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A week of literary mash-ups – Part 3

Here you are, a small outfit – Quirk Books – with a NYT bestseller and a prequel that does, well, so-so . . . maybe you can get another bestseller if you bring out a third book in the series. Quirk Books editor Jason Rekulak bet the house he could make that happen. He went [...]

A week of literary mash-ups – Part 2

If you’ve published a novel that hits number three on the New York Times bestseller list during its debut week and a major film company buys the movie rights, you’ve got a franchise started, right? You’ve got to cash in on it. You’re going to publish a sequel or maybe a prequel . . . [...]

A week of literary mashups – Part 1

Before Honest Abe picked up an axe to go after vampires in last year’s mashup novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Elizabeth Bennet faced down zombies in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Seth Grahame-Smith wrote both books, well, 29 percent of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Jane Austen’s original Pride and Prejudice makes up three-quarters of [...]

A week of Tolkien – Part 5

When Allen & Unwin, J.R.R. Tolkien’s publisher, asked Tolkien to write a sequel to The Hobbit, they wanted another book for children about hobbits. And Tolkien started out on that track. He set out to write a novel about Bilbo Baggins having used up the treasure he had brought home in The Hobbit and now [...]

A week of Tolkien – Part 4

J.R.R. Tolkien – John Ronald Reuel if you want to know what the initials stand for – was first and foremost a teacher. Writing fantasies for children and adults was a hobby. Tolkien was the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford’s Pembroke College from 1925 to 1945 and the Merton Professor of English [...]

A week of Tolkien – Part 3

When Tolkien’s publisher, Allen & Unwin, bought The Hobbit, they got a bonus they never expected – an illustrator for the book. Tolkien said children won’t be able to fully follow the action if we don’t provide them maps of this fantasy land – Wilderland – they’ve never seen before. Stanley Unwin agreed. Tolkien suggested [...]

A week of Tolkien – Part 2

J.R.R. Tolkien writes The Hobbit, a fantasy for children, in the 1930s . . . and it becomes the fourth bestselling novel of all time. Over the next 16 years, he writes The Lord of the Rings, a fantasy for adult readers, that becomes the third bestselling novel of all time. You’d think everybody would [...]

A week of Tolkien – Part 1

Our grandparents were the first to go wandering with Bilbo Baggins in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Wilderland, 75 years ago. That’s when Tolkien’s The Hobbit was first published, all the way back on September 21, 1937. The book sold so well that Tolkien’s publisher asked for a sequel. That became The Lord of the Rings, a trilogy [...]

A week with Clifford – Part 5

Scholastic, which has published the Clifford the Big Red Dog books for 50 years, commissioned Clifford: Live, a musical that is now touring the country. Here’s the link if you’d like to see whether the show will be playing somewhere near you. As you can see from the accompanying photo, Clifford is indeed big. Wouldn’t [...]

A week with Clifford – Part 4

Norman Bridwell needed a name for the little girl who shared her life with Clifford the Big Red Dog in that first book published back in 1963. Coming up with the name proved to be easy. Bridwell’s wife, Norma, had just given birth to their first child . . . and they had named her [...]