Monthly Archives: March 2015

10 Things You Probably Don’t Know About THE GLASS HOUSE PEOPLE

So, continuing my lists of things people may not know about my earlier books, here’s another!
10 Things You Don’t Know about THE GLASS HOUSE PEOPLE:

glass house people HC                   glasshouse
1.THE GLASS HOUSE PEOPLE was actually the third book I wrote, even though it was published as my second…
2. The main character, Beth, also shows up in PAPERQUAKE as Violet’s best friend!
3. Abby Chandler (from PALE PHOENIX) is mentioned in THE GLASS HOUSE PEOPLE… (It’s sort of like ‘Where’s Waldo?’ Can you find her?!)
4. The layout of the house on Spring Street is modeled on the house my grandparents owned in Drexel Hill, PA., where I spent happy weeks every summer while growing up.
5. Beth’s talent for making stained glass windows was inspired by my mom’s. My mom has made incredible windows, and she taught me how to make a small one myself so I would understand how to describe Beth’s artwork and process.

stsained glass Victorian

(Here’s the window I made!)
6. Monica’s candy store next to the Waverley Theater is modeled on Dietz’s, a popular Drexel Hill candy shop from my mom’s childhood that sold every kind of sweet in big barrels and bins. Kids would load up with candy from Dietz’s and then go to a movie at the Waverley!
7. My college boyfriend begged me to put him in one of my books as a character. I jokingly told him if I were to do that, I might have to kill him off–but he said he didn’t mind! So… that’s how Clifton got his name.
8. The hardcover art always bothered me because of the mysterious
woman in the long dress standing at the top of the stairs. I still don’t know who that is supposed to be!
9. I learned how to choreograph my first ‘crowd scene’ by writing and rewriting the scene when Beth’s family and their friends are all in the living room at the dinner party and Aunt Iris makes a drunken scene. Hard to keep track of everybody!
10. Mills College, where I am a Professor of English, gets a guest-mention in THE GLASS HOUSE PEOPLE because Beth’s mom, Hannah, has been accepted to be a student there. Mills also gets a nod in THE STRANGE CASE OF BABY H.

NEXT:  10 Things You Might Not Know About DREADFUL SORRY

Ten Things You Probably Don’t Know About PALE PHOENIX!

PalePhoenix                                           Pale Phoenix 2
1. I started this book soon after I finished writing TIME WINDOWS because I knew Miranda and Dan and their families so well, they felt real… and I didn’t want to leave them! The first draft was a considerably different story, though, with no mention at all of witchcraft. That came in a later revision.
2. I got muddled in the middle of PALE PHOENIX with a bad case of writer’s block and didn’t know how to move forward. My husband suggested I just jump ahead to a scene I knew I wanted to write–which was the scene when Miranda finds Abby with all the old photos –and move on from there. Rather dubious about doing this, I did it anyway… and it worked! I wrote the book from there all the way to the end, and then went back to the beginning and wrote up to the middle. Many revisions later, the story read smoothly. Jumping ahead taught me that stories need not always be written in a linear fashion.
3. The Sassy Café is named for my oldest childhood friend, and the book is dedicated to her, too.
4. I had not read TUCK EVERLASTING by Natalie Babbitt, but discovered it when a review of PALE PHOENIX pointed out the similar theme, albeit handled differently. Do read Babbitt’s story if you haven’t; it’s lovely. One of my favorites!
5. Dorothy, the child from TIME WINDOWS, makes a guest appearance in PALE PHOENIX as Susannah’s great-grandmother.
6. The dollhouse from the attic of TIME WINDOWS also makes a guest appearance–now in a corner of Miranda’s bedroom…
7. The principal of Miranda’s high school is named for a boyfriend I had in college…
And all the Puritan townspeople are named for my own family members.
8. The nature of Abby Chandler’s problem has allowed her to show up in several of my other books. It’s been fun for me when readers spot her and write to me: “Hey, did you know that Abby from PALE PHOENIX is the same one in DREADFUL SORRY (or THE GLASS HOUSE PEOPLE, etc.)?” Have YOU had any Abby-sightings?
9. Right after PALE PHOENIX was accepted by Harcourt, we were asked by our veterinarian friend to take in a dog who was in need of a good home… a skinny, pale-haired pooch named . . . yes!. . . ABBY. It seemed like a sign we should bring her into our family, and so we did. What a wonderful dog she was…
10. I set PALE PHOENIX in the dead of an extremely cold winter because I was stuck in a hot, humid New Jersey summer–record heat waves–without air-conditioning. I wanted my imagination to cool me down and, surprisingly, it worked (at least as long as I was immersed in writing)!
COMING NEXT: Ten things you probably don’t know about THE GLASS HOUSE PEOPLE.

Ten Things You Probably Don’t Know About TIME WINDOWS

So here, as promised,  are ten things not very many people know about TIME WINDOWS:

Time Windows, original cover     Time windows 2     time windows 3
1. I told the first version of what later became TIME WINDOWS to my boyfriend (who later became my husband) on a cross-country road trip right after college. The car radio got poor reception as we headed for the Badlands, so I started telling him a story to pass the time!
2. I wrote the first draft while I was a student in Bonn, Germany… age twenty-three. I lived in an old, drafty rooming house where I huddled next to my electric heater, wrapped in blankets… and wrote to entertain myself whenever I needed a break from studying German novels, and because I’d run out of things to read in English… (and this was before the Internet, so I couldn’t just order new reading matter online!). I still have that hand-written first draft.
3. The story first started in New York City… not Massachusetts.
4. Some readers have written to me saying they’ve looked for Garnet, MA on a map, or even tried driving to it… planning to visit. Sorry–it’s a fictional town!
5. Miranda calls her mom ‘Mither’ because that’s what my brother and I call our mom…
6. TIME WINDOWS was rejected six times before being bought by Harcourt…. Most most of those rejections said the story was too frightening and violent for children.
7. There have been three different covers. I like the first one best because the artist, Stephen Marchesi, captured Miranda the way I picture her. The other two covers well drawn, but are inconsistent with the story; one shows her on the wrong side of the dollhouse–and the dollhouse itself a brightly painted Victorian building intend of the white new england farmhouse I describe. Another shows a large face looking in at little furnishings; in my story there are no furnishings. The dollhouse is empty.
8. Once Dan Hooton had two brothers instead of just Buddy. My agent felt that one of the brothers was extraneous and asked me to cut him! I gave his lines to the other boys, and . . . he vanished. That I can’t recall his name offhand must mean she was right!
9. The newspaper article about the mummified body found in the secret room was inspired by a real article from my husband’s hometown in England about a baby’s body discovered in an airtight old cedar chest..
10. Backyard Productions twice bought the rights to the film option for TIME WINDOWS. Stephen Spielberg apparently turned it down! Other backers were sought… but no film has ever materialized. Still, I haven’t lost hope that someday….

NEXT: Ten Things You Probably Don’t Know about PALE PHOENIX!