. . . and Friends?

I got a fat package in the mail yesterday, sent by my editor at Feiwel & Friends, Liz Szabla. It contained their Fall 2009 catalog, along with ARCs for eight upcoming novels:

Everything for a Dog by Ann M. Martin

In the Path of Falling Objects by Andrew Smith

Spellbinder by Helen Stringer

The Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill S. Alexander

Buck Fever by Cynthia Chapman Willis

The Eyeball Collector by F.E. Higgins

Bystander by . . . that would be me (and for the record, I can’t wait to talk about this book, and the topic of bullying in general)

One of Jean Feiwel’s stated missions for her new publishing venture, after something like 20 years at Scholastic, was to Keep It Small. And so far, she’s stuck to that goal, despite the temptations to grow, and Grow, and GROW. But still: Feiwel AND Friends. If you are like me (read: hopelessly cynical), then you probably think, “AND Friends,” yeah, right.

But I do feel a difference. Part of that is based on my association with the merry crew that makes things happen at F & F. It’s a small staff and I think I’ve met them all, even the person who gives Liz and Jean their weekly pedicures, and I’ve even Facebooked a few. (Yes, it’s a verb now.) But there’s also, for me, a sense of community with the other authors and illustrators. We’re all on the same team, so to speak, and like a fan in the stands, suds in hand, I’m rooting for them.

Will I read all these galleys? Nope. I mostly read adult books. But I’m eyeballing that new Andrew Smith book, curious about what he’s done with it. And Julie Halpern is a fresh, original voice — so uncool that somehow she’s totally the coolest one of all. Then there’s Spellbinder, a debut novel, which on the surface seems familiar and yet strange at the same time. Who is Helen Stringer, anyway?

A confession: I’ve never had much interest in cultivating friendships with other authors. I know a few on Facebook and whenever I read their status updates on new galleys or their writer’s block or revision process or whatever — well, it just turns me away. I’m just not interested (as I sit here, blogging, semi-ironically, at this Shrine to Myself). The idea of going on, say, an “artistic retreat” with a bunch of other writers makes my skin crawl. I’m not sure why that is, exactly, but it’s real for me. Maybe I like regular people better. Or maybe I’m too competitive, or too insecure. Maybe it’s like ordering a Bud in a can when there’s some snazzy cherry-flavored micro brew available. I don’t know.

But this crowd at Feiwel and Friends? It’s hard to explain. Just a sense I guess, a feeling that’s kind of sloppy and formless, like a first wet kiss. A little creepy, but kind of nice, too. A little like . . . friendship. With benefits. Like free ARCs!

And by the way: I’m back from vacation. Hear me roar.

7 comments

  1. Liz Szabla says:

    For the record, JP, I do NOT get weekly (or even monthly) pedicures and in fact have no color on my nails (fingers and toes) as I write this. Nor do I give manis/pedis to our authors. That is not one of our benefits. We have so many more, though! And you might actually like one of those other books….LS

  2. Nan Hoekstra says:

    Welcome home JP and when you are done with those ARCs if you don’t need them for bases you can send them on to me…I do read children’s books!

  3. Dude, I think you just got schooled by Liz. Welcome back, P!

  4. Bill says:

    I hear fancy cherry flavored micro brews are over rated. Welcome back looks like you visited some beautiful places. I really think you’ll like The Brooklyn Nine even though it’s a kids’ book, the baseball history is incredible.

  5. Jimmy says:

    Hey, to be clear: I love children’s books, have read many, and enjoyed quite a few. It’s just that I refuse to give up my adult reading, and there’s only so much time.

    Glad to be back. Really. Don’t go by my face. I’m serious.

    JP

  6. Who is Helen Stringer? Umm…I am! I like the “whos is” though. It makes me feel very mysterious, as if I really ought be rescuing aristos from revolutionary France or smuggling brandy past the noses of eighteenth century excise men.

  7. jimmy says:

    Don’t feel bad, Helen Stringer — whoever you are — I don’t know loads of talented, fabulous folks. Good luck with SPELLBINDER.

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