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Fall 2015 Publishers’ Preview: Five questions for Nicholas Gannon

Publishers' PreviewsThis interview originally appeared in the September/October 2015 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Fall Publishers’ Preview, a semiannual advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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Author-artist Nicholas Gannon makes his debut with The Doldrums, an illustrated novel about three young friends in search of adventure.


Photo: self-portrait by Nicholas Gannon.

1. I see you went to Parsons School of Design. Did you know Tim Gunn? Which came first here, the pictures or the story?

NG: I sat in his office and we talked, but I had no idea who he was at the time. I would have worn a nicer shirt if I had. The Doldrums began with sketches of the character Archer, which I did on planks of wood while working a construction job in upstate New York. And because those planks of wood are now stuck inside the walls of a home I helped build, I imagine a piece of Archer will always be stuck in the Doldrums.

2. In your childhood friendships, which character would you have been?

NG: I’d say Archer. And Adélaïde. Oliver is something of a nihilist. Nihilism usually comes later in life. But I was probably a combination of all three. Together, Archer, Oliver, and Adélaïde create an almost-functioning person.

doldrums_202x3003. Mrs. Murkley is in the strong tradition of fearsome teachers such as Dahl’s Miss Trunchbull and Allard and Marshall’s Viola Swamp. Was she drawn more from literature or from life?

NG: In fourth grade I had a teacher named Mrs. Rix. She was miserable and  made me her special project. So Mrs. Murkley became a partial homage to Dahl’s fictional Trunchbull as well as a thank-you for showing me how to deal with my real-life one.

4. Why do people seem to get along better with their grandparents than with their parents?

NG: I think it has something to do with grandparents being at the beginning of the end and grandchildren being at the end of the beginning. They often have the same answers. Parents are stuck in
the middle. That’s a confusing place.

5. I can give you strong arguments both ways about whether The Doldrums begs a sequel. What do you think?

NG: Sequels are tricky things, but I’m writing one. It was planned from the beginning, so it’s not a sequel sequel. There’s more story to tell. And Archer isn’t ready to be put up on the shelf just yet.

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Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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