Please welcome 2014 debut author Julia Marie Gibson to Diane's Book Blog.
What books have most influenced your life?
The book The Family of Man came out when I was a child. (It’s been in print ever since and has sold over four million copies!) The photographs in it brought me face to face with people from everywhere. I had a couple of super great books about the Greeks.
One was more or less a picture book: The Iliad and the Odyssey, adapted from Homer by Jane Werner Watson and illustrated by the formidable Alice and Martin Provensen. The other was Men and Gods by Rex Warner, illustrated by Edward Gorey. Those stories have got some serious scope: the aboveworld, the human world, down below, war, betrayal, love.
There were many books I read again and again when I was coming up, but they influenced my inclinations and taste more than my world view. Life-changing: Kipling’s The Jungle Book for bringing human and other creatures together as kin, Twain’s Finn and Sawyer sagas for their intricacies of character and ethics, Salinger’s Nine Stories for his contagious jaded utopianism, Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and its multiple facets, Katherine Mansfield’s stories for their mastery.
What's your favorite book-turned movie?
Apocalypse Now. If you’re going to adapt a classic, best be bold.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
One favorite? Mary Norton, J.D. Salinger, Louise Erdrich, Rumer Godden, Toni Morrison, Patricia Polacco, Joan Didion, Shakespeare … let’s do Tennessee Williams, who’s got it all: drama, backstory, anguish, triumph, humor, poetry, mystery. He’s fearless and bare. It’s hard for me to study him and grok his tricks, because he’s too engaging and I get taken over.
What book are you reading now?
A biography of Charles Manson by Jeff Guinn. I’m writing something set in the late sixties, so it’s research. I skip over the ultra disturbing stuff.
What do you prefer: paperback, hardcover, or ebooks?
Hardcover and paperback are tied for me. Hardcover is serious and weighty. Paperback is malleable. Hardcover is vain. Paperback goes around barefoot.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
When I’m having trouble, I too often stubbornly refuse to shift gears and keep revising the same paragraph for decades on end instead of getting up off that chair and giving the project some space. Muscling through works sometimes, but when it doesn’t, I try to escape from words. Soaking up some beauty can jar my brain out of the spin cycle. Nature can offer insights and overview. Art museums are good, but if I can’t face the world, I rip up magazines and colored paper and make collages that have to do with my story or characters or capture a mood. Yoga inversions sometimes help stir up the sludge too. Anything to change the course, rattle loose.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’m still getting used to having readers, since my first book just came out a couple of months ago. Getting handwritten letters in the mail from kids is a massive and gigantic joy. Even more thrilling is when I get to meet young writers, some of them utterly devoted to the craft at the age of ten. Hello, readers! Read grownup books if you’re a kid and vice versa. Write nice articulate letters to people who wrote books that you love or books that you hate. Thoughtful criticism makes authors write better. Keep up the good work: reading books and talking about them and writing them is what keeps the world afloat.
Nadia Zalzman is a professional photographer. In her time, 1906, it is not entirely unusual for a woman to have a career in that field.
How old are you?
My hands are older than I am. I am almost too old, some would say, to find a husband, but I would rather not have one.
Where were you born? Where have you lived since then? Where do you currently call home?
I was born in Russia and came to the United States with my family when I was a child. We lived in New York for a time, and then Chicago in 1881.
Who are the people you are closest to?
My father is ashamed that I’m not married. We don’t see each other much. My closest friend is a secret from everyone. We love each other and the world can’t know. I have one other close friend. She befriended me the first day of fifth grade when I just moved to Chicago and knew not a soul. She has five children and I am an aunt to them.
What is your biggest fear?
War. War only destroys. The innocent suffer most.
What is your most treasured possession?
My newest camera. Currently it is at the pawnbroker’s, but he has vowed to tell me if he receives any offers.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Combining light, shadow, form, expression, and the ineffable.
Which talent would you most like to have?
A calmer temper.
• • • • •
Julia Mary Gibson’s novel Copper Magic is about the nature of magic and the magic of nature. Her preferred biome is the forestland of the North American midwest.
Can an unearthed talisman found on the shores of Lake Michigan save 12-year-old Violet’s fractured family? Exploring themes of Native American culture, ecology, and conservation, this historical fiction novel comes brilliantly to life.
The year is 1906, and twelve-year-old Violet Blake unearths an ancient talisman—a copper hand—beside the stream where her mother used to harvest medicine. Violet’s touch warms the copper hand and it begins to reveal glimpses of another time. Violet is certain that the copper hand is magic—and if anyone is in need of its powers, it’s Violet. Her mother and adored baby brother are gone, perhaps never to return. Her heartbroken father can’t seem to sustain the failing farm on the outskirts of Pigeon Harbor, on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Surely the magic of the copper hand can make things right for Violet and restore her fractured family. Violet makes a wish. But her ignorant carelessness unleashes formidable powers—and her attempts to control them jeopardizes not only herself, but the entire town of Pigeon Harbor.
In Copper Magic, land and waters are alive with memories, intentions, and impulses. Magic alters Violet and brings her gifts—but not always the kind she thinks she needs. First-time author Julia Mary Gibson brings Violet and her community to life in this impressive and assured debut