Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Unfinished Angel's Tower

In honor of publication day for The Unfinished Angel, here is a photo of the old stone tower upon which I based the Angel's home in this book. This tower is on the campus of the TASIS school in Montagnola, Switzerland. I love this place!

Here is some of what the Angel says about the tower:

Maybe my tower. . .is not the most attractiful or the most specialty tower in Switzerland. It is just a tower, after all, like so many other towers. . .

It is a tower that stands tall and upending like a good soldier, for nearly four hundred years, not wobbling or falling down. . . There are no windows. You reach out and there is the air, just there. You are high, high above the other houses, and the only things as high are a few trees and, down the road, the tall stickly spire of the church. . .

So, maybe you might think it is nothing specialful, this tower, but to me it is the finest of all the towers in all the world. From the balcony I can see the mountains in a ring all around, a circle of mountains, and on the very top of those mountains . . .is white, white snow, and below the mountains is a blue-green lake, and above the mountains at night is a blue-black sky all pokeled with blue-white stars. From my tower, I can see all the casas in the village and I can see all the peoples coming and going. I can see all the birds flying in the air and the creatures crawling on the ground.

[Note: those aren't typos. This is the way the Angel speaks.]

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Unfinished Angel Tour Details

Below is the schedule for the upcoming book tour for THE UNFINISHED ANGEL, to be published on 22 September 2009. Tours are the opposite of the calm in the above photo. Tours are rush, wait, fly, talk, rush, sign, rush, fly, talk, rush, sign . . .even when you have the very best of the best people scheduling your tour. (Cindy Tamasi Hamilton at HarperCollins is the best of the best.)

I hope you're near enough to meet me at one of these events. The school visits are not open to the public (unless you are part of that school community), but I include them in case you have children at any of these schools. Bookstore events and the National Book Festival are open to the public. Limited space is available at some bookstores, so you might want to check their website or telephone beforehand. Hope to see you!

Also, I'll be doing radio satellite interviews from 22-25 September. Perhaps you will catch one; I don't have that schedule yet.

24 Sept: 1:45 - 2:30 pm Orchard Elem. School, Ridgewood, NJ.

26 Sept: 11:00 am-12:00 Signing at Nat'l Book Festival, Washington, D.C.
2:05-2:35 pm Presentation in Teens & Children pavillion

28 Sept: 10:00-11:00 am John Eaton School, Washington, D. C.

29 Sept: 9:00-10:30 am Sidwell Friends School, Bethesda, MD

30 Sept: 9:00-9:45 am North Country Day School, Winnetka, IL

1 Oct: 10:15-11:00 am Eagle Point Elem. School, Plainfield, IL

1 Oct: 7:00-8:00 pm Anderson's Bookshp, Naperville, IL

5 Oct: 7:00-8:00 pm Rainy Day Books, Kansas City, KS

6 Oct: Info to come on school visit in Kansas City, KS

7 Oct: 1:00-1:45 pm Wilchester Elem. School, Houston, TX

7 Oct: 4:30-5:30 pm Blue Willow Books, Houston, TX

20 Oct: 6:00-8:30 pm T.I.N.T. (The Innovative Northwest Teacher),
West Linn, OR

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Story Settings

Often I am inspired by place. The above setting for instance, which was my view this morning of fog shrouding the lake, begs to have its story told. I see the fog as perfect metaphor for the beginning of story, when all is shrouded in mystery. Can you make out the dock in the center of the photograph? (You may be able to click to enlarge.) I like how you can only see the first part of the dock. To see more, you have to go further into the fog, and this is pretty much how I find out what my stories are: Begin and then go on, a little at a time, discovering what is ahead.

I know it's a lake out there, obviously, but what will I encounter along the way, and how far will the dock reach, and what will happen at the end? Just like story.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Unfinished Angel, launching

Mixed feelings about launching a new book. . .

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Writer's Error

In a recent video clip, I misquoted my own granddaughter. In that video, I said that inspiration for The Unfinished Angel came from my granddaughter Pearl, who told her first story at age two. Her correct story is/was: "Once upon a time in Spain there was an angel and the angel was me." In the clip, I omitted 'in Spain,' an important element in her story and in sparking my imagination.

I was fascinated that she would include 'in Spain.' How could she know what or where Spain was? My daughter explained that she had recently read Ferdinand the Bull to Pearl; that story begins with, "Once upon a time in Spain. . ." I love knowing that. I love the thousands of ways words and stories shape our imaginations.

I was so intrigued by Pearl's one-line story that I repeated it each night, like a mantra, before I went to sleep, hoping my subconscious would find the story. Several times I tried to jump-start the story, but I kept getting stuck on that Spanish element. I have not lived in Spain; I do not speak Spanish fluently; the Spanish angel remained elusive. Then, four years after first hearing Pearl's story (not six or seven years as I said in the clip) (sometimes I cannot add or subtract), my husband and I spent a year in Switzerland, where we had worked twenty-five years ago.

The above photo shows our view in Lugano, Switzerland.

And there I found the angel. I saw where the angel lived and heard how she/he spoke. So: it became a Swiss angel instead of a Spanish one, and once that element was discovered, the story unfolded one scene at a time.

Now, one more error to admit: I also misquoted Pearl on the book's dedication page! Ack! Every other page of the story had been read and re-read and proofread dozens of times. My editor, proofreaders and I are all sticklers for accuracy. There was no way for them to know, however, what Pearl had actually said, so they could not detect my error. I don't know how I made that mistake. It bothers me that I did.

My only defense is this: in the space of three weeks in January--just before I submitted the dedication--four people died: my beautiful brother Dennis; mentor and friend Mary Crist Fleming; and two cherished librarians, Kate McClelland and Kathy Krasniewicz. Their names appear on the same page as my misquoted, brilliant granddaughter Pearl.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Inside-Out View

I was trying to capture a lavender sunset, and when I first saw this photo, I thought, 'Ack! What a mess I made of it,' but then again, I think I like this blur of inside and out.   I like the reflections of the inside overlaid on the view outside. This is a more accurate representation of what it feels like to work in this office than I could describe in words.
Below is a more 'normal' photo of the same view on a different evening, with shades lowered:

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Unfinished Angel, Inspiration

The most frequently asked question I hear is: Where do you get your ideas?  It's usually not an easy question to answer, but The Unfinished Angel had one well-defined spark which I attempt to explain in this clip:

Creech clip: The Unfinished Angel, Inspiration

Friday, September 4, 2009

Book Treasure

Three small packages arrived yesterday, each with two books inside. The first package contained the Korean edition of Love That Dog, a sweet, handsomely produced volume with occasional small illustrations in black line on yellow background:
The second package contained the Korean edition of Walk Two Moons, also handsomely done, with a Korean version of the Newbery Medal on the front, and a tiny crescent moon at the bottom of the last page of each chapter.  I tried to get a photo of that tiny moon, but couldn't capture it clearly.

And finally, the third package contained the new baby:  The Unfinished Angel, due out on September 22.

The real book!  At last!  I love its trim size (about 5-1/2 by 7-1/2) and its slenderness (164 pages). To me, this is a perfect sized book, fitting comfortably in my hands, and the perfect sized story, with no room for wordiness.

And so I take some time to be grateful for all the people who made my stories into books: the editor, designer, artist, copy editors, production team, publishers, translators, and more, there are always more who believe in books.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

National Book Festival

Saturday, September 26.  Join me in Washington, D. C. at the National Book Festival.

Creech toolkit:  National Book Festival, Creech