It's Monday. It's Ben Tanzer. It's Laura Szumowski. It's the CCLaP blog tour celebrating both of these talented individuals and their one-two-punch literary combo "The New York Stories". And it's happening right here, right now. At this very moment.
I have been a long-time fan of the Tanzer-man, and he's been a vocal supporter of TNBBC and multiple-time participant in our wacky - and seemingly never-ending - blog features. Not only is he an extremely talented writer, but also completely and seriously huggable! Whenever there is an opportunity for me to spread the love, I'm all over it.
Now, I didn't know how I was going to pull off an equally gushy intro to Laura, since I haven't had any previous interactions with her. But (1) she's part of the CCLaP family and (2) she's the illustrator for The New York Stories - which combines two of Ben's short story eBook collections (2008's Repetition Patterns and 2011's So Different Now) into one gorgeous handmade, faux-suede covered book that displays 30 of Laura's illustrations, six of those in full color. That is more than enough to gush about!
On top of that... she and Ben both submitted video entries into our Where Writers Write series. These videos could not be any different from each other and yet they are both so absolutely incredible. Take a few minutes and steal a peek into the work spaces of Ben Tanzer and Laura Szumowski as they show us where the magic happens:
Where Ben Tanzer Writes
There is kitchen table. And not much else. A laptop. A painting my father did of my younger brother and I when we were the age my kids are now. Floor to ceiling windows. An alley. Chicago. A cup of coffee certainly.
It is a public space. We all share it. The family and I. But when the children and wife are asleep, and during those times when they are actually out of the house, it is where I write. I also write in hotels and planes and airports when I travel for work. The office. Coffee shops. "L" trains. My mom's apartment, my in-laws home, and my brother's house.
I write where and when I can. But mostly at home. All I ask is that no one talk to me while I'm writing. Well that, and the permission to fantasize about that place I will someday go to write when I have all kinds of time to write and a separate space to do so. I don't know that I will be more productive in this imaginary place or even somehow tap into some vein of creativity I have otherwise yet to unearth.
It represents something though. Something different. Somewhere new. It also means I will have figured something out, even if I'm not sure yet what that means.
Where Laura Szumowski Illustrates
My absolute favorite place to be is at my drawing table, working on a project with the windows open. Both of my work areas are near large windows-- this is a really important aspect, and I've always selected apartments based on three things: windows, natural lighting, and trees. I live across from a park, on a quiet side street. I love the feeling of being in the city with everything nearby, while simultaneously feeling as though I could be anywhere. Having trees outside my windows is essential, because it's calming and helps me focus. Natural lighting goes without saying-- it's the best light to draw by.
I mentioned New Wave, but it could be any coffee shop. Getting out of the house, to a place with few distractions, is the best way to work through the tough, preliminary parts of a project. Plus, I can get myself a treat if I'm feel a little under-motivated. A lot of research goes into my books, and while much of it is fascinating, it can be a lot to muck through.
If you are interested in learning more about Ben and Laura, check out the many blog tour stops prior to mine:
Friday, 6/15: Mourning Goats
Monday, 6/18: Caleb Ross
Tuesday, 6/19: Patricia Ann McNair
Wednesday, 6/20: Pete Anderson
Thursday, 6/21: Burrow Press
Friday, 6/22: Baby Got Books
Monday, 6/25: Mel Bosworth
Tuesday, 6/26: Ryan Bradley
Wednesday, 6/27: Curbside Splendor
Thursday, 6/28: Cort Bledsoe
Friday, 6/29: Another Chicago Magazine
You can also find more info on The New York Stories, Ben Tanzer, and Laura Szumowski at the following blogs in the next few days:
Tuesday, 7/3: Dead End Follies
Wednesday, 7/4: WordPlaySound
Thursday, 7/5: Artifice Magazine