The craze that started at the beginning of 2015 shows no sign of slowing down. ‘Lost Ocean’, Johanna Basford’s newest book sold more than 55,000 copies in the first week after its release, according to Nielsen BookScan. Her first two books were published by Laurence King: Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest have sold more than 453,000 copies and 350,000 copies, respectively, so far this year.
I just got a delightful email from Shanan Winters, someone I used to know back in the days of Usenet and misc.writing, about a book I co-wrote with a man later to become my husband. The novel, ‘Letters from the Fire’, was written in the form of emails exchanged between an American man and a Serb woman living under US/NATO bombs during the war against Serbia.
“With all the events going on in the world right now,” Shanan wrote, “I thought of your book. I remember …just how much it affected me. I was delighted to see that you have a Kindle version available so I could recommend it to the world.”
She did just that.
“I try not to wax political on my blog. It’s my safe space where I express my art. Just know that at my core, I’m a peace-loving, granola-munching, forest-attuned, nature girl. That’s pretty evident from my books.
But… in light of recent world events, I’m going to put this out there as required reading material for… well… basically everyone… This (book) is a very real, very poignant look at how we view the world though ‘me-colored’ glasses, and it resolves in such a manner than it brings hope that we can, and will, survive, even through our differences.”
Three Free Books
It’s Anti-Bullying Week, an event intended to raise awareness of bullying of children and to highlight ways of preventing and responding to it. It’s essentially a UK event but bullying is a huge problem everywhere, and it is a major part of the story arc in my YA series, The Were Chronicles, particularly the first book, ‘Random’.
Because of that anti-bullying aspect, I’m offering three free signed copies of ‘Wolf’, the second book in the series, randomly selected from people who post a picture of themselves or their cat holding a copy of ‘Random’ in social media – blog it, tweet it, Facebook it, etc. — and then send me a copy for this blog.
The perils of research
I am in the midst of doing the required research for the new story that is coiling and uncoiling itself restlessly in my mind. Twist, twist, twist, it needs to be told and it will be.
But there are many aspects to this thing. And although I am not writing about the twilight of the Plains Indians, that is a large part of the background to the era in which my story is set – it is in fact in the very heart of of those years.
It was the beginning of the beginning of the end, and I am reading about the history of it all, about the clear line that leads me through years, relentlessly, through the bullying and the lies, through the making and then breaking of treaties, on through terror and hunger and resentment and rivers of blood (bison and human…) on to the Trail of Tears, Little Bighorn, Wounded Knee.
I actually have to stop reading every so often and go away from my books and look outside into the green trees and the rain and try to catch my breath, to stop my racing heart, to calm my spirit, to make myself strong enough to continue with the thing I need to do, with learning the things I need to know.
My story is not primarily concerned about what had been done to the Indians – but that is a huge part of how the story is shaped, and I need to know these things. I need to. And yet, it’s a black arrow in my heart, and I am horrified, and angry, and mourning.
It all happened, you might say, a long time ago. And some might say that the ends justified the means, that the old had to give way before the new could be. But how do we all live with this history like a black cloud above the present? How can we insist that we deserve the sunlight? How, when so much bitter betrayal has been piled like bleaching bones on the American Plains? How?
No, I am not going to make my book into a soapbox from which I am going to be preaching a personal gospel of guilt and attempted redemption. But I AM going to make as much of an effort as I can to tell a forgotten and inconvenient truth, as a grim and solid backdrop to the story which I am on my way to writing. I offer it all up – my need to give voice to all of this, to shine a light into an impenetrable darkness, and all that I will do right and probably do wrong on the way there – on this altar. I promise to tell as much of the truth as I know, as I can find out.
And on that… it’s back to the books, and the heartache, and the tears.
And that’s only the research. What comes when I start writing… the old gods alone know. And they aren’t telling yet.
THIS ‘n THAT
Emily St. John Mandel as James Bond:
“Who hasn’t fantasized about being utterly competent, impeccably dressed, supremely unflappable, and in possession of multiple passports?”
Quote of the DayA story that if it isn’t true, it ought to be.
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