Publishers are always looking for innovative ways to promote books, and it seems that Sarah Mlynowski has found a winning idea to spread the word about Gimme a Call, a teen novel about a high school senior whose phone can only call her freshman self.
First, Mlynowski tweeted, Ever wonder what YA authors would tell their high school selves? (If they had magic cell phones that could call the past?) #gimmeacall.
And over the next few days she posted follow-up tweets ("What @sarazarr would tell her high school self: You are NOT FAT. You will be, but you're not now, so enjoy it. #gimmeacall") and the concept went viral. In the last week, Mlynowski has contributed essays to the Huffington Post and Publisher's Weekly about the #gimmeacall phenomenon, and today—the book's pub date—the trend is still going strong. (Just search #gimmeacall on Twitter.)
I became familiar with Gimme a Call when Emily Booth Masters gave it a great review in BookPage, writing:
Sarah Mlynowski’s Gimme a Call is chick lit for teens, but the focus on a very pertinent life lesson makes it more than just a fun read. Readers will think about their own past mistakes in a new light as they see what can happen when the present is informed by the future.
I was just scanning Publisher's Marketplace for interesting book news, and I had to laugh at Melissa Horozewski's deal with Running Press: Austentatious Crochet, "crochet patterns for lovers of Jane Austen." I'm not a crocheter myself, but I can see some BookPage readers getting excited about this one.
Listed below that deal was another one that had me cracking up: I'm Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship. If that title has you raising eyebrows, maybe this will change your mind. The book is
an anthology of humorous essays about dogs from bestselling writers, including Rita Mae Brown, Laurie Notaro, Carol Leifer, Jen Lancaster, and Tony Award winner Jeff Marx, with the full support of the Humane Society.
Also in The Book Case: Read about Trisha's clever title pick from a couple weeks ago.
Have you seen any funny titles lately?
Last Friday night, I went to see David Sedaris at Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium. I've been a fan of Sedaris' odd sense of humor and way with words since I first read 2000's Me Talk Pretty One Day, and it was exciting to see and hear him in person!
He started off by reading two stories from his upcoming book of fables, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk (which we blogged about several weeks ago). The stories were about animals with decidedly human characteristics, including a young stork who wants to know where babies come from and an Irish setter who loves his wife (they were married by their owner's former girlfriend) but has resigned himself to her infidelity. Though the stories were different from Sedaris' usual essays, they were unmistakably stamped with his caustic wit.
He followed the stories with a longer essay about airplane travel, which was my favorite piece of the night, and then he read some selections from his diaries and took questions from the audience -- including a couple who had cut short their honeymoon in order to come to the show! Now that's devotion -- but Sedaris is worth it.
Related in BookPage: Read Sedaris' handwritten answers to a few of our questions about 2008's When You Are Engulfed in Flames.
British author John le Carré, who does spy suspense like few others, has a new book coming this fall—from a new publisher. His 22nd novel, Our Kind of Traitor, will be published by Viking on October 12.
Though not much is known about the new book yet, Viking describes it as "a fast-moving story that reveals the battles of the British Secret Service in addition to the brutal maneuvering of the international criminal world."
Le Carré is nearly 80, but like his compatriot P.D. James, his age hasn't affected the quality of his work, which continues to garner top-notch reviews and hit bestseller lists.
Related in BookPage: Review of le Carré's last thriller, A Most Wanted Man.
Those of you who read Kate's interview with Neil Gaiman in honor of National Library Week will be happy to hear that we have some more information from the prolific author: background on his latest project, Instructions, a picture book for all ages.
Before you read Gaiman's comments, you have to watch this book trailer—one of my favorites in recent memory. In it, Gaiman reads the whole book out loud, and illustrator Charles Vess's illustrations come alive:
Kate Pritchard: How did Instructions come about? I know the poem was one you had written a while back, but how did it become a picture book?
Neil Gaiman: It became a picture book because Blueberry Girl came out, hit the New York Times bestseller list, much to everyone’s astonishment, and became a beloved book in no time flat. [Laughs]
Normally it takes a very long time for these things to happen, and Charles Vess and I are looking around and faintly reeling. And our editor, the lovely Elise Howard, said, you know, I would love another book from you guys. Now, bear in mind that Blueberry Girl had taken Charles Vess four or five years to draw and paint, he’d been working on it for years and years. So I thought, oh good, we’ve got another book for 2013 then. And Charles and I started talking and he suggested, I think, doing a book of my poetry. And I said, well, you know what, doing the book poetry, I’m not sure, and I’m not sure we’re ready for that yet. I’m sure one day we’ll do a collected poetry of Neil Gaiman, but why don’t we just take a poem that everybody loves, like "Instructions," and do that? And Charles said OK, and Elise said, what a great idea, and I figured we had a book for 2013.
And, it was magic. Absolutely, absolutely magic. The pages just started flooding in. A few weeks later, there’s all the pencils, and I’m going, who is this man and what has he done with Charles Vess? And then he painted them, and then we had a book! And now it’s out, and it’s out a year after Blueberry Girl, which means it took Charles something ridiculous like four months to do. Which is only mad, when you know that it took Charles, working on Blueberry Girl, years and years and years and years and years. And it’s just . . . I kind of think of it as a strange bonus from the gods, you know, that Instructions shouldn’t be out for years, but it is. And Charles just got inspired, and did it. So that’s why it exists, and I’m so happy with it.
Also in BookPage: Like what you read? Browse our Neil Gaiman archives.
Will you read Instructions, now on sale?
From a Crown press release:
Since leaving the Oval Office, President Bush has given virtually no interviews or public speeches about his presidency. Instead, he has spent almost every day writing Decision Points, a strikingly personal and candid account revealing how and why he made the defining decisions in his consequential presidency and personal life.
Looking forward to Decision Points?
Related on The Book Case: A blog post about political bios.
This morning we learned (via GalleyCat) that Harlan Coben is venturing into YA territory with a three-book deal from Penguin Young Readers Group. The first book in the series will be published in 2011 and follow a teen investigating a family conspiracy.
If Coben's Myron Bolitar books are any indication, the new series will be funny in addition to a page-turner. (Need an example of Coben's humor? In an interview with BookPage, he said, "I love writing about the suburbs of America; it's sort of a last battleground of the American dream. It's where everyone, you and I and everyone else, fights to find some sort of happiness." He stops himself before getting too profound. "Wow, that was deep, give me a moment. (short pause) OK, I'm OK.")
When I recently posted an excerpt from John Grisham's YA book on Facebook, a reader asked, "Is everyone jumping on the YA bandwagon? First Candice Bushnell, now Grisham..." I suspect many of you will have a similar reaction to Coben's news.
Are you happy about this new series? Do you wish Coben would stick to his adult thrillers? Maybe this will sweeten the deal: Myron Bolitar and Win Lockwood will appear in the teen books.
This is a big week for book releases, so keep your eye on BookPage.com for a bunch of new content. I am especially excited about the following reviews and features (click the links to keep reading):
Interview with Andrew Gross about Reckless
Thriller writer Andrew Gross honed his writing skills collaborating with James Patterson on books like Jester. Four solo novels later, he's become a best-selling author in his own right and has started a popular series starring police detective Ty Hauck, a tough guy who always tries to do the right thing. In Reckless, Gross pits Hauck against a group of unlikely terrorists whose target is America's financial system. Though Hauck is no longer a detective, he can't let this case go since in solving it he will also avenge the death of a friend. We asked Gross a few questions about the book, the thriller genre and what sparks a writer's imagination.
Review of Anna Quindlen's Every Last One
Anna Quindlen’s previous novels have all been centered on families—whether average, non-traditional or dysfunctional; she even calls herself “hyperdomestic.” It comes as no surprise, then, that her sixth novel, Every Last One, begins with a lengthy description of the minutiae of the everyday life of Mary Beth Latham—wife, mother of three teenagers and owner of a successful landscaping business.
Interview with Hampton Sides about Hellhound on His Trail
Memphis historian and subculture explorer Hampton Sides was six years old on April 4, 1968, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel by a prison escapee named James Earl Ray. Sides remembers that his father, who worked at the Memphis law firm that represented King during his marches on behalf of the city’s striking garbage workers, came home that evening, poured himself a stiff drink and braced his family for the worst.
Review of Michelle Boyajian's Lies of the Heart
Katie Burrelli, the protagonist of Michelle Boyajian’s Lies of the Heart, didn’t have the most satisfying life even before the death of her husband. She’s the kind of woman who has always seen herself as second best; not as pretty as her beautiful sister Dana, not as beloved by their parents, not as popular as her friends. Then she meets Nick while he’s fishing for clams in their native Rhode Island. They marry, and he becomes a speech therapist for developmentally challenged people while she becomes, halfheartedly, a documentary filmmaker.
With so many great choices. . . which book will you read first?!
Writer Joyce Carol Oates is perhaps best known for the sheer volume of her work. Though like any writer she's always pulled elements of her books from her own life—for example, many of her 50-plus novels are set in her native upstate New York—Oates has never been inspired to publish a memoir, until now.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Oates has completed her first memoir. A Widow's Memoir chronicles Oates' life in the wake of her husband's 2008 death. Oates and Raymond J. Smith had been married for 48 years and together ran a successful literary magazine, The Ontario Review. Surprisingly, Oates went on to find new love at 71 with neuroscientist Charles Gross, whom she married last spring.
A heartbreaking selection from the book—also interesting for its glimpse into how Oates separates her personal and public personas—was just published in the most recent issue of Atlantic Magazine. [Via]
Related in BookPage: our interview with Oates about My Sister, My Love, based on the Ramsey case. Handwritten Q&A with Oates about The Falls. Reviews of Oates' books for teens. Reviews of Oates' books for adults.
It’s always a treat to have the opportunity to speak with authors after you’ve read their books. So I was thrilled to interview Emily Giffin about her latest novel, Heart of the Matter, for our May issue.
We mostly talked about Heart of the Matter, of course, but I was delighted as our conversation veered off-course a few times. I couldn’t include all of the great content in my print interview, so here's the dish on Giffin’s writing process, how she balances a full-time writing career with raising three young children and—gasp—some then “off-the-record” (and now public) details on the upcoming movie version of her debut novel, Something Borrowed.
We’ve heard the good news that Something Borrowed (and Something Blue) are being adapted for film. Something Borrowed is slated to begin filming this summer. What can you tell us about that experience?
It’s been totally thrilling and I’ve been very involved with the details and become very close to both producers and the director. It’s been such a positive experience. I’ve heard that it can be a very negative experience for writers and they can be completely not involved and hate the direction. They have listened to my thoughts, and they don’t always agree with what I say—which is fine, because I’ve always viewed it as a separate project—but they listen and they are just great people. So it’s been awesome. Ginnifer Goodwin has been cast as Rachel—she’s perfect. So sweet. And John Krasinski is in for Ethan.
[This is where Abby devolved into total celeb geek mode and Emily and Abby discussed all the casting options and possibilities. Recently, more of the cast has been revealed (and even seen on set the week of April 19), including: Kate Hudson as Darcy, Colin Egglesfield (from the new Melrose Place) as Dexter and Steve Howey (who co-starred with Hudson in Bride Wars) as Marcus. Giffin said the movie is slated for release in early spring 2011, and you can bet I’ll be first in line at the theaters.]
So will you get to be on set and meet all these fabulous people?
My book tour starts May 11 and filming starts April 27 and I’m like, 95% of my life is totally boring, why do these two things have to happen at once? But I should be able to get up there a few times. And technically, in the contract, I’m supposed to have a small speaking part.
How does your creative process work? What comes to you first? The characters? The situations?
It’s pretty much worked the same with all of my books. It’s more of a very general premise. What would happen if a woman fell in love with her best friend’s fiancé, or what would happen if a couple got married and then, a few years into their marriage, one changed their mind about something that was fundamental to their marriage? Or what would happen if you ran into your “one who got away” and suddenly you realized that being with him was an option. I think I always start with that scenario, and I try to make it very relatable. Most everyone has someone from their past who they wonder about; and most of us have a friendship that is not 100% pure, marked by an undertone of insecurity or competitiveness, or something toxic about it. I think women—people—of all ages can relate to that. So the situation comes first and then the characters emerge from that. And then as I get to know the characters and write about them, the plot comes after [that]. It’s a very character-driven process for me.
Do you outline and plan it all out?
No, I don’t. I haven’t for any of my books. I have a very general sense of beginning, middle and end, but I don’t outline any scenes or specifics. I just think to myself, “Ok, this is where they’re starting out, this is where they’re going and this is where I think they’ll end up.” But in many cases they don’t end up where I think they will because as I get to know them, I think to myself, “Well, that’s not actually what this person would do.” You get to know the characters as you spend time with them, and sometimes I’m very surprised. For me, it’s a lot more fun to write that way. It’s inefficient, but I enjoy the little surprises along the way.
How do you balance a full-time writing career with raising three young children?
I think it’s interesting that people often ask that question. In a way, I think it gives me too much credit. I think every time we go into a bookstore, Harriet that she’ll have a role model—someone who does both.
You initially tried to break into publishing by writing a YA novel. Do you ever think of revisiting that genre and writing anything for a younger audience now that you’re a best-selling author?
Occasionally. If I had more time, I definitely would. I have been writing the screenplay for Baby Proof and I’ve been thinking about young adult books. I just wish I had more time because there is so much I would like to do. But I have to prioritize because I do have small children and I don’t have all the time in the world to work. So I think I’m going to stick with what I’m doing, for the most part.
Are you working on your sixth novel? Can you tell us anything about it?
I’ve started it. But it’s a little too new to get into what it’s about.
Read the complete interview with Giffin on BookPage.com.