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Interview with author JC Morrows

One of the joys of working at McKay’s is getting to speak with the authors that share their literary works with us. And when we’re lucky, those authors return to us when they finish new projects. JC Morrows is one such author who will be back at McKay’s for a second time (!!!) with the latest book in her Order of the Moonstone series. I recently had the pleasure of talking with this bestselling author of YA Christian speculative fiction and am happy to share our conversation with you. Read on, and be sure to mark your calendars for when JC will be at a bookstore near you!

McKay’s: I would love to hear you talk a little bit about the world(s) you’ve created. What drew you to them? What is it about that time/place that keeps you writing in it? I know that talking about inspiration can be hard, but if possible, can you talk about what inspired you to “live” in that setting?

JCM: I have always been a fan of fantastical, out-of-this-world stories. Of the different series I have written (only one of which is published so far), each one takes place in a very different “world.” As a young child, I was miserable with my own life much of the time and I escaped into books. Those worlds were my safe place. That love of worlds has naturally carried over into my own writing. Now they are so much more than a safe place. They are a warm haven when I’m having a rough day.

Typically, I write from a dream… or from an idea. My writing buddies and I have lots of in-depth conversations, and I love watching my ideas develop into possible stories during these sessions, including character development, world-building, plot and series mapping.

McKay’s: Your stories seem to have a number of steampunk elements to them, but it seems that most people place you in a young adult/Christian/speculative fiction box. Do you consider yourself to be a writer of steampunk fiction in addition to these other labels? If so, are you involved with the Steampunk community at all?

JCM: I am an oddity among even the few Christian writers I know of who weave their stories around a steampunk theme. I am completely fascinated by pieces of the steampunk world, but only pieces.

I love the Victorian clothing, but only the ones that are modest. And I love the idea of finding a way to utilize steam power instead of gasoline or nuclear energy. Those things fit so nicely into my story worlds, adding a layer of intrigue and endless possibilities.

As far as considering myself a “steampunk” author, I actually have a page on my website where I talk about the difference between “steampunk” and what I write – affectionately calling my own work SteamTheme.

McKay’s: What are your writing habits like? Do you have a set routine for when/where/how often you put pen to paper (or finger to keystroke)?

JCM: This is sort of a running joke in my family. I am not a morning person . . . never have been one. However, as a single mother who also home-schools, the only time I can truly concentrate on writing is when all is quiet – so I get up between 4 and 5 am every morning to write and/or edit.

There are days that see me still writing throughout the day (mostly when I’m on deadline), but I try to do so only when the children are occupied with other things.

McKay’s: I’ve read that you’ve been a storyteller since you were a little girl. Think back to the earliest stories you can remember telling. What were they about? Are there similar elements from the stories at that time that can be found in your current works?

quote 2

JCM: The earliest stories I remember telling were about castles and dragons and princesses. I was always crazy about fairy tales. I just had a tendency to make the damsel one who could get herself out of distress. That is certainly true of the heroines in my current series. I did not purposely base Kayden’s story on any fairy tales. However, there are definitely similar themes throughout the story. Kayden goes to the palace and falls in love with the Prince. Of course, instead of running away at midnight, she has to decide whether or not to follow through on her mission to assassinate him.

McKay’s: I know that A Dangerous Escape just came out, on the heels of your other recent publication A Dangerous Love, which released back in February. Congratulations on that! When you publish one of your stories, do you take any time to rest and celebrate? Or do you simply move on to the next story?

JCM: With my schedule, I can actually do both. We always celebrate when a book is finished – and then again when it releases, but if I take time away from writing, it’s a struggle to get back into my routine, so I do some sort of writing or editing every day – even on vacation.

McKay’s: Do you think you will ever stray away from young adult books and write anything geared more for adults? Why or why not?

JCM: I actually have already. I wrote the Andarii Chronicles for an adult audience. However, after my beta readers and my writing buddy read through it, they all begged me to rewrite it as a young adult series. I fought against this for a long time because I felt that it was more important to stick with my original plan. That is why the Order of the MoonStone series was published first.

After many conversations and some deep introspection, I have realized that ultimately it’s more important to give my readers what they want than to stubbornly stick with an idea that may never see the light of day.

So, to answer the question . . . I will most likely stick to writing for a young adult audience. Besides, it’s not as if there aren’t plenty of adults who enjoy reading YA fiction (myself included).

McKay’s: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

JCM: I spend time with my family. I read. I enjoy swimming and I’m learning (slowly and somewhat painfully at times) to play the piano and violin.

McKay’s: When and where can readers find out more about you and what’s next?

JCM: The best place to keep up-to-date on what’s happening is my Facebook Author Page or my Newsletter. I make every effort to update my website frequently, but I post on Facebook almost every day. All of my updates in GoodReads and other social media, as well as the posts from my blog, show up there as well.

JCM: Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this interview. I look forward to my next author event with McKay’s… not to mention my next shopping trip. 

Be sure to stop by and meet J.C. at a McKay’s near you, and check out her events page  to see all of the places she’ll be visiting during her A Desperate Escape book tour!

Nashville – May 7th           1:00pm

Knoxville – May 14th         1:00pm

Chattanooga – May 28th   1:00pm

 

Tour Poster A

 

JC Morrows: Best-Selling author of YA Christian speculative fiction, drinker of coffee and avid reader – is a storyteller in the truest sense of the word. She has been telling stories in one form or another her entire life and once her mother convinced her to write them down, she couldn’t stop.


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Opening Line Challenge (Literature Edition)

Grab a scrap piece of paper and a pen; number 1 to 10. Read the opening sentence of these novels (pulled directly from the shelves of McKay’s). Write down what novel it comes from and once you reach the end, check your answers!   Simple enough, right?

Enjoy! I hope you find something that might spark your interest!

1.“A surging, seething, murmuring crowd, of beings that are human only in name, for the eye and ear they seem naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions and by the lust of vengeance and of hate.”

2. “Lee Chong’s grocery, while not a model of neatness, was a miracle of supply.”

3. “I call our world Flatland, not because we call it so, but to make its nature clearer to you, my happy readers, who are privileged to live in Space.”

4. “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

5. “Mr. Phileas Fog lived, in 1872, at No. 7, Saville Row, Burlington Gardens, the house in which Sheridan died in 1814.”

6. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

7. “When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.”

8. “On January 6, 1482, the people of Paris were awakened by the tumultuous clanging of all the bells in the city.”

9. “The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon.”

10. “Marley was dead, to begin with.”

 

Answers:

  1. “The Scarlet Pimpernel” by Baroness Orczy
  2. “Cannery Row” by John Steinbeck
  3. “Flatland” by Edwin A. Abbott
  4. “1984” by George Orwell
  5. “Around the World in 80 Days” by Jules Verne
  6. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
  7. “Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka
  8. “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” by Victor Hugo
  9. “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
  10. “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens


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Interview with author Reice Ann Towns

In May of 2010, Nashville was flooded. If you lived in Nashville at that time, it’s likely that that event is, and forever will be, ingrained in your memory. You know where you were when it happened, how you reacted, how your friends reacted, and how you handled the devastating aftermath. I myself, while a Nashville resident at the time, was out of town visiting my family. I remember my own shock and horror as I first saw the flood on the news, and then feeling as if my fingers couldn’t dial my friends’ numbers fast enough to see if they and their homes were okay. I remember returning to Nashville the next day and seeing that the waters were still as high as the stop signs downtown. I remember helping friends clean up their flooded homes in the weeks that followed. I remember the city coming together to recover.

Reice Ann Towns was able to photographically document much of that flood. She has since researched the history of Nashville’s floods and has published her own book, Forty Feet and Rising: Nashville’s Historic Floods 1793 – 2010 on the subject. For anyone looking for a historical perspective on Nashville’s floods, you should contact Reice Ann and order a copy of this important work. Read on to learn more about her and her book.

forty feet rising

McKay’s: How did you become interested in the topic of Nashville Floods?

RA: I received my first digital camera as a birthday present in 2009.  Once I figured out how to use it, I became a shutterbug.  I was working in Metro Center at the time of the 2010 flood, and Metro had the area closed for three and a half days – I think it was because of the levy there.  My office was closed, of course, so I went around to different areas of the city and began taking pictures.  I showed them to my coworkers, and they suggested I write a book.  I thought they were joking around until they admitted they were being serious.  I talked to The History Press in South Carolina about my proposal, but they turned me down since I contacted them in the summer of 2010 (they wanted more time to pass before publishing it).  Before I was turned down though, the man I was working with suggested I write the book from a historical perspective rather than doing a picture book.  I did some initial research at the downtown public library, and when I saw how much information was out there I thought, “Ok, I can do this.”

McKay’s: You mentioned that “previous actions and lessons unlearned affected the metropolitan area during the devastating May 2010 flood.” Do you think those lessons have been learned since 2010?

RA: I’m not sure how to answer that one, unless we have – goodness forbid – a future flood where Nashville could see if any of the changes were implemented. I think the NWS (National Weather Service) and Corps of Engineers learned their lessons as far as keeping the lines of communication open so both agencies know what the other one is doing all the time. Metro has made changes in future development requiring builders to raise the height of whatever they’re building to an elevation where future flooding will be minimalized, and future development is now forbidden in areas where Metro bought out and raised homes in the floodplains.  Part of the reason why I included previous floods is to show how the flood patterns kept repeating themselves.  For example, many of the same streets and areas that flooded in 1926-27 (i.e. downtown Nashville and East Nashville) were the same streets and areas that flooded in 1929, 1937, 1975, and 2010.

Here’s an example of a lesson unlearned: On Jan. 22, 1849, The Daily Gazette stated the following:  “It would be well for our city, if every house within the limits of the inundation, used for a dwelling was levelled to the earth, and future buildings of that kind prohibited. … There are vacant lots all over the city, in high and dry localities. These might be put to use and rendered a public blessing.” As I mentioned to many people, do you think the people back then might have been on to something, and we missed the boat? A few months after the 1975 flood, developers began building residential subdivisions in areas that had been flooded which added more damage to the 2010 flood (the areas had been open land owned by individuals until developers bought their property).

McKay’s: In all of the floods you’ve covered since 1793, are there any that you would consider to be your favorite? Perhaps “favorite” isn’t the right word, but are there any that stand out the most to you? Or were the most interesting to you for one reason or another?

RA: No, I can’t really think of one flood I would consider my favorite or that would stand out. I thought it interesting though to see the estimated amount of damage in the previous floods – like $1 to $2 million in damages, and businesses’ property loss of $125 or even $40,000. The monetary amounts sound laughable now, but I know at the time those floods occurred it was a lot of money to them.  One item that stood out to me as being humorous is that there was a steel tank 14 feet in diameter and 30 feet long that washed up in the vicinity of the Jefferson Street Bridge in the 1926-27 flood.

McKay’s: This book must have taken a long time to research! Care to share any of your research tips? Or ways for staying motivated when the research feel daunting?

RA: Yes, a lot of research was involved.  I used to joke that the downtown public library was my home away from home.  I received a lot of my materials from a dissertation by Samuel Adams Weakley, and I spent many hours on the microfiche and microfilm machines at the library.  I also kept and used many newspaper articles from The Tennessean, The City Paper, and other newspapers for the 2010 flood.  For the 1926-27, 1929, 1937, and 1975 floods I got my articles from The Nashville Banner.  I took a few “mental stress breaks” when I got overwhelmed.

McKay’s: Your book offers a lot of information that would appeal to a variety of readers. Who would you say the target audience is for this book? The average layman? Government? Organizations like the Army Corps of Engineers? Local Nashville folks? People studying disasters and disaster relief?

RA: I wrote the book with the target audience being local Nashvillians, although anyone else in the groups you listed above might be interested.  It might also be of interest to high school or college students who have to research a project and/or write a paper about floods/natural disasters.

McKay’s: Any future books currently in the works?

RA: No, I’m not presently working on any new books.

McKay’s: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

RA: When I’m not writing, I enjoy reading, photography, spending quality time with family and friends, and cross stitching.

McKay’s: Where can readers learn more about you and any updates, events or future books?

RA: Unfortunately I do not have my own website, and I do not have any book signings lined up in the immediate future.  I self-published my book and am having a difficult time getting a book signing as the publisher has a non-returnable policy if the bookseller does not sell the book.  If anyone is interested in purchasing a copy of the book, I have several copies available on hand for resell; the cost is $30 (Author House wanted to charge $38, and I told them no way).  Other online retailers sell the book for $37.99 or higher (I just saw on Indigo the price is $55.50).  My email address is ralikestostitch@comcast.net. Please be sure to identify in the subject line something about purchasing a copy of the book so I won’t delete it as an advertisement email.

 

Reice Ann Towns grew up in Nashville and has lived there for the majority of her life. She has enjoyed research and writing since she was in elementary school.  In her spare time she enjoys reading, photography, and cross stitching.


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New Year’s Resolution

Hi.  My name is Eliza and I am an addict.

I am addicted to making lists…Grocery lists. To-do lists. Shopping lists. Lists of TV shows I need to watch. Lists of quotes I one day want to put on T-shirts. Lists of lists I should make.

As part of my 12-step recovery plan for the New Year, I’m gathering together all my scraps of paper and post-it notes in an attempt to step more solidly onto the road of organization. I would like to share with you now the first result of this de-cluttering process…

Objects owned by fictional characters that I wish were mine

1. Special Agent Aloysius X. L. Pendergast’s 1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith

Riding around in style, Pendergast is the hero of 15 Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child novels. Don’t let his albino undertaker appearance and smooth southern New Orleans’ accent fool you…his genius is on par with Sherlock Holmes and you do NOT mess with the people he cares about.

writer vest

 

 

2. Richard Castle’s “WRITER” Bulletproof Vest

Seriously, is there really any explanation necessary here?

 

 

 

 

3. Kitty Katt’s Ipod

Heroine of Gini Koch’s Alien series, Katherine “Kitty” Katt has been saving and protecting the Earth for a dozen novels now. She never goes anywhere without her ipod because you never know when a battle with bad-aliens-who-intend-to-take-over-the-world will ensue, and you need to have your best butt-kicking playlist on hand. (And yes, for each book I’ve made a list of the songs mentioned…she has awesome taste!)

4. Mississippi’s Hat (from the film El Dorado)

One of my favorite characters from an John Wayne movie (who isn’t the Duke himself), Mississippi (born Alan Bourdillion Trahern) avenges the death of Johnny Diamond, the man who raised him, all while being mocked for his (I think) awesome top hat.

5. Alexia Tarabotti’s Parasol

Soulless heroine of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, Alexia’s parasol inspired me to buy my own…all I need now is to find someone who can modify it to shoot sleeping darts, silver bullets and add the retractable blade. Hey, when you’re defending yourself against werewolves, vampires and ghosts…you gotta have all your bases covered.

6. Dr. Johnny Fever’s Coffee Mug and/or T-shirt

Early morning radio DJ from the world of WKRP in Cincinnati, Dr. Fever is rarely seen without his mug or wearing his Black Death Malt Liquor T-shirt. Until I have either of those items, I guess I’ll just have to be content to quote him constantly. “I’m telling you, free coffee is a constitutional right! Just look it up – Juan Valdez versus the state of California!”

7. Charlie Aleph’s Under-the-Cuff Spring-Loaded Silver Ball Shooters

Golem (though he prefers the term “Mineral-American”) Charlie, is the best partner that a human who’s pulled into an alternate universe could hope to have. A featureless black bag of sand animated with the essence of a T-Rex who dresses like a Film Noir hero – seriously, what’s not to love! Check out D.D. Barant’s Bloodhound Files series to enjoy Charlie’s sarcasm. (And please write the publisher requesting they make a Golem action figure line…I want them all!)

macgyver8. MacGyver’s Bag

Because it isn’t for what he brings, but for what he finds along the way…like the bars of chocolate that really can stop a sulfuric acid leak.

 

 

9. Dave Lister’s Leather Jacket (After it is thoroughly cleaned at least twice to rid it of the Chicken Vindaloo smell)

Lister was just a lowest-ranking crewman aboard the mining ship Red Dwarf until he was marooned three million years in the future. Now, he is the only human floating around in a galaxy far, far away with the hologram of his dead bunk-mate, a humanoid creature that evolved from his pet cat, and a Series 4000 mechanoid servant robot. Lister is pretty lazy, slobbish and unmotivated… until he encounters things that wish to kill him, then hilarity ensues. Admittedly, the British sci-fi comedy series Red Dwarf is an acquired taste but if you only watch one episode, I recommend “Meltdown” from Series IV…it’s my favorite.

10. Judy Garland’s Brown Dress

Summer Stock is my favorite MGM musical because it has the two greats: Judy Garland and Gene Kelly. In one of the best dance duet scenes of the movie, where a simple small-town square dance becomes the scene of an awesome “dance-off”, Judy Garland is wearing this brown dress with orange/red accents. It’s very 1950, not flashy at all and probably by today’s standards, if you were at a party, it’d be boring…IF you weren’t dancing. The flare of the skirt is perfect for spinning around a dance floor.


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The Censorship Monster

Yesterday, author Saladin Ahmed tweeted this: “Censorship in America is less about making books illegal and more about a status quo that ensures certain stories never get a wide audience.”

As an avid reader, a good story is better than chocolate for me. I WANT TO READ EVERYTHING YUMMY. So this statement gets under my skin because it means I might be missing out on perfectly good stories because I never hear of them; or worse, they’re never even published.

A few weeks ago, I listened to an interview on the Sword and Laser podcast with author Cherie Priest, a Chattanooga native who’s published many popular steampunk novels, like Boneshaker. She mentioned how her agent had approached Scholastic with a middle-grade novel she’d recently written featuring a girl space pirate. Everybody likes space pirates, right? Especially 10-14 year olds? But Scholastic turned Priest down, along with several other publishers, saying that there was no audience for such a book—girls don’t read sci-fi, and boys don’t read books with girl protagonists. And this is in 2015. If publishers turn down authors like Priest, with many publications and awards, then what about all the other novels I’m missing out on? I like space pirates!

I’ve heard other horror stories- a woman author rejected by agents multiple times until she pretended to be a man; how The New York Times Book Review reviews almost exclusively white male writers; the difficulties of publishing while black. This isn’t to say only women and people of color have trouble publishing; I’m sure examples exist of white male writers being censored before an excellent story can land in the hands of readers, but it does seem like the industry’s weighted against them. What also seems evident is that there are plenty of examples of how readers’ choices are being censored without us even being aware of it.

Certainly Banned Book Week should honor the many classics that are frequently banned by schools and libraries—like 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and Ulysses—but these books, despite being banned in some places, are readily available for reading in the US. What worries me more, as an avid reader, is that my choices are being censured before I even know there are choices. And what can we, as readers, do about it? There are nifty book challenges, like this one from Book Riot, that challenge readers to find books and authors outside their comfort zones. Readers can also be more aware of the authors they’re reading—while I read about 50-50 male and female writers, I read too few books by people of color. Being aware of this prejudice, even if it’s subconscious, means I’m more likely to pick up an awesome sounding story by a person of color. And maybe if we buy more of these books, reviewed them, recommend them to our friends, then the publishing industry will start listening. This should be our market. Let’s tell the publishers that we want good stories no matter who writes them.

Kingsbury Author Pic

Margaret Kingsbury’s short stories and poems have appeared and/or are forthcoming in The Devilfish Review, Pulp Literature, NonBinary Review, and Expanded Horizons. She lives in Nashville, TN where she teaches at Lipscomb University and, of course, works at the Nashville Mckay’s. You can follow her on Twitter @MargaretKWrites


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Interview with author Daniel Klingler

He’s a cosmetologist. He’s an actor. He’s a business owner. He’s now an author.

Meet Daniel Klingler.

I recently had the pleasure of talking with Daniel, cosmetologist extraordinaire, about his thoughts on beauty and life. With over ten years of experience working and training in the cosmetology industry, Daniel has taken his experiences and passion for helping others enhance their natural inner beauty and wrote an instructional book, Everyday Makeup Secrets. This book is filled with tips and tricks of the trade that will help women take their beauty into their own hands. It is my honor to share some of his thoughts with you.

McKay’s: What’s the most common makeup question you get from clients? 

DK: I am commonly asked how to fill in the eyebrows. My answer begins with correct brow grooming. I have a small panic attack when I see a client who has not groomed their eyebrows. It is so difficult to get a beautiful shape when there are stray hairs over the brow bone. Second, find the correct brow shape for your face. You can’t go wrong with a soft angled brow. My favorite brow product would be ANASTASIA (found at Sephora, Ulta or online). Quick tip: With a small brush, apply a light concealer along the bottom of the completed eyebrow. It will strengthen the brow shape and add dimension to the brow.

McKay’s: In one of your descriptions for your book, you say “Women love how makeup can make facial features pop and can hide flaws,” which seems to implicate women as your target audience. Do you think men can find it helpful as well? Do you ever get questions from men about how to hide flaws and take care of their skin?

DK: I am so glad you asked that question. If I were being transparent, I wish I would have included a specific section for men. Although women are my target audience, I want men to know it is OK to wear makeup. If it’s to cover a blemish or to cross-dress, there is information that will help. Now, makeup is 80% corrective and 20% color. Men have issues with acne, dark circles and skin discoloration. The chapters in my book address these concerns and are applicable to me. I’ve included a section on Tattoo Cover as well!

McKay’s: Your book seems to be about everyday make-up secrets. Will readers also get information on how to do theater make-up? 

DK: I wrote this book to be a reference for all things “beauty” makeup related. Although, the roots of corrective makeup (highlights and contour) come from Theater Makeup. I have submitted a proposal to produce a Theatrical Makeup book. Fingers crossed!

McKay’s: If you could only pick one piece of make-up advice to give to someone, what would it be?

DK: I only get one piece of advice!? I suppose I would share my #1 tip…Good makeup starts with a clean palette. Meaning, take care of your skin. I purposely included a chapter on skin care. When you understand your skin type you will be able to find skin care products and makeup that work with your specific skin needs. The rest will fall into place.

McKay’s: Are there any colors or shades of makeup that you detest?

DK: I only detest the wrong “shade” of color on the wrong person. This requires folks to understand their skin tone. If you have strong red undertones, makeup with an orange undertone may completely clash. But that same color could look gorgeous on someone with olive skin.

McKay’s: You seem to wear many hats (both literally and figuratively) from author, to cosmetologist, to business owner/entrepreneur, to actor, to the hats you wear in your personal life. How do you manage to juggle them all?

DK: Lots of Champagne!! Actually, that’s a great question. My salon is in my home which helps a lot. When I am not with a client I am designing wigs for a show. Honestly, I don’t know anyway else to be. Recently, I performed (as an actor) in back-to-back productions while designing wigs for shows and seeing salon guests. I’ll sleep when I die.

McKay’s: I’d love to hear about your writing process. Was it a difficult transition from makeup artist to writer? What were some of the unexpected challenges and pleasures of that process?

DK: I have a background in curriculum and development so the transition wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. Also, I taught in cosmetology schools for Aveda and Paul Mitchell for several years. I was very clear about how the book should be laid out from the beginning. Not that there weren’t challenges! My publisher (Alpha) had set guidelines before I wrote my first word. For example, I knew the book would 256 pages. Those pages were broken into chapters with a spread count for each chapter. My editor would send me emails asking me to add more information, add a sidebar or include another tip. That was probably the most frustrating part of the process.

McKay’s: I know that you’ve done quite a bit of work for theater productions. Do you have a favorite play/musical that you like to watch?

DK: On TV, THE WIZARD OF OZ. Ironically, I would say on-stage WICKED; however, I worked the National Tour of WICKED and was able to watch the production for weeks. I may have finally worked it out of my system!

McKay’s: Do you have a “dream production” that you hope to someday be able to do the theatrical makeup for?

DK: I want to share some insider information for those who want to get into theatrical makeup. There are not a lot of “makeup” jobs in theater. You want to become a wig designer with a proficiency in makeup. Most actors are given a design and learn how to apply it to themselves. Unless it’s a musical or play that requires extensive prosthetic makeup like Beauty and the Beast or SHREK. I would suggest going into film work for more consistent work. With that being said, I am designing the makeup for ADDAMS FAMILY THE MUSICAL. This will be a lot of fun, lots of gray-scale makeup! In terms of wig design, I am dying to “re-design” HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH. I designed the show prior to it coming on Broadway. I was able to see Neil Patrick Harris as HEDWIG on Broadway. The wig designer (Mike Potter) re-imagined a dozen more wigs for the production. It inspired me to tackle the production again.

McKay’s: In your free time (if you get any!), what do you enjoy doing?

DK: That’s the pleasure of living in your bliss! Even though I am constantly working, half the time I don’t realize it. I was working on a client the other day. It was a beautiful day. While her color was processing, we took our coffee onto my back porch. She said, “Isn’t nice we don’t have to work today?” I said “Yes….Wait a minute, I am working!”

A few months ago I started taking Pilates and Yoga. Stretching has been so good for me, especially in a field where you are standing and using your hands so often.

McKay’s: Any last thoughts that you’d like to share with our readers?

DK: I love makeup and hair design, I love the artistic aspects of the field, I love the connection with my guests and I love how it makes a person feel to transform them. With all of that said, beauty truly begins from within. I have a personal quote I hung on my wall, “I want to make you beautiful so you can be beautiful for others”. I think it would be irresponsible not to point that out. My guests always say, “It’s time to make me beautiful.” and I always respond, “My job is to enhance your beauty.”

McKay’s: What’s next? 

DK: I am about to design four shows in the month of September. CHRISTMAS CAROL (Indiana Repertory Theater), ADDAMS FAMILY (Beef and Boards Dinner Theater), LA CASA AZUL (Gregory Hancock Dance Theater) and ANDREW BROTHERS (Actors Theater of Indiana). I will be appearing in some TV segments featuring Makeup Tips and Halloween Makeup as we get closer to Halloween. I have been in discussion with my publisher about two books, however, nothing has been finalized at this point. Lastly, I am giving myself a well-deserved vacation in London and a 12 day Mediterranean Cruise….I am counting down the days!

Meet Daniel in person at the Nashville McKay’s on Friday, Sept. 25, at 6:30 pm.

 Daniel Klingler
author photo

Owner of Neck Up Designs, Daniel is a AVEDA trained and certified cosmetologist who has worked in the beauty industry for over ten years. In addition, he also taught cosmetology at the Institute of Beauty and Wellness in Milwaukee. Daniel has received numerous awards such as the prized AVEDA National Talent Scholarship Award and the Instructor of the Year Award from the Institute of Beauty and Wellness. His latest adventure has taken him to Broadway where he’s styled for some of Broadway’s biggest shows. He holds a doctorate in Education Administration from Cardinal Stritch University and currently lives in Indianapolis.


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Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, but what does that really mean beyond the possibility of a three-day weekend? Here is what I found out…

Firstly, Memorial Day should not be confused with Veteran’s Day, which honors the service of all our men and women military veterans. Memorial Day started as “Decoration Day”, originating after the Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died – today, Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring ALL those who died while serving our country.

Did you notice an American flag this morning?

On this day of memorial, the flag will be raised to the top of the staff and then lowered to the half-staff position which is in remembrance of the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service. At noon, the flag is raised back to the top of the staff where it will remain for the rest of the day. This act symbolizes raising the memory of the dead and declaring that their sacrifice was not made in vain. Our departed service members did their duty and more, it is up to us to continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.

Did you also notice, as you passed by a cemetery today, an abundance of flowers laid on the graves?

This practice of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers, is actually an ancient custom, one that took on greater cultural significance after the Civil War. After the government began creating national military cemeteries, an increasingly formal practice of decorating graves took shape. Caring for the landscaping around the graves is another simple way to say thank you and to pay your respects.

And if you would like to leave flowers, I would recommend poppies. The remembrance poppy has been used since 1921 to revere soldiers who have died in war. This was inspired by a poem written in 1915 after the Second Battle of Ypres in World War I. The opening lines of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields” refer to the fields of poppies that grew among the soldiers’ graves in Flanders. Three years later, Moina Michael, considered the Memorial Day Poppy Founder, wore a silk poppy pinned to her coat and distributed dozens more at a War Secretaries’ conference.

I hope this gives you a new solemn respect for this day, I know it certainly did me.

“Better than honor and glory, and History’s iron pen,
Was the thought of duty done and the love of his fellow-men.”
~Richard Watson Gilder

Recommended books for adults:

–Section 60: Arlington National Cemetery: Where War Comes Home by Robert M. Poole

–Offerings at the Wall: Artifacts from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection

by Thomas B. Allen

–Fallen Soldiers: Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars by George L. Moss

Recommended books for children:

–The Wall by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Ronald Himler

–In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae by Linda Granfield, illustrated by Janet Wilson

–The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans by Barbara Walsh, illustrated by Layne Johnson

~Eliza G.

Eliza G

 

When she is not being a responsible adult and working at McKay’s, Eliza fills her time with numerous creative pursuits including: jewelry-making, etching, and crocheting. When she’s not crafting, reading, writing or plotting to take over the world, you’ll probably find her napping with her dogs.


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Ready Player One, a book review

If you’ve been paying attention to recent sci-fi literature or are generally in the know about all things nerdy, you’ve probably heard about Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. It’s a novel set in the not-so-distant future where an expansive MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) called “the OASIS” has become the new reality for humans. Conventional civilization and society have gone by the wayside and all endeavors, capitalistic or otherwise, take place in the OASIS.

After the death of James Halliday, the inventor of the OASIS, a video of his will is released explaining that there is an Easter Egg, or hidden series of quests, programmed into the OASIS. A top-10 scoreboard is also integrated into the game, giving players the ability to track the forerunners in the quest for Halliday’s Egg. The search for the Egg becomes a massive worldwide effort, and the key to unlocking the secret is having an extensive knowledge of 1980s video games and pop culture.

The story is told from the perspective of Wade Watts, a teenager whose life is dedicated to hunting for Halliday’s Egg. His OASIS avatar’s name is Parzival, a corruption of Percival of Arthurian legend who is a crucial figure in the quest for the Holy Grail. Parzival becomes an unlikely hero when his avatar’s name is the first to show up on the scoreboard. I won’t spoil anything else by going into specifics, but the story is genuinely fun, surprising, and at times endearing.

I plowed through this book from start to finish in three and a half days, and it was an intense ride through waves of nostalgia. If you’re looking for a fun romp through the glory days of retro gaming with a unique sci-fi twist, I cannot recommend this book enough. Look for Cline’s next novel Armada due out in July.


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A Rose by any other Name May be as Sweet, but it May Cost More

Most people are familiar with Shakespeare’s line “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” from Romeo and Juliet. The idea that who or what we are is somehow separate from how we are defined is a swell one, but not one that is always based in reality. This is certainly the case with objects, where how it is defined can have an impact on how much it costs. And that cost, higher or lower, will have an impact on how many people purchase it, how frequently it’s distributed, and any number of other economic considerations.

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Books and the book world are not immune to the forces of these definitions, which can be seen in a recent debate over whether eBooks should be considered “goods” or “services.” For example, as Reuters pointed out last week, value-added tax (VAT) is cheaper for print books (considered to be a “good”) than it is for eBooks (considered to be a “service”). Two years ago, the European Commission stated that paper books can have a reduced VAT. France and Luxembourg have been applying these cheaper rates to eBooks anyway, but have recently lost their case. Unless they can convince the EU Commission to either change the definition of eBooks from services to goods, or to simply allow reduced rates for eBooks, it will be more expensive for EU publishers to provide them instead of paper books. While this may be bad news for proponents of the digital format, it’s good news for fans of print.

The book world isn’t alone in debating questions of definition and category in order to have a cheaper price. A similar story can be found in the land of toys, in the case of Toy Biz (a subsidiary of Marvel Comics) v. United States. In the world of action figures, the U.S. charges two different levels of tariffs. One level is for dolls (human figures), and another, lesser, amount for toys (nonhuman creatures). This led to a large debate for Marvel to essentially prove that their action figures were indeed superhuman, and, therefore, should fall within the category with the lower tariff rate.

Only time will tell whether or not the EU will eventually change the VAT for eBooks to be similar to those of print. But it’s worth noting that these definitional debates are impacting whether or not readers have cheap access to stories. So while the story may be the same whether it’s on an eBook or in a print book, it will not cost the same. And this cost doesn’t only vary because of the more obvious reasons of different production costs, supply and demand, etc., but also whether they are considered to be a “good” or a “service;” something that has nothing to do with the quality of work or the medium with which it is consumed.


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The Book Isn’t Always Better Than The Movie

Have you ever been involved in a conversation about a particular movie with a group of friends, when that one friend inevitably posits, “the book was better than the movie,” or “well, see, in the book…,” or, possibly the worst of all, “have you read the book”? If you’re an avid reader maybe you have read the book, but it’s more likely that you’ve only seen the movie and must therefore capitulate to the friend with the almighty book knowledge; but what’s the deal with that? Is the book always better than the movie? It seems like that’s always the case, but if you’ve read the title of this post then you know my possibly controversial stance on the issue. I’ll even agree that most of the time the book is better, but not always.

I recently picked up a book copy of The Prestige, Christopher Priest’s fantasy novel about two feuding magicians at the turn of the 20th century. The book was made into a film in 2006 by acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan, and holds an 8.5/10 ranking on IMDb.com, as well as the prestigious (see what I did there?) honor of being “Certified Fresh” by RottenTomatoes.com. While in theaters, this movie went under the radar for me but when it was initially released on DVD I picked up a copy. It has since become one of my favorite movies, so when I decided to read the book I was hopeful that it would enrich my enjoyment of the film. However, the book emphasized different themes than the movie and had an altogether different tone and form of storytelling — this is not my complaint, but it is worth noting.

Ultimately, the book was less than the sum of its parts; it told its story mostly through the diaries of the two main characters. It’s an interesting approach but it separates two sides of the same events by sometimes more than a hundred pages and in some instances can invoke confused back-and-forth page flipping. The movie version of The Prestige excels by intertwining the viewpoints of both characters into a single narrative causing the “big reveal” at the end to be effectively shocking, whereas the book splits the “reveals” between the two characters in a segmented and less graceful fashion. The book is actually quite enjoyable and stylistically is written quite well, but in what seems a practically impossible task, it serves as a rough sketch of story and characters for the movie version to distill and refine into masterpiece.

Lest you think me a bibliophobe, I have to say that McCarthy’s The Road is a much better read than the movie is to watch. The film serves as a good facsimile but with so much of The Road’s substance being in the prose, the book easily overshadows the film version. To my original point however, Palahniuk has said that he thinks Fight Club was improved by David Fincher, and having read the book (once) and seen the film (several hundred times), I’m inclined to agree. And then sometimes, going back to Cormac McCarthy, you get a book like No Country For Old Men, adapted to film by the genius Coen brothers, and the book and film versions are both so good that they are virtually equals in their respective medium. You just have to know that films and books are both equally valid forms of art, and comparing them can sometimes be like comparing apples to oranges.

I say reject the notion that books always possess intellectual superiority over films, but know that there’s a good reason that mindset exists. So the next time that friend tells you “the book was better than the movie” know that it really depends on which book and movie, and consider that each is its own iteration of the same story.