I was saddened to hear of the death of writer Natalie Babbitt this week at 84. She was probably best known for Tuck Everlasting, about a family grappling with immortality. But I knew her more from The Search For Delicious, one of those books from the shelves of my youth that I still occasionally take down for another perusal. In it, a kingdom’s prime minister enlists his 12-year-old messenger, Gaylen, to help avoid a civil war by polling the citizenry on the best definition for “delicious” for a new dictionary. Not all the books you loved as a child return that love on re-reading decades later, but this is one that does, and I’m grateful for that and to Babbitt for writing it.
“In his workroom at the top of the tower, DeCree, the Prime Minister, was pacing up and down. Occasionally he would pause, throw up his arms in a gesture of helplessness, and then resume his pacing. From her perch, his cockatoo watched with beady interest, turning her head this way and that as he crossed and recrossed before her…”
Publication is a few months off still (mark your calendars for early April), but I’m excited to show off a sneak peek of the cover of The Hunt, the fourth installment in the Andy Hayes private eye series from Swallow Press. It’s a nice way to kick off my trip to Indianapolis this coming weekend for the Magna Cum Murder mystery writers’conference and then the Buckeye Book Fair in Wooster, Ohio, the following Saturday, Nov. 5. Hope to see people at one or both!
“In his classic The Outermost House, American naturalist Henry Beston writes that animals ‘are not brethren, they are not underlings’ but beings ‘gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.’ They are, he writes, ‘other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.’ To many people, an octopus is not just another nation; it’s an alien from a distant and menacing galaxy.”
That’s Sy Montgomery, talking about the otherworldly nature of octopuses (and yes, that’s the correct plural form), in her 2015 book, The Soul Of An Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into The Wonder of Consciousness, and and it’s today’s get-the-week-started quote. Thank God It’s Monday!
“Spelling is the clothing of words, their outward visible sign, and even those who favor sweatpants in everyday life like to make a bella figura, as the Italians say–a good impression–in their prose. A misspelling undermines your authority.”
It’s always a treat to talk about one’s craft with a well-prepared, witty and gracious interviewer, and even more so on a program dedicated to the promotion of books, reading and ideas. I hit the mother lode speaking with The Ohio Channel‘s Dan Shellenbarger about my latest novel, Capitol Punishment, my writing process and juggling different projects while trying to maintain work-life balance. Here’s how it turned out . . .