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The official blog of Thurber House, historic home of humorist, author, and New Yorker cartoonist James Thurber and literary center where laughter, learning and literature meet.
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This fall, we were lucky enough to host Katrina Kittle as the 2013 John E. Nance Writer-in-Residence.
Here is what she had to say about her experience:
Ghosts walking on the stairs. Neon orange leaves rustling outside my windows. Wearing yoga pants and slippers until 3 in the afternoon. The world’s homeliest but most comfortable couch. Milo’s turkey reuben. A devoted, amazing, outrageously funny staff. Much laughter. And pages and pages and pages…
These are some of memories that flood immediately to mind of my four weeks as the John E. Nance Writer in Residency at the Thurber House. For a person who deals with words, it’s a little exasperating that they fail me when I try to express my gratitude for such a gift. The gift of uninterrupted time to work—the best present you could present to any author.
I’m a disciplined person. I keep my writing schedule sacred and defend it from other commitments and obligations. Even so, there are only so many hours in the day, and those days have to share their hours with those pesky tasks like the job-that-actually-pays-the-bills, doing laundry, feeding oneself, etc. To be given four weeks during which my only responsibility was to write felt like winning the lottery. I was determined not to squander this time.
I’m happy to say that I didn’t. The attic apartment for writers in residence is cozy enough to be comfortable, but simple enough not to be a distraction (I was a little worried to discover there was actually cable TV up there, but proud to report I only turned it on twice). The wonderful staff of Thurber House even allowed me to bring my Facebook famous cat Joey with me. Joey spends 80% of my writing time on my lap, his head on my left arm as I type. (Joey weighs 17 pounds. I will one day, no doubt, develop carpal tunnel syndrome because of him).
I spent the month before my residency researching like crazy, writing up a loose synopsis, and doing all the prep work I could so that I could hit the ground running with my time. Once I was settled into Thurber House, I developed the routine of rising early—around 6 AM—making coffee and doing my most productive writing session of the day. After about five hours, I’d shower, put on “real clothes,” and join the staff for lunch. (More on the staff later) Since I had the pleasure of being in residency for a gorgeous autumn, I’d often then do my afternoon writing session outside, at a picnic table, with leaves falling all around me like confetti. Around 3:30 or so, I’d go for a run or walk, exploring the various neighborhoods and areas of Columbus. In the evenings, I’d read or do further research. One evening I had the great pleasure of visiting the Young Writers’ Studio. Another week I taught an adult master class on Voice. And I had the hands-trembling butterflies-in-stomach experience of reading from the work-in-progress for the first time ever for a lovely, supportive crowd at Urban Arts Space.
Research. The novel I was working on during residency is an at times spooky story of a pandemic and its aftermath. I’d be reading about Ebola virus or rabies, reading every apocalypse story I could get my hands on, and creating a ghost character from the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic…all while living in a haunted house. I think the ghosts of Thurber House approved. They made their presence known—with footsteps on the stairs, strange tinkling glass sounds that seemed to tease my cat, and a bedroom window that opened itself three times when I was out of the room. They never seemed malevolent in the slightest—but welcoming and friendly.
The staff. Where do I begin about the incredible women who run Thurber House? They supported me so thoroughly and made me feel truly at home. I treasured our laughter filled lunches—not only because they kept me from being a hermit, but because they are such intelligent, interesting, funny women. Great lovers of good food, they were excellent guides to some of the best food in Columbus. I will dream about Milo’s turkey reuben for the rest of my days. Mighty fond of Dirty Frank’s, as well. I love those women for never judging me for my crazy lady writer clothes…and for adoring Joey cat and making a fuss over him on a daily basis.
I didn’t finish an entire draft of my novel…but in all honesty, I didn’t expect to. My process is slow and I know it. But I estimate that this residency did put me at least six months ahead of where I would’ve been otherwise. I left Thurber House in a place in the novel where the momentum is well under way and have kept it rolling since returning home.
This residency came at the most needed time for me: after a health crisis derailed my writing schedule for a time (all is 100% well now and I’m two years cancer free!), I needed a hand to get my traction back into a disciplined groove of the writing life I missed. Thanks to Thurber House and the generous John E. Nance Residency, I am back on track with sure footing.
Find out more about Katrina at www.katrinakittle.com and “like” her Facebook Author page: www.facebook.com/KatrinaKittleAuthor
With the release of his newest novel Tatiana just days before, we had the pleasure of hosting Martin Cruz Smith at last week’s Evenings with Authors. Smith found his fame with the 1981 thriller, Gorky Park. Throughout his career, he has published over 25 critically acclaimed books under a variety of pen names. Tatiana marks the 8th novel starring beloved detective, Arkady Renko. Fans of Smith came to the event having either read the novel in just a few days (all because they couldn’t put it down), or with a new copy in hand that they couldn’t wait to begin. Smith discussed his love of writing mystery, some of his lesser-known novels, and the recently revealed news about his process. Just one week ago, an article was published in the New York Times revealing that Smith was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1995, and that he had kept it hidden from just about everyone he knew. As his symptoms got worse, his wife Emily became an invaluable resource as she took pictures, helped with sketches, and even took on the role of typist for Tatiana. While the disease proved to be a hurdle when it came to the extensive research Smith does for his novels (sketching, taking notes, etc.) he wanted to make sure that his career was defined on the basis that he was a good writer, not a writer with Parkinson’s. Seeing the great amount of fans that have followed him since he began, we don’t doubt that he has achieved this goal.
Thank you to everyone who attended this event. We hope to see you again soon!
Come January, Wizards of all kinds will be flooding into Thurber Center. We’ll have science fiction Wizards, publishing Wizards, Wizards in tutu’s, and even a group of daydreaming Wizards (don’t worry, we’ll keep a close eye on these ones). The one thing that all of these Wizards have in common, is that they love to write! In fact, that’s why we call them Writing Wizards.
Beginning January 25, we welcome young writers in grades 2-8 to join us for five consecutive Saturdays to explore an area of creative writing that interests them. Each class is taught by local authors and writers, all eager to share their passion for creative writing.
Easier to find than platform 9 ¾, all classes will be held at Thurber Center, 91 Jefferson Avenue (next door to Thurber House). The deadline for registration is Friday, January 10, however, some classes may fill prior to this date. Please visit our website and register today! The website will also have updated information regarding class availability.
Here’s what we have to offer in 2014:
Giants of Publishing
with Sarah Magill 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.; $90*
Get ready to wear many different hats, because in this class, you will be the writer, illustrator, designer, and editor of your very own picture book.
Treasure Hunt for Poems
with Amy Greenberg 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.; $90
Channel your inner poet and grab inspiration from famous poets, your senses, your family, and maybe even a few Dr. Seuss characters!
with Paul Hammock 10:00 a.m. – Noon; $100
The creative juices will be flowing in this class as you use puzzles and codes to create twists and turns for your brand new page-turner.
Shakespeare in a Tutu?
with Ashley Fournier 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.; $100
Celebrate drama as you write, edit, and perform a masterpiece
for the stage. From story development to acting, you’ll do it all
Science Fiction and Beyond!
with Valerie Cumming 10:00 a.m. – Noon; $100
Imagine, design, and populate a futuristic world with human and alien creatures that will fill the pages of your soon-to-be novel.
with Kathy Matthews and Dan Mushalko 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.; $100
This class is your excuse to daydream even more — and to learn how to turn those dreams into cool stories to share with the world.
* We have a limited number of scholarships available for families who apply. Please visit our website to find out more about the application process.
See you in 2014!
There is a lot happening around town for writers! Check out these great opportunities!
For younger writers, we just launched registration for Writing Wizards, a workshop for grades 2-8 that takes place for five Saturdays. These classes are led by our most passionate teachers and give students the opportunity to think about writing from an “outside the box” perspective. Click here for detailed information about the classes we are offering in 2014! (Yes, we said 2014, and we can’t believe it’s almost here either.)
NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)
In honor of NaNoWriMo, we will be hosting a workshop this Saturday, Nov. 9 from 11-noon at Thurber Center. Young Adult author, Jody Casella, will talk about the nitty-gritty of writing a novel. Following the workshop, we will have a Write-In from 12-2 p.m. A Write-In is a time and location where you just sit and write. You can bring your laptop, iPad, notepad, whatever works for you, and plop down in Thurber Center for two hours of quiet writing with people who are just like you! We will also have all of the necessary junk food to keep you going through the afternoon. The workshop and the Write-In are FREE and open to everyone (even if you aren’t participating in NaNoWriMo). If once November ends you’re still in the writing mood, join us for Jody’s workshop on Dec. 7 at Bexley Public Library about how to edit it and try to get published. Click here for more information about NaNoWriMo.
MadLab Young Writers Short Play Festival
MadLab Theatre is extending its outreach to young playwrights in local and regional high schools in Central Ohio. The goal is to produce a group of 10 minute short plays written by high school students for its Young Writers Short Play Festival 2014. Playwrights can submit their short play to MadLab any time between now and December 2, 2013. Scripts will be selected by December 21, 2013. After this, the selected playwrights will work with known and published playwrights as adult mentors to workshop, stage read, and revise scripts as needed. This learning environment will provide invaluable education and creativity for young playwrights work to be produced for the very first time. MadLab will then produce all chosen scripts in end of July 2014. Click here for more information about this opportunity with MadLab.
Laurie R. King filled the auditorium at CMA on Monday with her wide array of fans, many of who drove from all over the state to meet her. Well known for her Mary Russell novels, she discussed her love of writing about that particular character. When asked by a member of the audience how she was able to conceive a wife for Sherlock Holmes, she responded, “don’t you mean, how did I conceive a husband for Mary Russell?” Naturally, the audience broke out into laughter. King shared her passion for women’s rights, theology and politics, and how she finds that because those are all topics she is deeply interested in, they become centralized within her novels. Like Thurber, she writes what she knows.
Her newest novel, The Bones of Paris, is a standalone murder mystery that takes a private investigator through the darkest places in Paris on his hunt to find a missing 22 year old from Boston. Thank you to everyone who attended this event! Although, we were a little disappointed that nobody brought anything interesting to sign (besides books, of course). Apparently, King has received everything imaginable to sign, including throwing knifes.
On Thursday, November 14, Martin Cruz Smith will be your last chance to attend an event of this Fall 2013 Evenings with Authors series (unless you were lucky enough to get your Chris Matthews tickets before they sold out). In his newest novel Tatiana Martin Cruz Smith brings back Arkady Renko, the beloved character from his previous novel, Gorky Park. This murder mystery novel dives into the secrets of modern Russia as Arkady Renko seeks to solve the murder of a fearless investigative reporter who falls to her death.
For more information or to purchase tickets to Martin Cruz Smith, click here.
We always feel so supported by our loyal volunteers, teachers, and patrons, so it’s great when we get to turn it around and support them as well!
This Thursday, October 17 from 7-8 p.m., PageSpring Publishing will be holding a book launch celebration and reading at Thurber Center. During this time, authors Suzanne Goldsmith and Tom Barlow will be sharing their newly published stories. Goldsmith’s novel, Washashore, is an adventure-love story aimed at ages 9-13. She has also published a variety of stories in magazines, as well as a non-fiction book, A City Year. Barlow’s collection of short stories titled Welcome to the Goat Rodeo, is designed to make you question the unexplored areas of human existence. He also has a science fiction novel coming out this fall titled, I’ll Meet You Yesterday.
PageSpring Publishing is an independent book publisher specializing in high-quality novels for adults and younger readers. [They] believe that the best part of reading is discovering a book that speaks to you, a book for which you will postpone dinner, or sleep, or even calling your mother . . . just to finish one more chapter.
We hope to see you there!
Camp has been over for a few months, but just to remind everyone how proud we are of the writers that come through Thurber House, we wanted to share a young authors original piece of writing with you. This past summer, each of our 6-8 grade campers were charged with creating a fan-fiction story over the span of two days. One 8th grader named George took his story to another level and continued to construct his fan-fiction throughout the week. Each day during open mic he shared a piece of the story, and each day he left everyone doubled over in laughter with his animated performances. With George’s gracious permission, we are happy to share a piece of his story with you!
“What do you MEAN Slender Man is in Hogwarts?” Dumbledore asked.
“I, ‘mean’ he IS!” Clifford Neeson replied.
As the the lone wanderer said this, a stormtrooper barricaded the door.
“Dumbledore, he’s already gotten half of the student body!” Harry Potter exclaimed, running into the room.
“Then that means there’s only one thing to do…” Dumbledore turned to the closet behind his desk and opened it to reveal a stockpile of shotguns.
“Dumbledore, why do you have a cache of shotguns in your closet?” Harry asked, pulling at his hair.
“I think the real question would be-” Dumbledore stopped to cock his shotgun, “Why wouldn’t I?”
Earlier that night
Clifford Neeson was out on a walk one peaceful evening when he suddenly heard a faint humming noise. Cliff stopped in his tracks immediately when he heard the sound. The humming grew louder and louder until it gave Cliff a slight headache. Suddenly, a bright blue light shined over Cliff and he was helpless as he was brought up into an alien UFO.
Cliff woke up to find his legs and right arm fastened to a table and little green men were getting ready to fasten his one free limb down. Suddenly, Cliff found himself screaming as he swung his one free limb around, knocking the aliens back. Cliff then unfastened his right arm and leaned up on the table. Just then, another group of aliens entered the room. Cliff noticed one of the aliens he had smacked with his Pip-Boy arm had slumped over on his legs, dropping a ray gun in front of him. The waster didn’t hesitate to grab the weapon, and he also didn’t hesitate to mow down the aliens.
Once his adversaries were taken care of, Cliff unfastened the restraints on his legs and hopped off the table. Cliff did a sweep of the alien vessel to find that he had killed everyone on board. Cliff was about to head to the bridge to see if he could some how get himself home when he saw a room full of cryogenic-stasis pods, all of which seemed to be filled with prisoners of the little green men. Cliff decided to open the cryogenic pods to free the prisoners inside. After pushing a few buttons on the alien console, there was a loud hissing sound as the prisoners were released from their forced slumber.
Out of the pods came an anthropomorphic grasshopper, three men dressed in white armor, and what seemed to be a giant shuttlecock. As the shuttlecock came out of its pod, it screamed, “-sterminate!” Like it was finishing what it had said before it was frozen.
“So,” Cliff started, trying to break the ice, “What’s your story, grasshopper man?”
“First of all, I am a Turian, secondly, my name is Garrus” The anthropomorphic grasshopper replied.
“Okay, what about you guys?” Cliff asked, turning to the men in white armor.
“We’re stormtroopers of the galactic empire” one of the soldiers replied.
“So, you’re evil,” Cliff insinuated, starting to raise his ray gun.
“No, no, not anymore. We’ll hang out with you guys if it’s okay” one of the troopers said.
“Sure” Cliff replied. All of a sudden, the shuttlecock looked very worried, “What’s wrong, Mr. Shuttlecock?” Cliff asked.
“Where are my Dalek friends?” The shuttlecock asked.
“Oh, other things like you? My guess is they were probably experimented on and then killed” Cliff replied.
The shuttlecock then got very angry, “Then exterminate the LGMs-”
Cliff interrupted him, “No, no, I killed them all.”
“Oh…” the shuttlecock started, “…it seems I have no place to go, then. Would it be all right if I hung out with you guys?”
“Why not,” Cliff replied.
All of a sudden, the ship started to shake.
“Wait, who is piloting this vessel?” the Dalek asked.
“Umm… no one?” Cliff replied. His new friends all gave him a troubled look.
“You can’t be serious!” one of the stormtroopers exclaimed.
“I thought it was on auto-pilot or something” Cliff said, looking at his troubled new friends.
“That only happens in the movies!” Garrus said as the ship began crashing into the atmosphere. Suddenly, the team was flung forward as the ship crashed, rendering them unconscious.
©This writing is personal property of George Reed and it is illegal to copy or alter in any way.
This year we are fortunate enough to be able to expand our Pen and Tell It! program, making it available for grades two thru eight. Pen and Tell It! is a one day class designed to give young writers a chance to dip their toes into the whirlpool of writing. In each of these classes, we take basic writing and put a twist on it to give you a fun, new experience with Thurber House. Registration often fills quickly, so register your young writer today!
Click here for more information or to print a registration form.
Title: Twisted Tales
Sunday, November 3; 2:00-3:30 p.m.
What if Cinderella was actually the evil sister? What happens when the Seven Dwarfs tell their stories? Take your favorite fairytale and twist it all up for some serious laughs in our Twisted Tales class!
Title: From Beginning to “The End”
Sunday, November 3; 1:00-3:30 p.m.
We’ve got you covered from Once upon a time… to The End in this workshop. You’ll start with ideas, add twists and turns, and create an ending that may or may not be happily ever after.
Title: Puppet Plays
Sunday, November 10; 1:00-3:30 p.m.
Learn how to write a script with dialogue and action and then make it come alive with marionette puppets you create yourself.
Title: Any Way you Write It
Sunday, November 10; 1:00-3:30 p.m.
From 140 character memoirs for Twitter to flash fiction to blogging, we’ll jump into the fun new forms of writing and teach you some tricks of the trade along the way. This isn’t your grandma’s writing class!
Questions? Contact Meg Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-464-1032 ext. 16.
Thanks to Grange, the Greater Columbus Arts Council, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Edith Doud, Catherine C. Hislop, and Leona and Rowena Kessler funds of The Columbus Foundation for their support.
This past Wednesday, A. Scott Berg drew in a crowd of history buffs, biography fans, and many of those fascinated by the politics surrounding one of the most famous times in history. If Berg’s line-up of biographies wasn’t impressive enough, upon the release of Wilson, the author once again found himself on the New York Times bestseller list. The audience hung on every word as Berg discussed the intricacies of Wilson’s career, the decisions he made, and provided a critical eye on some of the most controversial issues surrounding Wilson’s career. While Berg’s passion for Wilson’s career was apparent, he also shared points of Wilson’s career that were not so fantastic. Berg reminded the audience that while Wilson was so progressive on the forefront of democracy, he also was extremely regressive when it came to civil rights, being the president that introduced integration to Washington. Berg added that the main point where Wilson could have truly made a difference would have been during the re-“integration” of African American Soldiers after WWI, which was anything but smooth. If you admire Wilson for nothing else, you have to give him credit for being the last president to actually write all of his own speeches. Berg has combed through every speech many times, and has yet to find a grammatical error.
If you are free October 14th, join us for and evening with Laurie R. King, author of the recently release novel, Bones of Paris. With a background in mystery, King’s new novel takes its readers through the underground crime scene of Paris on the search for a missing twenty-two year old from Boston. King is also the author of thirteen Mary Russell/Sherlock Homes mysteries and the thrillers, A Dark Place, Folly, Keep Watch, and Touchstone.
Thurber House is proud to announce the winner of the 2013 Thurber Prize for American Humor, Dan Zevin!
Dan Zevin, a former Thurber Prize finalist, has finally taken home the prize for his latest book, Dan Gets a Minivan: Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad. This book, as well as The Day I Turned Uncool, have been optioned by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions. Dan has followed his readers through each phase of life, from post-college coping (Entry-Level Life) to tying the knot (The Nearly-wed Handbook) to developing a disturbing new interest in lawn care and wine tastings (Uncool). And that was all before he had kids. Which leads up back to this minivan situation.
Dan has been a comic commentator for NPR, a humor columnist for The New York Times, and a contributor to print and digital publications including Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Maxim, Details, Real Simple, and Parents. He also wrote an original sitcom pilot for CBS and Warner Brothers. His latest project is “Star Vehicle,” a YouTube talk show he hosts inside his minivan.
Dan currently lives with his wife, kids, and pet rabbit in the suburbs of New York, where he has become an active member of his local Costco.
For more information about the Thurber Prize for American Humor, visit our website!
Special thanks to the Greater Columbus Arts Council for their generous support of this program.
John Searles charmed his audience during his Evenings With Authors program last Thursday. A true success story, Searles has risen to the top with hard work and dedication. Although he put himself through college for business (a more “practical” line of work), he ended up following his dreams and tried to publish his first novel. When sifting through the rejected pages from his first attempt, he found a note from an editor stating that he felt sorry for anyone who had to sit through all 400 pages. Searles proudly shared this note with his audience, telling them that although it hurt at first, it made finally getting published all the sweeter. His new novel, Help for the Haunted, incorporates many details from his life, including the desire to find his own personal ghost story. Searles had the audience laughing hysterically as he regaled them with his story of taking the “9-5” haunted tour of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia. As one does when seeking out a ghostly experience, he requested to sleep in the most haunted and terrifying place in the building: the lobotomy recovery room. Unfortunately for him (but most fortunately for his skiddish partner), he had to settle for sleeping in a nearby hallway. He saw lights flash and heard noises of dragging changes, but never physically saw a ghost. He left disappointed, but looks back on it with the understanding that it was the skeptic in him that wouldn’t allow himself to believe in the experiences he was having.
This Wednesday, October 2, Scott Berg joins us at the Columbus Museum of Art to discuss his book, Wilson. Recently released, the biography includes information that was first available to Berg, allowing him to fill the gaps in what we already knew about Woodrow Wilson. Berg won a Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Charles Lindenbergh. He has also written biographies on Max Perkins and Katherine Hepburn. Join us for this great event in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration as the country’s 28th president.
For more information or to purchase tickets, click here!
My name is Rosie, and this is why I love the Thurber House and all of the wonderful people that work there.
The running joke at camp was that Rosie was a thief. So, one day during town crier, she decided to prove the campers right and steal ALL of the town crier notes for herself! Rosie’s light spirit and sense of humor was definitely valued at camp!
I, like many other people, was an incredibly awkward 7th grader. I had multi-colored braces, horrible acne, and I had yet to ”figure out” my hair. The idea of hand-eye coordination was a completely foreign concept to me, and I was never picked first in gym class. I loved quietly writing and drawing at home while listening to music. It was surprising if anyone ever knew that my name was “Rose Ellen” and not “Rosalyn.” By the end of the school year, I developed an artificial “it’s fine, I’m too cool to be friends with you anyway” attitude that helped me cope with the fact that I was too shy to talk to any of my peers.
Just before summer ended, my English teacher brought me a colorful brochure folded into thirds with my name on it. At first, I was baffled by the fact that this brochure was specifically brought to me. My teacher saw this and delivered it to me because she knew me and she knew I would like it. I felt so special and unique. I looked through it and found pictures of all of these happy kids sitting together at Thurber Summer Writing Camp. When I realized this was a brochure for a summer camp based on my favorite pastime, I was ecstatic.
The first day of camp finally arrived after what felt like decades. I walked into this awesome antique house and there was this super excited and happy lady waiting there with a big smile on her face and I immediately felt the same enthusiasm she felt. (I now know that lady’s name is Meg, and she doesn’t know how to frown.)
That week, I experienced the Thurber House’s environment for the first time. Camp was exciting, inspiring, non-judgmental, and unbelievably fun. I made new friends every day and enjoyed talking with them endlessly about everything. Everyone was so nice and so sweet. I had never seen anything like it. Memories of the goofy jokes I made with my small group members still make me smile as I’m writing this right now. My shy exterior melted away and I would share my writing in front of large groups of people with ease. I found so much joy in explaining to my new friends, “My name is Rose Ellen! R-O-S-E [SPACE] E-L-L-E-N.” I made friends who cared what my name was, and that was awesome.
Rosie helped out in all aspects of camp and was a great asset when getting the campers to work together.
I’ve been an intern almost every summer since 2010, and the Thurber House environment is still as wonderful as it was that first week. I’ll never get tired of seeing the little “Rosalyns” make friends while doing what makes them happy. Watching a child blossom into the creative, happy, and enthusiastic young person they are meant to be is one of the best feelings in the world. Every day after camp, I tell my parents and my friends all the funny, adorable, or just downright impressive things the campers do. Year after year, the young writers I meet always manage to impress me with their skills and imaginations.
To everyone at the Thurber House: Thank you so much for providing me with the opportunity to intern. Without the Thurber Summer Writing Camp, I would not be the outgoing and happy person I am today. I can’t wait to be involved with the Thurber House in the future.
Next Monday, September 23, as you’re thinking “Hey, I’m kind of hungry,” make your way over to TIp Top Kitchen & Cocktails for delicious food and maybe even a few drinks. As part of Columbus Food League‘s charitable giving program, Tip Top has selected Thurber House as the community partner and will donate 10% of food sales from 11am – 2am on September 23rd to our cause. Tip Top will also keep a donation tin out for Thurber House the entire month of September to collect small donations from patrons throughout the month, so even if you don’t have time to stop and eat, drop in a few nickels and support some of your favorite programming in Columbus! We hope to see you there!
Sherrilyn Kenyon’s devoted fans filled the auditorium at The Columbus Museum of Art as they anxiously waited to meet one of their favorite authors. Rather than lecture or read, Kenyon designed her time with fans to be more like a conversation. She made it very clear from the beginning that if questions weren’t asked, she would be forced to tell embarrassing stories about her sons and husband, all of whom have interesting ways of fueling her love of writing. She discussed her love of horror movies, swords, and her extremely impressive way of remembering the tiny details of every story she has ever written. Sometimes she does leave her keys in the freezer or loose the banana she was eating, but that’s excusable when you’re writing about an endless sea of characters for up to 20 hours per day. Her hard work clearly pays off, as Kenyon had a three-hour signing line worth of fans, all of whom she greeted with a warm hug.
Next Thursday, September 26, join John Searles at the Columbus Museum of Art for a discussion about his newest novel, Help for the Haunted. The novel unveils the mystery of young girl who after her parents death, discovers secrets about their strange lives as saviors of haunted souls. Searles is also the author of bestselling novels, Boy Still Missing and Strange but True, a book critic for “The Today Show,” and Editor-at-Large for Cosmopolitan magazine.
Last night, Peter Heller joined us for our second Evenings with Authors of the Fall 2013 season. Heller took the crowd from silence and anticipation, to hysterical laughter as he told the audience tales of his adventures all over the world. He read from his newest novel, The Dog Stars, and greeted his guests with a huge smile, genuinely grateful that they came to see him. A jack of all trades, Heller was able to give the audience insight on poetry, nonfiction, fiction, magazine writing, editing, and everything in between.
This coming Monday, September 16, Sherrilyn Kenyon brings the paranormal realm to the Thurber audience. Kenyon’s thrilling books have been number one on the New York Times bestsellers list 16 times. Having written over 60 novels, Kenyon is one of the most prevalent paranormal fiction writers today. She has produced stories in all form, from graphic novel, to manga. Her newest novel, Styxx, continues the story of the title character and further explores the conflicted relationship between him and his twin brother, Acheron. This new novel gives Styxx a chance to prove his loyalty when evil gets hungry for revenge. Tickets are going quickly, click here to reserve yours today!
Each summer we have awesome interns helping out and keeping camp running smoothly. This year, Haley Cowans was one of our newbies. Here is what she has to say about Thurber House, dreaming, dabbling, and being an aspiring writer in Columbus.
Thurber House Intern, July 15-26
Haley (center) and her co-interns George (left) and Leah (right) standing in front of the word wall they helped create over the week.
My name is Haley Cowans, and more than anything else, I want to be a writer. As far as the specific plans to support that dream go, I’d like to someday be a copywriter, work for a charity, teach, go to graduate school, edit for an indie publisher, work in an art gallery or museum, contribute to public radio, start an underground newspaper…you can see where I’ve run into some problems. Luckily, the English department at the Ohio State University (where I’m starting my third year – how did this happen?) is very supportive of dreamers and dabblers. I love being a Buckeye. It’s let me participate in amazing service projects, attend readings from some of my favorite writers (and a lecture by Bill Nye – no big deal), and even run a creative writing group. I’m also completely enamored with the city of Columbus. I love spending hours (and a lot of money) at the Book Loft, eating way too much at the North Market, and screaming “LEO!” as loudly as I can at the beginning of a Blue Jackets’ game. Some things are sacred.
My varied interests and my love for this city brought me to the summer internship with Thurber House. I first learned about Thurber House during my freshmen year, when my residence hall book club took a tour after reading The Thurber Carnival. I was immediately drawn to its mission, contributing to Columbus’s literary community in a huge variety of ways. (I wonder why that appeals to me?) I knew that I wanted to get involved with a place like this, and so when I was looking for summer internships, this seemed perfect.
Working with Thurber House was everything I hoped it would be. I met some amazing writers (both the students and the professionals!) and learned so much along the way. I also got to explore a couple of favorite Columbus attractions, the Franklin Park Conservatory and the Columbus Museum of Art.I enjoyed these field trips as much as the students did, and it was especially fun to view these aspects of the city from a writer’s perspective. One of the highlights of my internship was working with the students on writing haikus in the Zen Garden at the conservatory. They were so excited about the koi fish and the bonsai trees, and I was glad I could help them turn that excitement into some great poems.
I still don’t know all the details of my future plans with certainty, but I do know that Thurber House is definitely the kind of place in which I imagine myself. Inspiring excitement about art and writing, especially in students, is such an important mission. I certainly hope I can continue to be a part of Thurber House’s mission in the future.
Thanks for all you did this summer Haley!
…and for this adorable picture you took of the Zoo’s Snow Leopard.
On August 27, Maggie Shipstead, author of New York Times bestseller Seating Arrangements, shared her story of becoming author with our audience. She candidly spoke about her journey to become the writer she is today and how she didn’t discover that writing was what she wanted to do until she was already doing it. While she claims to be extremely shy, she proved to be as witty as her novel. She shared her thoughts about the exhilarating yet bumpy ride of being an author, and the journey her novel took before it reached the shelves. Thank you to everyone who made it to this event! We can’t wait to see what Maggie Shipstead does next.
Peter Heller takes the stage this Wednesday, September 11, as our second author of the Fall 2013 season of Evenings with Authors. His debut novel, The Dog Stars, has already received great accolades and made it to the New York Times bestseller list. In his novel, he reveals a post-apocalyptic world where hope and adventure lives after all else has died. An adventure seeker himself, Heller has written four non-fiction books chronicling his experiences kayaking the Tsangpo Gorge in Eastern Tibet; working every odd job from logger, to pizza deliverer; following a group of eco-pirates seeking to destroy the Japanese whaling fleet; and most recently, his journey surfing from California down the coast of Mexico.
Tickets are still available! Click here for more information or to order tickets.
Thurber House is haunted. I know this because, as the 2013 Children’s Writer In Residence, I lived in the attic. I never heard mysterious footsteps like Thurber famously did. But each day as I sat at my desk, I felt Thurber’s presence everywhere—not just near the typewriter he used to write all those stories for The New Yorker.
Thurber wasn’t the only spirit I sensed. The walls are lined with pictures of the other writers who had spent time at Thurber House. Their books were on the shelves. What an honor to see my own books in the gift shop next to Thurber’s!
There were many other friendly spirits in Thurber House. Susanne, Alison, Anne, Meg, Katie, and Erin took great care of me. They provided me with encouragement, umbrellas, a bicycle, and plenty of laughter. And of course frequent trips for ice cream!
The Thurber House community includes so many others. Anyone who attends a literary event. Who tours Thurber House. Who shares their own writing in a workshop.
I learned so much from the creativity of the young writers and the analytical questions of the teens. I got the chance to read from my newest book, The Desperate Adventures of Zeno and Alya, at a few of the amazing libraries in Worthington.
In fact, everywhere I looked––in the museums, the gardens, the river front, the neighborhoods, I saw all kinds of creative expression. Columbus doesn’t just value the arts, it encourages participation from its citizens. My own residency was generously funded by JPMorgan Chase Foundation. I’ll always be grateful for their support.
I’m back in Brooklyn; I have to write all by myself again. I miss all those friendly spirits. Yes Thurber House is haunted in all those wonderful ways I mentioned. But I do wonder what—or who—made that glowing light I saw one night beneath the dining room floor.
For more information about this deal or to purchase your ticket, please click on the picture!
Last Wednesday we wrapped up our Summer 2013 Literary Picnic series with local author, poet, and professor, Charlene Fix. Her biography, Harpo Marx as Trickster, offers an accessible look into the film career of theman who often offered you his leg to shake, rather than his hand. Nostalgia filled the atmosphere as guests looked upon the photos around the podium that captured Harpo Marx in some of his most famous roles. The audience laughed right along with Fix as she recalled some of her favorite Harpo Marx roles and scenes. Her researched involved sitting and immersing herself in the film, just as she encourages her readers to do as they read. She told the audience how author, poet, and professor, Charlene Fix. Her biography, Harpo Marx as Trickster, offers an accessible look into the film career of the man who often offered you his leg to shake, rather than his hand. Nostalgia filled the atmosphere as guests looked upon the photos around the podium that captures Harpo Marx in some of his most famous roles.
The audience laughed right along with Fix as she recalled some of her favorite Harpo Marx roles and scenes. Her researched involved sitting and immersing herself in the film, just as she encourages her readers to do as they read. She told the audience how the hardest part about writing the book was having a limit, causing her to make harsh decisions about what had to be left out. Fascinated by how Harpo Marx stole his audience, Fix has composed a biography that every
film fanatic should have on their shelves.
A big thanks to all who attended our Summer 2013 Literary Picnic Series! As we prepare to launch our Fall 2013 season of Evenings with Authors, we hope you’ll join us again for another awesome line-up of authors.
Click here for more information or to buy tickets for our Fall 2013 season of Evenings with Authors.
Beginning Monday, September 23, and running until Monday, November 4, the fall 2013 Writing Workshops will offer a DIFFERENT class each week, covering a variety of genres, techniques and subjects in creative writing. Each class runs for two hours from 6 – 8 p.m., and is taught by a professional in that area. The Thurber House Writing Workshops provide a unique opportunity to discover and develop your creative writing talents. Tuition is $40 per class and it non refundable or returnable. Class size is limited to 20 per course. You must be over 18 to participate.
September 23: Writing from the Heart – Inspirational Storytelling
Learn why inspirational writing is so popular, and how faith can lead to power on the page. Instructor: Robin Davis is the former food editor for the Columbus Dispatch and senior writer for Kenyon College.
DEADLINE TO REGISTER: September 19
September 30: From Memory to Memoir
Take what you remember of your life —people, events, emotions— and learn how to write about them. Instructor: Alexis Wilson is the bestselling author of Not So Black and White, a memoir.
DEADLINE TO REGISTER: September 26
October 7: The Unique Art of
Humor is a wonder, and writing to bring smiles to the faces of your readers can be wonderful. Instructor: John Kachuba is the author of many books, including the bestseller, How to Write Funny.
DEADLINE TO REGISTER: October 3
October 21: The Building Blocks
Character, plot, dialogue, voice, setting, point-of-view – get inspired by these fiction-writing basics. Instructor: Christiane Buuck is a professor of creative writing at The Ohio State University.
DEADLINE TO REGISTER: October 17
October 28: Writing that Tells Your Story in Print and Online
Whether writing for a blog or a brochure, effective storytelling techniques can help you capture and retain your readers’ interest and communicate with impact. Instructor: Kathy Baird is a professional writer and communications consultant.
DEADLINE TO REGISTER: October 24
November 4: The World of
The ins and outs of publishing have changed, and it’s important to learn how to navigate this new world. Instructor: Katherine Matthews
has been published in numerous magazines, and is the editor of PageSpring Publishing. DEADLINE TO REGISTER: October 31
We are also very excited to announce a Special Master Class with 2013 John E. Nance Writer-in-Residence: KATRINA KITTLE
The acclaimed author of The Kindness of Strangers and Traveling Light is the 2013 John E. Nance Write-in-Residence at Thurber House. She will be teaching a two-hour Master Class on Characterization and Voice, two of the most critical components of fiction writing.
Date: Thursday, October 24, 2013
Time: 6:00-8:00 p.m.
To register for any or all of our Adult Writing Workshops, please visit click here!
After a lot of reading and debate, finalists have finally been selected for the 2013 Thurber Prize for American Humor! Initiated in 1997, this is the nation’s highest annual recognition of the art of humor writing. The winner will be announced at an event at Caroline’s Comedy Club on Broadway in New York City on September 30, 2013.
The finalists for the 2013 Thurber Prize for American Humor are:
Shalom Auslander for Hope, A Tragedy (Riverhead)
Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel for Lunatics: A Novel (G.P.Putnam’s Sons)
Dan Zevin for Dan Gets a Mini-Van: Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad (Scribner)
CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR FINALISTS!
Past winners of the Thurber Prize for American Humor include:
1997: Ian Frazier – Coyote vs. Acme
1999: Editorial staff of The Onion – Our Dumb Century
2001: David Sedaris – Me Talk Pretty One Day
2004: Christopher Buckley – No Way to Treat a First Lady
2005: Jon Stewart and the writers of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction
2006: Alan Zweibel – The Other Shulman
2007: Joe Keenan – My Lucky Star
2008: Larry Doyle – I Love You, Beth Cooper
2009: Ian Frazier – Lamentations of the Father
2010: Steve Hely – How I Became a Famous Novelist
2011: David Rakoff – Half Empty
2012: Calvin Trillin – Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff
*The Thurber Prize for American Humor is sponsored in part by the Greater Columbus Arts Council.
We can’t wait to see you this fall!
On Tuesday, August 27, we are of kicking off our Fall 2013 Season of Evenings with Authors with Maggie Shipstead! Her debut novel, Seating Arrangements, was an instant New York Times bestseller that peels back the layers of an affluent WASP family. Filled with well-written wit, humor, and emotion, Seating Arrangements is an engaging novel that will keep you turning the page. Join us as Shipstead discusses the Van Meter family, as well as her career and love of writing.
Click here to order tickets or for more information about this event or any other 2013 Fall Evenings with Authors event
On Wednesday, August 14, the world of the Dungeons & Dragons invaded the Columbus Museum of Art for our special event, The Sundering: Re-imagining the Forgotten Realms of Dungeons & Dragons. Wizards of the Coast has brought together six bestselling fantasy authors to independently write a book that together will complete The Sundering, a series that re-imagines The Forgotten Realms. Three of the authors, R.A. Salvatore, Erin Evans, and Ed Greenwood, joined us for a panel discussion on this special evening to discuss the collaboration process as well as their past and future writing careers.
R.A. Salvatore kicked off the series with his recent release of The Companions. Erin Evans, one of the youngest authors on this project, will release the third book in the series on December 3, 2013. In contrast, Ed Greenwood the most seasoned writer and the creator of the Forgotten Realms setting has the task of ending the series.
The collaboration process was the hot topic of the evening. Having six authors write within the same world and using some of the same characters seems like it would be complicated, right? Not according to the authors themselves. If anything, they find it a fascinating process and an adventure to have to alter their original story a little because someone else had an amazing idea. Sitting in the audience and listening to them discuss their processes of storytelling was an inspiring experience. While all three authors had different processes, they all shared on commonality: they like to let their characters write the stories. R.A. Salvatore explained that when he sits down to write, he typically has an outline in the form of a fairly straight line. However, as he moves forward looking through the characters’ eyes, the line quickly develops branches and continues to grow until he has something that resembles a large tree. Both he and Erin Evans admitted that while they’re writing they get so caught up in the story that sometimes at the end, they realize one of their characters has actually been acting out of character. Rather than go back and fix it, they just think “what’s wrong with them?!” Salvatore told the audience that it took him a few novels once to figure out exactly what was wrong with one of his most beloved characters.
The evenings’ moderater and Creative Manager of Dungeons & Dragons, James Wyatt, kept conversation moving and allowed the audience to feel as if they were part of one of a group brainstorming session. It was extremely apparent that this amazing group of authors has a strong and loyal following of fans, as most fans couldn’t have been happier to wait over 2 hours to meet their favorite authors.
Thanks to everyone who attended this very special event! We hope to see you again!
For more information about future events at Thurber House, click here.
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Now that the writers’ cramp has subsided, we are happy to announce another super successful season of camp. With over 300 campers, Thurber Center was exploding with creativity. This summer we had the great opportunity to bring some new things to Thurber House as well as continue some old favorites.
Partnering with BalletMet, our 2/3 grade writers took a short trip to their studios where they pretended to be reporters as they explored the costume shop, scene shop, and all the other behind the scenes necessities that go into making a ballet. Our youngest campers made story stones, designed their own nature journals, and even created their very own state (complete with a state dance).
One of the new highlights this year was a visit from the Columbus Zoo and a few of their furry friends for our 4/5 graders. John Becker, long time Thurber friend and teacher, worked with everyone in the morning on an iPad (also an exciting new addition to camp) research project about animals. As a surprise to the campers, they then got to do a little more hands-on research when the Zoo came in with some of the cutest and most interesting animals we’ve ever seen! What a treat! They also had the opportunity to take an all-day field trip to Franklin Park Conservatory and spend the day exploring new lands and attempting to get butterflies to land on their bright green shirts (we had a few successes!).
Not to be left out with new adventures, our 6/7/8 graders had the new task of solving a camp-wide mystery involving some very high-tech toothpaste and funny business that involved extra heads and horns. They also made a trip to the Columbus Museum of Art to be inspired by their exhibits. To top it off, they made puppets and scripts, learned how to embroider, and wrote their own fan-fiction, which was a brand new topic for us to tackle.
Both our 2/3 and 4/5 graders were part of a really great word art project this summer. Together, all the campers created a Word Wall Mural with a specific theme for the week. Campers were given an object/item and then small pieces of paper to write on descriptions, adjectives, etc. that we later collected. Our lovely interns then put the pieces together to create the large mural that slowly took shape over the week. For the 2/3 grade students, they created an “ocean” full of words and what our 4/5 grade campers created turned the hallway into outer space.
Spanning all grades this year, we decided to put on a book drive. Thanks to all who donated, we collected well over 200 books that we were able to donate to a few great organizations around Columbus. We can’t wait to do this again for Writing Wizards! A big shout out goes to our interns, counselors this summer with these projects and so, so much more. We couldn’t have had such a successful summer without you!
Thanks again to everyone who attended and to all of the parents for sharing their oh-so-talented young writers with us for a few days. We have the great opportunity to make writing fun for so many Columbus kids, making our job the coolest in the city.
…Although I suppose we are a little biased.
Check back over the next few weeks for more fun stories about camp.
See you next summer!