Friday, October 3, 2014

*Excerpt & Interview* The Girl Who Came Back to Life by Craig Staufenberg

Publisher: Create Space  (April 16, 2014)
ISBN: 978-1497532731
Category: Fantasy, Magic, Fairytale
Tour Date: October, 2014
Available in: Print & ebook, 180 Pages
“When you die, your spirit wakes in the north, in the City of the Dead. There, you wander the cold until one of your living loved ones finds you, says “Goodbye,” and Sends you to the next world.
After her parents die, 12-year-old Sophie refuses to release their spirits. Instead, she resolves to travel to the City of the Dead to bring her mother and father’s spirits back home with her.
Taking the long pilgrimage north with her gruff & distant grandmother—by train, by foot, by boat; over ruined mountains and plains and oceans—Sophie struggles to return what death stole from her. Yet the journey offers her many hard, unexpected lessons—what to hold on to, when to let go, and who she must truly bring back to life.”
Praise for ‘The Girl Who Came Back To Life:
“Once I started it, I had to finish it in one sitting to see what happened to Sophie.”-Lisa R.
“I am an avid reader and an experienced editor, and I thoroughly enjoyed this read. The story is unique and interesting. I have not read one like this one before. It is appealing in a very human and also a very transcendent way – calling on our desires to have strength, to make amends, to feel, and to forget.”-Dara S.
“Sophie’s coming-of-age story is harrowing, but also incredibly unassuming and honest. There is a simplicity and a clarity to your writing that makes this epic journey seem relatable.”-Isaac S.
“A very good read!”-Frank B.
Praise for Craig Staufenberg’s ’9/11 heartbreaker’:
“Author Craig Staufenberg has created an amazing little graphic novel that is touching and compelling and not at all what I expected.”-Nolan B. Canova, Crazed Fanboy 
“What could have been exploitative or overtly cheesy and sentimental instead comes off as personal. This are memories and views that aren’t forced upon the reader. The rough art ads to that personal touch. This really feels like an illustrated journal entry. The writer has something to say, and needed to get it off his chest.”Bret Schenker, Graphic Policy 
“Staufenberg, who began the book as a means of exploring our generation’s memories and feelings about September 11, has created one of the most poignant and thought-provoking reactions to the events of that day that I’ve had the pleasure of encountering in any form of media.”-Marc, With Great Power 
“By the end, the philosophical introspection and haunting feel of the 911 heartbreaker give this tale a very unique feel. I’m really glad I spent some time with this heartbreaker.”-Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin

Sophie had no notion how to craft a loaf of bread and didn’t earn any
money during her first morning at the bakery. She returned the next
day, then the next and the next, all without producing a single loaf.
Rather than quit, she kept returning, pressing forward and placing herself
under the baker’s patient instruction.

The baker showed Sophie how to handle the earthen oven and moved
her around the back of the shop with a calm, confident sense of care. When
Sophie made a mistake the woman responded with a firm, though surprisingly
intimate, correction, and Sophie did her best to listen and follow the woman’s
commands. Yet, despite closely following these instructions, Sophie’s bread
wouldn’t respond to her touch, and refused to rise, and no matter how
precisely she placed her dough within the oven, her loaves left its fires cold
and undercooked.

The baker saw this and explained how baking was more than a technical
exercise. She explained how love lay at the heart of good bread, how she had
to pull the warmth from deep in her heart and let it flow it into her hands until
her fingertips tingled and the dough abandoned its toughness and responded
to even the lightest touch. The baker explained how the heat of the oven gave
the dough a hard crust to protect the bread, to make sure the love pressed
into the loaf only showed itself to the world when shared freely at the table.

These words of love fell on deaf ears. Sophie had grown up burying any
stirrings of emotion she may have felt within her chest, doing her best to remain calm, to maintain the steadiness her parents silently demanded. Though she
quickly mastered the technical skills of baking, during her first mornings in the
baker’s kitchen, Sophie couldn’t locate any sort of warmth within her heart.

With every morning that Sophie approached the floured marble table
without producing a remotely respectable loaf, the more she worried she would
never master this seemingly simple art well enough to receive even a single
day’s wages, let alone enough money to travel north with her grandmother.

Every morning she searched her heart more deeply, but love hid itself from
Sophie. Instead, a different feeling rose in her chest. Desperation.

Every morning, as Sophie walked to the bakery, the sun rose a little earlier
and the winter wind bit a little more softly than the last, and as spring began to
wake the world, Sophie approached the bakery’s back door with greater panic.
Without any other feeling to work with, Sophie dove into this fear, day after
day, until, to her surprise, her dough began to rise a little, and her loaves began
to leave the oven cooked a bit more than they had the day before.

Encouraged by these small victories, Sophie dove deeper and deeper into
the dry heat of the bakery’s early hours. No matter how frighteningly deep
she sunk into her heart, Sophie found herself feeling safe within the baker’s
welcome and protected care. Soon, she cracked through deep enough to find
other feelings within her heart, lining the corners of her fear. These feelings
began to excite her. They brought a tingling to her chest, and then to her neck,
and finally to her cheeks.

Slowly, during those days kneading the dough on the floured marble table
standing beside the bakery’s earthen oven, the measured ice around Sophie’s
heart began to melt. The warmth within her heart started to spread throughout
her whole body, until the tingling filled even her hands and, without an ounce
of effort on her part, shot through her fingers into the dough.

Sophie’s once dormant dough began to rise, and then to bake golden, until
it tasted nearly as earthy and grounded and rich as the baker’s own. Soon
enough, Sophie began to walk home with wages in her hand at the end of
each of those mornings when the frost gave way to dew.

About Craig Staufenberg:

Craig Staufenberg is a writer and filmmaker living in NYC.

Buy ‘The Girl Who Came Back To Life’:

If you could be a super hero what ability would you choose?
And what would your kryptonite be?
I’d like to be able to sing. To me a great singing voice feels like a superpower.

As far as the big “superhero” superpowers? I don’t know. It’s all so far outside my normal range of experience I couldn’t speak on it. But I know it’d be great to be able to sing.  And my kryptonite? Wanting to show off during karaoke. If I could sing I would be the most obnoxious person in the bar, no doubt.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you "grew up"?
A palaeontologist, then an archaeologist. But I’ve been making stories since I was five, and making stories soon won out over those other—temporary—professional directions. 

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
How few books I’ve read. At least, how few literary books I’ve read. I don’t read a lot of fiction, I haven’t touched most of the classics, I never studied literature, and I have almost no experience with current fiction. 

Favorite sport?
To watch, or play? I’ll play or watch anything with friends, but on my own I’m only really drawn into watching fighting. Boxing, MMA, whatever… doesn’t make a big difference to me. It all just grabs me. 

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
I think it’s tacky to hard-pitch your own book, so I’d just ask you to read the reviews and make up your own mind whether it seems like something you might connect with.  
If you could choose any author to co write a book with, who would you choose?
Marcus Aurelius. That guy’s had some longevity.

If you could spend a day with one famous person living or not who would you choose?

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
I didn’t! I’m setting the bar for celebration higher than one book. 

What was your favorite subject in school?
I never loved school. It got better when I made it to college and I could actually pick my courses. There I majored in world religions, and also took a lot of media studies courses. I enjoyed diving deep into them, but, for me, the academic approach is too abstract and disconnected from lived experience. 

Print or Ebook?
Personally? Print. I’m a tactile person and I like the physical experience of a print book better than an eBook. Plus, from a creator’s standpoint, it’s easier to make a beautiful print book than a beautiful eBook. 

But I’m not going to talk down to someone else’s preference. Everyone has their own priorities, and any piece of tech that gets people to read is good in my eyes. 

Chocolate or Vanilla?
Chocolate, of course.

Cake or Icecream?
Ice cream. I currently live near three amazing ice cream spots and walking home without stopping at one of them feels like a gauntlet. 

Action or Drama?
There’s no difference. In a good action movie the action is an expression of the drama, and the dramatic beats play out in the action. For a great example of this, watch the movie Warrior. But if I had to pick between gratuitous action or gratuitous drama, I’d pick gratuitous action any day of the week. 

Sweet or Salty?
Salty. No competition. I could go a year without sweets, but I can’t cook a meal without sea salt. 

PC or Mac?
Mac. I’m a convert. My first few computers were all PCs, but they kept breaking after a year or two. I’m nearly three years in with my MacAir, and it’s still going strong.

Besides durability, there are a thousand little aesthetic and usability choices that go into Mac design you just don’t find in a PC. These little touches all add up to a much more thoughtful tactile experience, and I miss them every time I hop on someone else’s PC. 


Teddy Rose said...

Thanks for taking part in the tour and hosting Craig!