Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Gentleman of Brave Metal

In what probably will be our last post for 2012 we note that one of Hamish Runcet’s prophecies has gotten a makeover. Or something like that.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Where’s There: The Hagway

Having been given 24 hours to prove his existence (and come up with a way to defeat Snodrog), Sir Bertram wanders the land until he comes to this road winding “through country vaguely reminiscent of northern Indiana” [The Pedant and the Shuffly; 30-1].

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Alert: Anthony Monday & eReads

Spend your holiday season in Hoosac!

eReads, the oldest independent digital publisher in the field bringing out-of-print books back in electronic formats, has released the first book in the Anthony Monday series.

Friday, November 30, 2012

John Bellairs: Author Of The Imaginary

During Patrick Dunne's undergraduate years at Notre Dame - from which he graduated in 1960 - he was a fellow classmate of John Bellairs. Dunne shared some of his memories in the Autumn 2012 edition of the Notre Dame Magazine:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Where’s There: Hellespont

Standing in Leander’s Tower in 1453, Professor Childermass says that the tower “stands on a tiny spit of land in the Hellespont, the narrow body of water that runs between the Black Sea, which north of here, and the Sea of Marmara, which is below us [The Trolley to Yesterday; 28].

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Edward Gorey: Artist of Contradictions

A post at Gathered Nettles celebrates Edward Gorey:
If Gorey’s philosophy of art was defined by ambiguity and contradiction, it certainly makes sense when seen in the context of his work. Not only is he frequently working in the in-between genre of the illustrated book (what is more important here? Words? Images?), the content of his books always hovered somewhere between sinister and humorous, at times deeply macabre while remaining childishly delightful. His style it is at once extremely minimalist and spare but also fastidiously detailed and specific.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Zoë Archer: Chocolate-chip Cookie Fan

As Halloween fast approaches, USA Today's Joyce Lamb asked other authors to discover what book raises the hair on the back of their neck. In the Oct.28 edition, Lamb asks a number of romance authors, including Zoë Archer, about what's scared them:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Is There Still Room For Scares...?

We were surprised this morning to read an interesting tribute to John Bellairs and The House with a Clock in its Walls by Erik Adams at the Onion AV Club:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Interview: Sandra Frey

Imagine our surprise when we were approached by someone writing a thesis on John Bellairs. Excellent! Surprise escalated into bewilderment when we discovered it was being proposed by someone living in Germany!  Wie wäre es damit? Sandra Frey lives and works in Heidelberg and last year studied translation for English and Italian with her Bellairsian thesis her final project. She currently works for a translation agency and, in between that and her other hobbies, has graciously answered some questions about her project and provides us in the states with a European perspective on the books.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Where’s There: Rocks Village Bridge

Father Higgins has been relocated from Duston Heights to Rocks Village, described as a tiny cluster or picturesque eighteenth-century houses near a seventy-year-old iron bridge [The Secret of the Underground Room; 8].

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Colin Meloy's Wildwood

Colin Meloy is the lead singer and songwriter for The Decemberists and has completed the second of his books in the planned Wildwood Chronicles trilogy of children’s novels - which are both wonderfully illustrated by his wife, Carson Ellis.

Under Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book Two (2012) follows last year's Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book 1 (2011) and tells the tale of Prue McKeel and her adventures in the Impassable Wilderness, full of animals, mystics, bandits and more.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dickens, Schuler & Bellairs V

We’re celebrating the 200th anniversary of celebrated author Charles Dickens’ birth this year. Born February 7, 1812 in Landport, Portsmouth, England, Dickens created a plethora of memorable characters with whimsical names across a dozen major novels and numerous short stories.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Memoriam: Herbert Lom

Actor Herbert Lom – the last of the lady killers – has died. He was 95.

A native of Prague, his first picture was a very early Czech film, Zena Pod Krizem (1937), that he participated in before migrating to England to continue his career. His roles flourished throughout the next four decades including The Seventh Veil (1945), War and Peace (1956), El Cid (1961), and The Phantom of the Opera (1962).

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Where's There: Cemetery Island

Described as "just a dot on the map out in Hurricane Sound, not far from Vinalhaven," this island on the southeastern coast of Maine was home to Warren Windrow in the 1840s [The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull; 125].

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

2012 Living History Portrayal Walk

Marshall's Oakridge Cemetery was first used in 1839 and is one of the oldest continuously operated cemeteries in the state. For the twelfth year in a row Oakridge will be home to the "If These Stones Could Talk...", a walking tour where local actors and actresses portray significant people from Marshall's past at that person’s grave site. Small groups will be guided by hosts in a predetermined lantern-illuminated pattern through the cemetery and the once-prominent residents will rise up and share their stories.

This year’s event takes place Saturday, October 6 at 7pm come rain or shine. For more information, including ticket costs, please contact the Marshall Chamber of Commerce.

As we’ve done for the past ten years, we’ve gathered around to listen to Walter Lornten, our archivist, spout off plans for visiting the festivities...and then wonder where he’ll end up. Like last year. He claimed it would have taken him four days to hitchhike to Saginaw so he rented a car instead, a Pontiac. Turns out there’s a suburb of Detroit named that, too, and Walter decided to check it out. There he says he ran into what he thought were fishermen heading out to Clinton Valley...turns out that used to be an area psychiatric hospital and Walter says he’s seen enough of those. Danvers. That place in Ohio. The home office. Whatever. He looks forward to this year’s walk where he’ll try...yet make an appearance.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

49th Annual Historic Home Tour

The 49th Annual Historic Home Tour of Marshall, Michigan will be offering exquisite private homes and businesses for public viewing and enjoyment. The tour will feature seven homes and will include seven historic museums covering diverse specialties such as unusual architecture, antique home furnishings, Civil War memorabilia, a restored antique post office, Michigan's largest collection of magic memorabilia as well as two art centers. To close out the tour's twenty structures will be one business from Marshall's well-maintained historic business district.

Marshall's tour has been called the Granddaddy of Midwest Home Tours and is famous all over the country for its traditions and heritage, and was voted the Best Home Tour by the readers of AAA's Michigan Living magazine

This year’s event takes place from Saturday, September 8 (9am-5pm) to Sunday, September 9 (10a-5pm). For more information, including cost, please contact the Marshall Historical Society.

Visit the Bellairsia forum to learn about other events.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What's What: Lapsang Souchong

We get an idea of how awkward Miss Eells is in preparing her hot plate and kettle for tea, including the ordeal of sweeping up sugar and trying to remove the lid off the Lapsang Souchong box [The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn; 15-6].

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dickens, Schuler & Bellairs IV

We’re celebrating the 200th anniversary of celebrated author Charles Dickens’ birth this year. Born February 7, 1812 in Landport, Portsmouth, England, Dickens created a plethora of memorable characters with whimsical names across a dozen major novels and numerous short stories.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Alert: New Titles from SF Gateway

We suppose we knew this was eventually going to happen, and it appears it did while we away last month ... British publisher SF Gateway has released the final four books in the Johnny Dixon series for those readers who a) live outside the United States and Canada and b) prefer electronic books. Much like American publisher eReads released the four Strickland-involved Dixon books earlier this year, SF Gateway has done the same – keeping with their traditional yellow covers, of course.  The first eight books were released by SF Gateway late last year.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Interview: Carl Foster

Bellairs fan and budding author Carl Foster lives, works, and writes (or as he says, scribbles) in New Orleans, where he daily takes in the grisly and fascinating history of the city to share with visitors to the French Quarter. A graduate student in mass communication who also spends his working hours with the National Park Service, Carl says he is always on the lookout for Bellairs books to buy for the young readers who cross his path and, like the colophon of one of those beloved Bantam paperbacks of yore, is currently at work on his next chilling tale.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What’s What: Patriotism Award

Wernher von BraunAward given by the Montana Women's College; recipients have included Chiang Kai-Shek and Professor Reichsmotif [Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies; 75].

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Time Capsule: 1912

1912: We’re celebrating a century since the roll out of the Haynes-Atkinson Structureless Inflatable Biplane.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Interview: Richard Denney

Over the years a number of fans have said that John Bellairs motivated them to write. You know – books. This month we introduce one such writer, Richard Denney, who has authored stories for teens and children such as Violet Fury and The Immortalists. Denney lives out in the west Texas town of El Paso and shares his thoughts about John with us – and he’s such a fan he says he’s getting a tattoo in memory of him this summer. During his down time from writing, blogging, and YouTubing, Richard has been known to catch The Vampire Diaries on the telly, too.

Friday, June 15, 2012

What’s What: White Rock Girl

Dr. Coote crouches on the end of his bed similar to the White Rock Girl to watch the struggle between his friend, Professor Childermass, and a sinister, parasitic creature [The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie; 121-2].

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dickens, Schuler & Bellairs III

We’re celebrating the 200th anniversary of celebrated author Charles Dickens’ birth this year. Born February 7, 1812 in Landport, Portsmouth, England, Dickens created a plethora of memorable characters with whimsical names across a dozen major novels and numerous short stories.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Memoriam: Ray Bradbury

Author Ray Bradbury has died at the age of 91. Author of Fahrenheit 451 (1953), The Martian Chronicles (1950), and Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962), Bradbury was one of the most celebrated among 20th century American writers of speculative fiction and was the recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation.  A native of Waukegan, Illinois, Bradbury lived in California where he died June 5.

Friday, June 1, 2012

BiblioFile: eReads Artwork

Johnny Dixon and Edward Gorey will always be connected in that of John Bellairs’ three series of young-adult adventures only one had the same artist for the entire run of American hardcover editions. The Barnavelt series has had five different illustrators and there were two for the Monday series, but Gorey created the wraparound dust-jacket art for all twelve Johnny Dixon books published between 1983 and 1999. Because of that there is a certain consistency to their look when the novels are displayed end-to-end. (Some people do that, we’re told.)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Fantasy Novels That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity

Charlie Jane Anders recently wrote a piece at io9 - a blog focusing on science, technology, and science fiction - that "everbody loves a good dark, horrible fantasy. A misanthopic adventure, in which everybody is morally compromised, and we all live and die in the dirt. But every now and then, it's nice to read a fantasy novel in which people are, you know... good."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What’s What: Sumer Is Icumen In

Bellairs announces the end of summer vacation and the beginning of the new school year (his senior college year, no less) with the phrase, “summer is icumen out and the merry students are icumen in” [the beginning: a little too much about the author; Oct. 3, 1958]. Roger Bacon casually tosses out a piece of the song (“Awe bleteth after lamb, lhuth after calvecu...”) when trying to come up with a magical incarnation [The Face in the Frost; 121].

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Good Nose is Requisite

About a decade (or so) ago, two of John's friends, Alfred Myers and Charles Bowen, worked with us on a walk-through of Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies.  The project was to help us better understand the time and place from which it came from as well walk us through John's sense of humor in many of the jokes, puns, and satire.  Anyway, Bowen shared this remembrance during our research and we came across it again recently.  Dig in.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Time Capsule: April 30, 1932

April 30, 1932: Records of eclipses have been kept since ancient times: there’s a Syrian clay tablet noting the eclipse of March 5, 1223 B.C. and a non-Blarney stone in Ireland that records an eclipse on November 30, 3340 B.C. A partial lunar eclipse occurred on May 22, 1453 that was seen during the Fall of Constantinople (no word on whether Childermass and company were aware of this on their visit) and Christopher Columbus, in his attempt to sway Jamaican natives, “predicted” a lunar eclipse for February 29, 1504 – albeit using pre-obtained knowledge (Connecticut resident Hank Morgan probably is aware of this trick, too).

Sunday, April 29, 2012

'Mansion' Inspired by The Black Cat?

The Black Cat (dir. Edgar G. Ulmer, 1934) came out during the rise of the Universal Monster Film’s golden era. And while it has never achieved the worldwide fame of a Dracula or a Frankenstein, is still bears the beautifully twisted 1930s horror... 

Reader/fan Matthew dropped a note on our forum last summer to share his thoughts on some of Bellairs's purported inspiration for The Mansion in the Mist:
Myriad references to THE BLACK CAT (a 1934 horror film from Universal Studios, starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi) exist in THE MANSION IN THE MIST.  Wasn't John Bellairs a Karloff fan?  (Karloff is (subtly) alluded to too.)
That tidbit popped into mind when this was posted to CraveOnline recently:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Who's Who: Louis XI of France

Of the many books in Prospero's library one is full of "the wizard's florid script; on some pages were pentacles, pentagrams, and doodles, these latter being usually pictures of bearded patriarchs, pharaohs, and King Louis XI of France, who, as far as Prospero was concerned look like this: [see top right] [The Face in the Frost; 5].

Monday, April 9, 2012

Desire To Raze The Sanctuary That Was Tamarack Hall

There isn’t a lot to say about John Bellairs’ teaching days in Gary, Indiana, which occurred now over half a century ago. What little we’ve heard paints a pretty comical portrait of a brand-spanking new teacher taking his first steps in the world of academia.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Dickens, Schuler & Bellairs II

We’re celebrating the 200th anniversary of celebrated author Charles Dickens’ birth this year. Born February 7, 1812 in Landport, Portsmouth, England, Dickens created a plethora of memorable characters with whimsical names across a dozen major novels and numerous short stories.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bibliofile: Lewis Barnavelt Series

Per our usual means (stumbling upon), we recently came across a rather unique set of covers for the 12-book Lewis Barnavelt series. We’re not really sure the publisher or the format (for all we know these could be another slew of e-books...hooray) except they’re void of a lot of clutter. It’s a weird color scheme: titles labeled in light black on a dark black background with some sort of light black colored pictorial representation of something from the book. It’s sort of nice to see these – more so, to know they exist. After years of pen-and-ink hash marks and ornate color paintings, these simplistic two-tone covers are a refreshing back-to-basics approach that is both cute and clever.

Ouch. We said cute. Sorry 'bout that. Anyway...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Interview: Corey Mallonee

How close do you pay attention to the language that an author uses to weave together his or her story? Enough to catch every idiosyncrasy? Freelance writer and aspiring author Corey Mallonee has John Bellairs – and Lewis Barnavelt especially – to thank for making him a reader and it’s Mallonee’s reflections on John’s use of language that brought him to our attention. Originally from Bangor, Maine, a smallish town not entirely unlike New Zebedee, though with considerably fewer evil warlocks to its history (he’s never run up against any of the Windrow clan to our knowledge), Mallonee has been an accidental sports reporter, worked in the book publishing industry, and currently lives in upstate New York.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Who’s Who: F.C.F. Childermass

Marcus Childermass, a professor of literature, named his four sons for characters in the novels of Tobias Smollett [The Chessmen of Doom; 6].

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Alert: Johnny Dixon & eReads

We’ve discovered the four additional books in the Johnny Dixon series have been released by eReads. The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie and the three titles written by Brad Strickland - The Hand of Necromancer, The Bell, the Book, and the Spellbinder and The Wrath of the Grinning Ghost - all have colorful covers similar to the other titles in the eReads editions of the series.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Who's Who: Marius Ambrose

When Anthony and Miss Eells stumble upon an all-too-familiar mansion in New Stockholm, Wisconsin, they discover its former owner, Marius Ambrose, disappeared mysteriously in the mid-1930s [The Mansion in the Mist; 105].

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dickens, Schuler & Bellairs

We’re celebrating the 200th anniversary of celebrated author Charles Dickens’ birth this year. Born February 7, 1812 in Landport, Portsmouth, England, Dickens created a plethora of memorable characters with whimsical names across a dozen major novels and numerous short stories. In a 1983 autobiographical sketch, John Bellairs confessed to being quite a fan and "read[ing] and re-read[ing] Dickens" often, as well as mixing "the everyday and the fantastic" into his own books: "...the common ordinary stuff - the bullies, the scaredy-cat kid Lewis, the grown-ups, the everyday incidents - all come from my own experience."

Friday, February 3, 2012

Time Capsule: 1952

February, 1952: Come one, come all! Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire beckons you to visit the quintessential New England village, complete with the prominent town common and twelve surrounding homes all on the National Register for Historic Places.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bibliofile: Das Gesicht im Eis

When you think of foreign language editions of John’s work the first thing that doesn’t come to mind is The Face in the Frost. The adventures of Lewis and Johnny (and Anthony, once) are the usual tales translated for overseas readers, not the escapades of Prospero and Roger Bacon, the two main characters in a story that seemed crammed with wizards because they were wizards. This was rectified with the publication of Das Gesicht im Eis in 2009.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Who’s Who: Simon Legree

In an attempt to persuade Anthony to become a library page, Miss Eells assures him that she is no Simon Legree [The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn; 18].

Friday, January 6, 2012

Time Capsule: 1962

1962: We all know Bellairs was fond of awkward architecture...this year we’re celebrating fifty years since the completion of one of the craziest cathedrals to ever have been dreamt up.