Today, we’re excited to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for The Loop by Shandy Lawson — on sale now! Booklist said The Loop is “An unstoppable ride …This light, action-packed read will be particularly good for reluctant readers.” We’ll share more about the book at the bottom of this post, but first, here’s an exclusive guest blog from Shandy:
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Hi! Thanks for having me–– I’ve been poking around a bit, and this is a really cool site.
Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley – A beautiful book. Shelley wrote it when she was a teenager, and that alone is inspiring. But it’s the depth of the love story, the tragedy of the monster’s self-awareness, and the earthiness of the characters that amaze me. Read it. It had impact because it’s just so good.
The Telephone Book – No, it’s not a novel. Back in the dark ages, when I was a boy, the phone book was how you looked up your friends’ phone numbers. When you became better friends those digits would become memorized, but at first you had to look it up a few times. A new number meant a new friend. And just as important, looking up your own number, and finding it there, was proof positive that you and your family did in fact exist. Very comforting to a weird kid like me.
Only Revolutions, by Mark Z. Danielewski – Revolutions is not my favorite Danielewski book, but I still love it. It would take pages to explain what makes the book so unique, but to summarize, it breaks every boundary that defines the traditional concept of a printed book. It makes the reader realize that text doesn’t need to be limited to black–– adding color to particular words or letters can change the meaning in a slight but important way. And the story is written in such a way that the book itself gets rotated three hundred and sixty degrees every sixteen pages, and by reaching the end of the book, you’ve also literally reached the beginning and can continue reading, forever. Danielewski threw out every rule for what a book is supposed to be and wrote what a book can be. Talk about impact.
Okay, so I appreciate your patience for reading this far; I didn’t mean to go on for so long. But I get chatty when talking about books.
The book that I feel (at least for today) has had the most impact on me is a tiny little thing called The Lilies of the Field, by William Barrett. You can read it in one sitting, so you have no excuse: go find a copy, read it, and come back. I’ll wait.
It never impacted me the way the books above did, at least not in a way that made me put the book down and say whoa… but it’s an important one to me because it is a role model. It tells a complex tale in very few pages. Barrett’s economy of verse is, to me, like Hemingway’s: there are no words on the page that aren’t there by necessity. Every letter counts and nothing is wasted. If my book, The Loop, moves at a rapid pace and the story never slows down, it’s because of my lesson in economy of verse taken from Lilies of the Field.
The language in Lilies is beautiful. The characters too, even the least likable ones, are all beautiful. The setting is desolate and alienating and stark and perfectly drawn. The story itself is both classic and new. There are lessons the reader can, and should, have learned by the end without even realizing it.
It’s a book that, as a writer, I can aspire to but know I’ll never match. When I’m not pleased with what I’ve written, a quick re-reading of Lilies will put me back on track, and I’ll have been reminded to simplify. Fancy words don’t tell a story, and neither does cleverly couched metaphor. The story is really all that counts, and without a good story, you’re just looking at words.
(Thanks for reading all the way to the end!)
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Here’s more about Shandy’s book, The Loop:
Ben and Maggie have met, fallen in love, and died together countless times. Over the course of two pivotal days—both the best and worst of their lives—they struggle again and again to resist the pull of fate and the force of time itself. With each failure, they return to the beginning of their end, a wild road trip that brings them to the scene of their own murders and into the hands of the man who is destined to kill them.
As time circles back on itself, events become more deeply ingrained, more inescapable for the two kids trapped inside the loop. The closer they come to breaking out, the tighter fate’s clutches seem to grip them. They devise a desperate plan to break free and survive the days ahead, but what if Ben and Maggie’s only shot at not dying is surviving apart?
A fascinating, high-concept premise with hints of Inception and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Loop is a fast-paced and action-packed story that will keep readers guessing.