(And the list of upcoming appearances can always be found here.)
The very generous Booknista gave me the questions and the opportunity to do a video interview with myself. And so, surrounded by the lush foliage of Commons HQ, I did. (As you can see by my grim countenance, ’twas a very serious affair.)
Video link: 9 Questions: Michael Alan Peck
Happy 40th to the album that helped get this goofy kid who was long on hair and short on wisdom through high school.
Four decades later, it still sounds like what it was: a Hail Mary for the desperate, an anthem for the losers too stubborn or too far gone to admit their loss.
Together they take a stab at romance and disappear down Flamingo Lane…
It’s been far too long since I last posted a contribution from artist extraordinaire and Commoners pal Michael Visnov, who’s blessed us with character concept sketches for The Commons: Book One: The Journeyman numerous times now. (See Ken the mummy and Po the Shaolin monk. And while you’re at it, take a look at James Barnett’s Annie work, too. Or peruse the Commons Art category to soak everything in.) Keep in mind that several of these are just to establish underlying details that would be much more subtle when the monster’s properly portrayed as a true shadow.
I have a tough time making up my mind, but I think I’m slightly partial to a combo of 2 and 4. (Hover over each image to see its assigned number or click on one to cycle through the gallery in close-up.)
A final memory.
You rarely see them these days, though in some countries, I hear, they are still made and filled with warm breath from a small straw fire hung beneath.
But in 1925 Illinois, we still had them, and one of the last memories I have of my grandfather is the last hour of a Fourth of July night forty-eight years ago when Grandpa and I walked out on the lawn and lit a small fire and filled the pear-shaped red-white-and-blue-striped paper balloon with hot air, and held the flickering bright-angel presence in our hands a final moment in front of a porch lined with uncles and aunts and cousins and mothers and fathers, and then, very softly, let the thing that was life and light and mystery go out of our fingers up on the summer air and away over the beginning-to-sleep houses, among the stars, as fragile, as wondrous, as vulnerable, as lovely as life itself.
I see my grandfather there looking up at that strange drifting light, thinking his own still thoughts. I see me, my eyes filled with tears, because it was all over, the night was done, I knew there would never be another night like this.
No one said anything. We all just looked up at the sky and we breathed out and in and we all thought the same things, but nobody said. Someone finally had to say, though, didn’t they? And that one is me.
The wine still waits in the cellars below.
My beloved family still sits on the porch in the dark.
The fire balloon still drifts and burns in the night sky of an as yet unburied summer.
Why and how?
Because I say it is so.
I had the pleasure of being asked to drop by the Tribune Tower studios of Chicago’s legendary WGN Radio to do an interview with host Steve Bertrand. In a conversation that was excerpted on The Wintrust Business Lunch and runs in full on the Bertrand on Books podcast, Steve and I cover the book, its history and marketing, self-publishing, the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project, and the unbridled awesomeness of librarians.
An American Libraries Magazine post about the Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project folks winning a John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award features the grim mug of yours truly sporting a rare smile. The piece includes two pieces of visual evidence proving that I’m perfectly capable of grinning, in fact.
Truly a face made for text.
In all seriousness, though, the nod to Team STBF for their efforts is much deserved. You’ll not find a more committed, creative, or capable group, and I’m really looking forward to my adventures with them over the coming months as we try to spread word about The Journeyman to libraries and patrons all over Illinois.
Until the Post Office sees fit to issue Commons stamps, I suppose I’ll have to make my own.
So I did. (And they’re legal, too!)
Such is the beauty of Dan Fernandez‘s cover design. I can turn it into just about anything.
After making the finals in the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project, it’s been quite a wait to get to the ceremony. As you can see above and in this video of the magic moment, The Journeyman won.
(Yes, that’s my mom you hear kvelling in the background.)
So, wow. The morning began here, and then we capped off the evening with an absolutely breathtaking and heartrending production of Carousel at Lyric Opera. I have to say: together with the day I got married, this was one of the best days of my life. May you all have at least one like it. (And I can’t wait to see what the next year of library talks and readings brings.)
Thank you, Illinois Library Association and Illinois librarians. This means more than you know.