Fifth Avenue Press launches its second round of books with a release reception

WRITTEN WORD PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Fifth Avenue Press logo

The Ann Arbor District Library's Fifth Avenue Press helps local authors produce a print-ready book at no cost -- from copyediting to cover design -- and the writers retain all rights. In return, the library gets to distribute ebooks to its patrons without paying royalties, but authors can sell their books -- print, digital, or audio -- however they choose and keep all the proceeds.

Started in 2017, Fifth Avenue launches its second round of books on Sunday, November 4, with a reception from 1-3 pm in the lobby of AADL's downtown branch, featuring author readings from the imprint's five new titles.

After "READ MORE," click the book titles to read interviews with the books' creators:

Akeina the Crocodile, a picture book written and illustrated by Brad and Kristin Northrop

Akeina the Crocodile, a picture book written and illustrated by Brad and Kristin Northrop

Q: Give us a short synopsis of the book
A: With vivid, colorful illustrations, Akeina the Crocodile is a story about an adventurous crocodile who sets off on a journey to visit her friend, Tiger. Along the way, she meets new friends and makes amazing discoveries using all of her senses. Akeina realizes that the journey can be just as important as the destination.

Q: What inspired the book?
A: As teachers and parents, we have read countless children’s books over the years. Our students and our own children have always been intrigued by colorful, vibrant illustrations and animal characters. We have story ideas for multiple animals, but Akeina’s story developed first and the illustrations brought her to life.

Q: What was the most enjoyable part of writing your book and what was the most difficult?
A: Most enjoyable -- seeing the drawings progress from sketches to beautiful, detailed illustrations. Most difficult – we were unsure of how to format the book and work through the publishing details to take it from a typed story with original artwork to an appealing, finished children’s book.

Q: Do you have any writing rituals?
A: No, but Brad has a drawing ritual. He gets inspired by one aspect of the book and focuses entirely on that illustration until it's completely finished, and then he begins the next picture only after he's satisfied with his current work.

Q: People who like your book will also like ... 
A: We are switching this question around. Among others, we were inspired by:

Q: What advice would you give other authors who would like to submit their works to Fifth Avenue Press?
A: Our advice is to stay inspired, persevere, keep an open mind, and enjoy the journey! Our Fifth Avenue Press graphic designer was amazing and so helpful, and everyone has been supportive! We are happy that we submitted our book.

Tracy Gallup, Paint the Night

Paint the Night, a picture book written and illustrated by Tracy Gallup

Q: Give us a short synopsis of the book.
A: Paint the Night is a picture book where I illustrated with watercolor paintings a poem that I wrote about a young boy who employs his imagination and a paintbrush to overcome his nighttime fears.

Q: What inspired the book?
A: Years ago an editor from Dial Books for Young Readers saw my artwork in Print magazine and it led to me illustrating a book of poetry. I was thrilled to have this experience but realized it would be more satisfying for me to illustrate my own words, so I found a wonderful critique group and began working on writing. Ten years later, my book King Cat was published, and I went on to write and illustrate seven books after that. Since we often write about what we know, I like to write about the creative process. I have an active imagination which can be a wonderful thing, but as with the boy in this book, it can get me into trouble sometimes. 

Q: What was the most enjoyable part of writing your book and what was the most difficult?
A: It is thrilling to come up with an idea, to receive encouragement from others, and to dream about bringing it to fruition. I love waking up and knowing there is a project waiting to be worked on. For this particular book, I enjoyed experimenting with watercolor, making it flow across the pages in a loose way, and letting the water often direct the outcome. The hard stage for me was when I neared the end, as I had new ideas for other projects, and wanted to move on to them. To stay with one concept for an entire book can require self-discipline sometimes.

Q: Do you have any writing rituals? 
A: I often get ideas and work things out when I am driving or on my daily walks.

Q: People who like your book might also like ...
A: My favorite children's book author/illustrator is M.B. Goffstein. I certainly was influenced by her work in my Stone, Shell, Tree and Snow Crazy books.

Q: What advice would you give other authors who would like to submit their works to Fifth AvenuePress?
A: Try to find a supportive critique group, for people interested in children's books I recommend joining SCBWI, and the most important thing is to read a lot and look at inspiring art. 

Setting the Record Straight, a teen fantasy by V.W. Shurtliff

Setting the Record Straight, a teen fantasy by V.W. Shurtliff

Q: Give us a short synopsis of the book

A: Thomas wakes up and finds his parents missing, his house trashed, and a dead man on the floor of his living room. As he investigates, he finds himself in the middle of an international conspiracy. The world is at risk and only he can save it. Thomas is joined in his adventure by his good friend Veronica, his dog, and a band of misfits and criminals.

Q: What inspired the book?
A: I grew up wandering through Narnia, Middle Earth, Treasure Island, and Baker Street. I am convinced that there are few things more wonderful than that feeling when you forget that you are reading and become completely lost in a world that Lewis or Tolkien has created.  And I was inspired to write a book like that - one that a reader can get lost in.

Q: What was the most enjoyable part of writing your book and what was the most difficult?
A: The most enjoyable part was creating the characters. Each character grew into a real person as I wrote and I found myself wondering what they would say and do as their adventure unfolded. The most difficult part of writing the book was the final editing process. I thought I was done writing until I started at the beginning and read my story. Every time I reread the book I found more things that needed to be changed and corrected.

Q: Do you have any writing rituals?
A: Yes, I do. It goes like this:

  1. Set a daily writing goal
  2. Immediately fall behind on that goal
  3. Set a new writing goal and commit to taking it more seriously
  4. Fall behind again, get discouraged, and quit writing altogether
  5. Get inspired and write two full chapters in one night
  6. Repeat steps 1-5  until the book is done

Q: People who like your book will also like ... 
A: My writing is based on so many influences but the closest parallels are the following:

Q: What advice would you give other authors who would like to submit their works to Fifth AvenuePress?
A: My advice would be the same advice I would give to all authors -- write something you would want to read and something the people you know that have the best taste would want to read. Don’t write for some abstract critic. Write something you and your friends think is delightful. Once you have written a book you find compelling and interesting, take time to reread it. Read it through at least five times front to back -- including at least once out loud. Some of the best writing, in my experience, is done while reading out loud. Then submit.

Snail, I Love You, a picture book written and illustrated by Tevah Platt, Willa Thiel and Becky Grover

Snail, I Love You, a picture book written and illustrated by Tevah Platt, Willa Thiel, and Becky Grover

Q: Give us a short synopsis of the book
A: Co-authored by a mother and child, Snail, I Love You is a full-color picture book that celebrates the universe and the force of love that infuses everything in it. Vibrant illustrations were sewn and quilted by fabric artist Becky Grover. This book might inspire young readers to explore writing, sewing, and similes, but it works especially well as a read-aloud bedtime book that opens many opportunities for connection. 

Q: What inspired the book?
A: Snail, I Love You was inspired by a set of similes a mom collected from her daughter when she was between the ages of 3 and 6, like "I love you as giant as Jupiter," "...as endless as numbers," or "as curly as a snail." Snail, I Love You presents poems around these similes and the big and small worlds the authors investigated together during those preschool years. Local institutions such as the Ann Arbor District Library, the Manzanitas and Honey Creek schools, the U-M Museum of Natural History, and Great Oak Cohousing, among others, provided the context and inspirational fodder for this book -- and one beach in Costa Rica.

Q: What was the most enjoyable part of writing your book and what was the most difficult?
A: I would often get teary with joy as the illustrator unveiled creations she made for this project. The unexpected and generous involvement of so many people who helped shape and support the project was another a joy that sprang from this writing. The younger co-author was six when the mock-up of the book was ready and when she finished reading it aloud for the first time, she said, "Mama, I love you as much as this book." That felt like a pretty incredible pay-off moment. It was difficult to make big decisions, to make revisions that could impact illustrations -- given the permanence of the medium -- and to take in so much new information as a novice to book-publishing. 

Q: Do you have any writing rituals?
A: My writing rituals are to make time when inspiration comes and to read others' writing watchfully.

Q: People who like your book might also like ...
A: Guess How Much I Love You by Steve McBratney and Biggest, Strongest, Fastest by Sam McBratney.

Q: What advice would you give other authors who would like to submit their works to Fifth Avenue Press?
A: I can't sing enough the praises of Fifth Avenue Press. I'd strongly urge local writers and dreamers to send in their manuscripts and to use AADL resources to refine them. Libraries! are! awesome!

We Thought We Knew You, realistic adult fiction by Linda Jeffries

We Thought We Knew You, realistic adult fiction by Linda Jeffries

Q: Give us a short synopsis of the book
A: Synopsis from the back cover:

Sometimes the path to a happy future leads through a troubled past. Marybeth Rogers has it all -- a great husband, two grown sons, and a teaching job she loves.

She’s about to leave it all behind.

When Marybeth tells her husband she needs a short sabbatical from their marriage, he doesn’t understand. Why won’t she tell him where she’s going? But Marybeth can’t tell him -- not yet. She’s on a journey to unbury a secret from her past, and is willing to risk all of her current happiness to do it.

Years ago, Marybeth had a different name and a different identity. She also had a daughter fathered by the scion of a major crime family. Young and scared and out of options, she gave up the baby for adoption and went into hiding. But now that it’s finally safe to search for her daughter, will it be too late?

We Thought We Knew You is an emotionally rich story about family, the burden of the past, and the lengths we’ll go to protect those we love the most.

Q: What inspired the book?
A: I think a lot of people like to imagine different versions of the reality that they live, as though there were a little Walter Mitty in all of us. “What if I wasn’t quite me? What if there was a secret that no one knew?” My main character is someone who is living a very normal life except that no one knows she’s actually in hiding from a very dangerous man.

Q: What was the most enjoyable part of writing your book and what was the most difficult?
A: That’s a hard question to answer because I just love writing, trying to fall asleep at night with my head full of my characters, imagining what they are thinking and doing and saying. I also liked studying the places where my characters were going and then seeing the odd variety of ads that would pop up in my social media as a result.  I think the editing process was the most difficult but I would imagine that everyone says that.  We all want our first effort to be so fantastic that it doesn’t need re-working but that’s never the case!

Q: Do you have any writing rituals?
A: No, not really but I do have an exceptionally nice desk chair.

Q: People who like your book will also like ... 
A: This is a really hard question to answer but some of my favorite authors include Judith Ryan Hendricks who wrote Isobel’s Daughter and The Laws of Harmony and Kristin Hannah who's probably best known for The Nightingale but I’ve enjoyed all of her books. Two other writers I enjoy are Lorna Landvik and Barbara Samuel O’Neal.

Q: What advice would you give other authors who would like to submit their works to Fifth Avenue Press?
A: I think Ann Arbor is home to lots of authors and would be authors whose computers are filled with amazing stories, but there are no easy outlets for getting published these days. Fifth Avenue Press’s goal is to publish local writers and people who write about this area so they are a fantastic resource.  It is very easy to submit your writing via their website and their staff is incredibly generous and helpful. We are so lucky to have them here in our town!


Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.


Fifth Avenue Press' release reception is Sunday, November 4, 1-3 pm, in the lobby of the Ann Arbor District Library's downtown branch, 343 South Fifth Ave. Read our interviews with last year's class of Fifth Avenue authors and check out their books from AADL.