Two Deep Breaths and Then Speak

Fri, 18 Dec 2015 18:00:41 +0000

The launch party for Eliot Treichel’s A Series of Small Maneuvers, released on November 1, 2015, was held at Another Read Through on November 17. Treichel spoke about his process and read an excerpt before answering questions and signing books.

Walking into Another Read Through for the first time for the launch of A Series of Small Maneuvers, Ooligan’s fall title, I am immediately struck by the venue. With tall bookshelves brimming with books, entering the store feels like coming home. Heading up to the second floor, where the reading will take place, I get a surprise. Two rows of chairs are already full, with a third quickly filling up. By the time Treichel steps up to the podium, it’s standing room only in the back.

Eliot Treichel is the author of the young adult novel Small Maneuvers and the short story collection Close Is Fine, published back in 2012. Now, at the launch party of his first novel, he describes the events in his life that gave him the inspiration to write the book, from his childhood learning to kayak to his attempts to bang out the novel during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). With that context, he gives a short reading from the text. The section he selects is the one that introduces the ongoing mantra “two deep breaths and go.”

He then accepts questions, telling us a bit about his thought process while writing the book. Most interesting to me is the explanation he gives about the changes made to the protagonist’s father, Parker. Emma, with her teenage angst and impressive survival skills, is a good protagonist, but I find Parker to be a much more complex and engaging character.

Parker as originally written, we learn, was seen by test readers as “too nice.” For the next draft, Eliot gave him more flaws. It was important to Eliot that the parents in his book are fleshed out, rather than the caricatures in books aimed at children and teens. He certainly succeeded: Parker as he appears in the finished novel is a hypocrite, highly judgmental, and not always a nice person, but he is nevertheless skilled, caring, and deeply loyal to his family.

Like Parker, Eliot is a passionate kayaker and river guide. And like Parker, Eliot has (or had at the time he was writing Small Maneuvers) a teenage daughter. Eliot talks about learning to better relate to his daughter through writing the book. When she read it, upon its completion, her reaction was gratifying to Eliot. She told him that reading his depiction of Emma made her realize that Eliot understood her better than she had thought.

As the reading comes to a close, Eliot is mobbed by people asking him to sign their books. The rest of the room forms into clumps of people, many of them Ooligan Press students, chatting away as they enjoy being surrounded by books for a few minutes longer. Slowly people begin to head downstairs, browsing for a few minutes more before they finally head out into the night.

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