Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.

2008-07-03

The Dawn-ing of a pop culture phenomenon

Some books surpass the title of "book series" and go into "pop culture phenomenon." The Harry Potter books did this, and Christopher Paolini's books, and Stephenie Meyer's books. All of these have garnered not just fans but academic analysis. I've read and reviewed a new essay collection about the Twilight series, called A New Dawn, and you can read my full review here:

Thirteen essays by YA authors of varying popularity tackle themes of romance, vampires and werewolves in literary tradition, morality, the neverending question of whether Edward Cullen is the greatest boyfriend in literature or an out-and-out sociopath (my vote is firmly with sociopath!), and self-sacrifice.

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2008-06-05

Age Banding in the UK

I meant to blog about age banding a few days ago when I first saw it mentioned at Publishers Weekly. In a nutshell, publishers and parents in the UK apparently have said, "hey, it would be so cool if all books had labels saying "this is for kids aged x."" Authors, librarians, and booksellers have responded with a loud "hell, no" (Well, to be fair, some authors are saying it's good.*)

Fuse posted about it today, with some more links on reactions to it. One of the many things the authors are saying are saying is "booksellers have the knowledge without age banding thank you very much." Fuse's comment to this is "Sure sure. Or, y'know, maybe you could ask someone with an actual degree in children's literature like a, gee I dunno, librarian? Come on, Phil. We need all the shout-outs we can get."

Going just a wee bit wanky, I'd amend Fuse's comment a bit. Oh, I agree that the librarians are great at matching books to readers, and it's sad that many of the comments arising from this issue are of the "librarians didn't let me read a book" variety.

But what makes librarian's great isn't a degree in children's literature. Cause I don't have that (tho sometimes I really like the idea of getting a PhD in children's literature. Know a good program?)

Like most librarians, what I have is a Masters of Library and Information Sciences, which included two relevant classes: Materials for Children and Materials for Young Adults. See, I think the thing with librarians isn't so much that they know children's lit ... it's that they are the matchmaker, matching the book and the child, and that is what is unique about librarians.

Or, rather, should be unique about librarians. Sometimes, I wonder.

I've posted before (here and at Tea Cozy) about how, to my sorrow, books seem to be "so last year" when libraries talk. It's all about, well, things that aren't books. So libraries outsource selection and cataloging. It's about programming. It's about becoming a community center. Books? Oh, they will disappear soon. People buy what they want at Amazon. How many libraries really support readers advisory?

Yet, people are crying out for readers advisory and to talk about books. Look at the popularity of GoodReads, Shelfari, LibraryThing. Any of those could have been -- should have been -- library ideas. Because people still want books, and want to talk about books, and want suggestions on what to read next. Most front line library staff know this, as do those of us librarians who went into librarianship because of books. The most popular programs I go to at library conferences and workshops are about books.

Do we need shout-outs, like Fuse said?

Absolutely.

But we also need to "shout out" ourselves, about our unique ability to be book matchmakers; more so than bookstores, in that we have old books and new books, popular books and niche books, and so have a bigger selection of books for people to read. We need to keep up with what books are out there -- by reading reviews, both professional and informal; by reading books that are readers guides. We -- not an age on a book -- are the best help to someone who is looking for the right book for a child. And we need to let more people know that.

To show just how much we fail at letting people outside the library world know what we do, take a look at Ypulse's great book preconference (aka where I would go if I won the lottery tomorrow.) Yes, an amazing line up...but where are the YA librarians, talking about readers advisory and handselling books and booktalks and letting people know about how librarians figure into publishing? We have something to offer!

Back to the topic of age banding:

To start, no, the proposed UK system is not the same as what some publishers do here in the US (the smallish for ages 8 to 12 on the back of a book). The proposal is for the following categories: 5+, 7+, 9+, 11+ and 13+/teen.

Using an "age band" for a book is deceptive. It appears to be helpful -- to match the book to the reader. But it's as deceptive as talking about "boy books" and "girl books." Books are much more than a book for a particular age or gender. Readers have more subtle and complex needs than that. And yes, labelling books can create a backlash, with kids refusing to read because something is too babyish. I've also seen, again and again, parents and teachers view books as no more than a "checklist" item to prove a child's genius and maturity, so there will be some who say "I have an 7 year old but I want the 13 year old books because my child is gifted."

The truth is there is no one book that is a match for every 8 year old. And adults who want that simple match are fooling themselves; books are not school uniforms or clothes. Each 8 year old is different; and to get that book for that child, you either need to do a lot of reading yourselves or to find a professional who has done that reading to help match book to child.

* My interpretation of Rosoff's defense of age banding is she sees it as a way not to censor but rather to assist adults who know nothing about children's books who want to buy something for a child. I agree, that is a problem; but I disagree that the solution is to label books in the way proposed, and would argue that it would cause more problems than it solves.

Cross posted at Tea Cozy.

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2008-06-04

To Film the Impossible FIlm

Following up on my last post, a friend of mine posted a link to a list of books that would be impossible to film. To quote the site:
"With the release and critical success of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, an adaptation of a novel once considered impossible to film, what better time to look into the process of adaptation. Most movies these days are based on literary sources. Which is ironic, considering the increasing lack of interest in books these days as opposed to the spoon-fed thoughts offered by Hollywood."
Again, I will bold the ones I've read, italicize the ones I own, etc.

Ulysses - James Joyce
Cat’s Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami
The Third Policeman - Flann O'Brien
100 Years of Solitude - Gabreil Garcia Marquez
Remembrance of Things Past - Marcel Proust
Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka
The Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy O'Toole
Any Thomas Pynchon Novel I've read The Crying of Lot 49
Don Quixote - Miguel Cervantes
The Atrocity Exhibition - J. G. Ballard
Catcher in the Rye - J. D. Salinger
Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnameable - Samuel Beckett

So despite the assertion that more movies are being made from literary sources, one can ask: should everything be made into a movie? The list above looks like strong candidates in the 'leave them alone' category. And you should click through to the link, as the people on the site have some very interesting view points on why the films are unfilmable, as well as possible suggestions as to who could film it. I would add Mark Danielewski's novel House of Leaves to this list. Actually, I would add Danielewski's Only Revolutions to this list, too.

But at one point, I would have listed Fight Club or even The Lord of the Rings (mostly due to what I considered the Heraclean task of pleasing the fanboy in me) to this list. And, at least for me, are things I can enjoy in both formats. This could be a great theme for an adult summer reading program. A little late for this year, when Metamorphosis would have been a perfect theme to match with the idea of difficult books to film (see what I did there, the Kafka book is even IN the list!).

What books would you consider unfilmable?

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2008-05-02

Friday Fun: A Little Horsing Around

It is the first weekend in May and that can only mean one thing in the world of sports and pop culture: Derby Day is here. 2008 marks the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby. The hats. The mint juleps. The red roses. The strains of "My Old Kentucky Home" that fill the air at Churchill Downs. And of course the horses. Always the horses.

When I was a kid I watched Secretariat on TV win the Kentucky Derby (track record), and then the Preakness (track record), and finally the Belmont (world record) winning by 31 lengths in 2:24. I was so taken with this amazing horse that I was inspired to pick up my pen and write a fan letter addresed to "Secretariat, Kentucky, USA." A short while later I received a small post card from Mrs. Penny Tweedy of Meadow Stables and two photographs: one of Secretariat and the other of Secretariat racing with stable mate Riva Ridge. Needless to say I was thrilled. I soon began reading everything I could about Secretariat, which included the sports pages of the New York Times. It also spurred me to go to the library and read a lot of books about horses, which inspired me to write a lot of stories about horses, which sent me back to the library for books about how to draw horses in order that I could illustrate my own stories. You could say it was my love of Secretariat that began my love of reading, writing, and drawing.

Do I owe my literacy and ability to draw today to a childhood interest in Secretariat? Probably. Remember, dear librarian friends, that when a child comes to you with an interest in horses, or dogs, or bugs, or baseball, or any of a myriad of things, that YOU may change their life with a simple, "Why don't you try this book?" My librarian placed the book the "Black Stallion" in my hands. I read the entire Black Stallion series, Misty of Chincoteague, Smoky the Cowhorse, Black Beauty, non-fiction and encyclopedia articles, and anything else I could find about horses.

However, my greatest discovery at the library was the work of writer and illustrator C.W. Anderson. One day I got lucky and bought a set of C.W. Anderson lithographs titled "Turf and Bluegrass" from a garage sale for 50 cents. This was a lot of money for a little kid. I practiced drawing by copying Anderson's drawings which included "Seabiscuit," "Man O' War" and other famous race horses. If you are unfamiliar with C.W. Anderson and love horses you are in for a real treat. His illustrations are gorgeous. Check out Librarything for a glimpse of Anderson's work and also eBay. Hint: include "horse" as a keyword when you search for "C.W. Anderson" or you may find the wrestler by the same name instead.

So put on your best hat, grab a mint julep, and tell me about your favorite horse books or movies from when you were a kid...or perhaps even a grown-up.

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2008-02-22

Libraries: Centralized Ordering

Pam Coughlin writes about libraries and centralized ordering of materials over at Shelf Space, the blog for ForeWord Magazine.


Sometimes, I get a bit disheartened about libraries and books.* Two reasons I went into librarianship: books and information. Silly me; because the current "joke" I hear about and read is a variation of this: "you went into libraries for the books? ha ha ha. It's not about the books." So I wonder, where should I go, where should I work if a library isn't about people coming in and finding the books and information they want and need? (Another version of this: a study shows when people hear libraries, they think books, and the library reaction is "silly people!" when my reaction is "dude, the people are telling you your strength, why not build on that instead of run from it?")


Centralized selection and ordering of materials is often explained with the argument, "it frees up librarians time!" Now, no doubt there is some truth to that; but totally removing librarian input into the process? Not good; especially since I'm not the only one who went into this because of the materials. You're not "freeing my time"; you're taking away one of the things I liked, no, loved, about this job.


Anyway, go read Pam's thoughts on the issue. What do you think?


*Ty, for purposes of this post I include music and DVDs and any materials in "books." OK?

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2008-02-10

Webcomics in Print?

Hello, I'm Eli. Sophie has kindly asked me to become a contributor to Pop Goes the Library, and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity! I think she got the idea when I wouldn't shut up about webcomics at the Midwinter Blog Salon, and I think I got on the topic because I was so excited to see The Trial of Colonel Sweeto at the Dark Horse booth. Sweeto is the work of Nicholas Gurewitch, whose comic the Perry Bible Fellowship (which has nothing to do with Perry, Bibles, or Fellowship) is an irresistable syrupy-sweet base with brilliantly hilarious and frequently offensive splashes of darkness, violence, or obscenity. PBF runs in some altweeklies and has a staggering web archive that covers a wide spectrum of style and content.

This is Dark Horse's first webcomic edition, and when I totally geeked out at the booth, the vendors asked me what other webcomics I might like to see in print (the venerable goats came first to mind), so with the awesome package of this edition, which includes red ribbon bookmark, beautifully bound, with some new content not found in the archives, I'm hoping we see a lot more great webcomics getting this Dark Horse treatment, especially since The Trial of Colonel Sweeto did $300,000 worth of preorders and has already gone to a third printing after only 4 months on the market.

Of course, if you want to start buying webcomics in print to add some cool depth to your graphic novel collection, there are a ton of great webcomics with self-published or small press paperbound stuff out there. A wide swath of webcomics are unabashedly geekly, and one of my absolute favorites (and no exception) is the daily comic space opera Schlock Mercenary, by Howard Tayler, who quit his job as the product manager for Novell Groupwise, and now supports his family of five with revenue from his webcomic. Tayler's art is not the star attraction, although he has come a very, very long way and the style grows on the dedicated reader; it's his storylines that are irresistable: tightly plotted, audacious and gripping, yet plodding as only a daily strip can get away with, but a punchline in every one. 1000 strips in, he relaunched the comic, organizing it into large story arcs optimized for print, with tidy volume endings and just enough exposition at the beginning of the next book. Start with Under New Management.

Another webcomic that's great in print ended a year ago this week. Bruno, by Chris Baldwin, started in 1996 as an offshoot from a college paper, and follows the life of a young woman, one panel at a time, for 10 garfield-sized volumes. ( I'm sure no author wants to have their work described that way, but if you're of a certain range of ages, and you see a paperback book of certain dimensions, that's what it is!) Again, while most people read Bruno online, the author was always aware of how the strips would fit together when printed resulting in some wonderful books that supplement the web archive with bonus material.

Now, treat these links with caution; webcomic archives are addictive, and PBF and Bruno are not for everyone and may not even be worksafe in your community. Then there's the issue of how the heck you can let those webheads know that you've got hard copies of their favorite webcomics in the collection... and if I figure that out, I'll be sure to let you know. Stay tuned!

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2008-01-15

Blatant Self Promotion: Mortified: Love is a Battlefield

While we wait to hear all about Midwinter, which I did not attend this year, I'd like to take a moment to blatantly promote the new Mortified book, Mortified: Love is a Battlefield, featuring actual childhood and adolescent diary entries, letters, and poems [oh the poems!], all on the subject of, yes, love. As the Amazon description says, "the now older (and allegedly wiser) authors of these letters, lyrics, and journals bravely share their shame in stories that range from sweetly hopeful to borderline psychotic." Yes, we do; I am one of the authors! I know my twelve-year-old self would be absolutely baffled and, naturally, mortified to know that her little ice-skating/ motorcycling/ smooching fantasy featuring an older man of fourteen would be published for the whole world to see, but I am pretty excited.

There will be book release parties in several cities; I'll be reading at the Boston one on February 6th at the Paradise Lounge. Please come on out if you're in the area!

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2007-09-18

Robert Jordan 1948 - 2007

Robert Jordan, author of the wildly popular Wheel of Time fantasy series, passed away this weekend at his home in South Carolina. How popular are these books? What do they mean to their readers? I think this quote sums it up nicely:
[A]n article published on Forbes.com summed it up best in describing fans' support of Jordan during his illness: "There are readers, and then there are fans. Readers offer condolences when a favorite author falls ill. Fans offer bone marrow."
The series had its eleventh book published in 2005, and Jordan was working on what was to be the twelth and final volume of the series. When I worked at Tor, one constant was that we received letters from fans insisting that we had new Robert Jordan books hidden in the office that we weren't publishing.

While we're not talking JK Rowling numbers here, there are still millions of people who read these books. And for these millions of fans, Robert Jordan will sorely be missed. In my experience, these books didn't stay in the library very much in general, and I suspect with Jordan's passing, you won't see them for months.

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2007-09-01

Hugo Winners 2007

And here are the winners of this year's Hugo Awards:

  • Best Novel: Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge [Tor, 2006]
  • Best Novella: “A Billion Eves” by Robert Reed [Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2006]
  • Best Novelette: “The Djinn’s Wife” by Ian McDonald [Asimov’s July 2006]
  • Best Short Story: “Impossible Dreams” by Tim Pratt [Asimov’s July 2006]
  • Best Related Non-Fiction Book: James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B Sheldon by Julie Phillips [St. Martin’s Press, 2006]
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro. Directed by Guillermo del Toro [Picturehouse]
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Who - “Girl in the Fireplace” (2006) Written by Steven Moffat. Directed by Euros Lyn [BBC Wales/BBC1]
  • Best Editor, Long Form: Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • Best Editor, Short Form: Gordon Van Gelder
  • Best Professional Artist: Donato Giancola
  • Best Semiprozine: Locus ed. by Charles N. Brown, Kirsten Gong-Wong and Liza Groen Trombi
  • Best Fanzine: Science-Fiction Five-Yearly ed. by Lee Hoffman, Geri Sullivan, and Randy Byers
  • Best Fan Writer: Dave Langford
  • Best Fan Artist: Frank Wu

Wish I could have been there. :)

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2007-07-10

The Diana Chronicles: a Pop Review

(Okay, first, does anyone else using Blogger know why I can't type this post's title into the title box? Couldn't do it using my Mac in Firefox, now I can't do it using my work PC. Strange, no?)

Even if you were not an avid Diana-watcher since her marriage to Prince Charles, and even if you did not get up at some ungodly hour in September, 1997 to watch many hours of her funeral coverage, you may still want to read The Diana Chronicles. Tina Brown, whose journalistic star's ascendance, as editor-in-chief of Tatler mirrored (indeed, was fueled by) her subject's own meteoric rise to fame, certainly knows Diana well, and has done her research. Sadly, it's not a wholly satisfying read.

Well, how could it be? We all know the terrible end Diana met, and her inability (refusal?) to get past her neediness and her taste for exactly the wrong sort of man is wearisome and repetitive. Maybe she would have gotten it right in her lovelife eventually, but of course, we'll never know. Some of what's here is fascinating: Diana's heartbreaking background as a child of a particularly nasty divorce, the utter failure of her parents to secure anything resembling a good education for her (has this book ever put the lie to the notion that a boarding school education is by definition a good one -- damn!), her brilliance at public relations. I also found Brown's portrait of the Royal Family surprisingly sympathetic: I no longer hate Prince Philip, and I view Prince Charles as both heroic (in his environmentalist views & practices) and pathetic (in his romantic misadventures). I found myself unable to finish the book (and not just because there are close to 30 holds on it at my library), mostly because I just couldn't bear to read about one more disastrous love affair, about how she & Charles kept knifing each other in the back -- there could have been real love there, and they both squandered the opportunity -- and because I couldn't bring myself to read the end of the book, where Diana's death left her two boys motherless.

Tina Jordan's review in EW found Brown's tone shrewish and catty, but I saw none of it. This is a clear-eyed account of what made Diana tick, and on that level, it succeeds admirably.

I know this is by no means a ground-shattering review -- libraries that were going to buy this book have already got it flying off their shelves -- but it's what I've been reading while I wait for Mr. Potter, and I wanted to share.

ETA: there were some annoying typos, too -- Brown refers to the great house in Rebecca as "Mandalay", when it's "Manderley", and mixes up the villains in two Jane Austen novels. Tsk, tsk.

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2007-06-04

BEA Report

The first part of my report on BEA in NYC is up at A Chair, A Fireplace And A Tea Cozy.

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2007-04-30

Self-Promotion and the Spelling Bee

Hey gang. Tomorrow (May 1) will see the publication of the anthology that I edited for Bantam Books. As you may know, the book is called Logorrhea: Good Words Make Good Stories. Every story in the anthology is based on a spelling-bee winning word. Here is the full table of contents:

Hal Duncan - “The Chiaroscurist”
Liz Williams - “Lyceum”
David Prill - “Vivisepulture”
Clare Dudman - “Eczema”
Alex Irvine - “Semaphore”
Marly Youmans - “The Smaragdine Knot”
Michael Moorcock - “A Portrait in Ivory”
Daniel Abraham - “The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics”
Michelle Richmond - “Logorrhea”
Anna Tambour - “Pococurante”
Tim Pratt - “From Around Here”
Elizabeth Hand - “Vignette”
Alan DeNiro - “Plight of the Sycophant”
Matthew Cheney - “The Last Elegy”
Jay Caselberg - “Eudaemonic”
Paolo Bacigalupi - “Softer”
Jay Lake - “Crossing the Seven”
Leslie What - “Tsuris”
Neil Williamson - “The Euonymist”
Theodora Goss - “Singing of Mount Abora”
Jeff VanderMeer - “Appoggiatura”

I'm very excited about this book. It's been a lot of work in a short amount of time. I sold the book in January of 2006. There were only two out of 21 stories written at that time. To get more than 100,000 words written, edited, and pushed through the publishing process in just over a year took a great amount of effort. I've gotten the chance to work with a lot of authors that I admire.

Just as important, the Scripps National Spelling Bee takes place at the end of May. The finals are set to take place on May 31, with the semifinals live on ESPN from 10am to 1pm, and then the finals on ABC from 8pm to 10pm. (all times EST) Anyone doing any programming around the bee? Anyone got patrons asking for books about the bee, or that feature spelling bees, or that are inspired by the spelling bee? Well, in a bit of shameless self-promotion, this book would fit the bill.

And, if you're in the Quad Cities area of Iowa, I have events set up on May 19 in the Borders in Davenport and on May 20 at the Barnes & Noble in North Park Mall. Hope to see you there!

John Klima

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2007-04-27

Playlist: The 1970s

Every once and a while it is fun to revisit the pop culture of another decade via books and music. This week I picked the 1970s. Now, the books and music don't necessarily need to be written or produced in the 1970s but they must pay tribute to that time. For my trip back to the '70s I picked the book We Were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates. While reading this family tragedy my imagination skipped to the thought, "What 1970s pop songs might the characters have been listening to on their car radios?" To answer that question I turned to the new Donny Osmond Love Songs of the '70s. I really like this album and so does the U.K. since it has gone gold over the pond. The other album on my playlist is Mika's Life in Cartoon Motion. Although none of the songs are from the 1970s when listening to Mika I am reminded of the happy pop music of the '70s and on some tracks, such as Grace Kelly, of Freddie Mercury and Queen. So, what's on your playlist this week?

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2007-03-30

Poetry Friday: Interview With Alma Fullerton: What If's Are A Writer's Best Friend

Welcome to Pop Goes The Library's interview with Alma Fullerton. Fullerton writes for teens; In the Garage was published in 2006, and Walking On Glass in 2007. Fullerton lives in Canada, blogs, has a MySpace, and agreed to an interview. Fullerton knows what it's like to sit in the interviewer chair, and has several great author interviews at her website.

Liz B: Your books, In The Garage and Walking On Glass, were "born" close together -- practically twins, with one being published late 2006 and one 2007. Which was written first? Could you share a bit of the time frame involved with both of these books, from writing to an agent to publication?

Alma: I started writing Walking on Glass in about 2002. It went through several sets of revisions before I sent it out. I queried one publisher in June 2003, but then heard my acquiring editor at HarperCollins was looking for that type of book at the end of Nov. Not yet hearing back from the other publisher, I e-queried him. He responded within seconds for me to send it.

It was sent snail mail and only 1/2 of it got there so I had to resend it. By this time it was mid - Dec. 2003 . Soon after I heard back from the other editor that she also wanted the full. By the end Jan.2004 I had both houses take it to acquisitions.

At this time I approached an agent, who I was already acquainted with. She loved the book and took me on. My editor at HarperCollins called in Feb. 2004 with an offer. We pulled it from the other publisher.

In June my acquiring editor left and I got an new one. (I really liked her too so all was well). I didn't get a contract until late Sept. 2004.

By this time I was writing In the Garage. That book went to the publisher at RedDeer in October 2005. Within three day he got back to my agent saying he wanted it. I signed a contract in March 2006. The book went through one set of revisions in May and copy edits in July and came out in Nov. 2006.

Walking on Glass didn't come out until Jan. 2007 - almost three years after the contract was signed, so my publishing time line went from extremely slow to extremely fast. Someday I'd like to be able to get a book published in the average time of around 18 months.

Liz B: Both books are about teens facing traumatic events. In The Garage is about BJ and Alex's friendship and betrayals; and Walking On Glass, a act of despair by the narrator's mother. The teenagers in both are dealing with some pretty dark things. What inspired these stories? What attracted you to them?

Alma: Both books were inspired by real life events. I had a friend who committed suicide because he knew his family would never accept the fact that he was gay. Alex is loosely based on him, although I added a few 'what ifs' and changed what happens in the end. In the Garage started out as Alex's story but BJ just wouldn't shut up so I added her in. It became both of their stories and a much richer book because of it.

Walking on Glass was also inspired by real life. My husband had a friend whose husband committed suicide and I always wondered about their son and where it left him. I added a few what ifs to that story. What if the mother didn't die. What if the family knew she never wanted to end up on life support. Things like that.

'What ifs' are a writer's best friend.

Liz B: Poetry is important in both books. In In The Garage, Alex's part is told in verse; and Walking On Glass is told entirely in poetry. Was it always your intent to use verse to tell these stories, or did that happen further on in the creative process?

Alma: I don't think it was my intention, no. Walking on Glass just came out that way. I couldn't get a voice when I tried writing it in prose, it was just flat. I went for a long walk with my dog and the first poem popped into my head and then the second and so on. That's when I knew it had to be verse.

In the Garage started out all in verse but BJ's and Alex's voices came out too similar and the book didn't have any dips of happy and sad that it needed. It wasn't until I changed BJ's voice to prose that I got those little bits of sarcastic humor and a new voice.

Liz B: What are you working on now?

Alma: Right now I'm working on a young adult novel which I won an Ontario grant for titled Canary in a Coalmine, and a couple of chapter book series aimed towards boys and girls age 7-11.

Liz B: Since this will also be posted over at Pop Goes the Library, I'm going to include my standard Pop question: What is your Pop Culture area of expertise?

Alma: My area of expertise would probably have to be music or literature. I love both, and combine them constantly using different musicians - or types of music to write different books to.

Liz B: Thank you!

Cross Posted at Tea Cozy (a Poetry Friday post)

Links:
Jen Robinson's Book Page reviews In the Garage
Bildungsroman (Little Willow) reviews In the Garage

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