Have you ever wanted to play matchmaker? Maybe you have friends with a lot in common and you’ve got this hunch they would really like each other if you could just get them in the same room? Sometimes we feel that way about books and authors. Occasionally, as in our post today, two authors have striking similarities (foreign writers publishing debut novels in a U.S. market–and with the same publisher no less) or the novels themselves tackle the same subject or theme. So we’ve decided to do a bit of literary matchmaking and begin a new series called “Book, Meet Book” where we introduce two novels (and sometimes the authors themselves) to one another and hope they hit it off. We begin with Katarina Bilvald, author of THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND, and Marieke Nijkamp, author of THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS.
Everyone has a reason to fear the boy with the gun.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.
The auditorium doors won’t open.
Someone starts shooting.
Told from four perspectives over the span of 54 harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.
Katarina: I love your book, THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS. Such a powerful story, and in a way both infinitely sad and stubbornly hopeful. How did you feel when writing it? Were you caught up in the emotions of the story unfolding it?
Marieke: Thank you so much! I love it when people call THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS hopeful, because that was so important to me when I set out to write it. I’ve never been big on happy endings—a great one is fantastic—but I love love love a good hopeful ending. Isn’t hope what we all need in life? And to answer your question, I definitely went through all the emotions my characters were feeling while writing it. There were many scenes that made me tear up and I definitely mourned the characters (though it was mainly the research that made me cry uncontrollably) and there were quite a few moments when I had to step back from my computer and go out into the sunlight for a bit, or do something happy.
Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…
Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her book-loving pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds Amy’s funeral guests just leaving. The residents of Broken Wheel are happy to look after their bewildered visitor–there’s not much else to do in a dying small town that’s almost beyond repair.
You certainly wouldn’t open a bookstore. And definitely not with the tourist in charge. You’d need a vacant storefront (Main Street is full of them), books (Amy’s house is full of them), and…customers.
The bookstore might be a little quirky. Then again, so is Sara. But Broken Wheel’s own story might be more eccentric and surprising than she thought.
A heartwarming reminder of why we are book lovers, this is a sweet, smart story about how books find us, change us, and connect us.
Marieke: If you were to move to small-town Iowa and start a bookstore… what would you call it?
Katarina: That’s a great question. I’d probably have to rename it every six months or so because I wouldn’t be able to make up my mind, which might not be too good from a business-perspective. It would have to be called Oak Tree Bookstore for a while, for sentimental reasons and because I really do love trees. But then I think – maybe Books and Dreams? After all, that’s what a bookshop is all about, I think.
About the authors:
Katarina Bivald lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with her sister and as many book shelves that she can squeeze in. She still hasn’t decided whether she prefer books or people. Her debut novel is THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND.
Marieke Nijkamp lives in the Netherlands. She is a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter, geek. She holds degrees in philosophy, history, and medieval studies, and wants to grow up to be a time traveler. Her debut young adult novel is THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS.