Jacqueline West, Writer

Bestselling author of The Books of Elsewhere and Dreamers Often Lie

Hello, Goodbye

February 13, 2012    Tags: , , ,   

I almost (ALMOST!) titled this entry “It Was the Best of Times…” but then I sort of wanted to kick myself.

So, the sad news first:

After eight years in business, my town’s independent bookshop, Best of Times, has closed its doors for good.  As sad as this makes me (and everyone else in town), it naturally wasn’t a shock; we all know how hard it has become for independent, small town stores of all kinds to survive in this age of online mega-retailers and economic insanity.  The few independent brick-and-mortar bookstores that seem to be keeping their heads above water (yes, I know bookstores don’t actually have heads, and I know brick buildings very seldom go swimming in the first place, but I’m feeling too sad and lazy to look for another idiom), like Portland’s Powell’s and Austin’s BookPeople, are massive places that can offer everything the big chains provide: cafes, lots of space and seating, fancy websites, and nearly every book you’re looking for, right there on the shelves.  But the indies can also provide many things the big chains don’t — or can’t. And the smaller indie shops — like Best of Times — provide things that even the larger one-of-a-kind shops can’t, like knowing the name of practically every customer who walks in, keeping local interest and small press books in stock, and hosting events for newer, lesser-known writers…like me.  Best of Times held the release parties for THE SHADOWS and SPELLBOUND, and they kept a signed stock of copies in the store for in-person and online orders.  A ridiculous, windmill-jousting part of me daydreams about opening a bookstore myself one day (other authors have done it!  Like Louise Erdrich! And Garrison Keillor!  And that’s just in the Twin Cities!), but I know that would require a set of skills and an investment of time and energy and love that I don’t have…at least, not now.

So I’ll just be sad.  And miss them.

I got back to Red Wing just in time to attend the bookstore’s goodbye party, after spending two weeks in Plano, Texas, visiting elementary schools.  To all the librarians, parents, teachers, and students who hosted me: THANK YOU.  It was a joy.

And, once I got home, more good news was waiting to spring on me:

First, THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, VOLUME TWO: SPELLBOUND has been selected as a finalist in the Young People’s Category of the Minnesota Book Awards. THE SHADOWS was a finalist last year, which already felt too good to be true, but making the list two years in a row???  I was pretty sure that there had been a mistake, a la CHIME and SHINE at the National Book Awards.  Perhaps there was a Jacquelyn East on the nominees list.   Or maybe someone had written a book called SMELLHOUND.  (Now that I’ve double-checked the list, and seen the news in the Star Tribune and on the Awards website, I’m starting to believe that they did actually mean me, but it still feels too good to be true — because there is some amazing writing coming out of Minnesota these days, especially in the kids’ lit area: Anne Ursu, Pete Hautman, Lynne Jonell, Kelly Barnhill, Sheila O’Connor…  I’m happy just to share general weather patterns with these people.)

Second, THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, VOLUME ONE: THE SHADOWS has won a place on the master list of the Illinois Bluestem Award.  Like the Texas Bluebonnet and the Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Awards, the award is given based on the votes of young readers (which is already very cool), but the best part is that the book will be promoted in libraries and schools around the state.

And Brom Bones was very happy to have me come home.



16 Comments (Leave a comment)

  1. I’m glad your experience in the Lone Star State was pleasurable. I share your despair ( too strong a word?) for the “indies.” Finally, aren’t dogs great?

    Comment by Stephen Touchet on February 14, 2012 @ 12:33 am

  2. It was lovely, thank you; I’m glad that I’m not alone; and yes, they are indeed.

    Comment by JacquiWest on February 14, 2012 @ 12:48 am

  3. No surprise to hear that Spellbound has received such acclaim — my 10-year-old reviewed an ARC for our local indie, Porter Square Books, and insisted that I read it when she was done. Stayed up all night to finish. We LOVE your writing, love Olive and the kitties, and cannot wait for the third installment. Best to you, Jacqueline, from your #1 and #2 fans in Lexington Massachusetts.

    Comment by Victoria & Emily on February 14, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

  4. Thank you so, so much.

    Comment by JacquiWest on February 14, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

  5. Oh, congratulations, Mrs. Jacqueline! I’m ecstatic for you, though frankly not surprised. You and Olive both deserve it.

    Now you just need to come to New York, so I can pester you with admiration in person.

    Comment by Pherisphena Ladea on March 3, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

  6. Thank you very much, Miss Pheris! I’ll keep you posted about any potential visits to New York…

    Comment by JacquiWest on March 4, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

  7. Our daughter Grace discovered your books when we moved to Singapore last summer. She is anxiously awaiting your next Spellbound book to be released when we are “home” in July. Are you going to be doing any book signings or appearances in the Minnesota or Wisconsin region during the month of July? Grace would like to travel to meet you.
    Best Regards, Molly Marchand

    Comment by Molly Marchand on March 19, 2012 @ 7:53 am

  8. I’m so glad to hear that your daughter has been enjoying The Books of Elsewhere! I will indeed be doing some MN/WI events this summer: On Saturday, July 7th, I’ll be signing/selling books at the Anderson Center’s Summer Celebration of the Arts in Red Wing, MN, and on Friday, July 13, the Red Balloon Bookstore in St. Paul will be hosting the release party for Volume Three: The Second Spy. It’s likely that I’ll add a few more events as the release date (July 5!) creeps closer, and I’ll keep an updated schedule on the Events/Schools page on my website, as well as post notices on my Facebook page. Hope that helps! – Jacqueline

    Comment by JacquiWest on March 25, 2012 @ 3:09 pm

  9. I picked up your book in the airport. I like to alternate between books for adults and books for YA. I just loved the first two and even have a reminder on my calendar for the release of the third! I have visited several schools on book events and when they ask about what I am reading, I always tell them to go pick up your book! I am so glad you had a wonderful experience in my home state! I love to see visitors treated well. We wish you continued success and many more very deserved awards!

    Comment by Shawnna Poor on March 26, 2012 @ 7:29 pm

  10. Thank you so much — both for getting in touch, and for recommending my books to others! And yes, each visit to Texas has been a pleasure. Your state has made me feel incredibly welcome this year.

    Comment by JacquiWest on March 29, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

  11. omg my bff loves your book and want turn it in to the libray

    Comment by faith jordan on March 30, 2012 @ 1:03 am

  12. Ha! Well, I’m both happy and sad to hear that.

    Comment by JacquiWest on March 30, 2012 @ 1:22 am

  13. Hiya! Sorry for the double comment, but I’m passing through Minneapolis on my way home from C.A. and thought of you! Wish I could come find you and greet you in person. Hope you are well!

    Comment by Pherisphena Ladea on April 1, 2012 @ 7:36 pm

  14. ur the best writer ever im reading ur book series the books of elsewhere and its really good my school is having a favorite author study thing where we learn more about our fav. authors and i choosed you of course and plz dont stop writing books they are my life!!!! 🙂 love ur books!

    Comment by lindsey on April 28, 2012 @ 7:14 pm

  15. Thank you so much, Lindsey. There will be many more books for you to read, I promise.

    A lot of readers tell me that they would like to see a movie version of The Books of Elsewhere… I promise to keep you all posted!

    Comment by JacquiWest on May 2, 2012 @ 2:48 pm


    Comment by lindsey on April 28, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

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