Hello, hello, my friends! How are you?
I’m doing well. I have a birthday coming up soon, so I’ve been reflecting on life more than usual. I’ve been thinking a lot about what inspires me. One recent and great inspiration is the author Alan Bradley and about a month ago I finished reading his Flavia de Luce series. I read all 10 books over several weeks, one right after another, transported to the 1950s and soaking in the mysteries. Flavia, a brilliant 11-year-old amateur scientist and sleuth, is growing up quite unsupervised in a ramshackle manor in a quaint English village (for the most part — there’s a short-lived stint at a Canadian boarding school for one of the books). I can’t imagine anyone not being smitten with this indomitable, spunky tween. Spending time with Flavia, the eccentric cast of characters, and the smart plot twists became a comforting nighttime ritual. I was bereft when I completed the last book. To prolong the magic of the Alan Bradley world, I even read the stand alone short story and his memoir.
Mr. Bradley published the first Flavia de Luce novel when he was 70-years-old in 2009. He’s now in his early 80s, and after a rigorous publishing schedule of at least one book a year that lasted over a decade, he seems to be taking a bit of a break right now. His books are so clever and wise and witty! I’ve watched quite a few interviews with him, and he’s as charming as his books– there’s so much I love about him. I mean, how cool is it that he published his first novel at 70??? It’s never too late. I made that little sketch up there while thinking about Flavia — I should have included a test tube and a piece of bread toasting over a laboratory bunsen burner. Or her trusty bicycle, Gladys.
In his interviews, he mentions that his inner 11-year-old is alive and well in the here and now — I feel the same way. A staggering factoid he dropped during one interview was that he has roughly 13,000 books in his library. 13,000! He didn’t say that he actually read all of them, but I suspect he’s read a mind-blowing number of books since it sounds like he was a very early and insatiable reader. Having a sizable home library has been a life goal of mine ever since I visited a friend back when I was in my twenties. My friend was subletting a house from a professor on sabbatical leave, and my jaw dropped when I saw the beautiful library with floor to ceiling bookshelves. The requisite comfy leather armchair and reading lamp nestled in the corner of the room. I could just picture myself sitting in that chair, lost in one of the hundreds of books. Right then and there, I decided that one day I would have a home library just like it. The dream hasn’t materialized yet, but I know it’s happening.
I don’t think I’ve ever shared on the ole blog here that a few years ago, I started tracking the number of books I read. For the last three years I’ve read at least 100 books per year, though you’ll have to take this number with a grain of salt since I do include picture books in the total tally. Picture books totally count in my opinion! So far I’ve read 65 books in 2022 (of which about 10 are picture books). I would say that the average page count per novel or non-fiction book is about 275 pages. It’s been enormously enriching to be reading a lot again. Reading has always been, and remains, my favorite activity in the world. I feel so lucky that I get to make books as well.
Mr. Bradley appears to be enjoying his life as an author immensely. As someone who can easily get angsty, that inspires me to no end. I have a tendency to obsessively research authors after I read their books and out of all the writers I’ve “studied” (aka stalked), Alan Bradley seems far and away the most delighted and delightful, at least to me. I admire his humility and his wit and I absolutely love that he dedicates every one of his books to his wife, Shirley, whom he clearly adores. Plus, his book acknowledgements are so sweet and interestingly specific, often with shoutouts to booksellers.
I too have rigorously published an average of 1 book a year for the last 7 years, though my book sales are quite modest compared to Mr. Bradley’s mega-hits. Still, I’m honored that this is my career and hey, I’m only 50 (almost 51!). There’s plenty of time for honing my craft(s). I have three more books coming out in August, which I’ll talk a lot more about next month. And I may have some other exciting news to share soon too! Fingers crossed.
Alright, that’s it for now. I’m looking forward to quiet celebrations, lots of reading, writing, painting, sewing and the like. The usual. I’ll be back next month with fun stuff!