spinning blog tour - interview with author tillie walden

Today’s post is part of the blog tour for Tillie Walden’s illustrated memoir, Spinning. Walden is the author of one of my favorite webcomics, On A Sunbeam, and is a decorated comics artist as well as an all-around lovely person. Read on for an interview and a brief review of Spinning!

It seemed like one of the themes of this book was solitude and a sort of loneliness, even when deeply involved in a team sport. Do you/did you recognize that as you put together the story?
Honestly, no! I noticed it afterwards. Which is hilarious to me now. It’s amazing how blind we are to ourselves and our patterns. But I’m glad that comes out in the book. I think it’s very easy to believe that team sports are an endless show of camaraderie and togetherness, but I found it all extremely isolating. And I imagine I’m not the only person to feel that way. Ice rinks, to me, are also especially lonely places. They’re freezing cold, and they’re either full of bright lights or kind of stuck in the shadows. And those locker rooms were just depressing. Full of leftover air from the ice and stressed out girls in full make up.

Writing and illustrating a memoir means drawing younger you a lot - did you find that easy/difficult/in-between? Did you refer to pictures?
I didn’t use pictures to reference. I was pretty easy to draw, luckily. I had long blonde hair and glasses, and I just sort of ran with that. I knew going into it that my drawings of myself would be interpretations, so I was ok with any inaccuracies.

What's the last thing you read (aside from your own work), and what are you reading now?
Omg, I love this question. I wish people asked me this more. SO, the last thing I read was The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino, and it was totally amazing. But all the prose I read is almost entirely mystery or crime dramas. I’m a little obsessed. And currently I’m reading the next book after The Devotion of Suspect X, which is called Salvation of a Saint. They’re detective thrillers set in Tokyo. Come on, how could I not read this?

tillie walden
Tillie Walden is a two-time Ignatz Award–winning cartoonist from Austin, Texas. Born in 1996, she is a recent graduate from the Center for Cartoon Studies, a comics school in Vermont. Her comics include The End of Summer and I Love This Part, an Eisner Award nominee.

Interested in reading more about Spinning and Tillie? Check out the full tour schedule here, or just click on any of the links below!

Have I convinced you to pick up Spinning yet? If not, check out my mini-review below!

spinning by tillie walden book cover
Figure skating was Tillie Walden’s life. She woke before dawn for morning lessons, went straight to group practice after school, and spent weekends competing in glitter and tights. It was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But as Tillie's interests evolve, from her growing passion for art to a first love realized with a new girlfriend, she begins to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fits in.

Poignant and captivating, this powerful graphic memoir captures what it's like to come of age, come out, and come to terms with leaving behind everything you used to know.

Tillie Walden grew up figure skating, and while she found success on the ice, she faced many challenges off it. Those awkward, weird, and sometimes wonderful young adult years are detailed in her beautifully illustrated graphic memoir, Spinning.

I identified strongly with Tillie’s experiences skating as both an individual and in a team – I was a competitive swimmer all the way through college. The isolation of competition, the gossip and enforced together-ness of the team all resonated. Pair that with Tillie’s scholastic struggles, her forays in youthful friendship, burgeoning artistic talent, and her relationship with her first girlfriend, and the book is brimming with all of the bits and pieces of life that seem to come at you 100mph during the teenage years. It’s not easy, of course, and Tillie’s experiences with bullies and worse are detailed as well. Tillie has written and illustrated not only her life from memory, but also a highly relatable book for teens and young women everywhere. It’s honest and beautiful and poignant and sad and all of the things that life is while you’re living it. I loved it.

Recommended for: young women ages 11 and up, especially introverts, artists, and those into sports.


Monday, August 21, 2017 | | 1 comments
Are you on Instagram? I am! It’s fun! If you follow/have followed me there, I changed my handle to @ceceliareads in June. It’s all books all the time. My personal handle (for photos of not-book things – most likely scenery, sports & coffee) is still live, too.

After I changed my handle I mentioned to several real-life friends that I’d started to do the “bookstagram thing.” Most of them couldn’t see any difference between my feed then and my feed now, so I guess we’ll chalk that up to me being extra on-brand with bookstagram. I did get one complaint about too many photos of socks, but what can you do? #socksunday, y’all.

For those not in the know, bookstagram (with or without the #) is the bookish community on Instagram. Participants take photos of books or book-adjacent things, use the hashtag for easy discovery, and then (as far as I can tell), go around telling people how beautiful their photos are and how excited they are to read [insert book title here]. It’s pretty great.

I was inspired by a few bookstagrammers I met at the Fierce Reads party at Book Expo. I looked them up after the fact and thought, yeah, I could do that! And then I had to figure out how to take tons of photos of books without getting really boring and repetitive.

Well folks, aside from the #socksunday idea I was stumped about how to make my photos stand out. I don’t collect book swag (bookmarks, trading cards, branded knick knacks, etc.), I don’t subscribe to any book delivery services, and I can’t afford to spend a fortune at the craft store – nor do I want to. Then I had an awesome brainstorm: could I use the flowers at work?

an example of a typical bouquet at our office. see those orange mini roses?

Work for me is in a nice-ish building in downtown DC, and the office has a standing Monday morning bouquet order with a local florist. It makes the reception area look really classy. But from Friday at close of business through Monday AM, the last week’s flowers just sit there (rotting!) – and so I asked the receptionist if I could start taking them on Fridays after the end of the day. Thus, Cecelia’s Friday book & flower photoshoots were born. I now take a stack of books with me to work on Fridays and look forward to the end of the day, when I’ll get to deconstruct the current week’s vase of flowers and create a few looks to fill my feed for the following weeks. I’ve included an example of the before-and-after so you can see what I mean!

the petals made for a beautiful #bookstagram look!

Of course, the flower and book thing is a little precarious – it depends on the goodwill of the office staff and me staying late every Friday night. So, what else should I feature on my bookstagram? Hit me up with ideas!

the one that got away

I know we’re almost at the end of summer, but if you need one last read for the beach or the Labor Day weekend, I’ve got the perfect recommendation. Melissa Pimentel’s The One That Got Away is a funny and fairly adorable modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. It’s a touching, feel-good story, and a must-read for anyone who has watched Austen adaptations with a smidge of envy.

Ruby and Ethan were perfect for each other. Until the day they suddenly weren't.

Now, ten years later, Ruby is single, having spent the last decade focusing on her demanding career and hectic life in Manhattan. There's barely time for a trip to England for her little sister's wedding. And there's certainly not time to think about what it will be like to see Ethan again, who just so happens to be the best man.

But as the family frantically prepare for the big day, Ruby can't help but wonder if she made the right choice all those years ago. Because there is nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past…

Ruby is a New York career woman through and through, and she’s mostly content with her life. However, with her best friend decamped to New Jersey with baby #2 on the way and her younger sister about to be married in a castle in the UK, she’s reevaluating some things – and worried about seeing her successful ex Ethan at the wedding. What follows is a then-and-now tale of love, loss, and figuring it all out again years after the fact.

Given that Pimentel’s novel is a retelling of Persuasion, you can likely guess the ending. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t some unexpected twists and turns along the way though – this is a thoroughly updated version. I won’t say any more, because I think this book deserves to preserve the surprises it does have.

Beyond the plot, it’s clever and entertaining, and I found myself chuckling several times, or at least smiling down at the book with gentle amusement. Pimentel knows her audience and her pop culture, and I think she infuses the right amount of cute into a familiar storyline without edging over into sappy. I very much enjoyed The One That Got Away.

Now, I do want to be fair and mention things that brought me out of the story a bit, though they didn’t dampen my enjoyment: the first chapter is a bit of a slow set-up, and you have to just push through it and get adjusted to Ruby’s first-person narration. Don’t worry, she’s intelligent and unpretentious, and if you’re anything like me you’ll end up liking her immensely. The second thing is that the book is set up in Then chapters and Now chapters, so you slide between Ruby’s first person present and third person from the past. Third thing: there are several Briticisms scattered about that I don’t imagine would naturally be flowing through an American’s head. But, as the book was published first in the UK, this does not surprise me. And as I mentioned, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book.

In all, The One That Got Away is a satisfying, charming read with a heroine to root for and the perfect dose of English scenery.

Recommended for: fans of modern Jane Austen adaptations, and anyone who likes light, smart, and funny women’s fiction, à la Marian Keyes.

The One That Got Away will be released by St. Martin’s Press on August 22, 2017.

Fine print: I received a finished copy of this book for review consideration. I did not receive any compensation for this post. 

it’s been four months. how do i like my kindle?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 | | 5 comments
I resisted getting an e-reader for a long time. At the beginning of the rise of ebooks (it sounds kind of apocalyptic written out like that, right?), I was dead broke and a grad student. My money was going towards essentials, and as much as I love them, books are not essential to human survival. Neither is toilet paper. TMI? Anyway, I didn’t have money for an e-reader and friends & family didn’t gift me one, so I didn’t have one.

Then I left grad school, moved across the country twice, and got an office job. While I was slightly less broke, I couldn't justify the purchase of a dedicated device while I had a perfectly serviceable iPhone and Kindle app. This whole time, Amazon sent me “deal of the day” emails, and I bought so many discounted ebooks that browsing my ebook library started to scare me. Also by that point people in my book club were shocked I didn't have an e-reader and maybe everyone in my life assumed I was making a deliberate choice not to own one?

Fast forward another couple of years, and I fractured my eye socket playing rec league floor hockey (...). While my face healed and my vision got back to 20/20, the muscles around my eye deteriorated *just* enough that reading on my phone late at night wasn't fun or easy anymore. So it was e-reader time! And that's how I bought a Kindle Paperwhite.

What do I think of it? Well, it’s perfectly nice. I don’t mind reading on/with it. It’s certainly easier on my eyes than a phone screen. And yet… it functions more as a security blanket than as a reading device. I take great comfort in the fact that I can stick it in my bag and have hundreds of books at my fingertips. I do not actually take it out of my bag to read that often (sighhhhh). So, that’s where we are.

I may still change my habits with time and find it really useful, but in the meantime I will continue to load my Kindle up with ebooks that I very rarely read, and take pleasure in the opportunity rather than the reality.

Do you have an e-reader? Do you use it regularly?
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