Bookselling and writing have long been intertwined. Not only do booksellers promote authors and literature, but many writers got their starts working in bookstores. Eowyn Ivey wrote her debut novel, The Snow Child, which was a finalist for a 2013 Pulitzer Prize, while working at Fireside Books in Palmer, Alaska. And a number of established writers have gone in the other direction, starting bookstores after establishing themselves as writers—Ann Patchett, Parnassus Books in Nashville; Nora Roberts, Turn the Page in Boonsboro, Md.; Larry McMurtry, Booked Up in Archer City, Tex.; Jonathan Lethem, Red Gap Books in Blue Hill, Maine; Louise Erdrich, Birchbark Books in Minneapolis; and Garrison Keillor, Common Good Books in St. Paul, Minn.; to name just a few. Increasingly though, some writers who started out as booksellers are choosing to do both: maintain their bookselling bona fides while continuing to write. And next May, there will be at least one more: Flying Shoes, by Lisa Howorth, cofounder of the 2013 PW Bookstore of the Year, Square Books in Oxford, Miss. Her first novel is based on the real-life murder of her stepbrother. Below are several bookseller-authors with new books that are just out or about to be published.
William Petrocelli: The Circle of Thirteen, Turner (Oct.)
The co-owner of Book Passage in Corte Madera and San Francisco, Calif., former deputy attorney general for the state of California, and former poverty lawyer in Oakland is no stranger to publishing. Although this is Petrocelli’s debut novel, he published a book on computer privacy in 1981 in response to the Nixon-era excesses and coauthored a book on sexual harassment. Petrocelli also writes for the Huffington Post and handles much of Book Passage’s back end—dealing with computers and editing the store newsletter, which goes out to 35,000 customers. “The novel is all about strong women. I consider myself a male feminist, and I wanted to write a book where the women are strong enough to carry through the story,” said Petrocelli, who believes that “if you solve gender equality, you solve all the other problems.” He’s planning to launch the book at his own store and will do an East Coast tour with a stop at the Miami Book Fair at the end of November. Although he declined to give many details about his next novel, Petrocelli disclosed that one character is a bookseller.
Suzanne Staubach: Guy Wolff: Master Potter in the Garden, UPNE (July)
This is Staubach’s fourth book, and UPNE is reissuing Clay, an earlier work, in September. The longtime manager of general books at the UConn Co-op and potter (willowtreepottery
.us), said that she is able to do so much, because she needs very little sleep. “Most days I get up early in the morning. I work long days, but try to do something productive before and after each work day,” says Staubach. The book—about a well-known potter whose work graces the gardens of designers—had its official launch on July 14 at Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot, Conn., with Wolff, photographer Joseph Szalay, and Tovah Martin, who wrote one of the two forewords on site. Other events include one connected to an exhibit of Wolff’s pots at the University of Connecticut, as well as appearances at the Florence Griswald Museum in Old Lyme, Conn.; the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass.; and the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Mass. Next up for Staubach is a book on sunken gardens, a form favored by such literary women as Edith Wharton, and Staubach’s efforts to create one. She’s also planning a biography of a pot, specifically an Inca beer jar.
Josh Christie: Maine Beer: Brewing in Vacationland, History Press (May)
A bookseller at Sherman’s Books and Stationery in Freeport, Maine, Christie writes about beer and books on his Web site, BrewsandBooks.com. “I never really had aspirations toward writing a book, but a commissioning editor at the History Press reached out to me,” Christie said. His first book, about Maine’s often complicated history with alcohol, was written on nights, weekends, and vacation days. The book launched at Sherman’s in Freeport this past Memorial Day, but has a few other natural outlets—the Sherman’s stores in Camden, Boothbay Harbor, and Bar Harbor, Maine. Christie will sign at other bookstores, beer festivals, and breweries around the state this summer. For his next book he’s planning to focus on skiing and outdoor activities, which he writes about for the Maine Sunday Telegram.
Steven Moore: The Novel: An Alternative History, 1600–1800, Bloomsbury (Aug.)
Moore began his bookselling career in Colorado where he opened his own store, Moore Books, in Englewood in 1978. Three years later it closed and he took a hiatus from bookselling with a stint at Dalkey Archive. Then in 2001 he moved to Ann Arbor, Mich., to become a buyer at Borders Book Group until he was laid off in 2010. Throughout his bookselling career Moore has continued to write, five books in all, starting with A Readers Guide to William Gaddis (Univ. of Nebraska) in 1982. “Writing criticism has always appealed to me,” he told PW. “I always made time to do so no matter where I was working.” His most recent book, due out in August, is the second volume of his two-book work on the history of the novel. PW’s reviewer wrote that in volume one, which covers the beginnings up to 1600, “Moore has done such a superb job that readers will be eager for volume two the moment they put the book down.”