Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Patton Oswalt: By the Book (NYT)

Finally from us tonight - and for the year - the New York Times has published an interview with actor and comedian Patton Oswalt. Oswalt has praised the work of John Bellairs in the past and does so again in this December 31 article when recalling some of his favorite childhood books:

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Cat Rambo: You Should Read This

Fantasy and science fiction author Cat Rambo shared some thoughts recently in one of her You Should Read This posts about John Bellairs, specifically what she feels makes The Face in the Frost so special:

Friday, December 26, 2014

That Thou Shalt Like An Airy Spirit Go

Last year we celebrated forty years of The House with a Clock in its Walls by highlighting some of the people, places, and things that John mentioned in the text, including this about celebrated John Dee:
After moving into his uncle’s house Lewis Barnavelt spends time going through a lot of books, including one whose frontispiece is an engraving of this person raising the spirit of a dead woman [The House with a Clock in its Walls; 67-8].

Monday, December 22, 2014

Interview From Beyond the Grave

Last month John Bellairs joined the likes of A.A. Milne, Frank L. Baum, and J.D. Salinger and other authors as being one of Young Adult Mag's Interviews from Beyond the Grave:

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Researching the PMLA Again

Not too long ago we found ourselves with access to JSTOR and we thought, on a whim, we might finally nail down the long-running PMLA question.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Interview: Justin Glanville

We were both surprised and excited to read comments last year from Justin Glanville praising the work of John Bellairs and his ability to create a sense of place. Glanville and fellow world-builder Christine Borne are the founders and creative force behind the series, Welcome to Munchen, Minnesota! And it’s pronounced as if you were munchin’. We corresponded with Justin earlier this year about writing with a sense of place in mind, as well as to expand on his previous comments highlighting Duston Heights, Hoosac, and New Zebedee. As has been said: location, location, location!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Where's There: Winnekenni Castle

(The fourth in a series about places or things John Bellairs didn't write about in towns where he lived.)

For the final installment in this series we're going back to Duston Heights. And Haverhill. And castles.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Where's There: Sugar Loaf

(The third in a series about places or things John Bellairs didn't write about in towns where he lived.)

When it comes to the three cities that John Bellairs created for his books, it’s easy to understand how New Zebedee and Duston Heights came about, what with his close association to his native Michigan and later home in Massachusetts. How Hoosac, Minnesota fits into the equation is often forgotten or perhaps not known. For two years in the early 1960s John taught at the now-defunct College of Saint Teresa in Winona, a city in southeast Minnesota. It may not have been his favorite place (consider he was coming to rural Minnesota after years of living and working in Chicago’s Hyde Park area) but we’re glad he was there if only for it to help foster some Fidgettine inspiration. But more on Saint Fidgeta later.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Keeping Haverhill On The Map

Not that we thought Haverhill, Massachusetts - where John lived between 1970 and his death in 1991 - had fallen off the map, this article from the Haverhill Gazette gives a bit of history on how the town was once home to shoemakers (and/or cordwainers) and how things went downhill. But with the help of people such as Tom Bergeron, Andre Dubus III, and Erin Erler the city is keeping itself in the public eye.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Where's There: Tilton's Tower

(The second in a series about places or things John Bellairs didn't write about in towns where he lived.)

When John Bellairs began a story in the early 1980s that would go on to become 1983’s The Curse of the Blue Figurine he made yet another shift in geographic location. Three books, three different states: his native Michigan in The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring (1976); southeast Minnesota for The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn (1978); and now New England, specifically northeast Massachusetts. While the location may have changed, there was still something sinister afoot and a kind of magic to be harvested.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Renowned Be Thy Grave

Author/blogger J.W. Ocker wrote The New England Grimpendium (2010) and The New York Grimpendium (2012), each a travelogue of his experiences exploring macabre sites, attractions, and artifacts in those regions. His blog features odd things he's seen and this week he showcased something he found in Haverhill:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Where's There: Wilder Creek Castle

After years of reading about the places where John Bellairs lived and wrote about, we decided that for this round of Where’s There that we would investigate some of the locations in the towns where John lived but that he didn’t write about.

Make sense?

Friday, August 15, 2014

What's What: SPQR

Fleeing from The Bishop, Prospero finds traces of Roman influence in the stonework of the castle in the form of this abbreviation [The Dolphin Cross; Magic Mirrors; 226].

Friday, July 25, 2014

Interview: Nate Pedersen

When we contact people out of the blue for interviews you never know their response: “yes, I’d love to answer a few questions” verses “yeah, maybe” and then we never hear from ‘em again. Not so with Nate. Nate Pedersen is a Community Librarian with the Deschutes Public Library in Bend, Oregon. Besides being on the board of directors for the Deschutes County Historical Society and Museum he also works as a freelance journalist, with publications in a variety of newspapers and magazines. It was in some of his writings we found online that he indicated he held a special place for the books by John Bellairs and we asked him about that, about Oregon, and more.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What's What: PF Flyers

New-kid-in-school David Keller gets tripped by a bully wearing this brand of sneaker [The House where Nobody Lived; 29].

Saturday, July 5, 2014

August #JOHNBELLAIRSMONTH We Must!

Writer, blogger, vlogger, and one-time Bellairsia interview subject Richard Denney has declared August 2014 as John Bellairs Month. To celebrate he's getting the word out a month early and inviting a host of others to write, blog, vlog, and tweet (and so on) about 1989's The Chessmen of Doom.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

What's What: Gutenberg Bible

Lewis Barnavelt finds a copy of this volume in his cousin’s library and believes, if sold, it would bring in a lot of money [The Vengeance of the Witch-finder; 127].

Thursday, May 15, 2014

What’s What: Apostle Spoon

A wraith of Father Thomas Higgins leaves Johnny with this utensil, whose handle features St. Thomas, as a clue to the priest's whereabouts [The Secret of the Underground Room; 29].

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

BiblioFile: The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn (Bantam, 1980)

We’ve carried a lot of love for the Bantam Skylark paperback editions from the 1980s because that’s how a lot of fans first discovered John’s books. (Yeah, some of you had public or school libraries with the original Dial hardcovers on their shelves and you got the full Bellairs and Gorey experience....) In a word, the Bantams are colorful nostalgia trips that bring back lots of memories. (Never mind that “colorful nostalgia trips” may conjure thoughts of the 1960s…let us not be silly.)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Writing “Realistic” Magic

Ned Hayes is the author of two novels — Coeur d’Alene Waters, set in the Pacific Northwest — and Sinful Folk, a best-selling novel set in the Middle Ages. His newest project is a science-fiction novel about the War on Terror.

Edward Gorey Documentary Project

Filmmaker Christopher Seufert is raising funds for The Edward Gorey Documentary Project at KickStarter, a feature length documentary about the late illustrator and shot with his encouragement from 1996 to his death in April, 2000.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Who's Who: Seth Thomas

Finnick’s Clock Museum in Vinalhaven boasts a number of varieties of clocks and timepieces, including some by this well-known clockmaker [The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull; 103].

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Open Road Acquires E-Reads

Publishers Weekly has more on Open Road Integrated Media's somewhat-recent acquisition of e-Reads, the electronic book company founded in 1999 by literary agent Richard Curtis:

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Interview: Quentin Dodd

Not too long ago we came across Snake Year Press and recognized this as being a reference to The Face in the Frost. It’s a small independent publishing outfit created by author Quentin Dodd who also happens to be a fan of John and his books. Anyone whose book titles include Beatnik Rutabagas from Beyond the Stars and Tommy Frasier and the Planet of the Slugs probably has something to say and - as that’s the name of the blog - we asked Quentin about life, reading, writing and why he chose that for a name from anything else he could have chosen.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Shall I Not Lie In Publishing A Truth?

There’s been a post or two on this blog about artwork and continuity: how people like to collect only the Edward Gorey hardcovers, how Bart Goldman reintroduced Lewis Barnavelt in the 1990s for the new books in that series, and even how contemporary e-book editions all have a uniform look even if they all are something you wipe your hands on.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

And Then There's John Bellairs

Author John Rateliff paid some kind words to John Bellairs and The Face in the Frost earlier this month, noting how much the book has affected him:

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Who's Who: James Henry Breasted

One of the books that Johnny Dixon has checked out and is reading at home when he first meets Professor Childermass is this author’s History of Egypt [The Curse of the Blue Figurine; 14].

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Who's Who: Duke of Cornwall

In his know-it-all fashion, Emerson Eells explains to Anthony that the Blood of Hailes was a relic given to the Hailes Abbey by this person in the year 1270 [The Dark Secret of Weatherend; 177].

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bid Him Bring His Pen And Inkhorn To Auction

Last week the Goreyana blog posted this bit of news for collectors:
On Thursday January 23rd, Swann Auction Galleries in New York City is having its second 20th Century Illustration Auction. Previews begin Friday January 17th. This auction includes a nice selection of original artwork by Edward Gorey. Of special interest are four full color paintings by Mr. Gorey created as dust jacket designs the John Bellairs book series.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Who’s Who: Jimmy Durante

Professor Childermass informs Johnny, by channeling the comedic diction of this popular comedian, that “you been laborin’ under a misprehamprehension” about his grandmother being near death and - in turn - his need for undertaking the dangerous expedition of the Glomus estate [The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt; 160].

#JohnBellairs