The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

What of Our Debut Authors, Ivy Pochoda and Therese Walsh?

October 20, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Uncategorized

Five weeks ago today, Ivy Pochoda became a debut author when The Art of Disappearing appeared on bookstore shelves. And, although the day before the novel’s release The Divining Wand posted — Ivy Pochoda’s The Art of Disappearing –, it was Ivy’s own post, Let the Games Begin written on the same day, that really tells her story.

Yes it’s all about a dream coming true after years on a journey of writing, finding an agent, selling the manuscript and publishing THE book. Yet have you ever wondered what happens next? How about more hard work and a chaotic schedule. Here’s a note from Ivy received a few days ago:

“Hi there.

This has been a crazy month. The readings, the reviews, and rest of it have been superb. I’m heading into my last leg of appearances until the New Year, so I thought I’d send out the dates. If you, or someone you know, might be interested in attending, I’d love to see you!”

For those fortunate to either live or be visiting Massachusetts and Vermont this week, you might want to stop in at one of these book readings/signings:

Today, October 20th, 2009 — 7:00 pm
Reading at Porter Square Books
Porter Square Shopping Center
25 White Street
Cambridge, MA

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009 — 7:00 pm
Reading at Norwich Bookstore
Norwich Square
291 Main Street
Norwich, VT

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009 — 7:00 pm
Reading at Northshire Bookstore
4869 North Main Street
Manchester Center, VT

For the rest of us there’s WritersCast, the voice of writing that offers Ivy Pochoda: The Art of Disappearing. Please do listen to this fascinating interview.

One week ago today, Therese Walsh became a debut author with the release of her novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy. Again the day before the book appeared on store shelves The Divining Wand posted, Therese Walsh’s The Last Will of Moira Leahy, while Therese celebrated her day by writing a reflective post, over the weekend, entitled, How a debut novel affects its author.

Yesterday, Monday, 19, 2009, Therese launched her WOW! Women on Writing book blog tour at The Muffin and plans to travel the Internet for interviews and discussions from today, October 20th – Friday, November 13th. Simply scroll down the WOW post to view her blog stops for, at several of these sites, there will be a chance to win a copy of her novel.

Two different authors, two different novels and two different ways of debuting all poised toward one goal — another novel and a writing career! Remember them, read them, follow them and one day you’ll be able to say you “knew them when…”

Ivy Pochoda’s The Art of Disappearing

September 14, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

A few weeks ago Ivy Pochoda revealed intellect, humor and passion in her responses to this post, yet she certainly didn’t tell all. Instead this debut novelist likely left you wondering where The Art of Disappearing would beckon and tomorrow – September 15, 2009, its release day – all readers will be able to fall under Ivy’s storytelling spell.

Simply visit the PRESS page on the author’s website to discover elite critics and peers who have already been beguiled. Here’s a sampling:

“Ivy Pochoda has written a lyrical novel that will enchant you with a love story and with poetic, evocative prose.” 
— Marilyn Dahl, Shelf-Awareness

“Pochoda’s seductive debut novel is a phantasmagoric exploration of the ever-shifting line between destiny and coincidence.” 
— Carol Haggas, Booklist

“Ivy Pochoda has written an uncommonly good first novel about the unlikely love between a lonely woman and a most unusual magician. It’s a magical story, full of passion, heartbreak, and wonder.”
— Peter Hedges, author of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

“The inside of Ivy Pochoda’s head must be a very loud place. In this beguiling first novel, she brings an acute eye and vivid imagination to the ordinary details of life. The result is magic itself.”
— Rebecca Johnson, author of And Sometimes Why

“Ivy Pochoda’s language is hypnotic, her story refreshingly original. Most important of all, the characters she conjured made me ache. Prepare to let go of the mundane and embrace the fantastical in this well-imagined debut. It is utterly spellbinding.”
— Amy MacKinnon, author of Tethered

Amy MacKinnon’s words are what initially attracted The Divining Wand to discover this debut author beyond her pages. After all any Fairy Godmother is required to seek out magic. However, with regard to Ivy, what was found combined practical magic, extreme talent, and characters who talked her through the story.

Raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. by parents involved in publishing, a young Ivy attempted to deny her dream of writing fiction. Her reason: “I was worried people might have perceived my desire to write as something that came from them [her parents] not from myself.”

Another rather telling part of the writer’s background can be found by reading her Athletic biography. Taking up the sport of squash at age eight, only two years later Ivy was on the U.S. Junior squash circuit. And, while majoring in classical Greek at Harvard, she also led their squash team to three national championships and was named a four-time All American athlete. After graduation professional competition followed and the writer, documenting her experiences and observations for Squash Magazine, earned international ranking along with three gold medals in her appearances at the Pan American Federation Cup.

Significant? Absolutely! For the voice of The Art of Disappearing has both a bold confidence and subtle finesse to its tone that promises the reader from page one that it will take this story to the edge without compromising or giving in to traditional expectations. As lyrical, lushly vivid and poignantly philosophical as the novel is, it’s believed that Ivy’s mental discipline and sportsman’s courage makes it so.

Also remember Rebecca Johnson’s praise of the author’s “acute eye” because once the book is opened every page becomes alive to the reader. Whether it’s the neon glitz of the Las Vegas strip, its desert outskirts, rushing rivers, the Red Light District of Amsterdam and, of course, the magical acts, all are as detailed as possible. That may seem like magic in itself but, again, consider an athlete’s trained eye to take note, being aware of everything.

For a perfect example, read an EXCERPT from The Art of Disappearing.

And so begins this exquisite novel of a magician and a textile designer based on the question of whether love can be real if so much else is an illusion.

Since much of the story’s enchantment comes from these two characters, I asked Ivy about their backstory. But, as might be expected, neither has one. According to the author: “Well, both Toby and Mel were born entirely from my imagination. There is no aspect of either of their characters that is in any way inspired by anyone I know. This made it both wonderful and difficult to write them. I could be as inventive as I wished, but I had nothing to fall back on when I was unsure of how they would speak or act. They are a truly strange and interesting pair.”

Strange? Well actually Toby is not the only one who offers up real magic by waving his hands or dipping them into the air around him. He can seemingly create anything, but then there are Mel’s hands. With her touch on fabrics — of any type — she can hear music, voices and even life stories. In fact what the magician’s wife listens to from other’s patterns weave into her crowded being to cause worry as well as wonder.

For the romantic reader Mel and Toby are apt to be considered soulmates. Both are lonely, both are searching for a lost loved one and both want to believe in happiness. Yet happiness for one may never feel the same for the other.

After reading about seventy pages of this book, my mind began repeating the phrase, “happiness is just an illusion.” An experience that’s never happened to me before! Mid-way through the story, the phrase became this lyrical sentence: “Happiness is just an illusion filled with sadness and confusion.” And by The End, this had been added on: “What becomes of the broken-hearted who had love that’s now departed? I know I’ve got to find some kind of peace of mind maybe.”

Although familiar with the song, “What Becomes of the Broken-hearted,” I haven’t heard it in years. Yet, since words are powerful and Ivy’s story is filled with magic, could it be that as my hands turned the pages they picked up an appropriate theme song? Maybe.

The Art of Disappearing is brilliantly enchanting. Ivy Pochoda will dazzle you as well as provide pause for reflection on what creates true happiness. In other words this novel is pure magic…no wand required!

As the book appears on local bookstore shelves tomorrow, it can also be purchased from these online retailers: IndieBound|Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Borders

And then there is The Divining Wand’s Book Giveaway. To enter please leave a comment describing a magical reading experience you’ve had. The deadline is this Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced in Thursday’s post.

The Revealing of Ivy Pochoda

September 02, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Debs, Profiles

Ivy Pochoda knows how to make an entrance into the literary world and sweep readers off their feet. Simply write an elegant and totally original first novel – complete with a lovely “must open” cover — and then schedule its debut for Tuesday, September 15, 2009 when bookstores await their busiest day in years. The Divining Wand believes that many customers will purchase his book and hers — The Art of Disappearing.

It was that cover, the words “by a debut author,” and Amy MacKinnon’s (Tethered) blurb, “Utterly spellbinding,” that caused my immediate need to discover Ivy. And here is her brief book bio:

Ivy Pochoda graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Classical Greek and English. After graduation, she spent time in the Netherlands, pursuing a career in professional squash. She was the Spring 2009 James Merrill House Writer-in-Residence. Currently she lives in Brooklyn, NY.

A full presentation of Ivy Pochoda and The Art of Disappearing will be posted here on Monday, September 14, 2009, but for now let’s discover more about this debut author beyond her pages.

Q. How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: An intriguing balance of literature and athletics.

Q: What is your motto or maxim
A: Someday we will look back on this and rejoice. (It’s from the Aeneid.)

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: Being able to write unencumbered by the everyday. However, there’s something selfish in this wish.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Fish and pointlessness.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you chooseto be?
A: Frenchman’s Bay, Maine, a cafe in Amsterdam, or on a train.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: I’d like to identify with Edith Wharton, but I’m afraid I haven’t
earned the right.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: I’d admire anyone who takes chances on his or her beliefs or
passions—whether in public or in private.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: Cool. I say it all the time. I usually mean it. Sometimes I don’t.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: Not daring to major in Folklore and Mythology in college.

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A Copyediting, proofreading, self-editing, self-restraint, and tennis

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: Writing “The Art of Disappearing”

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: Carelessness and impatience.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: I’m always available to my friends.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: Someone or something near water.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: I talk quickly.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Josef Kavalier from “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.”

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?


Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Indecisiveness and dithering.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Reading and condiment shopping. I’m also pretty fond of racket sports.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: I’d like to run a mobile hot dog cart constructed out a 3-wheeled
police vehicle.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Clarity. Reliability. Honesty.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Anything Indonesian.

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. The Sun Also Rises. The Odyssey. The Age of Innocence. Wings of the Dove.

Fascinated? Captivated? Ivy invites you become her friend on Facebook or follower on Twitter.