Stephanie Storey’s Oil and Marble (2016)

Oil and Marble

“Are you a Leonardo person or a Michelangelo person?”

This is the question Stephanie Storey asked me at Books in Bloom when I approached her about autographing my copy of her book Oil and Marble, a novel that chronicles the heated rivalry between two of the best artists who ever lived. Both of whom are definitely people who changed the world for the better!

Now, personally, when it comes to favorite artists, I’m a Caravaggio person. I’ve been obsessed with Caravaggio since I was a teenager. What with his strikingly realistic paintings that wonderfully capture human emotions but also absolutely horrified his 17th century contemporaries, his defiance of then-current painting tradition, his fixation on depicting decapitations (frequently starring his own severed head), and his tumultuous life (which included numerous brawls, at least one murder, being run out of several cities, and a mysterious death), he’s just always intrigued me.

But picking between Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo was pretty easy for me. I told her I was a Leonardo person. My dad, a talented artist in his own right, introduced me to da Vinci, one of his personal favorites, when I was a kid. (Thanks for having great taste in art, Dad!) Da Vinci’s art interested me, but the man himself was what really fascinated me. I loved that that he was talented in so many different fields, from art to engineering, and that he was so fixated on experimenting with flight. And on a personal level, as a kid who compulsively kept a journal and loved to write backwards, I always appreciated his massive collection of journals, full of mirror writing.

So, when Stephanie Storey asked me if I was a Leonardo person or a Michelangelo person, I told her I was a Leonardo person. We chatted a little about why, and then when I turned to leave, she smiled and told me she–a self-proclaimed Michelangelo person–hoped after I read the book that I’d appreciate Michelangelo too.

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Oddly Specific Genres: Worldbuilders

Actions speak louder than dreams . . . at least when you are building better worlds.

So this month we turn from imaginary worlds to the stories of real people who envisioned a better world and made it happen. Read on – worldbuilders just may come in more sizes and shapes than you imagined!

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From Page to Screen: The Martian

As a general rule, space travel has never interested me. It’s nothing personal against outer space–even as a kid, it never captivated me. I was always more interested in history and foreign countries than the outer reaches of the galaxy.

Likewise, science fiction that is about outer space is rarely something I read. I prefer my science fiction dystopian.

Nevertheless, I have been curious about the popularity of both the book and film versions of The Martian and decided, in the name of broadening my horizons (aka doing my part to build a better world), to give them both a try.

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Discussion Thread: Fantasy Worlds

fantasy world

I feel like asking someone what their favorite fantasy world is is a loaded question. Oh I don ‘t doubt that people do have their favorite fictional worlds, but I really don’t think that anyone, when it comes right down to it, would want to live in these worlds.

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Jasper Fforde’s The Last Dragonslayer

The Last Dragonslayer

Dreams of bigger, better worlds don’t have to be so great that you can’t have a little bit of fun. Enter Jasper Fforde’s The Last Dragonslayer.

Jennifer Strange has her hands full overseeing a talent management company for magicians. Even when the fifteen-year-old orphan isn’t fulfilling her apprenticeship in magical management by booking wizards for plumbing jobs and magic carpet riders for food delivery, as well as soothing ruffled egos, there’s also the whole issue of magical energy becoming weaker. Strange herself doesn’t have much power, but even her once skillful clients are feeling the effects. What happens if magic runs out? How are they going to keep a roof over their heads? Where did her boss disappear to months ago when he didn’t come back home? And on top of that, there are rumors that the Last Dragonslayer is supposed to kill the last dragon in a few days. Complications ensue.

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Oddly-Specific Genres: Imagining a Better World

You may have heard, we’re Building a Better World at libraries all over the country this summer.  We’re trying to build one here in Berryville too.  But before you build it, you’ve got to dream it!  So dreaming of new and better worlds is what we’re all about this June.

Fantasy authors have been building imaginary new worlds in their writing for years.  Read on and you may just find a new world worth exploring!  Or at least ideas of things we may want to start doing (or avoid doing) in our real world. . . .

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