Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Faces of The Passion of Dolssa (Paperback Release Day!)

Today The Passion of Dolssa releases in paperback from Penguin.
I love paperbacks. They’re cozy and bendable. They squunch into your purse or backpack. Pricewise, they put books in the reach of more readers. Always a plus. So it’s great to see this second birth.

The cover is essentially the same as the hardback, now with a big silver thingy, but who’s noticing? (Ahem.) Below is a video providing some historical context.  The paperback edition features a great list of discussion questions, perfect for book clubs and classrooms. And for anyone who closes the book shaking their fists at me, here is a page on my website that discusses the ending. Before you click on it you must sign a blood oath* swearing to have read it in full, because I dislike spoilers. *Seriously. **Not really, but still.

It’s interesting to me that, when talking of movies, the directors’ names are widely celebrated, nearly as much as the big stars', and in some cases more. Producers’ names even make the cut, and makeup artists, costume designers, and set designers are starting to have decent brand-name currency among moviegoers. The writers, with very few exceptions, remain fairly obscure. TV tips the scale a bit; TV writers have a bit more clout and power, but still they remain mostly behind the scenes.

Labor pains. Poor guy.
In the book world, however, the author is held up as the lone creative genius (or not-so-genius) who birthed their works in violent explosions of divine creation, much like, I imagine, Athena bursting from the head of Zeus. Editors must be the closest analog literature has to directors and producers, yet they receive no mention unless the writer names them in the acknowledgements. The publisher puts its stamp on the spine, but the army of talent that contributes editorial feedback, book design, production assistance, marketing insight, and management oversight remains faceless, except to industry insiders.

We need an Oscars for the book world. And SAG Awards. We have many book award-granting organizations (bless them!), but in every case, the author is the face accepting the accolades. After watching this year’s Oscars, I thought that the entire publishing family should be ushered onstage when a Newbery, Caldecott, or Printz medal is awarded. Preferably, they wouldn’t need to scurry offstage awkwardly when a wrong title is announced.

Kendra Levin
I am grateful for the many accolades and honors The Passion of Dolssa has received. Beyond grateful. At times, a bit overcome. But it feels wrong to accept such kindness without acknowledging the immense presence of my editor, Kendra Levin, on every page of this book. Her commitment to helping me create the kind of book I aspired to write is the reason why The Passion of Dolssa is what it is today. It was a long, arduous, sometimes torturous process, birthing this story from the swirling mess inside my head. (Kendra might admit it took forceps.) It was also the most stimulating, rewarding intellectual work of my life. Thus far. I wouldn’t change a thing. But I would have nothing if Kendra hadn’t been willing to trudge those miles with me, draft after draft after draft. We had other helpful road companions, too, in the persons of my dear critique group readers, and above all, my highly satisfactory husband, Phil. It takes a hamlet to write a medieval story.
Mark Pegg
Ken Wright

Speaking of which, the historical credibility of this book would be nonexistent without the generous help of Professor Mark Pegg, medievalist and historian on the faculty of Washington University of Saint Lewis. His scholarly research was crucial, and his thoughtful input on the manuscript provided keen insights and spared many errors.
Alyssa Henkin
My agent, Alyssa Henkin of Trident Media Group, and my publisher, Ken Wright, gave this idea two enthusiastic thumbs-up. Dana Leydig and Eileen Kreit have brought forth the beautiful paperback edition, with all its bonus features.

Dana Leydig
Is it goofy to thank the characters? Or at least, acknowledge them? I love them. They are real to me. And I learned so much from them, from every person in this large ensemble cast. Dolssa de Stigata, teenage noblewoman and mystic, and Botille Flasucra, matchmaker, bar wench, and all-around hustler, are the two stars of this story. The friendship they form under extreme circumstances is one of the dearest parts of this story to me. In some ways, the setup is an expanded retelling of the parable of the Good Samaritan, though I did not realize it at the time. The novel asks, just how far might caring for the wounded go – all the way to sacrificial love? Or if caring proves dangerous, when should it stop? Loving and trusting another human being may be the most perilous thing we ever do. And the most necessary for our deepest happiness. Just ask Symo.
Eileen Kreit

Where to find The Passion of Dolssa in paperback: Your local Indie store | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Powell’s | Amazon.  

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