Author Spotlight: Clea Simon

Kittens Can Kill coverAnnie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to host Clea Simon on our Author Spotlight blog. Clea visited us last fall during our Cat Mystery event. She is a former (and still occasional) journalist who now writes mysteries—happy to make things up.

Thank you for joining us, Clea! For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from your work?

I write traditional mysteries – amateur sleuth, not too bloody – of the cozy (but not cutesy) variety. Somehow, all of which end up having cats in them, whether I started out that way or not. Cats are an important part of my life, and all the animals in my books are based on real animals (whether they talk or not!). I try to give readers some actual, real useful animal info too!

What kind of research went into writing this book? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?

Well, I’m now writing the next Pru Marlowe pet noir and it has rabbits in it. There are bunnies in my yard and I love watching them. Believe it or not, they DON’T eat my garden- they love the dandelions! So there go any plans I had for lawn upkeep. I’ve been reading a lot about their behavior. Did you know that wild bunnies are an entirely different species from the domestic ones we usually keep as pets?

What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?

Oh, that’s like asking who my favorite child is! Right now, I have two series heroines: Pru Marlowe, a tough-girl animal psychic, and Dulcie Schwartz, a very smart but not very worldly graduate student. I adore them both. I think they are both exaggerated parts of me. I’m not as tough as Pru, though I would like to be. And I’m neither as smart nor as scholarly as Dulcie, though maybe I’m a little more worldly wise.

What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws 05222015 - Clea.w catreaders to these kinds of books?

I am drawn to characters, and traditional mysteries are really books about characters. I love series because I can continue to spend time with these characters and, as a writer, let them grow and develop. I think that’s what draws readers, too.

What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?

Do it. Every day. The ability to write is a muscle that grows stronger with repeated workouts. Oh, and revise. If you write and don’t revise, you’re not writing for an audience – you’re simply journaling. Half of what you think is on the page is probably still in your head…

How important has the New England setting been to your writing?

Very. Both my current series are set in New England. Pru lives in Western Mass. And Dulcie goes to school in Cambridge.

Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)

How about this? You can find out about my books at my website, http://www.cleasimon.com or on Facebook or Twitter @Clea_Simon – but you should order them from Annie’s Book Stop!

How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?

I have a Facebook page – Clea Simon Author at https://www.facebook.com/clea.simon.author -and am also on Twitter @Clea_Simon

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EVENTS BUZZ MONDAY – May 18, 2015.

2015-05-17 11.31.53Thank you to everyone who came out this weekend for our all-day Oziana celebration of the 115th anniversary of the publication of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!

One of our guests brought his original editions of several Ruth Plumly Thompson titles for us to “ooh and ah” over.

Our craft tables were set up with Oz coloring sheets, rhinestone rainbows, and star-studded wands worthy of Glinda the Good herself. Our lovely snacks came from Cakettes, and we had a fantastic afternoon with Ryk E. Spoor and his novel Polychrome. Ryk does the most splendid voices for each of his characters when reading aloud… he can transition from Christopher Lee to Morgan Fairchild to Brian Blessed at the drop of a hat. All in all, a splendid time.

Here’s the latest event news… but don’t forget to watch our website and Facebook page for even more updates!

* THIS WEEKEND! Friday, May 22, 7:00-8:30 PM: Worcester Storytellers featuring Sou MacMillan Worcester Storytellers continues with their awesome open mic event, and this month, the featured reader is Sou MacMillan.

Sou MacMillan has her fingers in a lot of pies: A veteran of the Columbus, OH music scene, she was the voice behind Caroline/Double Deuce band Pet Ufo. She is the author of Chrysanthemum, a punk rock coming of age story, and has been published in periodicals and anthologies such as Syracuse University’s Salt Hill Journal, Subatomic Books’ One Step Beyond, and Suzi Banks Baum’s An Anthology of Babes. She is the producer of Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival and the small press sorceress behind Doublebunny Press. Find her online at www.soumacmillan.com and at www.doublebunnypress.com

* Sunday, May 31, starting at 2:00 PM: Literary Genre Trivia – Science Fiction Our popular trivia event makes its triumphant return this month! Test your literary grit and knowledge about science fiction (specifically science fiction; fantasy will come later). There is a $20 gift certificate for the winner! Join us for a chance to win, to socialize with other book-lovers, and to geek-out over your favorite authors!

================================

In case you missed our huge sneak-peak post about what to expect in June, here’s a link! And there’s quite a bit coming up. We’ll be chattering about it more in upcoming blogs and newsletters! Of course, as a reminder, our regular events are…

* Mondays at 7PM – Spinning Yarns Craft and Audiobook Social

* Hafta Craft & Storytime Family Drop-in, the third Sunday of every month from 11:00 AM-2:00 PM. Children must be accompanied by an adult for duration of stay.

* Worcester Storytellers, the fourth Friday of every month from 7-8:30 PM. The May 22 open mic event will feature Sou MacMillan. For the complete updates and schedules, follow Worcester Storytellers on Facebook!

* Literary Genre Trivia, the last Sunday of every month starting at 2:00 PM.

As always, watch ABSW calendar and our Facebook Page for more details and updates.

May your world be full of wonderful words!

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Author Spotlight: Christopher Irvin

05152015 - burn-cards-coverAnnie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to host Christopher Irvin on this week’s Friday Spotlight blog! Chris is a long-time friend of our little “bigger on the inside” bookstore and, as an active member of New England Horror Writers, a supporter of many of our dark and authory friends!

Welcome, Chris! Thank you for stopping by the blog! Can you please tell our readers briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?

I live in Boston (Jamaica Plain) with my wife and son. My writing tends to veer in the direction of noir, or dark fiction. My two books, FEDERALES and BURN CARDS are both noir. I love to write short stories, and will have more to announce on that front later this year. I’m also working on two comic mini-series that I’m currently pitching to publishers.

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from your work?

My fiction tends to be pretty dark, minimalist, and character driven. I started out writing horror and naturally shifted into crime/noir as it just fit much better with where I found my voice/interests taking me. I’m a very visual person and I love to incorporate the setting into my fiction. BURN CARDS follows Mirna Fowler, a young woman doing her best to escape Reno, Nevada, while living with the burden of her father’s gambling addiction. When his debts are suddenly thrust upon her, what will she do?

What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?

I love underdogs and the way crime/noir forces such characters into playing with incredibly high stakes. I think that journey appeals to readers. We may know with some certainty that the protagonist isn’t going to come out on top or walk away in one piece, but we want to be there to witness their struggle, their heartbreak.

What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?

The community. I have the best times at conventions, and made such great friends that I know I’ll keep in touch with for life. It’s a tight knit group of very inspiring people.

What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?

A desk in the back bedroom with as little clutter as possible. I’m easily distracted. I have to put my phone away and close the internet browser to avoid compulsive e-mail and social media checks. I’ve tried listening to music, but it can be very hit and miss (mostly miss), so I tend to keep things quiet.

Do you have any favorite foods or drinks that must be in the vicinity (or must be avoided) while you’re writing or editing a piece of work?

COFFEE. There is never enough.

What do you consider the most challenging part of the writing process? And how do you 05152015 - chrisovercome that?

Currently it’s the third or fourth page. I’m good at getting started with an idea. I begin every project freehand for the first page or two before switching to my laptop. It helps me massage the sentences and get a solid start that I don’t obsess over later. This can lead to me running into some road blocks in the following pages – issues with transitions, etc. So I just keep my head down and try to bang away. Ask me a month from now and you’ll probably get a different answer.

Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)

You can find my books – BURN CARDS and FEDERALES – online at the usual suspects (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, etc.) You also can order from your local independent shop. Several of my short stories are free to read online.

How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?

Updates at Christopherirvin.net, twitter and Instagram @chrislirvin, or track me down on Facebook.

Thank you, again, for joining us, Chris! Readers of crime and noir, you definitely need to check out these books!

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Events Buzz: LOTS of stuff coming up!

05112015 - lilacsEveryone here at our 65 James Street location hopes all the Moms in our circle had a beautiful and fabulous Mother’s Day yesterday!

Also, congratulations to all of you who are graduating, good luck to all of you who are testing, and have a safe and awesome prom for all of those who are “prom”ming!

ABSW also welcomes back Elise, who is part of our summer staff. She will be working on several projects in our non-fiction and literature sections, including our vintage books. Welcome back, Elise!

If the 80 and 90 degree days haven’t clued you in, summer is on its way! Our “bigger on the inside” bookstore is busy stocking up on summer reading list titles. Teachers and educators, if you haven’t sent in your lists so we can stock them, there’s still time! Shoot them to orders@anniesbooksworcester.com.

Here’s the latest event news—but watch our website and Facebook page for even more updates!

THIS WEEKEND! Sunday, May 17, All-Day: Oziana!

Join us in celebrating the 115th anniversary of the publication of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. We’ll be doing Oz crafts, eating Oz treats, and offering a wide selection of Oz and Oz-themed books–including the beautiful Eisner Award-winning Oz adaptation graphic novels illustrated by Eric Shanower!

Families and children are invited to stop in throughout the day to take part in Oziana! – a day full of colorful Oz-themed crafts, stories and activities. Bookstores, libraries, and more will all be celebrating with reproducible activities and even Oz-themed snacks!

At 1:00 PM, there will even be a special guest – best-selling author Ryk E. Spoor will be in for a reading and signing of his new book Polychrome—A Romantic Fantasy, which tells the adventures of the daughter of the Rainbow and another person chosen from the human world.

Friday, May 22, 7:00-8:30 PM: Worcester Storytellers featuring Sou MacMillan

Worcester Storytellers continues with their awesome open mic event, and this month, the featured reader is Sou MacMillan.

Sunday, May 31, starting at 2:00 PM: Literary Genre Trivia – Science Fiction

Our popular trivia event makes its triumphant return this month! Test your literary grit and knowledge about science fiction (specifically science fiction; fantasy will come later). There is a $20 gift certificate for the winner! Join us for a chance to win, to socialize with other book-lovers, and to geek-out over your favorite authors!

Since we’re almost halfway through May—goodness, that’s fast!—here is a sneak peak at some of our June events. As you’ll see, June is HOPPING with stuff to do!

Friday, June 5, 7:00-9:00 PM – Sharon Lee and Steve Miller return to ABSW with their latest adventure in the Liaden ® Universe.

Sunday, June 21, 11:00 AM-2:00 PM – Hafta Craft and Storytime Drop-in of Myth and Magic.

Wednesday, June 24, 11:00 AM-2:00 PM – Winnie-the-Pooh Theme Day: crafts and stories.

Thursday, June 25, 8:00 PM – “Shelf Series” Employee talk (and tasting!) with Trisha J. Wooldridge: Adventures in “Spirited” Journalism, or “What I learned in getting paid to write about booze.” Must be 21+ to attend; all attendees will be carded.

Friday, June 26, 7:00-8:30 PM – Worcester Storytellers open mic featuring Matt Hopewell.

Saturday, June 27, 2:00-4:00 PM – Have you ever wondered…?” Panel on research and presentation for children’s non-fiction books.

Sunday, June 28, 2:00 PM – Literary Genre Trivia: Romantic Suspense

Tuesday, June 30, 7:00 PM – “Shelf Series” Employee Talk with Selina Lovett: Virtual Meet & Greet of Literary Legends or “The awesome people I’ve met during years of volunteering at science fiction & fantasy conventions.”

Of course, as a reminder, our regular events are…

Spinning Yarns Craft and Audiobook Social, 7PM every Monday

Hafta Craft & Storytime Family Drop-in, the third Sunday of every month from 11:00 AM-2:00 PM. Children must be accompanied by an adult for duration of stay. (May being our OZIANA celebration!)

Worcester Storytellers, the fourth Friday of every month from 7-8:30 PM. The May 22 open mic event will feature Sou MacMillan. For the complete updates and schedules, follow Worcester Storytellers on Facebook!

Literary Genre Trivia is FINALLY HERE this MAY and continuing on the last Sunday of every month starting at 2:00 PM.

As always, watch ABSW calendar and our Facebook Page for more details and updates.

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

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Author Spotlight: Ryk Spoor and POLYCHROME

Polychrome2Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to have Ryk E. Spoor visit us during our Oziana celebration on May 17! Ryk has visited us before with some of his other science fiction and fantasy work, now he joins us with his latest novel, Polychrome: A Romantic Fantasy, set in the Land of Oz as created by L. Frank Baum.

Thank you very much for joining us, Ryk! Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing?

Well, I was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and I’ve lived several other places around the country, but I’ve spent most of my life in upstate New York, so I feel mostly like a native Northeasterner. I was the classic nerd as a kid, skinny, thick glasses, and always reading – I averaged a book a day from the time I was maybe 6 or 7 up through my early college years. The Oz books were my first major love as a reader, from about 7 on; I read a mix of pure science books (volcanology, biology, astronomy, etc.), SF, and fantasy.

In 6th grade my homeroom teacher Mr. Dickinson gave me a battered old copy of “Doc” Smith’s Second Stage Lensmen and that became my next HUGE inspiration and influence and caused me to really start devouring my dad’s entire large library of SF novels. I became pretty much the Compleat Geek through high school and then wandered through a total of three majors, and worked at places ranging from McDonald’s to a small publisher to the R&D firm I currently work for, IEM. In about 2000 I got into an online argument with Eric Flint which ultimately led to my being published. Insofar as my personal life, I’m married to a wonderful lady named Kathleen and we have four children – two boys, two girls –- one poodle, and a bunch of chickens.

What was the inspiration for Polychrome? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

As I said previously, the Oz books were my first literary love, and within those books, the character Polychrome, the Daughter of the Rainbow, was my favorite – in retrospect I realized she was my first real crush, long before I knew what that meant.

However, the immediate inspiration for Polychrome came when I was driving home from work one day and saw this absolutely incredible double rainbow which persisted for something like fifteen minutes; that’s almost unheard of in this area of the world, and I managed to get some so-so pictures of it (I used one of them as part of the background for the Kickstarter page). At one point of my drive, it looked as though the end of the rainbow was coming down into the parking lot of Westgate Plaza, and I suddenly had an image of Polychrome dancing down the rainbow and ending up here, in this mundane world. That image stuck with me and started my brain throwing out other random images, but I shoved those away because I had other things to write. And then one day I woke up and the entire book was laid out in my head – and it took my other writing hostage. Literally; I found that I could not write anything else unless I also wrote at least a chapter of Polychrome. “Nice deadlines you’ve got there. Shame if anything were to happen to them.”

In some ways Polychrome is also a terribly self-indulgent novel, so I was reluctant to even show it to my beta-reading group at first – and when I did, a lot of them were really doubtful. And then… they ended up pretty much unanimously telling me that this might well be the best thing I’d ever written.

What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out Polychrome? How did you 05082015 - Ryk photoovercome that challenge?

There were a couple of major challenges. The first was just getting up the guts to try to publish it. As I said, while I tried to make this a real and worthwhile novel, it was also self-indulgent in the extreme, and I had to overcome rare feelings of embarrassment just to contemplate showing this to my beta-readers, let alone anyone else. But finally I did start submitting it, at which point it became clear what the other problem was: Polychrome doesn’t fit in any normal category, especially for an Oz novel. Oz books fall generally into three categories: new Oz books for their original audience (children); reimaginings of Oz in one way or another (e.g., Tin Man, The Wiz); and deconstructions/parodies/cynical reinterpretations (Wicked, A Barnstormer in Oz). Polychrome is none of these; it is an attempt to tell an adult-reader-level story set in a world as close as possible to the “real” Oz as I can get. And, as Mari Ness and others such as John Bunnell have noted in their reviews, that’s something that’s just never been done. And that showed up starkly when I submitted it. Multiple publishers requested it. One of them hemmed and hawed about it for two years. But ultimately they elected not to publish it, at least in part because they really didn’t know what pigeonhole to use to publish and promote it. So I finally decided that I would find out if there was enough interest to make it worth my time to publish it myself. To publish a book takes both time and money – quite a bit of money, if you’re trying to put out a book that’s of the same quality as those from the big publishers, and since I am a pro author, I wasn’t going to accept a half-assed quality version of my work. So I put up a Kickstarter… and not only did it make the funding target, it made the next stretch goal, giving me the gorgeous Bob Eggleton cover. So I knew there was enough interest, and I had the resources to make the book… and here we are!

While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!

I need music. I write with headphones on, and the music must be instrumental – or at least the voices have to be singing words I don’t understand (i.e., Japanese or some other language) so they don’t distract me.

I actually tend to construct soundtracks for many of my works as I write; Polychrome has one of 21 tracks running over an hour. The largest portion of my music collection is soundtrack music from movies, anime, TV shows, video games and so on, with smatterings of classical and other music. Usually I end up selecting specific songs for an “opening theme”, some for specific characters or events. The opening theme for Polychrome is called “Run For Your Life” and is the OP for the video game Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis; the lead-up to the final battle is “The Greatest Story Never Told” from Doctor Who; the character Zenga’s “big scene” has the appropriately named “Super Strength” by the band Two Steps From Hell. The music often inspires the scene as well as the scene inspiring the selection of the music, to the point that I write some scenes with a particular song on repeat to evoke the images that I want.

What are some of your writing-related hobbies, crafts, addictions?

Besides reading, probably the largest single influence as well as recreation is roleplaying games. I’ve been an RPGer since 1977, and started running games both live and online in 1978; I’ve been pretty much continuously involved in one campaign or another ever since, and one of my players has been gaming with me since 1979. This is not just a game but a worldbuilding and writing tool; more than one of my books has significant elements taken from my gaming.

I also do a fair amount of videogaming, again mostly RPG related like Skyrim and Oblivion, the Persona series, the Fallout series, and Star Ocean, among others. These can also sometimes be inspirational.

Of course, I also watch various shows and movies in the SF/F vein and get into new shows, webcomics, etc.; my current favorites are One Piece and Homestuck.

What else can we expect from you in the near future?

05082015 - Phoenix-in-Shadow-Cover-674x1024Well, as of signing time my epic fantasy novel Phoenix in Shadow, sequel to Phoenix Rising, has just come out; in about a year you can expect to see Phoenix Ascendant, the final novel in what I call the Balanced Sword trilogy. I am very happy with the way these last two novels have worked out and Phoenix Ascendant may well be the best thing I’ve ever written; it’s certainly a book I’ve been waiting a long, long time to publish (the basic story idea and outline dates to 1991).                                                                 

I’m currently working on Castaway Odyssey, sequel to Castaway Planet which came out in February; this is set in the same universe as the Boundary trilogy and is a hard-SF adventure focused on, as you can probably guess, a group of people getting marooned on an unknown alien world and how they manage to survive. I have also started on the third book in the Arenaverse series, tentatively titled Challenges of the Deeps; this one will try to wrap up some of the significant prior plot threads. Finally, I have a contract for a book titled Princess Holy Aura, first in what I hope to be a series titled The Ethical Magical Girl. This is my attempt to write a mahou shoujo or Magical Girl novel, which I don’t think has ever been done on this side of the pond before. It will be both serious and funny by turns, I think – there are some absurdities inherent in the genre that I will play with, but the story will still be a serious novel within the framework of the genre.

Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)

Most of my books are published by Baen Books and thus are available in most fine bookstores (and even some not so fine ones) as well as on all the major online outlets. Polychrome is my first self-published book; it’s available as an eBook through Amazon, iBooks, B&N, and Smashwords, and as a physical book through CreateSpace (Amazon) for the Trade Paperback or Lulu.com if you want the really fancy-fancy hardcover.

How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?

The best way to stalk me online is either to watch my website at http://www.grandcentralarena.com, or to find me on Facebook. Generally there it’s best to look for my personal connection, because while I have a FB author page I keep forgetting it’s there!

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Events Buzz: Merry May!

05042015 emeraldcityofoz_01Thank you to everyone who came out to visit us during Independent Bookstore Day! It was a wonderful day for us, and we hope all of you enjoyed yourselves, too.

Happy Mother’s Day to all our customers who are moms! If you still need a last-minute present for that Awesome Mom in your life, check our shelves to see if Mom’s new favorite read is hiding here! Or, get her a gift certificate so she can find her own favorite.

We’re also still ordering books for summer reading. Teachers and educators, please send your summer reading lists to orders@anniesbooksworcester.com so we can make sure we have all the books our students need.

Our new Sunday hours have started. Now we’re open until 6:00 PM on Sundays!

Here’s the latest event news—but watch our website and Facebook page for even more updates!

Sunday, May 17, All-Day: Oziana!

Join us in celebrating the 115th anniversary of the publication of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. We’ll be doing Oz crafts, eating Oz treats, and more! We’re also getting in the beautiful Eisner Award-winning Oz adaptation graphic novels illustrated by Eric Shanower, along with a lot more Oz books. Special guest Ryk E. Spoor, best-selling fantasist and author of Polychrome will drop in for a visit and signing—and stay tuned for a few more surprises!

Sunday, May 31, starting at 2:00 PM: Literary Genre Trivia – Science Fiction

Our popular trivia event makes its triumphant return this month! Test your literary grit and knowledge about science fiction (specifically science fiction; fantasy will come later). There is a $20 gift certificate for the winner! Join us for a chance to win, to socialize with other book-lovers, and to geek-out over your favorite authors!

As a reminder, our regular events are…

Spinning Yarns Craft and Audiobook Social, 7PM every Monday

Hafta Craft & Storytime Family Drop-in, the third Sunday of every month from 11:00 AM-2:00 PM. Children must be accompanied by an adult for duration of stay. (May being our OZIANA celebration!)

Worcester Storytellers, the fourth Friday of every month from 7-8:30 PM. For the complete updates and schedules, follow Worcester Storytellers on Facebook!

Literary Genre Trivia is FINALLY HERE this MAY and continuing on the last Sunday of every month starting at 2:00 PM.

As always, watch ABSW calendar and our Facebook Page for more details and updates.

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

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Author Spotlight: Michael Dietsch and SHRUBS

05012015 - Shrubsi1.cvr.DesCompAnnie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our spotlight on Michael Dietsch, who writes nonfiction about delicious alcoholic beverages. His latest release, with photos by Jennifer Hess, is Shrubs.

Hi, Michael! Thank you for being on our Spotlight blog. Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?

I’m Michael Dietsch. I write about cocktails and spirits from an apartment in Brooklyn.

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from Shrubs: An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times?

My book, Shrubs, is an exploration of a venerable beverage that’s been recently (in the last twelve years) rediscovered by bartenders and drinkers. I provide a history of shrubs along with recipes for making shrubs and using them in both cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks.

What kind of research went into writing this book? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?

A shrub is an acidulated beverage, which means it’s a beverage that has acid in it. You’re DSC_8501already familiar with acidulated beverages if you drink lemonade or limeade. In the case of shrub, the acid is usually vinegar, but historically, it sometimes was citrus instead of vinegar.

The word “shrub” derives from an Arabic word, “sharab,” which means “drink.” Sharab arose in Persia and Turkey as a quaff for teetotaling Muslims, and in fact, it’s still popular in parts of the Muslim world today.

Sharab was usually dried citrus juice, turned into a powder and mixed with spices, ground nuts or dried flowers, and other flavorings. To drink it, you’d dissolve the powder into fresh water. Sharab gave birth to another food that we know well: sherbet. If you took that citrus-flavored water and either chilled it down with snow or froze it, you’d have a citrus dessert. Sharab therefore led to both shrub and sherbet.

After European merchants took shrub back home, it became popular on ocean-going vessels. Being originally a citrus-based drink, it was effective at fighting scurvy, although no one at the time connected scurvy to a vitamin-C deficiency.

So researching the book took me deep into the history of piracy in England, naval history, and the history of the slave trade. Very little of that made its way into the book, although an early draft of the manuscript had a story of a gruesome slave rebellion that took place aboard a ship bound for the Caribbean.

What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out your writing? How do you overcome that challenge?

I have two kids at home, both under the age of four, and I’m their primary daytime caregiver. The biggest challenge is, then, obvious if you’ve ever met a toddler: figuring out how to balance the demands of work and family. The minute I have one or both children asleep, I race to the computer to peck out as many words as possible before one of them wakes up crying.

What else can we expect from you in the near future?

I’m working right now on another cocktail book, due out (tentatively) in Spring 2016. I can’t discuss the topic yet, but I’m having fun researching and writing it.

What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?

I’m messy, so my space is always cluttered. I guess I’m one of those people who finds inspiration in clutter. Or I’m just lazy. Because I write about cocktails and booze, I like to have other books around me on the same topic, especially books with a historic bent, for research purposes.

Do you have any favorite foods or drinks that must be in the vicinity (or must be avoided) while you’re writing or editing a piece of work?

I have the opposite problem. When I’m writing, I get so involved in the process that I forget to eat. The only thing I usually have at my side is a one-liter bottle of water. Or black coffee, if it’s the morning.

Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)

I’ve been published in Serious Eats; PUNCH magazine; the Edible publications Rhody, Manhattan, and Brooklyn; and other venues.

How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?

I’m on Twitter at @dietsch, and I have an author page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/michaeldietschauthor.

Thank you again for joining us, Michael! For those of you interested in Shrubs, we’ve got the book for sale at ABSW!

 

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