Tag Archives: Doubleday

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A WRITER: Meg Mitchell Moore

Posted by October 7th, 2015

THE ADMISSIONS coverMeg Mitchell Moore‘s new book, THE ADMISSIONS, came out from Doubleday in August. Bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand said of THE ADMISSIONS, “This book was brilliant and enjoyable on every level. I LOVED IT! It’s my money-back guarantee of 2015.”

Today we’re following Meg through a typical day in her life as a writer in Newburyport, Massachusetts, where she lives with her family. On deck is writing time, of course (check out the gorgeous writing space she rents downtown), and a book club event at the Reading Public Library, proof that getting involved in your community is a win for both writers and readers.

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6:00 am

mmm1 600My day begins as exotically as all my weekdays begin: lunchboxes! Hooray. Also, cappuccino (not pictured). I’m a Nespresso fan. Did I say fan? I meant addict.

7:40 am

mmm2 600After the usual rush of do-you-have-your-homework and did-you-brush-your-teeth and where-is-my-other-sneaker the three kids are out the door. The middle schooler goes first (6:55 bus but today her nice dad gives her a ride so she has a few extra minutes) followed by the fifth-grader and third-grader on a later bus. By 7:40, they’re all gone. Whew. Continue reading

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The Stunning Book Cover Designs of Carol Devine Carson

Posted by August 18th, 2015

CC_Devine_Carson_r2 (2)Carol Devine Carson, VP and Art Director at the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, has been designing book covers that have deeply resonated with readers for more than two decades. Her work has been featured in various art shows and design publications, but Carol says that most gratifying for her has been the opportunity to work on great books by an impressive variety of wonderful authors: “Who gets to meet Katharine Hepburn, Julian Barnes, Katharine Graham, John Updike, Bill Clinton, or Julia Child by simply going to work?” Keep reading to hear more from Carol.

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Q: What initially drew you to the world of book cover art design?

CC_Alice's Adventures (2)A: I was fortunate to have beautiful books around me from earliest memory. I never tired of looking at every detail and every color combination in the art. DOCTOR DOOLITTLE IN THE MOON (cover and endpapers) is but one example that still looks fresh and sophisticated to me. I believe the accompanying visual must support the writing and complement it, while bringing fresh ideas and surprise to it as well.

For example, in designing new volumes for the Everyman’s Library series of classic writing, which we launched at Knopf in 1991, I like to imagine a child getting a copy of THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS, THE POPPY SEED CAKES, or maybe ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND.

Q: How would you describe the conceptual processes you follow when creating a book cover?

A: It all begins with the author and the writing. I have designed a few jackets for books that literally stunned me as I read them. The first being DAMAGE by Josephine Hart. I think I could read that book again today and feel the same way. I knew the jacket had to be stark and nonrepresentational, since the characters had to be solely in one’s imagination.CC_Damage_Hart_jkt005 (2)

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Language in Ruins: Exploring the Dystopian Cautionary Tale with Alena Graedon

Posted by March 13th, 2014

alena_graedon

Photo © Beowulf Sheehan

The death of print is a fear that comes hand in hand with the rapid technological developments of our digital age, but in Alena Graedon’s THE WORD EXCHANGE, it has become reality. She presents a not too far-off future where over-reliance on smart digital devices impairs our ability to communicate—even think. What goes into imagining a world in which technology inhibits our thought processes? How about our speech patterns? We talk to Alena about THE WORD EXCHANGE’s “language in ruins.”

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NG: THE WORD EXCHANGE is based in the recent future—and yet the death of print and the onslaught of sixth-sense digital technology have already tremendously changed the way people live. You had to coin new words and concepts that only exist in the futuristic sci-fi world of the book and think through how a language virus would change people’s speaking and thought patterns. Can you talk about that process of creating language in a novel about language?

AG: Language is really at the center of the book, you’re absolutely right. In some sense, it’s the hero of the story. Our relationship to language has been profoundly changed by technology, and I’ve been fascinated by the implications of inviting lots of beautiful, blinking machines into our lives, and of gradually relinquishing functionalities to them that we once viewed as fundamental to ourselves—decision-making, creating and interpreting things, communicating. Setting the book in the near future helped me explore what might happen when these processes have advanced just slightly, and how things could go really wrong.

A lot of the decisions I made in writing the book came from its focus on language. For instance, I always knew that lexicographers would tell the story. Dictionary-makers are especially attuned to words—to their diachronic evolutions over time, as well as to synchronic snapshots of what our living language means at any given moment. It was also interesting to have lexicographer protagonists because the publishing industry is changing so quickly, and the shift from print to a more fragile, ephemeral digital medium leaves us vulnerable to certain losses and threats. In the book, these include the hijacking and corruption of language, and also a disease, “word flu,” which makes communication nearly impossible, increasingly isolating and alienating its victims.

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Getting “Literary” with Author & Tin House Editor Michelle Wildgen

Posted by February 20th, 2014

breadbutter_highThe restaurant business is at the heart of Michelle Wildgen’s most recent literary endeavor, BREAD AND BUTTER. Today we’re chatting with her about the new book, getting an MFA, and submitting to the prestigious Tin House literary journal. Michelle has some terrific advice for writers who’re interested in having their work in the magazine. 

NG: One of BREAD AND BUTTER’s main characters, Harry, compares designing a new dish to academic writing: “It was a lot like writing a thesis, actually, that same process of gathering information around a rough kernel of thought, a vague sense of flavor combination that might lurk in the back of the mind, and then the editing and revising and re-arranging.” How does your character’s process here mirror your own process as a fiction writer?

MW: Well, that sounds about right, actually. I’m not a writer who starts with an outline and a full plan. I start with a little thing, like an image or a moment, and I try to build it up layer by layer until it has enough complication to become a formative scene, and then I just take it from there, often writing with a lot of uncertainty, and figuring out how to rearrange and edit once I have something on the page to work with.

NG: In an essay for Tin House literary journal—where you’re also the executive editor—you write that editing others’ work has turned you into a writer who “who loves to cut.” How do you decide what to keep and what to cut?

MW: It’s mostly a gut feeling but it’s been honed over the years by discussing stories with other writers and editors. Sometimes you know a section has something in it that will be needed—even if it is just an idea you haven’t managed to convey effectively yet—and you hold on to it until you can figure it out and maybe just develop it elsewhere. Or until you lose your love of it, or you see that other sections are doing the same thing better, or you realize that something just lacks life and energy and you have to cut it to free yourself to create a more lively take on it. Especially early in my writing, in my teens and twenties, I often got sidetracked just listening to myself say pretty things, and I couldn’t always figure out how to make a nice line of prose be a part of the story. So as a defense against that failing of mine, I now go almost too quickly to saying, “Cut it! Hack it off!”

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An Epic Morning at Starbucks: Author Phillip Margulies’s Agent Story

Posted by January 14th, 2014

phillip Margulies 1Every traditionally published author has a story about how they found their literary agent. My favorites of these are always the more serendipitous ones, the ones that show not just a writer’s tenacity in their search, but also have a cinematic quality to them–a bit of a “meet-cute.” Below, Historical Fiction author Phillip Margulies, whose debut novel BELLE CORA came out from Doubleday last week, tells us how he met his agent, Dorian Karchmar of William Morris, at his local Starbucks. It wasn’t just good timing, however–read on to see how Phillip impressed Dorian even before she read his work, and how that fateful meeting helped him to realize one of his longest-held dreams.

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For unpublished writers the true tale I’m about to relate qualifies as a story of survival.  Whether it is an inspiration or a warning, I’m not sure.

I have been writing fiction since the age of 11;  that is, since 1963, half a century ago. Empires fell, presidential administrations went by in a blur, the quill in my hand became a typewriter and then a laptop, while I sat there in my Time Machine writing.  I had no other ambition, no other serious employment.  By 2005, when I began BELLE CORA, I had written eight previous novels and numerous short stories and poems, all unpublished; also some unproduced plays.  Editors praised my work.  They wished me luck “finding the right publisher.”

My wife, Maxine Rosaler, has a writer friend who is regularly published—they’re from the same town and have stayed friends despite their highly divergent destinies. The friend’s husband had recently asked my wife: “Why does Phil bother?” Like, Phil’s in his fifties, can’t he take a hint?  Earlier, when I was merely in my forties, another friend had told her: “At this stage of his life he’ll never get published.” My wife decided not to pass on either of these remarks, which is unusual for her, but sometimes in a fight when I accused her of saying everything she could say to hurt me, she’d say, “No, I don’t.  There are things I could say that I don’t say.”  Which was, wow, really infuriating. Continue reading

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