Last year, we celebrated our Ohio authors in a special post: Publishing Books Close to Home. We love that we are accessible to writers throughout Ohio, and we learn so much through their stories. Whether it's the survival story of a veteran, the memoir of a Slaughterhouse Kid, the legacy of a respected nun, or even a cookbook (but Not Just Another Cookbook), our authors stories become a part of us, and a part of our own "story" as a book publisher. So here's round two, celebrating our Ohio authors in 2014!
We have had some time to get to know Alyson over the last month, and we are so excited we found her. Following are some of the great things we’ve learned about Alyson (and the picture evidence you’re all waiting for).
1. Alyson danced tap, ballet, jazz, hip hop, and more for fifteen years. We are pleased to add dance to our existing Orange Frazer athletic talents: basketball, softball, swimming, volleyball, bowling, and track.
2. Alyson has a four-year-old Russian Blue cat named after the “Loup-Gurou” werewolf of Cajun folklore, depicted by artist George Rodrigue as the “Blue Dog.” (Related Orange Frazer fact: John Baskin’s black cat is named Coco, not in reference to Chanel, but in reference to the Portuguese word for “poop,” because she pooped in a potted plant at Orange Frazer upon arrival.)
3. Alyson has a grandfather who was the President of Kiwanis International from 1976 to 1977 and met the Emperor of Japan, President Carter, and Shirley Temple.
4. Alyson grew up in Chardon, a town with an average annual snowfall of 107 inches a year, making it the snowiest city in Ohio.
Books are increasingly treated as content vehicles: whether they are paper or digital, they are the means to an end, a structure supporting the stories within. But a paper book can be much more than that, too. Stever Robbins writes that books “deepen existing relationships,” and describes the many ways in which a paper book on a plane, on your bookshelf, or at a bus stop is both an invitation and an introduction. The books we read in public say something about us. They suggest that we’re readers but also hint at the themes that most interest us. Do we enjoy science fiction, philosophical nonfiction, biographies, YA, literary fiction, or how-tos? Sitting on a shelf, a book is an invitation to friends and family to discuss and share ideas and stories.
Robbins’ reflection inspired me to think of the times I have encountered a new relationship—or deepened an existing one—through a paper book. I distinctly remember a train ride from Leipzig, Germany, to my temporary home in Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany in 2011. It was a crowded Sunday evening train, and there were no spare seats. The lady sitting next to me was quietly reading, and when I finally peeked over at her book, I noticed that it was in English. I smiled over to her and asked her, in English (assuming that she might even be American), how she was enjoying her book. To my surprise, her response was halted and self-conscious. She was German and still learning to speak and read in English. We struck up a conversation, and she shared with me how much she wanted to learn and that she had been trying to find discussion groups, but that she didn’t know any native speakers, and had struggled to make any real progress. I felt instantly at ease with her, as I had been struggling to learn German for several years, also wishing that I knew native speakers with whom I could practice. The two of us excitedly—and slowly—talked about our lives, families, and native cities—she in English, and I in German, both passionately practicing our second language. Had I not looked over to see her book, I probably would have just drifted off to sleep for the hour ride home.
I am also reminded, however, of a particularly unsettling café encounter from a few years ago. A fellow high school alum walked in while I was reading and eating my lunch and saw me with a copy of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. He gave me a quizzical look, saying, “Do you really read bestsellers? That’s when I knew my last relationship was over, when books like that started showing up.”
Here’s to the power of the paper book!
Have you ever been introduced by a book? Or deepened a relationship with a family member or friend because of a shared book or interest? Or broken off a relationship over a book? Let me know in the comments; I would love to hear your stories!
When I was working in Cincinnati many years ago at a popular retail establishment, a regular customer (who chose to remain anonymous) started leaving me gifts. At Easter he left a stuffed animal on my car (how did he know which car was mine?) and sent me flowers in May with a note that said, “I would like to get to no you better,” frightening for many reasons, only one of which was his spelling.
My store was open until midnight, and I was often by myself on some morning shifts. I was also responsible for a safe full of money, something my five-foot self was willing to fight to protect even if it was not what was suggested in the SOP manual. Given these circumstances, one can imagine how uncomfortable my new faceless admirer made me feel. So I called the police.
“Leave a note on your car telling them to stop leaving you gifts,” the officer said when I called the police station later that day. “Unfortunately there is nothing we can do until the person stalking you does something harmful,” Not soothed by this illogical response, I called the person whom I always called when frustrated—my mother.
She listened with her usual calm.
“Give me the number of the police station and the name of the officer you spoke with.” I did. The very next morning, a detective and two police officers walked into my store.
“Are you Sarah?” The detective in the suit asked.
“I am.” I responded, staring at the three of them in disbelief thinking, for me? All of this effort for me?
“Do you know a so and so?” The female cop asked.
“Oh my gosh, I do. It’s him? He comes in here at least three times a week,” I said. He was a car mechanic who was very quiet, always polite, and had several teeth missing (all of which I am sure had an interesting story as to their departure from his mouth.)
“Well, that is who has been sending your flowers and placing gifts on your car. We have instructed him to stop immediately and he will be in later on today when he gets off work to apologize. If he gives you any more trouble please let me know,” said the detective.
And then the three of them left.
My mother always knew how to protect me. Growing up I watched her shield me from the typical family feuds with my dad, or from my sister when she was being overly bossy, or from some mean girl ‘friends’ when puberty unleashed its hormone induced fury on our innocence and turned us against one another.
I inherited this protective instinct. I know this because about two decades after she saved me from my unwitting stalker, I almost stabbed her burglar with a pair of pink, Susan G. Komen themed scissors.
In July of 2013, the alarm company called our office to let my mom know that someone was trying to break into her home. Did she want them to call the police? “Yes!” she yelled. She slammed down the phone and ran to her car (she lives two minutes away from the office). “You are not going alone!” I cried. Before running down the stairs, I ran back to my office and grabbed my shiny, pink-handled Susan G. Komen scissors, my co-workers looking at me as if I’d gone mad. I had! I felt the adrenaline pump from the pit of my stomach to my shoulders, swirling around the base of my neck and into my head. I was becoming the world’s tiniest incredible Hulk.
We sped to the house. The minute I saw the side door with the windows broken out, I ran to it and screamed through the now glassless door frame and at the possible intruder, “Motherfuckaaarrrr! If you are still in there I am going to kill you!” It just so happened that a large, balding police officer was rounding the house from the back yard at that second. I startled him and he looked at me as if I was possessed. In fact I was possessed. I wanted to hurt the person who threatened my mom’s safety and who violated the house I grew up in and I felt no fear doing so. My life was not as important to me at that moment as my mother’s was to me.
Since I couldn’t climb through the window of the door, the police officer and I went to the front of the house where my mom was and she unlocked the door. The three of us started searching the house for the intruder—under the beds, in the closet, and behind the doors. The perpetrator, had I found him, would have gotten stabbed in the eye with my Susan G. Komen’s.
The intruder was not found in the house. He, upon breaking the glass, triggered the alarm and ran off. But not before slicing himself up on all of the shards. He was eventually found and charged for attempted burglary and sent where misguided, drugged up, lost souls go. My mother would rest assured that her house would not be broken into, at least for a while, and that her guard dog of a daughter would protect her at the first sign of real danger. (Whatever that means to have your tiny, five-foot-tall daughter protect you.)
But I know it means ripping my heart out of my chest and beating a person over the head with it if someone tried to harm her.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
To honor the New Year of 2014, we thought a trip down memory lane from one of our employees might be fun. Take a trip with Sarah, our production manager and daughter of Marcy Hawley, the publisher, as she recalls all decades of her life ending in the number four. 2004 was the year for sports books. Orange Frazer published Joe Rounding Third and Heading for Home and Bengals Legends; the Men, the Deeds, the Consequences. I was still a starry-eyed publicist. Back then, speaking to well-known Cincinnatians like Joe Nuxhall, Greg Hoard, Isaac Curtis, Louis Breeden, and Dave Lapham made me feel that I was a little moon in their sporty solar system, mistakenly thinking that I, too, was a star and that I should have played a professional sport. (Like what? I’m only good at cleaning, saying “No” to change, and worrying.) Needless to say, that year brought a lot people into my life; some who are still my friends today, while others were meant to be a part of my tidy and neurotic universe only as supernovas.
In 1994, I was graduating from college, moving into a house in Hyde Park, Ohio, with friends, and suffering from a vicious case of mono. I think “College Grad with Mono” is a story worth telling that is really not worth telling.
Orange Frazer was still a dream in 1984. Marcy, the publisher, was writing for Ohio Magazine and under the tutelage of then Ohio Magazine editor, John Baskin. Marcy was now making enough money from writing that she could afford more things for the family and add to my father’s income. In one summer (My sister Margaret and I refer to it as “The Super Summer of 1984”) my mother purchased mauve wall-to-wall carpeting for the TV room, ordered HBO, purchased a microwave oven and new kitchen countertops. My sister and I thought, “Our parents have been lying to us. We are the descendants of Austrian Royalty and our inheritance just kicked in.” We watched everything on HBO even if it was rated R, staying up late into the hours previously reserved for nightmares or sickness. We microwaved marshmallows, sandwiches, SpaghettiOs, eggs, candy, and probably our brain cells as we watched the food boil and swell and cook magically by the aid of electromagnetic radiation. Our beds were now our sleeping bags and pillows spread all over the carpet. We absorbed its mauve color, sponginess, and new smell through all of our senses. Margaret and I slept downstairs the entire summer, ensuring maximum enjoyment and usage of these purchases. The kitchen and the living room became our magic kingdom. Who needed Mickey Mouse? (We thought he was creepy, anyway.) Our dad let us watch Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Porky’s.
In 1974, I was two and only remember falling down my grandmother’s basement steps along with a wicker baby-doll carriage full of Fisher-Price people. The cement floor at the bottom was my first conscious experience that life can be hard, painful, and cold. My mother, clad in white cut off jean shorts and a blue tee-shirt, picked me up and cradled a painful situation away. Falling down those stairs could explain why I don’t like basements or the cold, but maybe it is really from a college experience, once again, not worth mentioning.