Last month’s BookExpo America included a reception and signing in the ABA’s Indie Bookseller Lounge that put a spotlight on the summer and fall 2014 Indies Introduce titles.
Indies Introduce was launched in 2013 as a multi-publisher promotion featuring the season’s top debut titles selected by two committees — one adult committee and one children’s, each with nine booksellers representing the different bookselling regions — and highlighting the relationship between booksellers and emerging authors.
Booksellers are encouraged to view the video of the reception authors reading excerpts from their books, and to review the accompanying Indies Introduce handout, which has been made available in BookWeb’s Designs and Downloads and can be used for in-store promotion.
At the BEA reception, booksellers who were a part of the Indies Introduce committee took time to describe each title that was chosen and what made it stand apart from the rest. Of the 20 authors whose titles were included in the summer and fall program, 11 were present at the reception to express their appreciation to booksellers, to sign copies of their books, and to share with attendees a few words about their experiences as debut authors.
Bill Cusumano of Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, Michigan, introduced Smith Henderson’s Fourth of July Creek (Ecco). “This books is fierce, it is unrelenting, it is a truly vital depiction of a shattered and splintered society that we live in,” said Cusumano, as he welcomed the author.
“I’m really excited to have a book I’ve been working on for 10 years finally hit the shelves,” said Henderson. “And I’m very excited to have ABA honor it in this way.”
Kathleen Caldwell of A Great Good Place for Books in Oakland, California, described The Untold by Courtney Collins (Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam) as a beautiful and disturbing survival tale of a woman who flees the law after killing her abusive husband.
“Thank you for your extreme efforts and passion for our books,” Collins told the booksellers in attendance.
Jonathon Welch of Talking Leaves Books in Buffalo, New York, described Us Conductors by Sean Michaels (Tin House Books) as “a work of extraordinary imagination” inspired by Russian scientist and spy Lev Termen, who invented the theremin. “Michaels weaves a tapestry of language and wonder, inventing a history that illuminates the contradictory impulses behind and the uses of the human imagination,” said Welch, who then introduced Michaels.
“More than anything, [this is] a book about searching through the air for a connection to people you can’t see,” said Michaels. “I can’t think of a bigger honor for this book than to be recognized by independent booksellers around the United States, who are… helping forge these connections.”
Liberty Hardy of Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s RiverRun Bookstore introduced Maria Venegas’ Adult Nonfiction title, Bulletproof Vest (Farrar Straus and Giroux), an account of Venegas’ complicated relationship with her estranged father.
“Someone asked what it feels like to be publishing my book,” said Venegas. “I likened it to putting a baby in a basket and sailing it down the river and hoping it finds its way in the world. It’s really exciting to be here, and to be recognized feels like an affirmation of the work itself.”
Kenny Brechner of Devaney Doak and Garrett Booksellers presented The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove (Viking Juvenile), describing it as “that rare book, filled with the wonder, adventure, and intellectual and emotional intrigue, which you will do everything in your power to savor and stay immersed in.”
“I’ve lived in many places, and in almost all of those, I’ve taken refuge in a bookstore,” said Grove. “We go there for recommendations, for the sense of being surrounded by friends, and it’s a wonderful thing knowing that you can go to so many places and find that.”
RiverRun’s Hardy then welcomed author Tom Bouman, whose novel Dry Bones in the Valley (W.W. Norton) was described as a compelling murder mystery focusing on a police officer in rural Pennsylvania who is driven to do what is right.
Citing his experience in the publishing industry, Bouman said he knew that getting published was not a guarantee to finding a readership. “This is way beyond what I imagined,” he said. “I am very, very proud to have the support of independent booksellers, who do so much for our country.”
Sara Hines of Falmouth, Massachusetts’s Eight Cousins Books presented The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher (Delacorte) as “a laugh-out-loud story of a patchwork family that balances zany antics with heartfelt moments.” Hines introduced author Dana Alison Levy, who thanked the audience of booksellers.
“When you write for kids, mostly you want kids to love your books,” said Levy. “Second after kids, independent booksellers loving your books is pretty much as good as it gets. To have this honor and have the book loved and celebrated by Sara and her colleagues is awesome.”
In discussing Malcolm Brooks’s Painted Horses (Grove Press), Cusumano said it is “absolutely a work of art,” adding, “it’s so great to know that a great book can be written by a good, good person.”
“People ask me all the time, ‘how do you know all this stuff?’ The reason I know all this stuff is books, and the availability of books,” said Brooks, who noted that if it weren’t for the two bookstores in his small town, “I don’t think my book would exist.”
“As much of an honor as it is to be selected for this, what’s bigger than that is the appreciation I feel for what you all do every day for the love of books,” Brooks concluded.
The strange irony of warfare, said Cusumano, in introducing Fives and Twenty-Fives (Bloomsbury USA), is that “it has produced some of the greatest literature we’ve ever seen.” A novel of the Iraq war and its aftermath, this book is “an absolutely beautiful, beautiful description of how war not only shatters people who participate, but also the people around them and the people who contact them afterward,” said Cusumano.
“This is beyond flattering,” said the book’s author, Michael Pitre, adding that his book was written in the years following his departure from the Marines, at the insistence of his wife. “I didn’t expect it to be read by anyone but her,” he said. “All of your support means more than you know.”
Eight Cousins’ Hines introduced the Young Adult title Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang (Greenwillow Books), characterizing it as “a fascinating and captivating investigation of character and humanity.”
“I want to thank you as a reader and a writer for everything you do,” said Zhang.
Hines then introduced another YA title, Robin Talley’s Lies We Tell Ourselves (Harlequin Teen), a story of two teenagers experiencing desegregation for the first time in their Virginia school.
“What I associate with [independent bookstores] is a gathering place for authors,” Talley said. “It’s really a wonderful thing and I really appreciate all of you.”
Below is the full list of summer and fall Indies Introduce titles.
Fourth of July Creek, by Smith Henderson
(Ecco, 9780062286444, Publication date 5/27/2014)
The Untold, by Courtney Collins
(Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, 9780399167096, Publication date 5/29/2014)
We Are Called to Rise, by Laura McBride
(Simon & Schuster, 9781476738963, Publication date 6/3/2014)
Us Conductors, by Sean Michaels
(Tin House Books, dist. by PGW, 9781935639817, Publication date 6/10/2014, paperback)
The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even: A Novel, by Chris F. Westbury
(Counterpoint, dist. by PGW, 9781619022904, Publication date 6/10/2014)
Dry Bones in the Valley, by Tom Bouman
(W.W. Norton & Company, 9780393243024, Publication date 7/7/2014)
Painted Horses, by Malcolm Brooks
(Grove Press, 9780802121646, Publication date 8/5/2014)
Fives and Twenty-Fives, by Michael Pitre
(Bloomsbury USA, 9781620407547, Publication date 8/26/2014)
Bulletproof Vest, by Maria Venegas
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374117313, Publication date 6/17/2014)
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, by Caitlin Doughty
(W.W. Norton & Company, 9780393240238, Publication date 9/15/2014)
The Secret Hum of a Daisy, by Tracy Holczer
(Putnam Juvenile, 9780399163937, Publication date 5/1/14)
The Glass Sentence, by S.E. Grove
(Viking Juvenile, 9780670785025, Publication date 6/12/14)
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher, by Dana Alison Levy
(Delacorte BYR, 9780385376525, Publication date 7/22/14)
The Truth About Alice, by Jennifer Mathieu
(Roaring Brook Press, 9781596439092, Publication date 6/3/14)
Midnight Thief, by Livia Blackburne
(Disney-Hyperion, 9781423176381, Publication date 7/8/14)
Illusive, by Emily Lloyd-Jones
(Little, Brown BYR, 9780316254564, Publication date 7/15/14)
Six Feet Over It, by Jennifer Longo
(Random House BYR, 9780449818718, Publication date 8/26/14)
Falling Into Place, by Amy Zhang
(Greenwillow Books, 9780062295040, Publication date 9/9/14)
Salt & Storm, by Kendall Kulper
(Little, Brown BYR, 9780316404518, Publication date 9/23/14)
Lies We Tell Ourselves, by Robin Talley
(Harlequin Teen, 9780373211333, Publication date 9/30/14)
The Summer/Fall 2014 Indies Introduce Debut Authors Committee:
Jonathon Welch, Talking Leaves Books, Buffalo, NY (Chair)
Bill Cusumano, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI
Liberty Hardy, RiverRun Bookstore, Portsmouth, NH
Kenny Coble, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA
David Enyeart, Common Good Books, St. Paul, MN
Stephanie Crowe, Page and Palette, Fairhope, AL
Andrea Avantagio, Maria’s Bookshop, Durango, CO
Adrian Newell, Warwick’s, La Jolla, CA
Kathleen Caldwell, A Great Good Place for Books, Oakland, CA
The Summer/Fall 2014 Indies Introduce New Voices Committee:
Valerie Koehler, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX (Chair)
Kenny Brechner, Devaney Doak & Garrett, Farmington, ME
Krista Gilliam, Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, GA
Sara Hines, Eight Cousins Books, Falmouth, MA
Ellen Klein, Hooray For Books!, Alexandria, VA
Judith Lafitte, Octavia Books, New Orleans, LA
Summer Laurie, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA
Tess Riesmeyer, Penguin Bookshop, Sewickley, PA
Emily Ring, Inklings Bookshop, Yakima, WA
Kris Vreeland, Once Upon A Time, Montrose, CA