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Thalia Book Club Camp offers up-close interaction with renowned children's book authors and illustrators, book discussions, and book-related field trips around the city. This blog follows the camp's activities.

Thalia Book Club Camp: Week 2 Day 4

Published on July 24, 2014

Today we were lucky enough to be visited by not one but two fabulous literary folks. This morning, we visited with Kate Milford, author of Greenglass House (today’s book). Kate gave a lively presentation all about her writing process and the intriguing methods she used to build the world of Greenglass House. She told us that setting is the most important thing to her, and that finding interesting ideas of setting and weaving them together builds the foundation for her stories. In fact, Kate has several side projects just devoted to the creation and ongoing life of some of her settings. Greenglass House  (as well as in The Left-Handed Fate, and in her newer book Bluecrowne), takes place in Nagspeake, on the Magothy coast, and Kate herself works for the Nagspeake tourism board and contributes to their blog. 

Kate showed us pictures of interesting sights and locations all around the world that inspired her to build the settings for her books. She showed us photographs of broken down amusement parks, beaches, funny signs, beautiful winter scenes, and other locations that help her imagine a world to locate her stories inside of. Kate explained that setting builds an entire framework for the story. She explained that readers can imagine any story, no matter how unusual or fantastical, if they are able to see and sense the setting, and can place the events of the story in a concrete location. We also had time for a length Q&A with Kate, and we all had zillions of questions about Greenglass House, its many peculiar characters, and its surprising twists.

After lunch and more Capture the Flag in the park, we returned to Symphony Space for our second presentation of the day, from Little, Brown Editorial Director Alvina Ling. Alvina has worked in editorial at Little, Brown for almost 15 years, and came to share some industry tales with us and talk about the life of an editor. Alvina told us that people who make great editors love to : 1) Read 2) Write 3) Work with people 4) Create things and 5) Travel. When she asked how many of us would like to work as an editor, many hands shot right up into the air!

The most interesting part of Alvina’s talk was her story about her relationship with one of her authors, Grace Lin (author of The Year of the Dog, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, and several other middle-grade books as well as picture books). Grace and Alvina became friends when they were in middle school, and kept in touch through college. They ended up as roommates after college, and eventually Grace began her career as a children’s book author and Alvina as a children’s book editor. Eventually, Grace gave Alvina the first draft of The Year of the Dog, and as it turns out — it was the story of their childhood friendship! Alvina and Grace have worked together on many of Grace’s middle grade novels. Even though their friendship is very unique, it was so interesting to hear about how these two women have written, edited, developed, and marketed books together.

It’s hard to believe Week 2 is almost over… tomorrow we visit with author Lisa Graff, and say good-bye!

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