Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 27, 2020

Book Giveaway: FROM ARCHIE TO ZACK by Vincent Kirsch

Author/illustrator Vincent X. Kirsch has a new picture book, FROM ARCHIE TO ZACK, published by Abrams for Young Readers. He is giving away a copy to one lucky winner in the US.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping people know about Vincent’s new book.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it’s delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!

 

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

An unapologetic celebration of friendship and first crushes

“Archie loves Zack!”
“Zack loves Archie!”
Everyone said it was so.
But Archie hasn’t told Zack yet. And Zack hasn’t told Archie. They spend just about every minute together: walking to and from school, doing science and art projects, practicing for marching band, learning to ride bikes, and so much more.
Over the course of a few months, Archie tries to write a letter to Zack to tell him how he feels: “From A to Z.” None of his drafts sound quite right, so he hides them all away. One by one, Archie’s friends (Zelda, Zinnia, and Zuzella) find the letters . . . but they know exactly whom they’re meant for.
This new picture book from Vincent X. Kirsch celebrates young, queer love in a whimsical, kid-friendly way.

BOOK JOURNEY:

The Very True Story of FROM ARCHIE TO ZACK

A very long time ago, I wrote an alphabet book titled FROM A TO Z. It was a clever and whimsical little story about a tiny mouse named Archimedes who loves an very large elephant named Zelda. The story told how Archimedes expressed his love in all sorts of ways from A to Z. It was, as I say, very clever, but lacked “heart”. So, I put the book away in my vast files of works to be thought about at a later date.

Time passed.

A few years ago, I decided to take some time off and learn the “rules and tools” of writing, as an editor of mine suggested. It was true. I was very skilled as an illustrator but as a writer, not so much. As the editor suggested, “Vincent, if I ask you to draw a monkey on an elephant in a terrible storm, you will draw it as only Vincent can. Go back to school and learn to do the same with words.”

So I did. I enrolled in several terrific classes in an online education program called Children’s Book Academy. I had come across the series of classes through some book review videos presented by someone named Mira Reisberg. The classes were like a great window was thrown open and I was looking at the world anew. After I’d taken every possible course that CBA offered, I enrolled in a picture book writing class at UCLA. As part of the classes, the instructor April Halprin-Wayland would read some of her favorite books to the class. I noticed that my favorites were books that gave you a lump in your throat. Books that made you feel something emotional, deep down. Something that brought up long lost feelings. I decided that I wanted to give my books a lot of “heart”. I wanted to create books from my own experiences that were baffling and bewildering. Memories that were true.

I made a list of memories from my childhood, happy and sad, confusing and inspiring. From this list, I would create my books going forward. The first was a picture book that combined two of my childhood difficulties: a fear of climbing trees and my trouble saying “goodbye” to friends who moved away. It was an exercise in counterpoint, having two different experiences at one time. The resulting book was titled HOW I LEARNED TO FALL OUT OF TREES (Abrams

Books for Young Readers, 2018). The book quickly found an editor and was published within two years.

I kept adding to my list of memories and childhood experiences. A new one, popped up on my list. It was particularly difficult to write about. How hard it was, as a kid, to find words to express how I felt about a little boy that I was in love with. I happened to open my FROM A TO Z file and re-read what I had written. I thought I would do something adventurous and change the story from mouse and elephant to me and myself and my childhood crush. The title remained the same but everything else changed. I went to the Beverly Hills Library (where I was living at the time) and asked to see everything about two boys in love. There was not much and what there was were rather gloomy, sad books. None were written by a gay author. This is something that I had learned from CBA and it was that being gay was a very important part of my voice. I was in a minority. I was part of the new diverse world of inclusion and acceptance.

So I wrote the book all over, from scratch and made it into something almost comic. It had to be upbeat! It had to be a triumphant story. I wanted the new acceptance of kids for their gay friends to be a part of it. I wanted something fun and at the same time, filled with tension and obstacles.

When I finished several drafts, I liked the new book very much. It was something that didn’t exist anywhere on the bookshelves yet. But I couldn’t dream that any publisher would trust such a daring book to a mid-list author like me. So, I put it away.

Two Christmases ago, I was in NYC and met with the editor who worked on HOW I LEARNED TO FALL OUT OF TREES. She wanted to work on another book, another friendship book. But the twist was she wanted something “daring” and “new”. I took a deep breath and pitched: “I’ve got a very happy book about a boy who loves another boy…” She stopped me. She spoke the magic words: “Send it to me!”

So, I sent the book in dummy form a few weeks later and not surprisingly she loved it. The publisher (Abrams Books for Young Readers) was on board with it. I got the greenlight and we started revising the text and images. Suddenly, I started to worry about all of the prejudice and fear out in the world about being gay and expressing it at such an early age. So, I mentioned to the editor that perhaps we could make Archie and Zack into rabbits or squirrels or mice. She adamantly said, “NO! They are boys!” Next, I proposed changing the word “love” to “like” to take the heat off of the word. Once again, she said, “NO! This is a book about love! Why would they say they like each other?” And so, we proceeded with a daring and fearless book about two boys who are trying to find the words to express the love they feel for each other.

If ever the story of a story had a happy ending, this is it. I have been so blessed to have had this golden opportunity. All that it took was an alphabet, an imagination, a memory, a fear, the rules and tools of writing and above all, a visionary editor and publisher…. And now readers around the world. And we will all live happily ever after

VINCENT’S BIO:

I am Vincent X. Kirsch.

    I am an author, illustrator, playwright and screenwriter living in Asheville, North Carolina. In the past, I have lived in Florence (Italy), New York City and Boston. My most recent illustrations are a two-dimensional adaptations of the “Paper Box Playhouse” toy theaters that I have been fiddling around with for most of my life. My work is very influenced by theater, puppetry, poster art, classical painting techniques and Hollywood films. My whimsical character designs and storylines range from the fantastically out-of-this-world to inspiringly down-to-earth.

    My black-and-white and color illustrations appeared regularly on the pages of The New York Times Book Review & Op-Ed pages, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and a wide array of magazines (see sample to the right).

    Coincidentally, the illustrations on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times landed me a three-year job designing and directing the windows of Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue.  My work with mannequins and small window spaces lead to the creation of three-dimensional characters and revived a fascination with puppetry and Victorian toy theaters.

    An editor at BloomsburyUSA discovered one of my illustrations in The New York Times Book Review and thought it a perfect match for children’s books. Out of all the sketches and dummies books that I showed her, she noticed a teensy-tiny doodle of two girls, one neat-as-a pin and the other clown-like. Those two girls became Natalie and Naughtily Nopps who live on top of “the greatest department store in the world” which became my very first book.

    With that book, I landed in the very happy land of creating and illustrating picture books, chapter books and middle grade fiction and have lived happily ever after.

Vincent, thank you for sharing your book and your journey with us. I love this sweet and innocent story. The illustrations and the story make me smile. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. Congrats, Vincent! Sounds like a great book.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The story of Vincent’s happily every after life is as marvelous as his book sounds. Congratulations! Thanks for sharing, Kathy and Vincent.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How marvelous that the stories we put aside are simply waiting for us to catch up to them and bloom! Congratulations Vincent!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi – How do I enter the book giveaway from Kathy Temean’s e-mail?

    Thanks!

    Ann

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ann,

      I had computer problem yesterday and it posted without that information. All you need to do is leave a comment for one chance to win. If you share on Twitter, facebook, blog, or other social media sites, then you need to let me know in you comment, so I can add more tickets.

      Like

  5. Congratulations — wishing you, Archie and Zack all the best of success!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so excited about this book! I love Vincent’s stories. HUGE Congrats to him and his success!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This looks wonderful and joyous! I can’t wait to see this, Vincent.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is the best thing I’ve read all week! I’m so happy your wonderful and brave story found a fierce advocate and publishing home.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is the best story I’ve read all week! I’m so happy your brave and wonderful story found a fierce advocate and publishing home. Congratulations, Vincent.

    (Kathy, I commented via my phone, not realizing it was via my dummy account “checksitenow,” so please disregard that comment now waiting moderation.)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What an amazing story!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I loved your bio. I’ve been interested in Victorian puppet theaters for a few years. I love most things Victorian. Your PB sounds wonderful.

    Like

  12. I’m in love with the description of this book! I’m in love with the illustrations! I’m glad he was bold enough to share his feelings, so many others are also questioning these same feelings. much luck! (I get kathy temean’s Writing and Illustrating daily.)

    Like

  13. I’ve heard of this book and excited to read it! Yay, that we can finally bring stories like this to life!

    Like

  14. This is certainly a book with heart! I can’t wait to read it and look at more of your wonderful illustrations.

    Like

  15. I loved hearing about this book at the Picture Book Palooza! I can’t wait to read it. Great interview.

    Like

  16. I have been following Vincent’s posts on social media for this loving book and am so happy to read the background story. Looking forward to reading this book and will be sure my library has it ordered.

    Like

  17. This looks like a terrific book. Very unique. Thanks for the post.

    Like

  18. Congratulations, Vincent! Your book FROM ARCHIE TO ZACK! is a great addition to the world of children’s books. What an interesting journey you took to get it out into the world. I’m so glad you took it out of your drawer and revisited it. Kudos to smart and creative editors for recognizing your talents in illustrating and writing! CBA was a wonderful experience. I’m so glad I heard you first on Picture Book Palooza. Thank you for posting.

    Like


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