This month, we're lucky enough to welcome journalist and author Sarah Smarsh to the shop to discuss and sign her new memoir of growing up poor in rural America, Heartland. Heartland is Valerie's pick for book of the year; it was also just longlisted for the National Book Award for Nonfiction. So get out the pen and circle the date on your calendar—Sarah visits us on September 20, and we can't wait to see you there. In the meantime, tide yourself over by reading the conversation between Sarah and Valerie below.
Did you know that we publish new author interviews every month?
We've had the pleasure of chatting with amazing writers and illustrators across a range of genres, so no matter what you love, we've got a Q&A you're sure to enjoy.
Scroll down to browse the full archive.
There are some authors we have the distinct joy of seeing again and again. Authors like Gabrielle Zevin, say, who has graced our shop on each of her book tours. We can hardly go three months without bringing Mac Barnett to the shop. Sarah Bird, Jennifer Mathieu, Katherine Applegate... the list goes on.
Houston's own Katharine McGee is one of those frequent Blue Willow fliers. We've hosted the launch party for each new release in her Thousandth Floor YA trilogy, those bestelling founts of primetime drama, glitzy glamour, and breathless romance. The final book in the series, The Towering Sky, comes out later this month. Which means that—you guessed it—we get to throw another launch party for this longtime friend of the store. (Not to mention a juicy pre-order campaign that you really shouldn't miss out on.)
August 29th is the date in question—we're looking forward to seeing you there. In the meantime, catch up with Katharine by reading our Q&A.
Here at the shop, we've been big fans of Bob Shea since we first saw his work over ten years ago. Bob has delighted us again and again with hilarious stories full of colorful characters like Dinosaur, Unicorn, Ballet Cat, and Cheetah. What can we say? We're a book store. We love people who write and illustrate wonderful books. But then there's this other thing about Bob, too: When Hurricane Harvey hit last fall, Bob was one of the first people to reach out to the shop and offer to help. His idea? A donation program to support area schools affected by the hurricane, with each donor receiving a hand-drawn unicorn. Thanks to him, we raised more than $10,000 to rebuild school and classroom libraries. So it's safe to say that Bob Shea is a pretty cool guy.
Which is why we're so excited that he's coming to visit us. We can't wait to welome Bob to the shop on September 18 (which happens to be the release date of his new picture book Crash, Splash, or Moo!). We encourage you all to stop by, hear all about his wonderful new book, and show how much the city appreciates his generosity. Circle those calendars! In the meantime, check out our fun Q&A.
Most people know Mac Barnett as an acclaimed children’s book author responsible for titles like Triangle and The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse. But his forthcoming memoir for young readers, Mac B. Kid Spy: Mac Undercover, divulges that he’s much more than that. The explosive revelation at the book’s center—that Barnett spied for the Queen of England as a child—is sure to set the literary world alight when the book is published this fall. We’re lucky enough to welcome Mr. Barnett to the shop on his memoir’s release date, September 11. In the meantime, slake your curiosity by reading our revealing Q&A with the international-superspy-turned-author.
(*Ed. note: Portions of the following conversation have been redacted by official government agencies. We're working with our legal team to declassify the material.)
Houston author and dear friend of the shop Varsha Bajaj is on some kind of roll. When she's not in the news for scoring an exciting #ownvoices publishing deal with Nancy Paulsen, she's penning delightful middle grade novels. And when she's not doing that, she's creating incredible picture books. Her next release in that last category is called The Home Builders, and it's hitting shelves on February 12. It's a beautiful story with beautiful illustrations, and we can't wait to help Varsha launch the book here at the shop in February. We're delighted to reveal illustrator Simona Mulazzani's gorgeous cover below. Bask in its loveliness for a minute or two, then keep scrolling to read our Q+A with Varsha. Then, pre-order your copy at the bottom of the page. Trust us on this one: It'll hold a special place on your shelf for a long time.
Samuel Miller has talent. That much is apparent to anyone who knows his rock band, Paradise Fears, which was a fixture of the iTunes Alternative Charts after the release of the album Battle Scars. But Sam doesn't stop there. Nowadays, he's writing beautiful literary YA novels in addition to making music magic—and he's got his eyes on other art forms, too. We asked Sam about all of this when we caught up with him for a quick Q&A; check out his answers to our questions below. And don't forget to swing by the store on Sunday, June 3 at 2:00 pm. That's when we're hosting Samuel for music, conversation, and a signing. His debut, A Lite Too Bright, is going to be a notable book in the YA season—don't miss it.
Houston native Katherine Center has been a staff favorite since, oh, pretty much the first moment we met her. We've adored each of her novels. But her latest, How to Walk Away, might be her best yet. Plus, it's an official selection on the May Indie Next List. Pre-order the book through our website to receive a signed copy, plus some exclusive swag. Then, set aside some time on the evening of May 17. That's when Katherine's stopping by to celebrate the new release.
While you wait (thirteen days and counting, as of this publication!), check out our Q&A with the author.
You know us. We have a tendency to wax poetic about the power of a great novel, like Young Jane Young (watch for it in paperback!) or A Gentleman in Moscow (watch for it on your television!). But a good piece of nonfiction? Now that will really get us going. There's something extra magical about reading a propulsive tale full of complex characters and shocking plot developments—and knowing that all of it actually happened.
Author Denise Kiernan is a modern master of the nonfiction form—she's responsible for undisputed staff favorites like The Girls of Atomic City and The Last Castle. The latter of those two is celebrating its paperback release in May, and Denise herself is swinging by the shop on May 8 to share its story and sign copies. If you haven't read it already, do yourself a favor and snag a copy—you have just enough time to savor it before the event. If you have read it, well, we have a feeling we'll be seeing you there. In the meantime, tide yourself over by checking out our illuminating Q&A with Denise below.
It's been well over a year since we first got hold of an ARC of Gail Honeman's debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. In the intervening months, the book flew from staff member to staff member, always accompanied by that most exciting of phrases: "You have to read this." It was a natural choice for our staff book club. And when it was published last May, we pressed it into as many hands as we could reach.
So it probably goes without saying that we're excited to welcome Gail to the shop on June 11. Seriously, friends, go ahead and circle your calendars now. We'll wait.
When you get back, check out these insightful questions and answers, courtesy of Pamela Dorman books. And if you haven't read it already, get ready to meet your new favorite novel.
Roshani Chokshi rocked the YA world when her debut novel, The Star-Touched Queen, shot up the New York Times bestseller list upon its publication in 2016. Tabbed as an "author to watch" by Kirkus, she hasn't let her foot off the gas since. A Crown of Wishes, the follow-up to The Star-Touched Queen earned more starred reviews as it expanded Chokshi's fictional universe and doubled down on the original's clever nods to Indian folklore. Now, Chokshi is tackling a new challenge: Writing for middle grade readers. Her middle grade debut, Aru Shah and the End of Time, is the story of a twelve-year-old girl who unwittingly frees an ancient demon and has to journey through the Hindu Kingdom of Death. It was chosen to launch Rick Riordan's new publishing imprint, and it doesn't disappoint.
Don't miss Roshani when she visits the store on March 28—we're so jazzed to share this book with Houston readers. Learn more about this exciting young author by reading our Q&A below, then pre-order Aru Shah to reserve your spot in the signing line when Roshani comes to town.