Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine their Friday Spotlight on “The Happy Hop Guy” and Worcester native, Nick Zwirblia. Nick will be at our 65 James Street store THIS THURSDAY, August 2, from 6:00 – 8:00 PM talking about, reading from, and signing his debut novel, The Bramford Chronicles Book 1: Johnny and Baby Jumbo.
Thank you very much for joining us, Nick! Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?
I was raised in Worcester. I can reliably be found at local thrift stores and garage sales—buying $2 pieces of “costume jewelry,” which, properly assessed, end up being $300 hunks of gold that other people didn’t have the vision to “see.”
For more than a decade, I lived in rural Vermont, where, among other jobs and pursuits, I worked in food services at Dartmouth College—where I was known as The Happy Hop Guy—ran a successful home-cleaning business, and was the owner of “The Enchanted Toy Box,” where I specialized in antique toys and collectibles.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from The Bramfod Chronicles Book 1: Johnny and Baby Jumbo?
I want people to be hopeful. The book is set in the Great Depression, but I don’t think it’s depressing. One of the three boys at the heart of the book is African-American; that friendship is very important to me.
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?
I went to the library, of course, and researched on line. But the core of the book came from 50 years of working in antiques and true stories of people I knew in Vermont.
What was the inspiration for your novel? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
In my twenties, I saw an elephant in a supermarket parking lot, at a grand opening. That planted a seed. Then, in 2008 I was in a car accident. It took me a year to recover. During that time, the seed grew and the book matured in my mind.
What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out Johnny and Baby Jumbo? How did you overcome that challenge?
I’m dyslexic. I wrote the book out by hand—fifty times. Finally, in the last year or so, I’ve been working with an editor, Don Unger. That put the project over the top.
What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?
I love Thaddeus, the African-American boy. He’s the most important character in the book. He’s an orphan and goes through a lot. But he remains a positive person. I love his grit.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
Thank you again for the interview, Nick! We look forward to having you at our 65 James Street Store THIS THURSDAY, August 2, from 6:00 – 8:00 PM!