Greetings

July 15th, 2014

 

Hi there!

I’m Kate, one of the summer interns for Beaufort Books. I shall follow in the tradition of Beau-themed names and from now on will sign my posts as The Red Beaulloon.

I’ve noticed that lately authors haven’t been content with just finishing a series. Usually a series is over once the final book has been published, but today authors have been revisiting the worlds that they’ve created in the form of spin-offs. These spin-offs tend to come in the form of novellas, with the novella telling the story from a new point of view, or exploring aspects of the story previously left up to the reader’s imagination.

It’s wonderful to you hear that your favorite story is going to be expanded upon. Its announcement can be enough to reignite a dying fan base, but are these expansions necessary? Or rather, why are they so popular now? This trend is relatively new (from what I can tell) and seems to be what distinguishes a popular franchise from the rest.

Obviously part of the appeal of writing a new book is the publicity and the money new sales can bring in. Why end a series when you can sell more books?

But what about those authors that have no need to advertise, and have more money than they know what to do with? Of course I’m talking about JK Rowling, who recently published a short story revisiting the Harry Potter universe in the form of an article written by Rita Skeeter. The Harry Potter fandom is one of the biggest in the world, and this story has reawakened the frenzy that ended with its last movie. Part of this is because there is a chance that something more is on its way. This assumption comes from an interpretation of Rita Skeeter plugging her own book in the article (coming out at the end of July) as Rowling hinting at a new Harry Potter book. The timing of all this is perfect. The new amusement park is opening up and I’m sure that this excitement is going to help with sales. But should a new book be necessary to keep the excitement over a series going?

It seems as though it’s no longer enough for authors to tour and promote their own book, they have to be willing to continue the series for as long as they can, and in as many different forms as possible. But what if an author doesn’t want to explore the world anymore? What if they tied up everything neatly in a bow and don’t want to potentially ruin what they worked so hard on to finish and perfect? The only solution seems to lie in what genre the author is writing. Specifically, don’t write Young Adult novels. This phenomenon seems to be localized solely to books for young adults, which shows that the expansion of the original series is not necessarily because the story needs it, but because this specific age group demands it. Young adults refuse to let their favorite series end, either by imagining what else might have happened on their own or begging the author for more until they acquiesce. I’m not sure this is a good thing.

While a fan demands for more from the story, the author might not have anything substantial to give. But with increasing pressure from a fan base an author, and their publisher, will most likely want to satisfy the masses. That doesn’t mean that the resulting book will be any good. Whenever an author releases an addition on a series there is always the chance that it will flop, and therefore lessen the original. The story has been tainted by the expansions, and the only way to counteract this is to ignore that the additions ever happened.

What sequels?

 

This is a trend that started in movies, and is now starting to take over Young Adult books. It’s a trend focused on selling more of a product, which is in no way a bad thing as that is how people make a living. Readers have to understand that if they demand more of a story, what they get has no guarantee as being as good as the original.

So while many readers celebrate whenever an author comes out with some extension to an already finished series, I always worry that it will detract from something that I once loved so much. Why don’t we just see if the author has more they want to tell before demanding it so whole-heartedly?

 

The Red Beaullon

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World War I Centennial

July 8th, 2014

Hello readers:

On June 28, as I imagine it, our nation heaved a collective sigh at the memory of that long-ago blunder we now call World War I. The consequences of The Great War have been manifold, but one that has affected me most personally is the wave of literature published in the post-war years (and a few accounts even earlier, mid-conflict) – memoirs, poetry, and novels that are a testament to the shock, the disillusionment, and also the spiritedness that the first industrial war inspired.

One of Ours, Willa Cather

OneOfOurs

One of Ours does not immediately scream war novel; its first half takes us on a pastoral tour of rural Nebraska, where the young Claude Wheeler is being groomed to take over his father’s farming operation. Claude is underwhelmed by the prospect of such a future, his dissatisfaction manifesting in a constant physical restlessness that leads others to look at him askance. I have always sympathized with Claude’s sentiments in these pages of the novel, having also felt at times that obscure but pulse-quickening anticipation of what else life might have to offer: “He would spring to his feet, turn over quickly in bed, or stop short in his walk, because the old belief flashed up in him with an intense kind of hope, an intense kind of pain, – the conviction that there was something splendid about life, if he could but find it!” When World War I rolls around in the summer of 1914, that purpose is at last discovered, and Claude ships out as a newly enlisted member of the US Army. It is a Gatsby-esque turn of events: we are endeared to Claude’s idealism despite the unworthiness of the cause at which it is directed.

 

Storm of Steel, Ernst Junger

StormofSteel

Storm of Steel - the autobiographical account of young German officer Ernst Junger on the Western Front between the years 1914 and 1918 -is an anomaly within the canon of World War I literature. Despite the savagery he witnesses during the war (and, in fact, bound up with it), Junger finds something sublime in the experience – a transcendent naturalistic force that should be celebrated: “There was in these men a quality that both emphasized the savagery of war and transfigured it at the same time: an objective relish for danger, the chevalieresque urge to prevail in battle. Over four years, the fire smelted an ever-purer, ever bolder warriorhood.” Critics have cast Storm of Steel as a precursor to the Darwinian politics espoused in Hitler’s Mein Kampf, but to do so is to pinhole a unique and important perspective on the First World War.

 

The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

SunAlsoRises

The Sun Also Rises will always be, for me, the quintessential novel of World War I disillusionment. It all comes down to that final line, succinct and pointed as so much of Hemingway is: “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” For those of us swept up in the illusory potential of Jake and Brett’s relationship, this line quickly cuts us down.

 

Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf

Mrs.Dalloway

Mrs. Dalloway is another novel that urges us past our traditional conceptions of war literature. Woolf’s focus is not on the war itself, but on its tremors – those slight, yet significant reverberations sent echoing back to the home front, to the families, homes and societies left behind. She argues, convincingly, that the war’s web of trauma spreads farther than we might imagine, invading even the intimate domestic sphere occupied by Mrs. Dalloway.

 

Regeneration, Pat Barker

Regeneration

Following the lives of several British army officers suffering from shell shock at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh, Regeneration provides an important portrait of the field of psychology as it was impacted by World War I. Several of Barker’s characters are based on actual historical figures present at the hospital at that time – the war-weary poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, as well as the psychologist W.H.R. Rivers, who pioneered treatments of post-traumatic stress disorder.  My favorite poem to emerge out of the First World War, “Picture Show” (And still they come and go: and this is all I know – / That from the gloom I watch an endless picture-show), was written by Sassoon during his time at Craiglockhart.

 

That’s all for now. Make sure to stay tuned for future blog posts from yours truly, SWS.

______________

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New Intern Thinks About Vampires

July 2nd, 2014

Hello all. I’m Joy, one of the multiple new Beaufort interns, and I’ve chosen BigRedBeau as my pseudonym for the summer.

So I love YA. And I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. The hosts of Pop Culture Happy Hour—an NPR podcast—put it best when they stated in one of their live shows, “That’s not guilt it’s shame, and shame is external.” Basically I’m saying I dig YA and I’m trying not to be ashamed of it.

Cited podcast is linked if you click through.

And there’s something I’ve noticed, sitting over here and loving YA. A trend, if you will. These days, one thing you get with YA is vampires. Vampires everywhere. Heck, if you’re a human being during this time in world history, you’re going to encounter vampires. In their many and varying media forms, from your Trueblood to your Twilight, vampires just can’t seem to leave us alone.

Recently, the primary media form I’ve been experiencing Vampires in is The Vampire Diaries.

Perhaps worth noting that most visual media reincarnations of vampires presently running were in fact initially literary.

I started watching it one morning over my bowl of cereal when I realized I was in the mood for something that wouldn’t engage my emotions or my intelligence.

Way back (not that far) when I was in middle school, one of my friends who had previously recommended the Twilight series suggested the Vampire Diaries as a follow up; at the time, I wasn’t interested because I felt the covers of the books were silly. Not to mention I was two kinds of done with Twilight and vampires; literally done, as in I had finished the published books, and emotionally done, as in I wasn’t really into any further exposure to vampires. I’ve had one or two friends ask me never to call them again as they have no desire to further associate with me (jokingly, I think), but so far it’s been pretty good. It’s a much smarter show than I was anticipating. I think it made me cry once? As of now I am almost finished with Season 1.

So obviously vampires are currently one sweeping cultural trend. They’re kind of the thing, the hot topic (I hate this phrase, this joke, but it fits: you can’t deny that). They show up in all kinds of media, and they are seemingly most prevalent in YA books (not to mention books aimed at young girls, but that’s a different discussion). We thought for awhile that maybe werewolves would replace them (you’ve got your Teen Wolf, you’ve got your Liar), then it was—for a cultural blink, if you will—ghosts, with the advent of Being Human. Then it was zombies (with your The Walking Dead) and those terrifying—in a way that zombies really shouldn’t be—attempts to make the undead romantic and sexy somehow (with your Warm Bodies, and I can’t recall the name but there was that series of books about dead kids coming back to life in high school that was popular for, like, a heartbeat). But nothing really comes close to the popularity of vampires

Features high schoolers inexplicably coming back to life and inexplicably still being attractive to their peers somehow?

If you’re looking for a book that will stress you out and lie to your face, pick this one.

I can’t say that I particularly care about vampires, personally. I went through that phase. I’ve done my time. But what I’ve been thinking about is our fascination with them as a society. Why do we care? What is so consistently interesting about vampires that media keeps looping back to them again and again? Why have they become such a stereotypical inclusion in our culture?

Well, I’ve got a theory about that:

Vampires are social short cuts. Vampires are ways to discuss intense human desires in an unfettered context. I’m thinking Lolita levels of desire and intensity, here.

Let me explain.

The central dogma of the vampire myth is that they drink blood. Further, by far the most popular thing in current cultural recreations of vampires is, you know, that one broody dude vampire who is so tortured and doesn’t want to drink human blood because “it’s wrong” and he’s so conflicted and his nature so disgusts him, god, isn’t he tortured.

You know the type.

That guy is what, potentially, makes vampires interesting.

Because you’ve got this undeniable desire for something (in this case, blood). No one can deny that you’ve got that desire when you’re a vampire. That’s your food. It’s what you survive on. But vampires don’t crave blood the way we crave, say, Oreos. I wouldn’t kill a guy for my Oreos (at the very least it’s unlikely). With vampires, this thing they live on, the thing they crave, comes with this stipulation that, probably, you’re going to have to kill someone. And inevitably that desire isn’t just a normal desire; in our media, it manifests as this undeniable need. Vampire blood cravings in most cultural interpretations surpass simple cravings: they go straight into the areas of lust and greed. And you watch every vampire-character struggle with that. Depending on the character, it has differing effects. Depending on the author/creater, it’s more or less relevant to the plot.

Further, vampires skip over these laborious discussions of, “Well, why do you want that thing?” and creaters can go straight into what effect this want has on their individual. I could have the most powerful craving in the world for Oreos. To me, this craving could be life or death, this thing that I want. But people would always ask why I wanted that thing, and question whether I particularly needed that thing. This is where Lolita comes in; you watch a desire twist and morph a character (characters, some would argue). Vampires skip right over the process of having their desires justified. This question isn’t even on the board for vampires. But their desires are automatically vilified. Many forms of vampire literature attempt to find ways to soften this vilification (Twilight with its vegetarian vampires, for example; True Blood with its… Trueblood).

In a way, making a character a vampire is kind of like making a character an orphan; it’s a prevalent social trend and it’s an automatic internal struggle that constantly has the potential to become an external struggle, pre-loaded in your character. It’s a stuggle-in-a-box, an automatic Tragic Past TM.

Everyone’s favorite YA orphan.

So many characters that are vampires go through this struggle with their own nature, and it’s handled by different artists in a variety of ways. But one thing you always return to is this moral struggle: I want this thing, but I shouldn’t be able to have it. That’s the central plot of every vampire-based piece of media I can think of at the moment. That’s the drama.

I think this is an area of human psyche rarely accessed. Part of us that know we can have things we desire but won’t take because of a certain moral standard. I desire Oreos, and I could probably develop an elaborate plan to obtain my Oreos sans a monetary transaction. But the guilt I would feel for this would be too overwhelming for me personally to handle, plus I like to try to make the world around me operate under laws of fairness, so I don’t steal my Oreos. Vampire-characters are this struggle blown up, with increased desire added for drama.

What I’m saying is creating a character that’s a vampire but has an issue with being a vampire is potentially a way to study to severe conflict in the human soul.

And this is sexy somehow?

I’m not sure. I’m still figuring it out.

Until next time…

-BigRedBeau

 

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It’s all in the name… or is it?

July 2nd, 2014

Having just finished The Silkworm, the second novel in Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike series, I find myself thinking a lot about pseudonyms. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that Robert Gablraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series and The Casual Vacancy. Rowling assumed the pen name last year when she wrote The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first novel in the Cormoran Strike series.

Now, being the successful writer that she is, why would J.K Rowling want to write under a pen name? In Rowling’s case, the answer is simple. After seven little books featuring a well-known character by the name of Harry Potter, it’s no surprise that Rowling might’ve wanted some anonymity. The Harry Potter series is arguably one of the most successful in history, spawning a hit film series and a huge fan base. The series’ popularity also made Rowling a literary star. After the series ended, Rowling wrote The Casual Vacancy, a well reviewed fiction novel that sold pretty well because, let’s face it, it was written by J.K. Rowling (I myself purchased, read, and loved this book, but I’m not so sure I would’ve picked up if it were written by an unknown author). So, after more than a couple of literary hits, it’s not surprising that Rowling might have wanted some literary obscurity. And so, Robert Galbraith was born.

Rowling is not the first successful author to adopt a pen name. Celebrated writers like Anne Rice, Stephen King, and Michael Crichton have assumed pen names during their literary careers. In Rowling’s case, her pen name has given the world a new crime/detective series featuring Detective Cormoran Strike, an Afghanistan war veteran turned private detective. As Rowling herself explains, the reason why she wanted to write under a pseudonym was because she wanted to revert to simpler times: “I was yearning to go back to the beginning of a writing career in this new genre, to work without hype or expectation and to receive totally unvarnished feedback. It was a fantastic experience and I only wish it could have gone on a little longer.” Alas, Rowling’s anonymity was short-lived, because she’s simply too good. Critics and reviewers quickly noticed that The Cuckoo’s Calling was too good to have been written by a rookie, and after some speculation the news finally broke that Rowling was in fact behind this new series.

The fact that Rowling’s secret was revealed so quickly supports my main argument: when you’re a good writer, that will shine through no matter what name you’re using. I believe that when an author publishes under a pseudonym they are looking for reassurance that they are actually good writers, regardless of their celebrity. Through Galbraith, Rowling has proved that she’s more than capable of writing a really good book, wizards and witches set aside.

Until next time,

Simply Beautanical

101641530.jpg.rendition.largest.ss

Blanket Flower

written by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)

The Silkworm, written by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)

 

Sources

http://robert-galbraith.com/about/

http://www.vulture.com/2013/07/how-jk-rowlings-pseudonym-was-uncovered.html

http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/07/15/famous-authors-with-secret-pseudonyms/slide/ruth-rendell-barbara-vine/

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Hello from SWS

June 20th, 2014

Hello there!

I’m Emily, one of Beaufort’s new summer interns. For the sake of this blog, however, I will be known as SWS, or Septimus Warren Smith, inspired by one of my favorite books of all time, Mrs. Dalloway. Just recently, Ripe Time – an organization that adapts literature for the stage (check ‘em out! – http://ripetime.org/clarissa-dalloday/) – put on a marathon reading of Mrs. Dalloway at several locations throughout Brooklyn. I stopped in just as Septimus was being introduced into the narrative, gazing up at a passing aeroplane. A World War I veteran suffering from PTSD, Septimus’ speech throughout the novel is often garbled and paranoid; and yet several monologues of his are of the most resonant and insightful comments Mrs. Dalloway has to offer.

“So, thought Septimus, looking up, they are signaling to me. Not indeed in actual words; that is, he could not read the language yet; but it was plain enough, this beauty, this exquisite beauty, and tears filled his eyes as he looked at the smoke words languishing and melting in the sky and bestowing upon him in their inexhaustible charity and laughing goodness one shape after another of unimaginable beauty and signaling their intention to provide him, for nothing, forever, for looking merely, with beauty, more beauty!”

For all of you kick starting your summer reading lists, Mrs. Dalloway is a must. I’ll recommend two others as well –

The Flamethrowers, by Rachel Kushner: Ms. Kushner’s most recent book, The Flamethrowers, draws upon an eclectic conglomerate of topics, including motorcycle racing, land art, Minimalism, and the underground political movement in 1970s Italy. Intrigued? Check out this clip from the National Book Award readings and you will surely be convinced: http://www.nationalbook.org/nba2013_f_kushner.html#.U6RkivmTXTp

Giovanni’s Room, by James Baldwin: Possibly my #1 book if I am forced to choose. I have come back to this book again and again and am continually touched by what Baldwin has to say. The story follows American expatriate David as he travels to Paris and engages in an unconventional romance with Italian bartender Giovanni, taboo for many reasons, not the least of which is his engagement to Hella. I was saddened to discover Baldwin’s absence from the list of books suggested for Common Core standards, and now feel a personal responsibility to promote him. So, read Giovanni’s Room! You won’t regret it.

That’s all for now. Make sure to stay tuned for future blog posts from yours truly, SWS.

__________

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Hello to All This

June 12th, 2014

Hello there book lovers (and others as well). I’m Alex and I’m going to be an intern for the summer here at Beaufort Books. I’m a Communications and English Literature major, and as you can probably tell from my current workplace, I love books and reading. The one thing I love almost as much as books (aside from friends and family and loved ones…) are flowers. I think there’s nothing better than being in a room where there’s fresh flowers, the more colorful the better. For this reason I’ve decided to make my blogger name Simply Beautanical (I wouldn’t dare break with the ‘beau’ tradition started by past interns eons ago). Because I adore flowers and they bring a smile to my face, I’ve decided to share a photo of a different flower with every blog post. It’s my hope that this will brighten your day, dear reader, the same way it brightens mine.

However, since this is a publishing internship I can’t forego the opportunity to share some books as well. Recently I’ve found myself reading a million books at the same time, but one book that is particularly relevant to me right now is Goodbye to All That, a collection of essays written by accomplished writers about loving and leaving New York. Considering that I am a recent transplant to New York City I find this book endearing and interesting. These pages are filled with anecdotes and adventures from writers such as Dani Shapiro, Ann Hood, Sari Botton, Valerie Eagle, and many more. Reading these essays transports me back to the New York of five, ten, even fifteen years ago. One thing I’ve learned from reading this book is that New York City is a place that is constantly changing, and while you might love it today you might tire of it next week, or next month, or in twenty years. You can’t really know for sure. For now, I’m enamored by New York City and everything it has to offer; I can’t imagine spending my summer anywhere else. I can’t wait to see where this internship will take me and what it’ll teach me, which I’m sure will be a lot. I’ve already had such great experiences here at Beaufort, including working at Book Expo America and meeting various authors as well as reading manuscripts at the office. I’m excited to see what’s next!

Until next time,

Simply Beautanical

 

The Alexandra Rose (yes, that’s the flower’s name. Fitting, I know)

Goodbye to All That

Goodbye to All That

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Au revoir, Beaufort

May 22nd, 2014

It feels very strange to be writing my last blog post for Beaufort.  I have spent the last five months working here, and it feels as though I’ve only been here for a few weeks at most.   I am, however, incredibly excited to experience BEA, which is happening next weekend at the Javits Center. I’ve been to conventions before, and even to conventions at the Javits Center before, but those were comic conventions-BEA promises to be a whole different beast, with different panels on publishing, rows upon rows of booths housing different publishing houses, and, of course, a whole lot of books.  I can’t wait to work with Beaufort at their booth, go through the dealer’s room and talk to different people in the business, and just soak up the atmosphere.  It’s going to be amazing!

My enthusiasm for BEA, however,  is tempered by the fact that I’m leaving Beaufort in two weeks.  Working at Beaufort has been an experience I will never forget.  This was my first foray into the world of publishing, and I could not ask for better guides than Megan, Michael, and Felicia.  They have been absolutely wonderful and kind, and I am so happy to have had them as coworkers and supervisors.  Beaufort is a wonderful place, where an intern can grow and flourish, and where their ideas are taken into consideration.  I will be very sad to leave it behind.

I’m not quite sure how to end this, mostly because I don’t really want to.  However, as Game of Thrones as taught me, all men must die, and so must this post (however ungendered it might be).  I will wrap up with a simple goodbye, and the hope that the next group of interns have a wonderful time at Beaufort as I have.

Much love,

Beausenberry Pie

My final recipe is a simple one, but in times of bittersweet farewells simplicity is the best.  Plus, it’s perfect for summer.

Cherry Pie

Crust:

2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 tablespoons (or more) ice water

Filling:

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 cups whole pitted sour cherries or dark sweet cherries (about 2 pounds whole unpitted cherries)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (if using sour cherries) or 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (if using dark sweet cherries)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon (about) milk

How to Make:

For crust:
Whisk flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl to blend. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until small pea-size clumps form. Add 5 tablespoons ice water; mix lightly with fork until dough holds together when small pieces are pressed between fingertips, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough together; divide into 2 pieces. Form each piece into ball, then flatten into disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Do ahead Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly before rolling out.

For filling:
Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 425°F. Whisk 1 cup sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Stir in cherries, lemon juice, and vanilla; set aside.

Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch glass pie dish. Trim dough overhang to 1/2 inch. Roll out second dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Using large knife or pastry wheel with fluted edge, cut ten 3/4-inch-wide strips from dough round. Transfer filling to dough-lined dish, mounding slightly in center. Dot with butter. Arrange dough strips atop filling, forming lattice; trim dough strip overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold bottom crust up over ends of strips and crimp edges to seal. Brush lattice crust (not edges) with milk. Sprinkle lattice with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Place pie on rimmed baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake pie until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown, covering edges with foil collar if browning too quickly, about 1 hour longer. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.

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Ta-ta for now, Beaufort!

May 14th, 2014

I can hardly believe that the time has come for me to say goodbye to the Beaufort office. My last week here has crept up on me, along with my last round of college finals and my graduation from NYU next week. Change can be overwhelming, but I feel as though I have truly grown in my time at Beaufort and am more ready than ever to enter the world of publishing. I have learned so much from my various projects, from proofreading manuscripts, to sitting in on production meets, and managing the social media sites. I have gained a thorough understanding of the process of a book’s publication and all that it takes to get a book ready for the eyes of readers, from the editorial stages through to publicity. However, I am most grateful for my time working so closely with my supervisors Megan, Michael, and Felicia. The Beaufort office is warm and welcoming and it allows for ideas to grow, including those of an intern. So in the spirit of growth and with a tinge of sadness, I will attempt to embrace change and leave my wonderful internship here at Beaufort and the comfort of college to see what the future will bring. But before I get too teary eyed, I will say that I will be joining the Beaufort team one last time at the Book Expo of America in a few weeks! So, I’ll simply leave with a “Ta-ta for now!” and a fleeting hope that the future is as nice to me as everyone at Beaufort has been. Sigh.

Yours truly,

Violet Beauregarde

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A is for Attitude, P is for Publishing

April 23rd, 2014

In my time at Beaufort, I’ve become increasingly tuned into just how important an author’s attitude is toward the success of a book. While it may seem obvious that a good attitude is beneficial to success in any endeavor, I’ve never really thought of writers that way. If anything, the opposite seemed true. Popular culture taught me the best writers were degenerate, alcoholic Bukowskis or shrewish, reclusive Salingers, who had no desire or need to please anyone. College taught me about degrees of distance, that proper literary study requires the observance of theoretical boundaries that eliminate authors, or treat them as shrouded abstractions, irrelevant to the analysis of the text they produced. My imagination told me that publishers would not really care how an author behaved, as long as his or her writing was good enough to sell books.

Yet months spent observing how a publisher functions has illuminated the ways in which a bad attitude can do a disservice to authors themselves, the publishers who believe in them, and the sizes of their prospective readerships. The authors with the best attitudes are the ones who take a proactive approach to their book’s success. They take the initiative to aggressively market, including self-organized book tours with signings and readings. There are authors who expect their books to become best-sellers with little to no effort on their part, and they are limiting their book’s potential. Furthermore, a default positive attitude can reap unexpected benefits in many aspects of life, and publishing is again no different. It’s much easier for publishers to go the extra mile for somebody who is kind and pleasant.

And despite what I learned in my English classes, I feel it’s impossible to fully distance ourselves from an author. Try as we may to be objective, any knowledge about an author affects us, even if it’s only subconsciously. For instance, even though I adore Bret Easton Ellis’s writing, I know many people feel alienated by his polarizing public condemnations of the likes of David Foster Wallace and Alice Munro, and therefore don’t take him as seriously. Or there’s Tao Lin—I was a fan of his poetry, so I went to a reading of his novel Taipei a few months ago. When it came to the Q&A portion of the evening, he gave terse answers with little care or thought to them. He came across as flippant and disdainful, and it made me lose a lot of respect for him. Even if he does not really care for doing readings, and answering the accompanying (sometimes inane) questions from the audience, making no effort to mask these sentiments is just downright foolish. These people came out of their way to see him, and they are the ones buying his books. While I still see merit in reading his books because he’s an incredibly talented writer, there are many books by great writers I have not read yet. That reading singlehandedly made Tao Lin less of a priority for me. Compare him to somebody like Neil Gaiman, who makes a noticeable effort to reach out to his fans on social media platforms, and is generally just an incredibly nice guy. Back when Turntable.fm was still in business, Gaiman ran Neilhimself’s House of Poetry, a digital room where he and other users would play recordings of any poems they wanted. When I would take my turn at the decks, he would praise my selections, even though he’s a very busy celebrity author, and I was just an anonymous internet stranger. When it comes down to it, people are spoiled for choice when deciding what to read, and it’s much easier to sell books if your attitude makes it easy for people to respect you.

- Beauchamp Bagenal

NeilGaiman

Neil Gaiman. Source: http://ht.ly/w3mBC

turntablefm

One of Neil’s rooms on Turntable.fm. Source: http://bit.ly/1mz0t7

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Adventure is out there!

April 11th, 2014

As an English major, I’m required to read a lot of books in a very short period of time.  As someone who’staking a lot of medieval literature classes, a lot of what I read is either in a language I don’t understand or long-winded histories of saints.  Sometimes, it’s both.  A lot of the time, I read them because I have to, although I don’t particularly enjoy them.

I am, however, in the process of reading something that I genuinely love for one of my classes.  Most people know about Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales; that poem, however, is certainly not the only thing he ever wrote.  He composed the five volume poem Troilus and Criseyde in Middle English, and many scholars consider it to be his finest work.   The poem is set during the Trojan War, and tells the love story between Troilus, the second son of the Trojan king, and Criseyde, the high-born daughter of a traitor.  Their story ends tragically, with Criseyde returning to Greece alone and Troilus being left in Troy.

When I first started Troilus and Criseyde, I had low expectations.  Middle English is a difficult language to read, because it looks just off enough from English that one has to go very slowly; I also have never been a huge fan of romances, and reading an entire poem centered around one seemed daunting.  But as I became more and more immersed in the story, I started to fall in love with the setting, the constant mythological references and asides, and with the characters: the pragmatic yet still romantic Criseyde, the manipulative yet well-intentioned uncle Pandarus, and the warlike Troilus who is timid in love.  I had found something I didn’t expect to love at all, and now I’m devouring the poem every free second I have.

I feel like this happens a lot–we find a book that we’re not particularly excited about, and find that it’s everything we never knew we wanted.  It makes me excited to hit the library this summer–there are so many things to discover!  Adventure is out there!

-Beausenberry Pie

Recipe: This is a 14th century recipe for a pork pie.  I’ve never tried it, but I figure it’s appropriate given the subject matter for today.  Source: http://medievalcookery.com/recipes/mylates.html

 

2 – 3 lbs. cooked pork
4 eggs
1 cup mozzarella, grated
1 1/2 tsp. powder fort
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch saffron

pastry for a double-crust pie

Cut pork into approximately 1 inch pieces. Combine with eggs, cheese, pine nuts and spices in a large bowl. Mix well and place into bottom crust. Cover with top crust and bake at 350° until golden brown – about 30 minutes. Serve either hot or cold.

Source [Forme of Cury, S. Pegge (ed.)]: MYLATES OF PORK. XX.VII. XV. Hewe Pork al to pecys and medle it with ayrenn & chese igrated. do þerto powdour fort safroun & pyneres with salt, make a crust in a trape, bake it wel þerinne, and serue it forth.

 

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