Performancing Metrics

There's A Book

Today I have the marvelous opportunity of welcoming author Anne Ursu to There’s a Book! Anne has numerous books out currently, including her middle grade series the Cronus Chronicles and her upcoming novel Breadcrumbs which is due to be released in late September early October of this year. It’s a brilliant novel inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” that I know you won’t want to miss. Today Anne is chatting all about those books she devoured in her youth and how it inspired her writing. I absolutely adore this article and am incredibly grateful to Anne for sharing some of these fantastic moments & books from her youth. So, without further hesitation on my part, Anne Ursu…

Kindred Spirits

I must have done other things as a kid besides read. I know I went to school—I have the yearbooks to prove it, all inscribed with enthusiastic good wishes for my summer and heartfelt desires to see me again in the new year. I must have had friends, otherwise I’m not sure who all those people on Facebook are. I played t-ball—there are pictures. I took ballet lessons, I know this because there is no other good explanation for these emotional scars.  I must have done other things than read.

But when I look back, what I remember is the books—the characters, the moments, the worlds that filled my life. For this post, I asked my mom whether she had any book-related memories about me. She responded, “Well, I remember you would disappear into your room on Friday afternoon with an enormous stack of books and reemerge Monday morning with them all read.”

So maybe I didn’t do anything else.

I know this: I inhaled books as a kid. I read everywhere—on the bus, in the bath, in the car, in the few moments before piano lessons. I binge-read, sitting for hours in a chair in the library with a pile of glossy books in front of me and going through them, one after another. I reread my favorite books so often the characters became a part of my life. I spent my elementary school years with Laura Ingalls, Anne Shirley, all the gloriously talented girls of the Shoes books, and Deenie, Margaret, and Sally J Friedman, starring as herself. I remember going to sleep with Betsy Tacy under my pillow, hoping that I would dream that I was friends with them. (This is perhaps why I never really warmed to Tib.) And it’s only in the past few years that I’ve been able to pluck my eyebrows, so traumatized I was by Cassie’s nearly balding her face in The Pistachio Prescription.

I can access bits of my childhood by remembering the books I read during them. I know my dad took my dog to obedience school because I remember sitting in the grey hallway tearing through A Gift of Magic and drinking a bottle of Grape Crush. I know I slept in my brother’s room on hot summer nights because I remember lying on a scratchy blue cot reading The Westing Game (He had air conditioning. I did not. To this day, I can only assume this was because my parents loved him more.) I remember the way my elementary school library looked because I can perfectly relive the moment that I returned their copy of Little Women, soggy and bloated, after dropping it in the bath when Beth died. Like any good budding fabulist, I fiercely denied anything untoward had happened.

Sometimes I actually got to live in the books. I played Humbug in a production of The Phantom Tollbooth and Charles Wallace in A Wrinkle in Time. For that, I wore a wig and a hat and delighted in surprising the audience by taking them off at the curtain call—my brief flirtation with being a gender outlaw.  (This was the year before middle school, when you learn that it’s not such a good thing that people can easily mistake you for a boy.)

I can find some seeds of my writing in the immersion in those two stories, where real kids were swept up into highly representational fantasy worlds.  But I had to pick one book that formed my writing today I’d go to the battered, thirty-year-old copy of D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths that still sits on my shelf. Here was a world of magic and transformation, where preening young men could be turned into flowers, haunted girls into echoes. Abstractions like despair, envy, and deceit became monsters that could buzz around in the air and sting you. And when a young goddess is kidnapped and taken to the underworld, her mother’s grief could cause the world to become barren. And of course it did. Metaphors could take body and become real—and how cool is that? Here’s a world that made sense and that, as Anne Shirley would say, had scope for imagination.

I don’t know if I write for the girl binge-reading in her room all weekend, but I know I write from her. It’s one thing my heroes have in common—their worlds are completely informed by books. Though unlike me, they do some other things, too.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu due to be release in the Fall 2011:

Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. But that was before he stopped talking to her and disappeared into a forest wth a mysterious woman made of ice. Now it’s up to Hazel to go after him. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” BREADCRUMBS is a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind.

Pre-order Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu at the following spots:
Powell’s Books

Today’s post is part of our month long celebration of Walden Pond Press for our monthly feature “Book Publishers 101“. Make sure to stop by the Walden Pond Press Site for more information about this title and more. For more information about our Book Publishers 101 feature take a look at this month’s opening post.

Make sure to stop by our huge month long giveaway from Walden Pond Press, including Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu!

Thank you to Walden Pond Press for providing this book for review! Find Walden Pond Press on Twitter and Facebook!

5 Responses to Guest Post: Kindred Spirits by Author Anne Ursu

  1. Jen Robinson says:

    Oh, Anne, I remember my childhood the same way. I can still tell you the exact layout of my elementary school library – which books were on which sections of the shelves, etc. Thanks for a lovely post!

  2. Charlotte says:

    Snap! I must have read that same Greek mythology book about a thousand times…..It’s a sad part of growing up that binge reading isn’t the same–it’s easy to pretend you can do your homework on the bus, but harder to pretend you don’t have hungry children who haven’t done theirs.

  3. Courtney says:

    Love the “Shoes” series by Streatfeild…also always reminds me of that scene in one of my my favorites movies “You’ve Got Mail”. Our childhood books and libraries always remain with us. Thanks for a lovely post.

  4. Anne Ursu says:

    Thanks so much for reading this, everyone, and for commenting. And thank you, Danielle, for hosting me!

  5. […] Walden Pond Press, Breadcrumbs, is due out in September and she recently stopped by to talk about her favorite childhood reads (so worth reading).  Anne also happens to have a little boy just about the same age as the […]

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