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FAQ #5 (A Tilt-a-Whirl Costco Pack)

Since Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl released, questions have been rolling in. These questions have come in a barrage, and so I’m going to respond in a barrage (at least to the most reoccurring of them–and to one or two that were just fun).

1. Were you inspired to write this book by Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz?

A. No. I’ve actually never read any of Miller’s stuff. I have Read the rest of this entry »

Allow Me to Introduce Howard Pyle (and a new blog category while I’m at it)

Back in my early/ier years, I read me a fair bit of Howard Pyle. I liked him. He knew how to make his historical fiction resonate (with me), and when he spun fantasy, he was always able to create scenes that absolutely demanded N.C. Wyeth illustrations. He did his own illustrations, and I liked them, but Wyeth would have been better. Which is no knock to Pyle. He was (after all) directly responsible for training Wyeth’s narrative and illustrative sensibilities, so it makes sense that the boyhood me always wanted to see Wyeth incarnate Pyle’s words.

But I’ve wandered. Back to the point. I liked Pyle. He was a friend. So when Random House asked me to write the introduction for Pyle’s collection of short fantasies Read the rest of this entry »

FAQ #3: My Recipe

What literary influences/ancestors spawned 100 Cupboards?

I’ve already talked about the situational cause of this series (that late night chat and wifely challenge). But that was the story equivalent of knocking over a large pot of boiling, goopy somethings. But what were those somethings? Who put them in the pot, and why was the burner cranked so high? I blame it all on my parents. And on my teachers. But then my parents were both my teachers at some point or other, and they helped start the school where I simmered K-12. So it all lands on them.

I will now practice a little self-discipline and see if I can let a poor, exploited metaphor go. Unlikely. Read the rest of this entry »

FAQ #2: 100 Cupboards, the Origin of

What gave you the idea for 100 Cupboards?

A few years back, a college buddy of mine (holler, Mark Beauchamp) dropped by for some nostalgic laughter. The hour got late and the caffeine was flowing. At some point in the evening, while discussing his innate need to salvage strange things (and how that need affected the overall aesthetic charm of his apartment), he threw out the phrase: “One Hundred Little Cupboards.” I latched onto it, responding with something like, “That sounds like a book title.” Now, to be quite honest, I would have let it die right there.  We both would have happily moved on, and the snappy book title could have gone to live where thousands of other snappy book titles had gone before. But instead, my wife chimed in. She laughed. Her eyebrows showered skepticism. “A stupid book,” she said. “Who would read a story about cupboards?” Read the rest of this entry »

Frequently Asked #1

What’s with all the classical allusions in Leepike Ridge? And what allusions am I missing?

These are variations on a question I usually field from those among my readers who happen to qualify as “adult.” Librarian types. Teacher types. Friendly parent types. And as it just cropped up again in ye olde bloge comments (shout out to Ben Hoyt, Kiwi), I thought now would be the time to fire up an answer.

I’ll start by telling a little story about me. (Thrilling, yes?) One night, while brushing my teeth, with every intention of schlumping off to bed, a line occurred to me. That line was the first line of Leepike Ridge:

In the history of the world there have been lots of times and lots of onces and every time has had a once upon it. Read the rest of this entry »