Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Truth About Ghost Stories

I have always hated being scared. Whether it was in the form of a horror movie or a haunted house, it has never been my thing. Even hearing scary stories around a campfire gave my child-self the heebie-jeebies. However, for some reason, I could handle reading ghost stories--sometimes.

As a seven-year-old girl in the very early '90s, I was actually allowed to roam free in the neighborhood. My friend Abigail lived just up the street and after school, we would walk home to her house, slip under the cover of the big pine tree in her front yard, and sit in the relative darkness with a flashlight and a copy of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Or sometimes even More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. (How brave!) We'd take turns reading aloud, doing voices and scaring the heck out of one another. I can almost smell the pine and feel the breeze as it creepily swept through the branches just thinking about it.

Then my family moved, and I didn't have Abigail to read with anymore. Instead, I began to reach out to good old R.L. Stine for some light terror. To this day, I don't know why exactly I read so many of those books--I didn't actually like being afraid. I would have nightmares. I wouldn't be able to sleep without a light on. I would jump every time someone entered a room. (And still sometimes do. Just ask my colleagues what happens when they surprise me by showing up at my desk!) But for some reason, there were a couple years where I couldn't get enough. And I would read the Fear Street series, no less! The ones that felt more real--the ones that could, technically, actually happen. The Goosebumps books could never get me hooked.  I think I read Dead End about ten times one year.

Now, in my late 20s, I am actually more afraid of scary things than I was as a child. I have only ever read one Stephen King book, for example, and that was his YA fantasy novel Eyes of the Dragon, which isn't, in fact, scary at all. I have never seen Psycho, or Scream, or even The Shining. I am terrified of being terrified. I can, however, read suspense novels and murder  novels--again, I am somehow drawn to the more realistic creepy things. Edgar Allen Poe I could always handle too; I read The Tell-Tale Heart in seventh grade and adored it.

I wonder what happened, how and when that brand of bravery I had as a child escaped me. Part of me wants try to get that back, to pick up a book that is maybe a teeny bit scary and see what happens, maybe download some of those free Poe eBooks to get back into the swing of it....

But then someone walks up behind me and I fall out of my chair.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Hobbit is Almost Here! Kinda, Sorta...

Attention all movie lovers and fantasy fans: we have less than two months to go until J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, joins its Lord of the Rings successors on the silver screen!!!

I've always preferred the prequel to the trilogy, myself so I am particularly stoked for the film adaptation. I'm re-reading the novel in preparation, even, given how awesome the trailer looks:

I am, of course, not the only one anxious for the movie's release. Deirdre Donahue over at USAtoday.com posted a fun piece last week on the topic, 10 Reasons We Still love J.R.R. Tolkein's "The Hobbit":

America can be divided into two groups nowadays. Forget donkey vs. elephant. For untold millions, Dec. 14 marks a day of pop culture rapture. In breathless anticipation, devotees are counting down the hours and scanning the Web for signs. No, we're not talking about the Dec. 21 Mayan prophecy. We're talking about the opening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Jackson's film adaptation (Part 1) of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic novel.

One of most popular and beloved trilogies in film history, Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies – based on the three Tolkien titles that came after The Hobbit - have inspired a quasi-religious fervor in fans.

But perhaps you don't keep a cardboard Legolas in your bedroom. Maybe you read The Hobbit as a child and recall a little dude with furry feet and some fat dwarves.

To help you navigate the coming Middle-earth mania, here are 10 reasons we're still hooked on The Hobbit as it celebrates its 75th anniversary. Written by an Oxford professor for his children, it was published on Sept. 21, 1937, with a first printing of 1,500 copies. An immediate success, it has gone on to sell 100 million copies worldwide -- and burrow deep into the hearts of countless generations.

1. Action a-go-go. Dragons, trolls, danger, a child-sized sword call "Sting" -- The Hobbit is stuffed with precisely the kind of literary red meat that turns kids into book carnivores. (Just ask C.S. "Chronicles of Narnia" Lewis or J.K. "Harry Potter" Rowling.)

In fact, The Hobbit got its start with a thumb's up from a kid: a rave review from 10-year-old Rayner Unwin. In 1936, Rayner's father -- a British book publisher -- asked his son to read the manuscript. (He was paid a shilling.)

Here's the plot: Bilbo Baggins is a respectable hobbit -- think a half-sized human with a penchant for pipes and colorful waistcoats -- who hits the road with 13 dwarves and a wizard named Gandalf. The goal: retrieving treasure stolen by a dragon called Smaug. Bilbo encounters goblins, Wargs and a host of other creatures, including Gollum and his precious ring. The Hobbit sets up the story line for Tolkien's more complex Lord of the Rings, which stars Frodo Baggins, Bilbo's nephew.

2. Home sweet hobbit-hole. Fans just don't read The Hobbit, they yearn to be hobbits, or at least live like them. No creatures in fiction are such cozy comfort seekers with their snug hobbit-hole homes and obsessively tended gardens. They are also the original foodies long before the term was even invented, insisting that "Second breakfast is the best breakfast." In his new book, The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life (St. Martin's), author Noble Smith notes that "Tolkien crafted Middle-earth in his mind, but the Hobbits sprang from his heart." Smith urges hobbit-wannabes to embrace the original small-is-beautiful lifestyle -- grow your own food, walk everywhere. And sing. ​Even to love Tolkien-style! The British writer met his wife of 54 years when he was 16 and she was 19.

3. The original show-me, don't tell me moralist. Bookstores groan with tedious and usually unsold tomes aimed at children written by earnest adults eager to instill moral virtue: Cruelty is wrong, courage and hope are crucial, riches won't make you happy. Without a whiff of finger wagging, The Hobbit has effortlessly imparted those messages for 75 years. Just listen to the dwarf Thorin's dying words to Bilbo: "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

4. Little folk, big themes. "It is not just a simple story," says Corey Olsen, AKA "The Tolkien Professor" and author of Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Growing numbers of academics and theologians agree. In addition to hilarious scenes involving bickering dwarves stuffed into barrels and scary encounters with dragons, The Hobbit also illuminates how the journey transforms Bilbo, making him more compassionate and generous. According to the new The Hobbit and Philosophy: For When You've Lost Your Dwarves, Your Wizard, and Your Way (Wiley) edited by William Irwin, Gregory Bassham and Eric Bronson, there are parallels with Plato's "The Allegory of the Cave" as well as the writings of St.Thomas Aquinas, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Chinese Taoists.

5. Gateway drug for geeks. Did Tolkien linger in obscurity until Peter Jackson's movies? Not exactly. The Oxford Beowulf expert was inspiring obsessive adoration back when Jackson was a New Zealand schoolboy. Hippies in the 1960s embraced Tolkien while in 1971 Led Zeppelin released the song Misty Mountain Hop (referring to the gloomy mountain range Bilbo and company must cross).
The Complete Tolkien Companion by J.E.A. Tyler (St. Martin's) offers a 712-page A-to-Z guide to Middle-earth minutiae. First published in 1976, it has, no doubt, been saddening countless parents ever since who wish their teenagers pored over their SAT study guides with the same demented fervor. For many readers, Tolkien is the first author to introduce them to the joy of living in a magical alternative world (for which Tolkien, a self-taught artist, created the visuals). Once hooked on fantasy fiction, they devour writers like Robert "Wheel of Time" Jordan and George R.R. "Game of Thrones" Martin.

6. Friends with no benefits. Well, other than affection, companionship and plenty of belly laughs. For modern readers living in a sex-saturated society, The Hobbit is the asexual pause that refreshes. Friendship -- and only friendship -- is the name of the game in The Hobbit. Wizard with hobbit. Hobbit with dwarves. Even the bearish man Beorn and his beloved animal companions. Unmet sexual needs? Secret erotic tension? Not at this address! Friends were enormously important to the orphaned Tolkien. (His father died of rheumatic fever when Tolkien was 6 and his mother died of diabetes when he was 12.) Two of his closest school friends were killed in World War I. Later he became part of "The Inklings," a famed group of literary pals that included C.S. Lewis.

7. Rebel on a bike. If you don't believe the modern mantra of change is good, technology is great and we must all embrace the future or get left behind, you've got company with a certain nature-loving, progress-hating British contrarian. In 1944, Tolkien wrote to his son Christopher, "How I wish the 'infernal combustion' engine had never been invented!" The contrast between Bilbo's verdant Shire and the desolation of Smaug's mountain has hatched countless ecological warriors.

8. Ultimate mentor. Bilbo might be the hero, but the real love object in The Hobbit is the old man with the staff and pointy blue hat, Gandalf the wizard. It's not just his magical powers that make him a star, it's his humor, psychological insight. and, yes, occasional bouts of grumpiness. Like Merlin and Star Wars' Obi-Wan Kenobi, Gandalf is the wise sage we all wish stood at our side, guiding us through life.

9. "No Girls Allowed"? Not at this hobbit-hole. Seeing The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring had a major impact on Arwen Kester -- yes, Arwen as in LOTR (the character played by Liv Tyler). She went out and read all of Tolkien's books and later founded Middle-earth News, which tracks all things Tolkien. "Most of my staff are women," says the Raleigh, N.C., mother of two. "They love the lore." Kester, 31, doesn't need female characters to adore The Hobbit (although Jackson is adding some to the movie). "There's so much history! The language, the passion. It draws you in!"

10. The Anti-Arnie. A fussy 50-year-old bachelor who considers adventures to be "Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!" -- that's Bilbo Baggins, who lacks the usual alpha male DNA. Throughout The Hobbit, Bilbo is cold, hungry, terrified and painfully homesick. Yet by the end, Bilbo accesses his inner warrior and proves himself brave, loyal, wise and ingenious. Which is perhaps the novel's deepest appeal, since all of us - no matter what our age - secretly hope we too could be heroes, if called upon.

See the original post HERE

Thursday, October 18, 2012

To Be a Bookmark or Not to Be a Bookmark? That is the Question.

Technology can do some pretty crazy things. It can allow you to see a friend who lives halfway across the world. It can transform your spoken words to written text. It can help you park your car. It can even print an entire book onto a single bookmark.

The aptly named Hamlet Bookmark is  According to Tim Maly over at WIRED.com, this brainchild of cartoonist Zach Weinersmith and illustrator Katie Sekelsky (inspired by a t-shirt, no less!) uses new technology to remake an old practice:

The Hamlet Bookmark

Isn’t technology wonderful? There was a time when printing text meant painstakingly assembling words letter by letter. Type foundries were so named because they literally forged fonts in steel, and for print shops, offering a new font meant incurring a major capital expense.

Thanks to advances in printing technology, artists and designers have the flexibility to create printed works of exceptional variety and detail, enabling an explosion in craft and quality that opens up new horizons of printed expression. Like making a bookmark that is also a book.

Conceived by cartoonist Zach Weinersmith in collaboration with designer Katie Sekelsky, the Hamlet Bookmark is the physical instantiation of a joke. “We had a shirt/joke that went ‘I’m so bookish, my bookmarks are smaller books,’” says Weinersmith, “These are sort of a realization of that idea.”

In deciding to actually make a bookmark that is also a book, Weinersmith and Sekelsky turned a joke into a design brief. They needed “something that was (a) a classic, (b) short enough to fit on a bookmark, and (c) contained a succinct memorable quote,” says Weinersmith. “Hamlet fit the bill nicely.”

“It came together pretty easily,” says Sekelsky, “It was more just a matter of finding a font that is at least recognizable as text when printed so small.” Sekelsky says the biggest problem was hardware-related. She created the bookmarks on an older computer, with inadequate RAM. “The ‘hardest’ part (i.e., ‘the boring part’) was just waiting for all of the text to re-render every time I made an adjustment to the type.”

At the risk of over-thinking the project entirely, there’s something very cool about seeing the collision of two kinds of book technology. The first books were scrolls (a tradition carried on today in sacred texts like the Torah); in time, the codex supplanted the scroll to the point that most people think of books as being synonymous with bound pages. With the Hamlet Bookmark, a scroll is relegated to being asked to mark your place in the codex.

Ironically, the same digital tech that made the Hamlet Bookmark possible is changing our conception of books again, as we watch texts become transmogrified into variably formatted e-books and scrolling webpages.

For you font junkies, the duo used 1.29pt Hoefler Text. At 1.29pt, Weinersmith says, you can make out names like Bernardo and Hamlet with the naked eye and read the whole thing with a 10x magnifying glass.

“Our assumption is that people are doing this for the charm of having the whole thing right there, rather than for convenience.”

Read the original post HERE

Pretty cool, if you ask me. Though I'm not entirely convinced that the entire text of Hamlet is on there--seems impossible! 

But I guess that's the thing about technology...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Young Adult Fiction Keeps on Keeping On

Every year, YALSA (The Young Adult Library Services Association) puts together an itinerary of YA-themed events to celebrate their initiative, Teen Read Week--a Teen Reading Tweet-a-thon (tomorrow!), eBook giveaways, book drives, scavenger hunts, a Twitter #WhyIWrite extravaganza, and many other events at libraries around the country. And with the children's and YA lit revenues hitting the roof lately (up 41% from last year, according to the AAP), they're sure to be packed with readers.

Beginning in October 1998, Teen Read Week has occurred annually ever third week of October to "dare [teens] to read for the fun of it [...] and encourage teens to take advantage of reading in all its forms —books and magazines, e-books, audiobooks and more — and become regular library users."

I wished I had known about this great initiative back in '98 when I frequented the library, carrying home stacks of books that I could barely balance. Now, the problem isn't so much carrying a massive number of hardcovers, paperbacks, and mass markets, but housing them in the limited space proffered by a New York City apartment. Yet, despite the storage issue, I have found time to purchase and read a number of excellent YA novels this year. Heck, even in the past month alone I've read these great additions to the world's YA arsenal:

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Description: In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Quick Thoughts: This novel, the first in its series, puts a new twist on the dystopian YA trend with its "chosen faction" premise. With powerful depth of character and breathless action, it's a surprisingly fun and fast read. But I'll admit, I did shed a tear or two at times so be ready.

Dark Eyes by William Richter

Description: Wally was adopted from a Russian orphanage as a child and grew up in a wealthy New York City family. At fifteen, her obsessive need to rebel led her to life on the streets.

Now the sixteen-year-old is beautiful and hardened, and she's just stumbled across the possibility of discovering who she really is. She'll stop at nothing to find her birth mother before Klesko - her darkeyed father - finds her. Because Klesko will stop at nothing to reclaim the fortune Wally's mother stole from him long ago. Even if that means murdering his own blood. But Wally's had her own killer training, and she's hungry for justice.

Quick Thoughts: Complex and fast-paced, Richter's debut thriller will entertain you well into the night as you keep flipping the pages with reckless abandon, somewhat like its bold heroine herself.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Description: This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

Quick Thoughts:  As this novel's quirky hero writes intense and sometimes heart-wrenching letters to an anonymous recipient, your emotions will be pulled every which way. A striking story about acceptance, belonging, and growing up, this one is a must-read. 

Hidden by Sophie Jordan

Description: Jacinda was supposed to bond with Cassian, the "prince" of their pride. But she resisted long before she fell in love with Will—a human and, worse, a hunter. When she ran away with Will, it ended in disaster, with Cassian's sister, Miram, captured. Weighed down by guilt, Jacinda knows she must rescue her to set things right. Yet to do so she will have to venture deep into the heart of enemy territory.

The only way Jacinda can reach Miram is by posing as a prisoner herself, though once she assumes that disguise, things quickly spiral out of her control. As she learns more about her captors, she realizes that even if Will and Cassian can carry out their part of the plan, there's no guarantee they'll all make it out alive. But what Jacinda never could have foreseen is that escaping would be only the beginning....

Quick Thoughts: The third book in Jordan's "Firelight" series packs an even bigger punch than the first two, though new readers might be a tad lost. With twists and turns that will keep you on your toes and a love story both sad and hopeful, you'll be glad you took a peek. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

"Closing the Gap" of Storytelling

Radio celebrity Ira Glass shares a bit about storytelling and breaking through the creative wall in this cool, text-only video by David Shiyang Liu.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Literary Labryinth in Los Angeles

Well, I know what I'm doing when I visit LA in November: going to the Last Bookstore to explore the Labyrinth.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Voted as one of the top 20 most beautiful bookstores in the world by Flavorwire, the independent bookstore in downtown LA is known for its spectacular space (it was a former bank!), selection of rare books, and memorable past events. And now, it will be known for its Labyrinth, a large structure containing 100,000 books, each priced at $1.

Mike, a blogger over at Franklin Avenue, shares some more details (and photos!):

The best bookstore in Los Angeles just got bigger -- and better. Downtown's amazing Last Bookstore, which we wrote about last year, has expanded dramatically into a new 6,100 square foot upstairs space that it calls the "Labyrinth."

The "Labyrinth" includes 100,000 books that are all $1 each. That's right. It's a bit of a treasure hunt, as the books aren't necessarily shelved in any particular order (although kids books seem to be grouped together in places). But that's perhaps part of the fun. If you want order, the books downstairs in the Last Bookstore's normal floor space are indeed cataloged. Upstairs, it's the wild west.

 See Mike's full article and images HERE

How cool! :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Release Day: WINTER OMENS by Trisha Leigh

Tuesdays mean release day, and today that means the second book in Trisha Leigh's "Last Year" series, Winter Omens!

Picking up where Whispers in Autumn left off, Althea has even more at stake this season as the Others get closer and closer to tracking her down:
Althea and Lucas barely escaped the Others’ clutches in the autumn, and were separated in the process. Alone and on the run from the cruel alien race determined to exterminate her, Althea struggles to adapt and survive in a world she never imagined.

When a boy named Pax appears out of nowhere, he quickly recognizes Althea for what she is – a human/Other hybrid just like him. Althea begs him to help her find Lucas, but Pax refuses, intent on following his own mysterious agenda.

The Others’ presence continues to devour the planet’s resources, and if history is an indication, they won’t leave until Earth is destroyed beyond repair. Althea and Pax sense the only way to save themselves – and maybe their home – is to understand the powers simmering inside them.

Together they push the limits of their capabilities in the quiet Wilds, but are soon confronted with a terrifying fact: no place is safe from the relentless pursuit of the Others.

We sat down with author Trisha Leigh to get a little inside scoop on her and her series:

RBtL: Congratulations on the release of WINTER OMENS, Trisha! What inspired you to write this YA sci-fi series?

TL: The original idea came from a tweet – someone’s daughter had woken up terrified she didn’t exist. I wrote it down and tossed it on my desk, and Althea showed up soon after. She’s kind of a hard nut to crack, but once she told me why she was so terrified she didn’t exist, the rest of the story kind of fell into place.

RBtL: Even though you didn’t go the traditional publishing route, you seem to have hit all your bases self-publishing. What made you decide to self-publish? What was your process in doing so?

TL: Honestly, three years ago when I wrote this book, the possibility of self-publishing wasn’t even on my radar. I had an agent for about a year and we worked on the book but never went on submission to editors. After she and I parted ways, I queried the ms again but found agents much more gun shy about taking on what would be pitched as a dystopian YA because of the overcrowded market. For a while I stuck it in a drawer, but as I watched more and more people find success with strong manuscripts in self-publishing, I thought I owed it to the story to put it out there and see what happens. I’m really happy that I did.

I will say that one of the best decisions I made was hiring a professional cover designer, developmental editor, copy editor, and formatters to make the book as professional as possible. Some authors who self-publish overlook the importance of each of those steps, and their readers are the ones who suffer for it.

RBtL: The Last Year series is full of strong and interesting characters—Althea, Pax, Lucas, Greer, Griffin, the whole crew. Who is your favorite to write and why?

TL: Oh, gosh, that’s a hard question. It changes, honestly, from book to book. In Whispers in Autumn, definitely Althea. I really love exploring the strange balance of ferocity and vulnerability. I loved writing Pax in Winter Omens, and Griffin was a welcome bit of humor. In Betrayals in Spring [the next book in the series] Greer helped get me through some tough scenes, but Lucas has become the easiest for me to connect with – so yeah, I guess all of them at one time or another.

RBtL: It must be tough juggling writing, marketing, and all of the other aspects of self-publishing...and your family, both human and canine. :-p Tell us a little about your writing routine—how do you find the time and energy?

TL: It is tough, and I don’t think many writers would tell you differently. I’m single, which helps, but I do take the time to spend time with my family when an opportunity comes up – it’s never even a question in my mind. I write whenever I have a minute, during breaks and lunches at the day job, after work, etc. My sleeping patterns leave much to be desired, however, and I’m afraid I’m going to remain single until I can find a magical way to erase the bags beneath my eyes!

Seriously, it’s a lot of coffee and chocolate and making the time to do it. We can all find something else to do, but if you set deadlines for yourself and want to meet them, it’s almost always possible.

RBtL: With two books left in the series after Winter Omens, what can readers look forward to? Can we have a little sneak peek?

TL: Hmm. I’m someone who hates spoilers, BUT I think it’s fair to say that in Betrayals in Spring, Althea’s romantic life will become, shall we say, untangled a bit. We’ll finally meet the real Deshi, and our cast of characters grows quite a bit (and not all of the new members are human or Other).

Available in print and eBook, don't miss this exciting installment in this engaging new YA science fiction series!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fiction, Food, and Pho-tography

Because we all know how much I love books and food, I'm not surprised that the awesome Alex Christopher sent me a link to the NPR article, "Photographing Literature's Famous Food Scene." In the piece, NPR discusses the photographer Dinah Fried's "Fictitious Dishes" series:

A confession: I've read Jack Kerouac's On the Road, but I can't tell you much about it. Yes, I know he's on a road trip. But beyond that, I don't recall any of the characters or anything they do or what the point was. What I do remember is that he described some truly great food. In fact, I liked those sections of the book so much that when I read them, I apparently felt the need to scribble them down, word for word, in a notebook.

On the Road isn't the only example of this. I remember the hoecakes and the maple snow candy from Laura Ingalls Wilder's books. My favorite scene from Roald Dahl's Boy is in the candy shop. The details of meals and food and eating always stay with me long after the plotlines have faded.

So when I saw a series of photographs by Dinah Fried being passed around Tumblr, I knew I'd found a kindred spirit. Her "Fictitious Dishes" re-create the food scenes from a range of books, largely classics like Moby Dick and The Bell Jar.

Alice in Wonderland
"For me as a reader, and in life as well, I remember the eating scenes in books," Fried says on the phone. "They really bring me to an emotional place in the character and the book."

Fried has 10 photos in her collection so far, five of which she's sharing here on The Picture Show for the first time. Some of the scenes are of iconic literary meals — the gruel from Oliver Twist and the tea party from Alice in Wonderland.

Others, like the scene in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, are a bit less literal. The open-faced sandwiches pictured aren't actually described in the book. But, says Fried, that type of sandwich was mentioned so many times that she felt she had to re-create them somehow.

Catcher in the Rye
She does take some liberties with her photos. The layouts are of her own design, and not all of the details are 100 percent true to the text. Take, for instance, the cheese sandwich from The Catcher in the Rye. "I know it's a Swiss cheese sandwich," she says. "But I didn't use Swiss cheese because I wanted the color to pop. The designer in me wanted the cheese to be more orange."

The designer in her is also always on the hunt for the right props. Most of them are snagged from people's kitchens and found on visits to flea markets and thrift stores. Sometimes Fried has the food scene in mind but can't proceed until she has the right prop. That was the case with Moby Dick. She knew her dad had a pewter beer stein that she absolutely had to have. He'd long forgotten about it, but, until they found it, she couldn't take the photo.

Sometimes a particularly good find will spark her creativity. The discovery of a three-pronged toasting fork reminded Fried of a scene in Heidi, and she felt compelled to re-create the meal of toasted cheese eaten by Heidi and her grandfather. And there are a few things in her collection that she hasn't yet used, like a 1960s coffee carafe with gold star bursts.

Often, the literary passages that Fried draws on don't have a description of a specific place or setting, so the goal with her photos is to create the atmosphere of a particular scene.

"I'm interested in creating something that evokes an emotional feeling for myself and others," she explains. "I wanted to see how other people who had read the books would connect on that level."

See the original post HERE

While this is a very cool series, I can't help but wish Fried had expanded the concept beyond only classic literature (also, speaking of...no Dickens other than the somewhat cliched Oliver Twist?? No Little Women??). I'd love to see something from The Secret Lives of Bees, the new novel The Night Circus, or even Fried Green Tomatoes. Scenes from children's literature would also be amazing--anything Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis, Winnie the Pooh, and The Secret Garden.  I do, however, love her take on To Kill a Mockingbird:

To Kill a Mockingbird

Hopefully Fried will continue this series. If not, I may have to stage some things of my own! :)