something to think about.
So there you have it – which is a phrase I know I overuse but I can’t seem to help myself – three new books, all at once.
What else am I working on? Good heavens, I don’t even know how to answer that. I keep trying and trying to make two picture books that I’ve been working on for a year good, but so far, no luck.
And I’ve been poking at an adult historical novel set in Martha’s Vineyard and Boston for, oh, like, eight or more years now, but so far, no luck.
And I’ve been working on a comedy for, oh, like, six or so years now, but so far, no luck.
So can it still be said that I’m working on these books, even if there has been no luck thus far? Now isn’t that a big fat question. Let us turn to our dead authors and ask them.
What Would Flannery O’Connor Say in answer to that big fat question? A big fat NO, no doubt, which is an answer I prefer to discard. Besides, she was extremely curmudgeonly. I bid you adieu, Flannery, in favor of James Joyce.
What Would James Joyce Say? His answer, for our purposes here, will come straight out of Ulysses, and here it is: “and yes I said yes I will Yes.”
Thank you, James, for that vote of confidence. I salute you. And in your honor I shall watch John Huston’s The Dead tonight, right after the baseball game.