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Wed, 24 Jul 2013 12:06
Mon, 24 Jun 2013 10:40
Today we welcome Emily Winslow to the blog to talk about her novel The Whole World.
Sum up The Whole World in one sentence: Two American girls come to study at Cambridge University, become best friends, fall for the same charming grad student...and then he disappears.
You live in Cambridge and chose to set your books in the city - what makes it a good backdrop for a crime novel? The city and the university have been here for more than 800 years. That makes for a lot of layers. The spectrum of architecture, the adapted but still-living traditions, and the mix of intense, high-achieving specialists give a lot to work with.
Polly and Liv are American students. As an ex-pat American yourself, how did this inform their characters? It was through them that I was able to gawk at Cambridge. The people I know who grew up here take it for granted. It's newcomers who find the city dazzling.
Before you became a writer you had the unusual job of 'Puzzle Designer' and you trained as an actress. How have those previous experiences influenced your writing? My father left law to become a game and puzzle designer when I was little. I was his assistant, helping him test his designs. I grew up to write for the wonderful Games magazine while I was in grad school, designing multi-page, story-based logic puzzles. The editors gave me a huge amount of creative freedom and space to experiment and expand. I've read the magazine since I was ten years old and still have a subscription today, though I don't write for them anymore. Writing for them, and joining in with the Friday night game nights in the New York office back in the nineties, were a very happy stage of my life.
Both puzzles and crime novels are journeys from the unknown to the known, from chaos to order. In both, that journey must be designed to be orderly, yet surprising, and to play with the reader's assumptions on the way.
Acting, which I studied as an undergrad in a very intense conservatory program, has an obvious link with first-person narration. In first-person, everything is biased; everything is filtered. I think the puzzle experience helps me to be the "director" of the whole story, while the acting experience helps me enter into the narrow point of view of each individual narrator.
In The Whole World and The Start of Everything you use a number of narrators. What inspired you to tell the story in this way? Readers tend to objectively believe whoever they're seeing the world through. I like playing with that trust, and gradually revealing the limits of each narrator's assumptions. Only when you put all the points of view together do you get the whole story.
Which point of view did you find the most difficult to write and which was the most enjoyable? I was worried at first about writing from male points of view, not because I thought I couldn't do it, but because I feared that those voices would be judged more critically. No one has minded, though, and I find the recurring character of Morris (the police detective) to be my "comfort character." I love all my narrators, but his is the voice I return to again and again.
What is your writing routine? My husband and I homeschool our children. He has them in the mornings while I write, then I take them in the afternoons while he goes to the office. His job requires interacting with offices in the States, and the time difference makes our staggered schedule possible.
Though mornings are my "work time," my time with the children helps with my work, too, in story ideas and settings. We go to interesting places, and I find that displays and activities designed for children often communicate their topics more engagingly and accessibly than those designed for adults. I get to really explore this city, and lots of fascinating subjects.
The kids know what I write, and sometimes they point out good places to commit a crime or hide a body. I also find that my parental alertness to potential dangers constantly generates plot ideas. Balancing parenting and work is always a challenge in terms of time, but, overall, sharing life with my kids has expanded my world, and the world in my books.
You can read the opening of the book by downloading a sampler.
Wed, 12 Jun 2013 13:08
Today, we've got an extract from The Honest Toddler, A laugh-out-loud funny parenting guide from the Internet's most infamous tot, whose unchecked sense of entitlement and undeniable charm on the Honest Toddler blog and on Twitter @HonestToddler have captivated hundreds of thousands of fans online. Are you a confused parent to a toddler? Are you constantly disappointing the small child in your life? This book can help you become a better servant/parent to the toddler at the heart of your world. You'll learn about everything from meal preparation (hint: just put the crackers on a plate), play date etiquette (don't touch. Just don't.), to how time-outs make you look like a fool. The Honest Toddler says a firm 'NO' to popular, fashionable parenting trends and instead embraces the big questions: Who Does Mommy Belong To? How Can You Prevent Siblings? And Sleep and Weaning Yourself Off it.
"Being a parent is very simple. There is no reason for you to con- stantly go to other adults who do not know your toddler for advice or conspiring. What happens at home stays at home. Don't be tempted by the latest parenting book from an expert who is not a toddler, and please don't listen to your lying friends. When it comes to being a good parent, the most important resources are the words that come out of your child's amazing mouth. If your child is too young to speak, guess accurately on the first try. In this chapter, we will examine some particularly dangerous influences..."
Click here to download the rest of the chapter.
Wed, 29 May 2013 12:09
Today is the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest. This book celebrates this most majestic of mountains, with exclusive access to the photographic imagery and private archives of celebrated climber and photographer George Lowe, the last surviving member of that triumphant expedition. This visually spectacular book features a trove of original photographs and other rare materials from the George Lowe collection, many unpublished, complemented by classic images from the final ascent. Stunning landscapes, candid portraits, and action shots describe the day-by-day moments of the historic expedition as never before. The extraordinary journey is retold from Lowe's point of view, capturing the drama of the expedition and the personal stories of those involved. In addition, earlier attempts at climbing the world's highest mountain and key later ascents are described. The book also includes contributions from an impressive team of mountaineers and explorers.
Wed, 22 May 2013 12:30
Welcome to Todd McLellan's unique photographic vision of the material world: fifty design classics-arranged first by size and then by intricacy-are beautifully displayed, piece by piece, exploding in mid-air and dissected in real-time, frame-by-frame video stills. This book makes visible the inner workings of some of the world's most iconic designs. From SLR camera to mantel clock to espresso machine, from iPad to bicycle to grand piano, every single component of each object is revealed. These disassembled objects show that even the most intricate of modern technologies can be broken down and understood, while beautifully illustrating the quality and elegance of older designs. Stunning photography is interspersed with essays by notable figures from the worlds of restoration, DIY, and design innovation who discuss historical examples of teardowns, disassembly, and reverse-engineering. Each photograph is itself a work of art and offers a reinterpretation of our familiar world. They connect people with the child-like joy of taking something apart to see how it works and will appeal to anyone with a curiosity about the material world.
Here is the book trailer:
And here you can enjoy Todd McLellan dropping a piano...
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