In her newest book family, Micol Ostow explores the dynamics of contemporary cults in a free-verse, first-person contemplation loosely based on the Manson Family murders of 1969. “Right now Young Adult fiction is trending toward the darker and heavier – something I’ve always gravitated toward as a reader. This is the type of book I’d have wanted to read,” says Ostow. She talks about her own fascination as a young person with the actual historical event, and notes that she did take liberties in the details that set this story apart from that one.
Ostow, who has edited and written commercial fiction in the past, talks about why young readers crave this kind of story, almost as a cathartic experience. “Adolescence is primed for that, being such a time of emotional extremes. Melodrama corresponds to their emotional state. I was someone who was terrified of ghost stories when I was little, but you push yourself to an extreme of emotional comfort. Most scary stories reaffirm the norm. You read them to reassure yourself; it’s a vicarious way to get all that anxiety and fear out in a productive manner.”
When asked whether such dark subject matter might encourage at-risk young people to act out in unhealthy ways, she says that it may not be appropriate for some readers, but then interjects, “I don’t think my book is turning people on to cults. I’m strongly of the belief that you don’t become a violent person by reading violent books and watching violent movies.”
Ulster County native Nova Ren Suma – of the popular Young Readers novel Dani Noir fame – offers Imaginary Girls, yet another story situated in the Hudson Valley region tapping into local history and geography. Fourteen-year-old Chloe and her older sister Ruby – a boy magnet – experience the surreal in this tale of adolescent rebellion. Filled with secrets and sinister intrigue and the complex bonds of sisterhood, the plot explores the bent reality of an indefinable character and pushes up against the paranormal, leaving readers to wonder.
The author lives in New York now, but lived here and went to Onteora High School – and admits to having snuck into the Ashokan Reservoir with her friends when she was a teenager. “I don’t think I’d be able to find my way in now, but…when I was writing, I could see the place that we’d go. There was a turnoff and a chain with No Trespassing signs. So I was certainly inspired by nights that we’d go swimming, but nothing like finding a body in a boat ever happened to my friends or me. It’s all fiction.”
“The novel shifts into Magical Realism, and that was inspired by me learning about the history of the Reservoir and the towns that used to be there and imagining the what-if questions, like ‘What if something was still down there?’ That came through and built itself up as the story went on.” Suma maintains that she will continue to use the Catskills for great background material. “I can’t stop coming back to it; it’s so rich. My next novel is a ghost story.”
It turns out that Suma and Ostow are good friends: writing buddies who often sit together in a café side-by-side, writing “really creepy stuff.” That’s Suma speaking. She affirms Ostow’s assessment of teenagers’ desire for spine-tingling and unsettling reading material. And Oblong Books in Rhinebeck will host both authors at their monthly Hudson Valley Young Adult Society (HVYAS) event to be held on Sunday, August 14 at 4 p.m. HVYAS events are recommended for teens and adults ages 12+. RSVP for this free event to email@example.com.
Also at Oblong Books:
Saturday, August 20 at 7 p.m. – Salt Point author Jennifer Donnelly will read from the final book in her Rose Trilogy, The Wild Rose. Jennifer is also the author of Revolution and A Northern Light.
At Bluecashew Kitchen Pharmacy in Rhinebeck:
Saturday, August 6 from 1 to 3 p.m. – Joshua and Jessica Applestone, of Fleisher’s Grass-Fed & Organic Meats fame, will be at bluecashew for a book-signing for The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat and talk about all things carnivorous: buying, butchering, cooking and enjoying meat, while maintaining a healthy, conscientious consumer lifestyle. They will be joined by green-living expert Alexandra Zissu, author of The Conscious Kitchen and coauthor of Planet Home and The Complete Organic Pregnancy. Bluecashew Kitchen Pharmacy is located at 6423 Montgomery Street; call (845) 876-1117.
At Inquiring Minds in New Paltz:
Saturday, August 6 at 7 p.m. – Meet Glenn Kreisberg for a talk and discussion based around the subjects covered in his book Lost Knowledge of the Ancients: A Grahan Hancock Reader. Delve into the mysteries and origins of consciousness, civilization and technology, the purpose behind the pyramids and much more.
At the Golden Notebook in Woodstock:
Saturday, July 30 at 3 p.m. at the Kleinert/James Arts Center – The latest works from poet Djelloul Marbrook (Artemisia Wolf), novelist Tommy Zurhellen (Nazareth, North Dakota) and novelist Joe Zeppetello (Daring to Eat a Peach) will be presented by this distinguished panel of prolific writers.
Sunday, July 31 at 3 p.m. – Writer and editor Ed Breslin will read from his recently published memoir Drinking with Miss Dutchie (see related piece in Alm@nac) at the Kleinert/James Arts Center.
Thursday, August 4 at 7 p.m. at Oriole 9 – Meet Carson Morton, author of Stealing Mona Lisa for a reading and book-signing.
Friday, August 5 at 6 p.m. at Oriole 9 – Author Nina Darnton will read and sign copies of An African Affair.
Saturday, August 6 at 5 p.m. at the Kleinert/James Arts Center – Best Women’s Travel Writing 2011: True Stories from around the World, edited by Lavinia Spalding, highlights inspiring and uplifting adventures from 33 women who have traveled to the ends of the Earth to discover new places, peoples and facets of themselves. The common threads are a woman’s perspective and compelling storytelling to make the reader laugh, weep, wish she were there or be glad she wasn’t. Meet Nancy Kline and other surprise contributors for a reading and book-signing.
Monday, August 8 at 7 p.m. at WAAM – Biographer Patricia Albers presents Joan Mitchell, Lady Painter, a full-scale biography of the Abstract Expressionist painter who came of age in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
Friday, August 12 at 6 p.m. – Alm@nac’s own Bob Berman shares his prodigious astronomical knowledge with The Sun’s Heartbeat and Other Stories from the Life of the Star that Powers Our Planet. Come meet this internationally acclaimed author (who happens to be your neighbor) and get your burning questions answered.
Saturday, August 13 at 6 p.m. – Jonathan Dixon reveals all in Beaten, Seared & Sauced: On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of America, a fascinating and intimate first-person view of one of America’s most famous culinary institutions and one of the world’s most coveted jobs.
Sunday, August 14 at 3 p.m. – Woodstock’s own Michael Perkins will read from Carpe Diem: New and Selected Poems at the Kleinert/James Arts Center.
Thursday, August 18 at 7 p.m. at Oriole 9 – Author Janine Mower will read from and discuss her book Woodstock, New York Revisited (Images of America Series).
Friday, August 19 at 6 p.m. at Oriole 9 – Meet local author Laurie Boris, whose new novel is The Joke’s on Me!
At Merritt Books in Millbrook:
Saturday, August 6 from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. – Eileen Charbonneau, award-winning author of nine novels, will conduct a novel-writing seminar. The workshop will provide invaluable and helpful tips on crafting a story that is bound to sell and captivate readers. Cost: $100; requires preregistration. Please e-mail Ms. Charbonneau directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the Merritt Bookstore at email@example.com or (845) 677-5857.
Saturday, August 6 at 5 p.m. – Salt Point author Jennifer Donnelly will read from the final book in her Rose Trilogy, The Wild Rose. Jennifer is also the author of Revolution and A Northern Light.
At Village Square Bookstore & Literary Arts Center in Hunter:
Sunday, July 31 at 1 p.m. – Don’t miss a group reading, discussion and book-signing with River of Words contributors Shalom Auslander, Helen Benedict, Wesley Brown, Alison Gaylin, Mikhail Horowitz, Nina Shengold and photographer and author Jennifer May.
Saturday, August 16 at 1 p.m. – Award-winning photographer Scott Ian Barry will be on hand to talk and sign copies of his book Castles of New York: An Architectural and Historical Tour of 29 of New York State’s Finest Castles.