This afternoon at the Red Balloon, I sat with many others (a standing room only crowd!) to celebrate the release of Anne Ursu's new book The Real Boy (currently on the long list for the National Book Award). Anne read aloud most of chapter two, and all eyes were focused on her as we took in the details about Oscar, the book's main character. She stopped periodically to add details, saying, "And you should know that..." A reader does not get that experience with an author very often! Her choice of chapters was perfectly chosen. Readers were left wondering about one important character.
In the question and answer session, one person asked about the book's inspiration. It came from a marionette performance of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and her imagining a world where trees were dead wizards. Another reader asked how long she had wanted to be a writer. Anne looked at her mother in the back row and asked, "Mom, have I always wanted to be a writer?" Her mom confirmed that Anne had never wanted to be anything but a writer. Yet another reader asked if she wrote parts of herself into her characters. Anne indicated there are things about Hazel (from Breadcrumbs) and Oscar that are quite like her, but Charlotte (from the Cronus Chronicles) is a bit too lippy to be like her. It was a perfect introduction to the book for me.
Like many others, I now have long-anticipated having this book in hand. I am grateful for leftovers so I can read longer instead of preparing food for the family!