Behind the Book: When We Were Young by Karen Kingsbury

Editor’s Note: Karen Kingsbury has captivated thousands with her Baxter Family series. No one is more invested in a single family than Kingsbury fans. Her award-winning books center on realistic storylines and emotional writing keep bringing fans back for more and more. In her latest novel, When We Were Young, she focuses on second chances and the way back to each other. We had the opportunity to catch up with Karen recently, and she was kind enough to provide us with answers to our questions.

When We Were Young front cover

When We Were Young focuses on second chances. What inspired you to write about this?
My son, Tyler, showed me a new John Mayer song – Never on the Day You Leave. The message was haunting. My take away question was this: What if you could know today what would happen if you really walked out that door tomorrow? From that point, the novel came to life. Like all my books, very soon God had given me a movie in my head and heart. I loved everything about writing this book.

Noah becomes obsessed with social media, which severely damages his marriage. What do you feel are the pitfalls of becoming obsessed with your projected image? An image is just that – a picture of reality. Almost always it is not actual reality. We use social media to present our best selves to the world. But often times we do this at the cost of time we might otherwise have spent on our real lives. Time with real people, building real relationships. When we worry too much about the way our friends and family and even strangers view us, we can lose what is real. This is what happens to Noah in When We Were Young.

Were Emily and Noah inspired by any real-life people? 
No, they are completely fictional, although there are many couples whose love stories have brought them significant social media followings. My son’s friend stopped by the house recently, and we were talking about what these young people wanted to do when they finished school. Her answer was simple: “I want to be Internet famous.” This is the risk with the current culture. Rather than wanting what is real for love alone, they want love to be perfect so they can become famous. It is troubling.

What would you recommend couples do to ensure they don’t neglect their relationship?
 For married couples, it is important to make a habit of intimacy. This means looking into the eyes of your husband or wife daily. Kiss often. Hug. Develop a pattern of closeness that the world cannot touch. The focus for a married couple should not only be on physical love but emotional and intellectual love, as well. Spiritual love, too. Pray together. Read the Bible together. Talk late into the night. Stay deep. People need not worry about whether the world approves or applauds. Love is between two people and God. Period.

When We Were Young takes place over the course of a single night. Why did you decide to keep the story within that timeframe?
Growing up, my favorite Christmas movie was Scrooge, the musical, starring Albert Finney. Our family still makes a point of gathering to watch that old classic. I always cry over the fact that Scrooge is changed in a single night. So … between the song and the movie, I wanted to find a way for Noah to see his future play out the same way – all in a twenty-four hour period. I believed that would create the greatest impact for the story.

What was your favorite part about writing this book?
The possibilities it contains. I believe God is going to use this story to strengthen and save marriages. I cried at the thought of Noah understanding – all in one night – the cost he was exacting on his family by walking out the door in the morning. Tears fell down my cheeks as I wrote much of this book.  I think it will have the same impact on readers.

What do you think it is that draws Emily and Noah to each other?
Emily and Noah are drawn by their ability to sacrifice for others. They love without counting the cost to themselves. Noah is struck by Emily’s love for her handicapped sister Clara, while Emily is drawn to Noah’s determination to sacrifice the sport he loves for her. Theirs is a beautiful, desperate love. But isn’t that how so many marriages begin? The trick, then, is to keep it that way. This is the story of When We Were Young.

In many ways, this book comes across as a call to action to couples around the world to put each other at the center of their world. Do you feel this change is needed? Why or why not?
Yes, I do feel When We Were Young calls husbands and wives to a deeper relationship and a closer walk with each other. Other than faith in God, the most important decision you will make in life is whom you marry and how you treat that person. Your marriage has the potential to give you a beautiful life. But it also has the possibility of tearing your life apart. Little choices today can net big dividends tomorrow – for better or worse. Today’s culture is instant and fast-paced. It is easy to neglect the one person who loves you and knows you best – your husband or wife. It’s time to turn off our computers and turn to each other.

Noah is allowed a glimpse of his future if he makes one choice. What would you do with the ability to see your future?
For any of us – me included – the ability to see our future gives us a strong desire to change. Perhaps in some cases, a glimpse at tomorrow would encourage us to stay the course or better enjoy the wonderful marriages we already have. It’s important to realize how taking a small step away from your spouse – to the right or left – will in ten years or twenty take you to vastly different places. Guard your marriage. Protect your love. Invest in it. In that way, a look at the future would come with a smile.

What is your favorite thing about writing about the Baxter family?  I know the Baxter family so well that it feels wonderful to write a stand-alone novel like When We Were Young and include them as ancillary characters. It’s fun for me and for my readers to see that Emily and Noah’s friends are Kari Baxter Taylor and her husband, Ryan. These characters live in my heart. They always will!

Karen Kingsbury, #1 New York Times bestselling novelist, is America’s favorite

Karen Kingsbury / Key Author Photo

Photo Credit: Dean Dixon

inspirational storyteller, with more than twenty-five million copies of her award-winning books in print. Her last dozen titles have topped bestseller lists, and many of her novels are under development with Hallmark Films and as major motion pictures. Her Baxter Family books are being developed into a TV series slated for major network viewing sometime in the next year. Karen is also an adjunct professor of writing at Liberty University. In 2001 she and her husband, Don, adopted three boys from Haiti, doubling their family in a matter of months. Today the couple has joined the ranks of empty-nesters, living in Tennessee near five of their adult children. You can find Karen on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Her latest novel, When We Were Young, is available October 16 in Half Price Books stores and online at HPB.com while supplies last.

Behind the Book: Faerie Knitting by Alice Hoffman & Lisa Hoffman

Editor’s Note: Faerie Knitting melds two concepts—knitting and storytelling— into one incredible book. This magical combination comes from a pair of cousins, New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman and master knitter Lisa Hoffman. The two collaborated to create an entrancing collection of stories of love, loss, trust and perseverance, with magical knits accompanying each story. We had a chance to catch up with the pair recently. Below are their answers to our questions.

Faerie Knitting High Res Cover Final

Faerie Knitting is such an adorable, unique concept for a book. What inspired the two of you to team up and meld your talents into one incredible work?
Alice: We had always wanted to work on a project together and began this book by writing a column for Faerie Magazine. That was so much fun we decided to expand the collaboration into a book.
Lisa: When we discussed what we could do together, we realized that Alice’s love of and talent to write original fairy tales would be a perfect way to include knitting into short stories in a magical way.

How did you end up pairing the knits and stories? Did you match all of the knits to the stories or write the stories to match the knits?
Alice: We began by making a list of titles that inspired us both. In a way, the ideas for stories and knits were organically created together.
Lisa: Together we paired titles with possible knits. After Alice wrote the stories, I designed the knits choosing the fiber and colors from her descriptions.

Have either of you taken to wearing one of the patterns more than the other?
Lisa: I knit a “Blue Heron” Shawl that I wear and always get great compliments, and the “Seventh Sister” Capelet is a favorite for a light layer in spring and fall weather.

What do you think it is about fairy tales that enthralls readers?
Alice: There’s a deep, timeless truth in fairy tales that speak both to children and to adults. A reader can take the story at face value or can read at a psychological level.
Lisa: They stretch your imagination, taking you to a magical place where fantastic events can happen.

Which one of the fairy tales in Faerie Knitting is your favorite? Why?
Alice: “Blue Heron,” because it was our first collaboration.
Lisa: I love them all, but since I recently became a grandmother, I am drawn to “Thorn,” a story of a baby blanket with a protection charm.

The women in these fairytales seem to feel trapped before the knitted pieces give them a chance to escape. Do you think women feel trapped in today’s society?
Alice: It’s true, the women in these stories often knit themselves out of a bad situation and find strength in the garments and fates they create.
Lisa: I agree, and I am constantly amazed by the power and strength of women, individually and in groups, who rise up to accomplish great things when faced with difficult circumstances.

Any advice for beginning knitters? Or aspiring authors?
Alice: For both knitters and writers, the more you do it, the better the result will be. And of course, nothing is perfect. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
Lisa: I tell my students to keep trying new techniques without fear, learn something new with each project and enjoy the process.

Alice Hoffman.new.credit Deborah Feingold

Photo Credit: Deborah Feingold

Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The Marriage of OppositesPractical Magic, The Red Garden, the Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on EarthThe Museum of Extraordinary Things and The Dovekeepers. Her short fiction and nonfiction works have appeared in the New York TimesBoston Globe MagazineKenyon ReviewRedbookArchitectural DigestGourmetSelf and others. Her novel Practical Magic was made into a major motion picture starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman; her young adult novel Aquamarine was made into a movie in 2006. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Copies of Faerie Knitting available at HPB.com and in Half Price Book stores while supplies last.

Lisa Hoffman_credit Alyssa Peek at PeekPhotography.com

Photo Credit: Alyssa Pee

Lisa Hoffman, a knitwear designer and knitting teacher, lives in New York City with her husband, Andrew. She has three grown children living near and far. Lisa Hoffman’s designs have been published in Vogue KnittingInterweave Knits and Knitwear Magazines. She has designed projects for Artyarns, Be Sweet, Blue Sky

All Things Printed & Recorded: Ready. Cassette. Go!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores. For October, we’re hitting rewind on the history of the cassette tape.

TIMELINE
1928  Magnetic tape is invented by Fritz Pfleumer.cassette
1963  Philips introduces the compact cassette; it is first used for dictation machines.
1968  The first in-dashboard car cassette player appears.
1968  Dolby noise reduction gives cassettes better sound and more viability for music. 
1993  Compact discs overtake cassettes in sales. By 2000, a tiny percentage of music is sold on cassette.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Mixtapes on cassette—homemade compilations of songs in a carefully considered order, often given to another person—were a mainstay in the 1980s. Novelist Nick Hornby wrote in High Fidelity, “making a tape is like writing a letter—there’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again.”
  • Bill Lear of Lear Jet Corporation led the development of the 8-track, which debuted in 1964 and was common until the early 80s. Some record labels released 8-track tapes as late as 1988.
  • Due to their small size, cassettes made music personal and portable, paving the way for products like stereo boom boxes and the Sony Walkman.

Want to dive deeper? Check out these great products!

book Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture, Thurston Moore
book Cassette From My Ex: Stories and Soundtracks of Lost Love, Jason Bitner
book Tape, Steven Camden
book Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time, Rob Sheffield
book High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
slate_film-512 High Fidelity 
slate_film-512 Cassette: A Documentary Mixtape

Books Read the Movie: Your Fall Guide to Movies Based on Books

Fall movies kick off awards season, leading up to the Oscars in February. There is a very exciting list of movies coming out, and I am sure you want to get a jump on them by reading the novels they are based on. As part of the Books: Read the Movie series, here are five you should have on your reading list.

Crazy-Rich-Asians-Kevin-KwanCrazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
This book and film is about three rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his girlfriend to the wedding of the season. Crazy Rich Asians hits the big screen August 15.

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All Things Printed & Recorded: Video Games Come Into Play

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores. For August, it’s all fun and games—video games, to be exact.

Super Mario gamesTIMELINE
1940  A computer playing the traditional game Nim is displayed at the World’s Fair.
1958  A tennis game played using an analog computer and an oscilloscope is demonstrated at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
1962  Spacewar, the first computer-based video game, is invented by an MIT student.
1975  Atari partners with Sears to release its arcade game Pong for the home market.
1985  Nintendo’s NES revives an ailing American video game industry two years after its original release in Japan, where it was called Famicom.
1995  Sony releases PlayStation in the United States. When PlayStation 2 debuts in 2000, it becomes the dominant home console.
2001  Microsoft enters the market with Xbox and hit games like Halo. Xbox 360 would debut four years later.

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We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Blog: The Best Sharks (and Other Large Sea Creatures) in Books, Movies and TV

jawsAh, summer. The time of year when the sun is out, the temperatures rise and the beach is calling. But just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water… SHARKS!

If you’re anything like me (or definitely my brother), Steven Spielberg’s classic Jaws, based on Peter Benchley’s novel of the same name, kept you out of the ocean for many years. Even the classic Universal Studios ride was enough to produce nightmares!

There’s something about a massive sea creature with sharp teeth and those eyes that strikes just the right amount of terror in unsuspecting swimmers worldwide. As Discovery Channel celebrates Shark Week, its annual programming block of all things shark-y, we’ve rounded up some of the greatest Great Whites (plus other sharks and large sea creatures) found in books, movies and more.

Old ManClassic Fiction
These epic quests pit man versus beast on the open water.

  1. Moby Dick
  2. The Old Man and the Sea
  3. Meg

indianapolisTrue Stories
Sometimes true events are more chilling than fiction.

  1. Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man
  2. Open Water
  3. Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board

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Die Hard on a…:Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Die Hard.

Die Hard is the best. 30 years later, no action movie has topped it – at least at doing great action and being an even better movie between the action scenes. If you haven’t seen it in a while, it won’t disappoint.

But say you’ve seen Die Hard a million times. Or you’re waiting to watch it at Christmas. (And to end the debate before it begins, Facebook readers, I’m not saying Die Hard is a Christmas movie – just that it can be if you want it.) With that in mind, I’ve put together some movies and TV shows that made no secret about ripping it off.

This list may not include the best imitators, though possibly the most interesting ones. And why these movies? Because pretty good movies are still, you know, pretty good.Die Hard

Die Hard 2 (1990)
One of the first imitators to not top Die Hard was Die Hard 2. It’s basically a remake with the setting moved to an airport during a blizzard. The similarities and callbacks are a bit much, and Bruce Willis goes from being a counterpoint to the ‘80s action hero to being yet another action hero.

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Read the Movie: Stephen King

There are few authors as prolific as Stephen King. Having published 54 novels, over 200 short stories and a handful of non-fiction (we particularly recommend On Writing to every serious reader or aspiring author), his literary output is almost evenly matched by the number of feature films and TV mini-series based on his works.

In case you haven’t yet sampled his oeuvre, we’ve curated a brief list of the most unmissable movie adaptations, plus a few great King novels that should’ve stayed on the shelves. As his newest book, The Outsider, just hit shelves this May, let’s hope that even more successful adaptations of his work are on the way. And be sure to catch the film version of the King story “1922” on Netflix, or pick up the book it’s featured in, Full Dark, No Stars, at Half Price Books stores and HPB.com!

 

SUPERIOR STEPHEN KING CINEMA


Carrie

Carrie made Stephen King’s name as a writer, but the (original) film is more than equal to the novel. In the deft hands of director Brian De Palma, the 1976 movie captured the visceral horror of being an outcast teenage girl so adeptly, all the telekinetic stuff feels almost like a creepy afterthought. Complete with a classically lousy mother/daughter relationship and a jump scare ending for the ages, Carrie holds up as a classic over 40 years later. Just avoid the 1999 sequel or 2013 remake.

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Who’s Your (Favorite) Daddy?: HPB Spotlights the Best Dads in Books, TV and Film

A few years ago we took a closer look at some of the top mothers in books, TV and film. As Father’s Day approaches, it’s Dad’s turn! Here are some of the best, or at least most memorable, paternal roles we’ve come to love over the years.

LITERATURE
Atticus_FinchThe All-Time Classic Dad:
Atticus Finch – To Kill a Mockingbird
No list of fathers is complete without Atticus. He’s arguably one of the greatest role models in American literature.
Honorable Mentions: Pa Ingalls – Little House on the Prairie series, Arthur    Weasley – Harry Potter series

Mr._BennetThe Dad Who Puts His Kids First:
Mr. Bennet – Pride and Prejudice
Mr. Bennet isn’t the perfect father, but he comes through when it counts, backing Elizabeth’s decision not to marry Mr. Collins.
Honorable Mentions:  The Man – The Road, Bob Cratchit – A Christmas Carol

Ned_StarkThe Newcomer Dad:
Ned Stark – A Song of Ice and Fire series
Ned loves all his children, even Jon Snow, his illegitimate son. His sense of honor and duty rules every aspect of his being.
Honorable Mentions: Nate Pullman – Wonder, Thomas Schell – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

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When Writers Are the Story: Films About Famous Authors

Biopics, movies that tell the story of a famous real-life person, are usually about larger-than-life figures: presidents, prime ministers, war heroes, athletes—people whose lives are full of drama. When it comes to making films about artists and creative types, musicians tend to be the easiest subjects; directors can always fill screen time with the music itself, recreating famous performances or recording sessions.

Writers may be the hardest. Imagine the action in the script: “The writer sits alone at her typewriter. She stares into space. She types some words, stares some more, then types more words. She breaks for lunch.” Fortunately for filmmakers, great writers are often tortured souls with tumultuous personal lives, and that’s what author biopics tend to focus on, for better or worse. The newest example of the genre is Mary Shelley, which opens May 25 and stars Elle Fanning as the Frankenstein author.

Here’s a short rundown of some notable biographical films about writers.

Capote
This 2005 film follows the eccentric writer Truman Capote, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, as he researches and writes his best-known work, the pioneering true crime book In Cold Blood. After reading an article about the murder of a family of four in rural Kansas, Capote decides to write about it and heads to the heartland with his childhood pal and fellow writer Harper Lee, played here by Catherine Keener. Things turn messy when Capote gets emotionally attached to one of the killers, Perry Smith. He intervenes in the legal proceedings to delay Smith’s execution, partly motivated by the need to keep interviewing Smith to glean more info for his book. Hoffman won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance, and the movie also got nominations for Best Picture and Best Director (Bennett Miller). Roger Ebert wrote that Capote “focuses on the way a writer works on a story and the story works on him.”

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