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Interviews | April 8, 2014

Shawn Donley: IMG Gabrielle Zevin: The Powells.com Interview

Gabrielle ZevinThe American Booksellers Association collects nominations from bookstores all over the country for favorite forthcoming titles. The Storied Life of... Continue »
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    The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

    Gabrielle Zevin 9781616203214

Interviews | March 17, 2014

Shawn Donley: IMG Peter Stark: The Powells.com Interview

Peter StarkIt's hard to believe that 200 years ago, the Pacific Northwest was one of the most remote and isolated regions in the world. In 1810, four years... Continue »
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Kids' Q&A

Susan Orlean

Describe your latest project.
My new book, Lazy Little Loafers, is a look at the very serious problem of babies being incredibly lazy and doing very little to contribute to society other than looking cute. The main character in the book, a young lady of discernment and great inquisitiveness, has decided to investigate the situation, using one particular baby to illustrate her study. A random study — or maybe not.

  1. Lazy Little Loafers
    $1.95 Used Hardcover add to wishlist

    Lazy Little Loafers

    Susan Orlean
    "One of the wittiest new-baby-in-the-family books of recent years." Publishers Weekly (starred review)

    "Such a real expression of a singular childhood emotion, free from any didactic hammering, is a welcome arrival that kids will enjoy again and again." Booklist

Describe your most memorable teacher.
My ninth-grade English teacher, Mr. Heaps, made books seem vital and vibrant — and convinced me that my crazy dream of becoming a writer wasn't crazy at all.

What is your favorite literary first line?
I don't think you can do better than "Call me Ishmael" (from Moby-Dick). As many times as it's been copied, spoofed, adulterated, and misquoted, it remains the ultimate first sentence that does exactly what a first sentence should do — it draws you in immediately, and makes you want to know more.

What was your favorite story as a child?
I loved A Wrinkle in Time and read it about ten thousand times. I think it was the first book I read where I recognized a deeper theme to the story, as well as loving the narrative itself.

What do you do for relaxation?
I have two chickens, Beauty and Tookie, and I play with them when I want a few minutes to relax. They love me to pet their feathers backwards; we also play mini-basketball with chicken feed.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a writer — from the moment I first figured out how to hold a pencil. I loved telling stories and loved even more imagining people reading them and experiencing something emotional from my words.

Why do you write books for kids?
Books meant so much to me as a kid, and they mean so much now to my little boy, that I can't imagine a more gratifying audience than children. It's also a great challenge to figure out how kids think, and how to write in a way that engages and challenges them.

What's your favorite holiday and why?
Not fair! Halloween, of course — not just because of the candy corn, the costumes, the pumpkins, and the goblins, either. It also happens to be my birthday...

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Susan Orlean is a longtime staff writer for the New Yorker and the author of several books, including The Orchid Thief, which was the inspiration for the movie Adaptation. She's currently working on a book about the canine hero Rin Tin Tin. She divides her time between upstate New York and Southern California.


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