Tag Sara Gruen

EXCITING NEWS!

As we announced yesterday, Sara Gruen‘s WATER FOR ELEPHANTS is one of World Book Night‘s 2015 titles.

And now we can finally reveal that Two Roads will be publishing her new novel, AT THE WATER’S EDGE, in June next year.

Here’s the beautiful cover, and you can find out more here on our website.

At the water's edge

Christmas signature 2014As of yesterday Two Roads has launched it’s official Christmas 2014 campaign, #Road2Christmas.

Every day we’ll share a piece of festive news to keep you going in these cold, dark, often madly-busy pre-Christmas days, may that be a list of our favourite books from 2014 or authors and ideas we’re excited to be publishing in the new year; or even our authors and colleagues’ favourite holiday reads.

Visit our Facebook page (facebook.com/TwoRoadsBooks) and follow us on Twitter (Lisa as @TwoRoadsBooks, Fede as @Due_Strade) to get involved!

WBN 2015 logo

Today we’re happy to celebrate a modern classic we look forward to rediscovering in 2015: Sara Gruen’s #1 bestseller Water For Elephants, which has just been announced as one of World Book Night’s 2015 titles.

You can find out more about this brilliant novel, recently made into a film starring Reese Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz, here on our website, and you can apply to become a WBN book giver here: worldbooknight.org

Road2Christmas-Day2

Brendon Books in Taunton, travelling editor, Water for Elephants

Brendon Books & Maps

Lionel Ward at Brendon Books in Somerset was kind enough to invite me for the next stop on the travelling editor roadshow. I’d never been to Taunton before but it looked both charming and pretty and not at all in Devon as I’d first thought.

Taunton Castle, travelling editor, Water for ElephantsTaunton Castle, travelling editor, Water for Elephants

Taunton Castle - haunt of Judge Jeffreys

Time for a quick recce before the book group began so off I went down old narrow windy streets, (not) past a sweetie shop, (not) past a clothes shop (damage done in last two) and the Castle. The Castle was famous/infamous for the Bloody Assizes in 1685 with ‘Hanging’ Judge Jeffreys presiding and dispatching in a 17th century version of Britain’s Got Traitors. I was famous/infamous in my history class for finding him the most attractive man in the National Portrait Gallery – look, I was ten, what did I know?

Brendon Books is in a pretty location in an historic narrow street called Bath Place. The book group met over the shop and pizza. Perhaps Water For Elephants wasn’t a choice the group would have made had I not been visiting but they graciously went at it with a will, had all read it and gave it solid ratings.

Astute and original questions followed about why start Two Roads, the business of the business and how publishing works, the latter being something most of us in it find hard to explain. The group’s next choice was voted on most democratically – a South American novel (thought Tristram Shandy would ace it myself). This group was less concerned with new releases and the book club ‘hotlist’ than exploring already-published titles. I’m constantly surprised or reminded (can’t decide which) by how different people’s tastes are and how dangerous it is to say ‘oh this is a book group book’ or ‘reading groups will love this’… it’s like saying ‘people who like meat/have brown hair /are 25 will like this…’ Interesting evening.

Taunton, travelling editor, Water for Elephants

Taunton streets - excellent baskets

Lionel’s wife, Jo, runs their lovely B&B at the Old Rectory, where I stayed that night. We sat up till late over wine and cheese discussing publishing, literary festivals, the education system, rubbish TV, local tourism and cosy crime (the last two are not connected). Slept like a log.

Like many good independent booksellers, Brendon Books is an important part of the local community is looking for ways to keep the business growing. The inaugural Taunton Literary Festival – slogan ’40 events over 11 days ‘ takes place from 15-25 September, they have really good writers coming and clearly a lot of work has

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gone into it – I wish them luck and hope it does well, it’d be good if it became a regular event.

Next stop the Atkinson-Pryce bookshop in Biggar and the Edinburgh Festival.

Guest blogger: Sara Gruen

Panbanisha drinking tea

photo of Panbanisha at the tea party with Sara Gruen, courtesy of the Great Ape Trust

Part of the immersive research for Ape House, Sara’s novel about a family of bonobos, was a visit to the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines to get to know some bonobos at first hand…

On an unusually hot spring day, Panbanisha and I sat on a blanket on the grass near a wooded area. In front of us were plates of cookies she’d selected and pots of tea she’d brewed (although she prefers caramel macchiatos, she’d made clear this was a tea party). We hadn’t seen each other in a while, so both of us had gone to some effort—we were both wearing lipstick and had paid special attention to our hair. She asked me if I’d like milk in my tea, and I said yes, please. She passed me the bottle.

bonobo ape Panbanisha plays with her Potato Head (a gift from Sara Gruen, author of Ape House) at the Great Ape Trust

photo of Panbanisha playing with her Potato Head (a gift from Sara Gruen) courtesy of the Great Ape Trust

After I used some, I passed it back. She tipped the bottle to her lips and drained it, wiped her mouth with a

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napkin, and set it delicately beside her. She then suggested I try some cookies, telling me which ones tasted better dipped in tea. She watched me eat a few, and then asked if I was finished. I said that yes, I thought I was, and passed the plate over. She raised it to her lips and dumped the remaining cookies into her mouth. Perhaps feeling bad about my cookie-less state, she disappeared into the forest and came back with a branch of leaves she’d selected specially for me. I ate a few out of politeness, although they would have been much improved by some olive oil. We discussed my upcoming book, and I showed her the manuscript, but it was windy and the pages kept blowing away, so we gave up. Panbanisha asked if I’d eaten eggs that morning, and I replied that I had not, but I had eaten some the day before. She told me that a bunny had recently hidden eggs in the forest. She looked pensive for a moment and added that she wished the bunny would come back.

In the background, a man said something into a walkie-talkie. Within five minutes, the Easter Bunny appeared with a basket of eggs, showed them to us, and then hid them in the forest. Panbanisha kindly allowed me to find the first egg, and then gratefully—and gracefully—peeled and ate it when I pled fullness and gave it to her. This was a Tuesday, and Panbanisha was keeping a strict diet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but one must make exceptions for special occasions.
Panbanisha is no dummy. She is also not human. continue reading »

Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen, Reese Witherspoon, Robert PattinsonGuest Blogger: Ian Williamson, our Hodder man in the Midlands

I can’t remember why I started to read Water for Elephants. I think I just liked the sound of it. It’s not the sort of thing I usually read. The story of an elderly man recalling the time he spent working on a circus train in mid-1930’s America wouldn’t have been the first thing I’d jump to read. But I did read it and as I read it and realised I didn’t just like it, I loved it, I knew that I’d have to tell everyone I knew to read it.

I went into bookshops

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and talked to the booksellers and told them about this amazing book I’d read. I gave them copies of it and said, just give it a go. See what you think. I went away with no expectations. Maybe a few people will like it. When I went back and started getting feedback from people, it was obvious that Water for Elephants was going to be something very special and really important.

I’m not going to tell you about the plot or the characters. What I’m going to tell you about is what I saw happen after my initial visits to the bookshops.

It started gradually. The people I had given copies to read it and told me how much they loved it. Then booksellers who I had never met came up to me and told me they were reading it and they loved it too. I haven’t found one person who has read Water for Elephants who hasn’t found it to be one of the best books they’ve read.

Then they started recommending it to customers. The book started to appear on Bookseller Recommends bays. The small card, fixed to the shelf underneath containing phrases like, ‘An incredibly poignant novel’, ‘an exquisite cast of characters’, ‘powerful and affecting’, ‘a novel that truly captures the strength of the human spirit in times of adversity’. Many books stay in the recommends section for a short time, then are replaced by other, newer titles. Not this one. Once it was there it refused to move, because customers were drawn in by the passion that booksellers had for it.

Water for Elephants quickly became a word-of-mouth success across the Cotswolds and the Midlands. It showed in the sales. Two of the shops I visit have sold over a hundred copies each. One has now sold over a hundred and seventy.

Now, almost three years after I first read it, people are still discovering it, loving it and telling other people about it. It might not look like your sort of thing, it’s not mine. But try it, or better still, go find someone who has read it and ask them about it. Listen to them talking about how much they enjoyed it, what they discovered from it and how it made them feel at the end. I bet you’ll want to experience what they felt. Then you’ll be out there telling people who haven’t read it how great it is. But hurry up, because the number of people who haven’t read it is getting smaller and when the film comes out it’ll be smaller still. So hurry up.

Water for Elephants is now available on DVD.

Publishers are supposedly renowned for not going the distance with books. Actually, in my experience this just isn’t true. If we love the book, we defy logic or common sense with our outraged loyalty (family and friends are particularly at risk here). Ask any publisher and they’ll have a story about a fabulous book that just never sold or reached its full potential. Everything was lined up but the magic just didn’t happen.

In the UK, Water For Elephants is such a book: a fantastic piece of story telling that deserves a wide and appreciative audience . It’s a love story set during a fascinating period in 20th century history, it’s dark and violent in places, it’s a murder mystery with a cast of grifters, freaks and star crossed lovers and one very large elephant.

In the States, the book has sold over three million copies, spent years on the New York Times bestseller list and I believe it’s practically illegal for a book group not to read it. Internationally, it’s been sold in over 30 territories. Yet, despite extremely respectable sales, in the UK the blue touch paper of high profile chart success remains unlit. It’s not been on the radar of the ‘civilian’ (the non-book world) world. That is, until now, when things are about to change.

The movie, starring Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz, opens in early May and looks terrific. This is not always the case with love book/love film (e g Captain Corelli – oh dearie me but One Day and Never Let Me Go seem safe) but with what I know I feel confident. We have the trailer on the Water For Elephants page of this site – judge for yourself. The movie (and the actors) will bring the book to a whole new audience. Many of this new audience may never see the film, but want to read the book and many will be brought to the book

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through the stars. Note to Twilight fans – this book is very much shorter than what you’re used to.

So, tenacity may yet pay off. I first published Water For Elephants in 2006 and since then I have put five different covers on it over five formats. The movie tie in will be its sixth outing. My colleagues and I have evangelised about this for five years and now, and now…

… the moral of this blog? Never give up!

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