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AADL's Fifth Avenue Press returns with five new books & a release reception on May 5

Thu, 04/18/2019 - 12:00am by christopherporter

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The Ann Arbor District Library's Fifth Avenue Press helps local authors produce a print-ready book at no cost -- from copyediting to cover design -- and the writers retain all rights. In return, the library gets to distribute ebooks to its patrons without paying royalties, but authors can sell their books -- print, digital, or audio -- however they choose and keep all the proceeds.

Started in 2017, Fifth Avenue launches its third round of books on Sunday, May 5, with a free catered reception from 1-3 pm in the lobby of AADL's downtown location, featuring author readings from the imprint's five new titles.

Click the book titles below to read interviews with the authors:

Dark Rhythm by Charles Taylor

Dark Rhythm by Charles Taylor

Q: Give us a short synopsis of the book.
A: After being found wandering the streets in shock, Cindy Carrington awakens in a San Francisco hospital with no memory of her identity. She encounters three violent individuals searching for someone they call Terri Blackmon, and discovers a connection between herself and three locals who have gone missing. What Cindy unravels about her relationship with Terri forces her to run for her life, allied with a collection of fugitives who share an astonishing talent. Dark Rhythm is a thriller, but also a story about the power of memory, how we’re shaped by and impact both the families we’re born into and the ones we choose, and how our various choices ultimately define us.

Q: What inspired the book?
A: I’m a fan of thrillers featuring characters forced to confront devastating consequences of past actions that they hadn’t seen as transgressions at the time. I also liked the opportunities this genre presented to indulge my fascination with relationships within biological and figurative families. With most of my previous fiction-writing experience coming through screenplays, the space to more fully examine the interiors of such characters made writing a novel the logical next step.

Q: What was the most enjoyable part of writing your book and what was the most difficult?
A: Creating two of Dark Rhythm’s relationships in particular allowed for very satisfying explorations of memory as a journey, and as a source of revelation, self-realization, regret, and joy. That element definitely surprised and delighted me. As for difficulty, the book is written mostly through a female character’s point of view. Although I understood, in theory, the challenges and responsibilities of that choice for a male writer, I found it far more demanding in actual practice -- especially for a first novel. But I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.

Q: Do you have any writing rituals?
A: Since I’m not a full-time writer I typically work in irregular stints, beginning in late evening. When time permits, though, which is usually on weekends, I’ll allow hot streaks to run their course, sometimes in the form of all-nighters. Not the ideal game plan, of course, but I go with the flow as it presents itself.

Q: People who like your book will also like ...
A: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man inspires a lot of my thinking about how to approach a character from the inside out. The same applies for John le Carré’s works -- especially Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy -- and for Zora Neale Hurston’s persistently self-determining Janie Crawford in Their Eyes Were Watching God. Walter Mosley mixes humor with deep perceptiveness as well as any writer I know: just look at the complex friendship between Easy Rawlins and Mouse Alexander. Philip K. Dick did something similar in sci-fi, taking a genre with what can be very restrictive features and creating perspectives that are remarkably unconstrained by them. I also very much appreciate Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street and Woman Hollering Creek, Joyce Carol Oates’ short fiction collections, and Elmore Leonard’s narrative economy in general, which is much easier to enjoy than it is to pull off.

Q: What advice would you give other authors who would like to submit their works to Fifth Avenue Press?
A: Be willing to work with your editor. Trust is an issue as with any relationship; accepting suggested alterations to your writing is an act of faith. If you can get to that point, though, it can take your manuscript in highly productive directions. You might not immediately understand every item of feedback, but really take the time to consider each one. Try to see the proposed new versions as your readers might see them. Along with everything else that goes into your writing, your ego is in there, and not all of it should make the final cut. 

 

What Justice Looks Like by Samuel Damren

What Justice Looks Like by Samuel Damren

Q: Give us a short synopsis of the book
A: What Justice Looks Like tells the story of two high stakes criminal cases -- the 1977 prosecution of a vicious hit man and the 2016 exoneration of an innocent defendant who pled guilty to a quadruple homicide as a teenager. It is a first-person account. In the first case, I was the prosecutor. In the second, I was lead counsel for the defense. This vantage point gives the reader a front row seat to two of the paramount challenges facing the criminal justice system: bringing the "worst of the worst" to justice despite all odds, threats, and intimidation while protecting the innocent when the system's safeguards fail.

This is a true story about how social justice can be achieved advocating as a prosecutor and as a defense counsel in cases at opposite ends of the spectrum of challenges testing our criminal justice system. These are not stories or cases that you will forget.

Q: What inspired the book?
A: The cases discussed in the book formed bookends to my legal career. I began as a prosecutor for six years and then practiced for 36 years primarily as a business lawyer and in some matters of criminal white-collar defense. I realized that my experience with these two cases in the differing role of prosecutor in one and defense counsel in another, separated by 40 years, was rare. Considered together as part of criminal justice, they contained lessons that I wanted to share with a wide audience and disclose the intense drama that unfolded in each case both in open court and behind the scenes. 

Q: People who like your book will also like ... 
A: Ben Macintyre's books on World War II true stories, including Agent Zigzag and Operation Mincemeat. Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City.

Q: What advice would you give other authors who would like to submit their works to Fifth AvenuePress?
A: Fifth Avenue Press gives voice to diverse and original perspectives in Southeastern Michigan. You may be one of them.

 

Who We Might Be by Linda Jeffries

Who We Might Be by Linda Jeffries

Q: Give us a short synopsis of the book
A: Who We Might Be is a sequel to my book We Thought We Knew You that Fifth Avenue Press published last November. This is the synopsis from the new book, which includes many familiar characters.

Imagine if every piece of your life unraveled at once.

Carolyn Jacobs didn’t go looking for her birth mother but when she appeared unexpectedly, Carolyn found herself tumbling into a world of wealth that she had never imagined possible. With more and more people now depending on her, Carolyn will have to negotiate her way through this frightening and unfamiliar world while still holding true to her own complicated identity.

In the wake of Carolyn Jacobs’s discovery, private detective Gregory Hanes has found just the opposite. Beaten and heartbroken, he has lost everything and finds himself on the run from the Warren crime family, the FBI and everything he knows. A city boy washed up on the raw shore of a Carolina barrier island, he will have to summon every bit of strength he has to survive. Only then will he be able to search for a way to come home. Who We Might Be takes the reader into the heart of the question, what would you do if all of the circumstances of your life changed in an instant? Would you find your way home or create a new one? 

Q: What inspired the book?
A: The inspiration for this book really came from a desire to finish telling the story. Although my original character delighted in the discovery of her daughter, many loose ends were left and it was terrific to have the opportunity to tie them up.  

Q: What was the most enjoyable part of writing your book and what was the most difficult?
A: I love writing, period. Sitting down at my computer and allowing the characters to swirl around in unexpected ways is just a great way to spend time, I think. Of course, letting the bad guys get their just desserts is always fun too. And, as I have always loved the barrier islands of North Carolina, it was wonderful to include them in this story as well. What was more difficult was writing about the character’s adopted mother. Having experienced it myself, I continue to explore the ways that children handle dementia when it appears in their aging parents. Those were difficult memories to recall and work through.

Q: Do you have any writing rituals?
A: I remember this question from last fall and I don’t believe that I have any, really. I just like it when the house grows quiet and I have the time and space to fall completely into the world I’m creating. I especially like nice, big, empty blocks of time.

Q: People who like your book will also like ... 
A: I myself love books with strong women characters who go beyond what society expects of them. I think books like Kate Wilhem’s series with lawyer Barbara Holloway, and Amy Stewart’s series about the Kopp sisters are just fantastic. I would also like to say that the best book by far that I have read regarding dementia and the way it destroys lives is The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley. His imaginings of the mind within dementia is phenomenal and I recommend it to anyone who is going through this struggle. 

Q: What advice would you give other authors who would like to submit their works to Fifth Avenue Press?
A: I can’t say enough to recommend Fifth Avenue Press. I think this area is overflowing with authors and knowing how patient and understanding the people at the library press are to work with, I tell everyone to go for it. Get that light out from under the basket and share your stories!

 

Almost Lost: Detroit Kids Discover Holocaust Secrets and Family Survivors by Pauline Loewenhardt

Almost Lost: Detroit Kids Discover Holocaust Secrets and Family Survivors by Pauline Loewenhardt

Q: Give us a short synopsis of the book
A: The story begins in the mid-'90s when Pauline and her siblings discovered descendants of one of their father’s brothers in the Netherlands. Pauline’s father, Herman Loewenhardt, was the youngest of twelve children of a German-Jewish Family, and the only male to leave Europe after World War I. When Pauline finally met her newly found cousins, It was a joyous but bittersweet reunion. However, the story really originated during World War II. As a child, Pauline worried about her parents’ families in Germany and she lived in a somber household, so she knew her parents were also worried. The war hovered like a dark cloud over the household.

Pauline grew up surrounded by family secrets and mysteries. She knew her father had tried to hide his Jewish ancestry by converting to Catholicism, the religion of his wife. However, there was Tante Hanny, Dad’s sister, speaking a little Yiddish around the children, which added to the mystery. In spite of all the secrets, Pauline continued to long for extended family. 

In quiet but dramatic visits back and forth across the Atlantic over two decades, Pauline forged close, loving relationships with her new extended family in the Netherlands, and in the process learned the truth what happened to many members of the Loewenhardt family that she had worried about as a child. The epic story ends with an epilogue that tells about the newest generation of her extended family: the children and grandchildren of John and Louise, the cousins found in the mid 90s.

Q: What inspired the book?
A: After retirement from a long professional nursing career, during which I wrote for textbooks and peer-reviewed journals, I turned to writing creative nonfiction. I always loved stories and ultimately decided I had a story worth telling the world. I began writing the memoir in 2012 just after my last visit to the Netherlands in 2011.

Throughout my life, I always enjoyed writing and began as a reporter at my Mackenzie high school newspaper. During the past few years I wrote travel, gardening, and health-related articles, as well as book reviews, personality profiles and have been published in local magazines such as Tampa Bay Woman, Senior Connection, as well as the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper, The Women’s Review of Books, and Bookwomen. I published two previous books: Alaska Adventure with Joe and Linda, the story of a trip to Alaska with my son, Joe and his wife-to-be, Linda was published in 2012. The second was a book about my beloved chorus, The Gaia Women of the Great Lakes Basin titled Singing Our Way Home, published in 2015.

I am a lover of the outdoors, poetry, kayaking, children, grandchildren, music, writing, stories of all kinds, Detroit, digging in the dirt, good fresh natural food, all seasons of the year, plays, and books. I am a polio survivor, mother, grandmother, Lesbian, Feminist, Unitarian, lover of life.

Q: What was the most enjoyable part of writing your book and what was the most difficult?
A: Writing was always enjoyable though tiring at times. Then I would leave it and start again the next day. When I was researching the Holocaust, I found that very difficult and depressing. As a young adult, I avoided films and stories about the Holocaust, so it was heart-rending to immerse myself in the horror of that era of history.

Q: Do you have any writing rituals?
A: I don’t have any particular rituals but write best in the mornings. I have sometimes risen at 5 am to begin writing. When I face a deadline, I drop everything and focus on writing.

Q: People who like your book will also like ... 
A: People who like my book will also like Between Gods by Alison Pick, After Long Silence by Helen Fremont, Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg, and Half-Jew: A Daughter’s Search of Her Family’s Buried Past by Susan Jacoby, 

Q: What advice would you give other authors who would like to submit their works to Fifth AvenuePress?
A: My best advice for emerging authors is simple: Write about what you know, and join a writer’s group. Make time in your life for writing and look for opportunities to get published. When I was writing my memoir, I dropped out of my book groups and just focused on writing. I didn’t have much of a social life during those years.

 

Corked: Tales of Advantage in Competitive Sports by Brian Love and Michael Burns

Corked: Tales of Advantage in Competitive Sports by Brian Love and Michael Burns

Answers by Brian Love

Q: Give us a short synopsis of the book
A: Today's rage is all about making the athlete a more superior performer, through diet, exercise, practice, etc.  As an aside, what if the fields, equipment, apparel, weather, and other intangibles also affected performance and can you engineer these interactions in favor of your team? We have a bunch of stories cast over a wide variety of sports highlighting how fields, stadium construction, equipment changes, and fan interaction have affected play in the past. Some stories are very historical, some are virtually unknown. We like that we have covered common sports (e.g., baseball, basketball, and hockey) and introduced less common ones (jai alai, yachting, cricket, and curling for example) to the average AADL reader. It's an analyst's take on the game and not a breathless endorsement of how exciting any one sport, team, player, or coach might be.  

Q: What inspired the book?
A: We both had had some stories squirreled away and never expected to find that they actually had cache. Letting them out of the vault allowed us to see the potential value in expanding the scope.   

Q: What was the most enjoyable part of writing your book and what was the most difficult?
A: The chapters all had somewhat of a formula so that was pretty simple to follow. We also had some other general guidelines, trying to avoid long stories -- 5-10 pages max -- we also tried to show when there had actually been an advantage in those cases that were documented.  Once the framework was in place, it was fun to dedicate periodic focused time to crank out at least the storyline for each chapter.

Q: Do you have any writing rituals?
A: 1,500-3,000 words per chapter. Try to crank the chapters out in draft form in 1-2 sittings. Ditch the idea if it became less interesting or too hard to identify relevant lore. Fact check early and often. For sports were less familiar with, we found experts who could provide insights, clarity and could serve as defacto fact-checkers.  

Q: People who like your book will also like ... 
A: Scorecasting by Tobias Moskowitz and Jon Wertheim, a similarly broad stroke at sports in general. Soccernomics, the franchise written by Stefan Szymanski, a deeper dive into soccer.   

Q: What advice would you give other authors who would like to submit their works to Fifth AvenuePress?
A: Develop your skill as a writer before finishing something to submit to Fifth Avenue. I had published another book beforehand. Make use of the writer's workshops offered by AADL, they could be really helpful. Consider both your value proposition and AADL's value proposition in justifying your project is worth an investment of time and effort.  


Fifth Avenue Press' release reception is Sunday, May 5, 1-3 pm, in the lobby of the Ann Arbor District Library's downtown branch, 343 South Fifth Ave. Free and catered. Read our interviews with the 2017 and 2018 Fifth Avenue authors and check out their books and ebooks from AADL.