A GLORIOUS FREEDOM | INTERVIEW WITH CHERYL STRAYED

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The glory of growing older is the freedom to be more truly ourselves—with age we gain the liberty to pursue bold new endeavors and worry less about what other people think. In this richly illustrated volume, bestselling author and artist Lisa Congdon explores the power of women over the age of forty who are thriving and living life on their own terms. Profiles, interviews, and essays from women—including Vera Wang, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Julia Child, Cheryl Strayed, and many more—who’ve found creative fulfillment and accomplished great things in the second half of their lives are lavishly illustrated and hand-lettered in Congdon’s signature style. The perfect gift for women of all ages, A Glorious Freedom celebrates extraordinary lives and redefines what it means to gain wisdom and maturity.

The following is an extract from A Glorious Freedom by Lisa Congdon.


Cheryl’s famous memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail was published when she was 43 years old. It took her two and a half years to trace the steps, challenges, and revelations she faced during her three-month, 1,100-mile hike from the Mojave Desert to the Pacific Northwest onto paper—and about two minutes for the finished book to land on the New York Times bestseller list. In the months following, Cheryl experienced instant fame—from Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 to the film adaptation championed by Reese Witherspoon and Nick Hornby, Wild went, well, wild. It is an international bestseller and a recipient of the Barnes & Noble Discover Award and the Oregon Book Award. Cheryl is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers Tiny Beautiful Things and Brave Enough. Her first novel, Torch, was published in 2007. Her essays have been published in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, Vogue, and Tin House, among others, and her work has been selected three times for inclusion in the The Best American Essays. She anonymously authored The Rumpus’s popular Dear Sugar advice column from 2010 to 2012, for which she now cohosts a podcast. She currently lives and writes in Portland, Oregon.

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Lisa: You worked for many years at writing, and it wasn’t until just a few short years ago, in your early 40s, you published the book that made you a household name. I encounter a lot of young artists who imagine that if they just concoct some magical formula they can have “instant success.” How would you describe the role of purpose, work, and patience in your own journey?

Cheryl: I was a successful writer long before Wild was published. What happened with Wild wasn’t “success.” It was crazy lightning striking. I’m always taken aback when people imply that I achieved success in my 40s. In fact, I had a pretty steady upward career trajectory as a writer, and all of that came about because, as you say, I showed up each day to do the work. I began publishing in my 20s. By the time I was in my early 30s I had won many awards and grants, and was publishing in respected magazines, and I’d earned my MFA in creative writing. In my mid-30s I sold my first novel to a major publisher and it was broadly reviewed and sold well. Meanwhile, I was continuing to publish essays in prominent places and I was also teaching writing.

I was known in the literary community. Then Wild happened and with that came fame and a much broader international audience. It was astounding and glorious, but it didn’t, for me, mark the beginning of the sense that I’d arrived as a writer. I was already there and I’m still here—working my tail off. That’s the magic formula: work.

Lisa: One of the most life-changing lessons I’ve learned over the past ten years is the power of embracing all of my life experience, and this is something you write about as well. Why is this idea of owning and learning to love all of your experience (even the stuff that makes us cringe or that would normally make us feel shame), why is it so important?

Cheryl: I’ve long believed our mistakes and failures teach us as much as our victories and successes. When you acknowledge the full spectrum of your possibility—as both someone who can be great and as someone who is sometimes not so great—you can bring the full force of your humanity to everything you do.

Lisa: What for you is the best part of getting older?

Cheryl: Feeling more secure about who I am. Feeling stronger about being okay with disappointing people. Putting up less of a facade. Being gentler with myself and others, too.

Lisa: What do you think is the relationship between forgiveness and the ability to age joyfully?

Cheryl: I’ve written about forgiveness a lot and it all pretty much boils down to the fact that when you can’t forgive people who have harmed you (or forgive yourself for the harm you’ve done to others) you stay locked in that struggle. Forgiveness is, to me, really acceptance. Accepting that what’s true is true. It’s saying, this is the way it was and onward we go.

Lisa: What are the three greatest lessons you’ve learned in the last ten years?

Cheryl: 1. Saying no is one form of saying yes. 2. Our ideas about famous people are projections of who we are, not a reflection of who they are. 3. Everyone struggles. Everyone hurts. Everyone wants to be told it’s all going to be okay.

Lisa: What advice do you have for women who fear getting older?

Cheryl: The fear of getting older is about the false notion that one’s power was rooted in the things that youth offers us—namely, beauty. My advice would be to see that for the lie that it always was. Our power is never about how pretty we are. Our power is about how we live our lives. Start living it.


A Glorious Freedom by Lisa Congdon publishes on 03 October 2017. Find out more here. 

See the stunning book trailer here

Water In May | Extract

Water In May

Fifteen-year-old Mari Pujols believes that the baby she’s carrying will finally mean she’ll have a family member who will love her deeply and won’t ever leave her. But when doctors discover a potentially fatal heart defect in the foetus, Mari faces choices she never could have imagined.

This literary, thought-provoking YA is based on true events and navigates a complex and impossible decision that can crush even the bravest of women.

Pass the tissues please.

Click here to read an extract from Water In May.

Out this September – order your copy today.

House of Ash | Extract

House of Ash

After hearing voices among an eerie copse of trees in the woods, seventeen-year-old Curtis must confront his worst fear: that he has inherited his father’s mental illness. A desperate search for answers leads him to a cursed mansion that burned down in 1894. When he glimpses a desperate girl in his bedroom mirror, he’s sure she’s one of the fire’s victims. But, more than 100 years in the past, the girl in the mirror is fighting her own battles…

This spine-tingling novel will have you captivated from the first page: click here to read an extract.


House of Ash by Hope Cook is out this September – order your copy today.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo | Extract

Applying for college and maintaining an image of perfection is difficult enough, and then you find out you’re immortal and your town is under siege from Hell-spawn…

Genie Lo is Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the modern day, and we couldn’t be more excited.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes fifteen 15-year-old Genie’s every waking thought. But when she discovers she’s an immortal who’s powerful enough to bash through the gates of Heaven with her fists, her perfectionist existence is shattered. Enter Quentin, a transfer student from China whose tone-deaf assertiveness beguiles Genie to the brink of madness. Quentin nurtures Genie’s bodacious transformation – sometimes gently, sometimes aggressively – as her sleepy Bay-area suburb in the Bay area comes under siege from Hell-spawn. This epic YA debut draws from Chinese mythology, features a larger-than-life heroine, and perfectly balances the realities of Genie’s grounded, Oakland life with the absurd supernatural world she finds herself commanding.

Click here to read an extract from The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Yee.

Tweet us @ACBYA using #GenieLo to tell us what you think!


 The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Yee is out this August – order your copy here.

A Taxonomy of Love | Extract

A Taxonomy of Love

The moment Spencer meets Hope the summer before seventh grade, it’s . . . something at first sight. He knows she’s special, possibly even magical. The pair become fast friends, climbing trees and planning world travels. After years of being outshone by his older brother and teased because of his Tourette syndrome, Spencer finally feels like he belongs. But as Hope and Spencer get older and life gets messier, the clear label of “friend” gets messier, too.

Through sibling feuds and family tragedies, new relationships and broken hearts, the two grow together and apart, and Spencer, an aspiring scientist, tries to map it all out using his trusty system of taxonomy. He wants to identify and classify their relationship, but in the end, he finds that life doesn’t always fit into easy-to-manage boxes, and it’s this messy complexity that makes life so rich and beautiful.

Click here to read an extract from this swoon-worthy YA romance.

Have you fallen head-over-heels for A Taxonomy of Love? Let us know @ACBYA using #TaxonomyOfLove


 

A Taxonomy of Love by Rachael Allen is out January 2018 – click here to pre-order your copy!

Odd & True | Extract

Odd & True

The latest from master of historical paranormal, Cat Winters, about a pair of monster-hunting sisters with a dark past. Taking inspiration from the legend of the Jersey Devil and adding in two strong female protagonists, this supernatural story won’t disappoint.

Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of a monster slaying and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life – permanently injured and in constant pain from an accident.

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister – despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances – might, indeed, have magic after all.

Click here to read an extract from Odd & True.

Tweet us @ACBYA using #OddandTrue, with your thoughts!

 

Odd & True by Cat Winters is on sale September 2017 – order your copy today.

The Last Thing You Said | Extract

Last Thing You Said Quote

Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie – Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister – was gone, her heart giving out during a swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief.

Now it’s a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie’s death looms, Lucy and Ben’s undeniable connection pulls them back together.

They can’t change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing – and to each other.

Last Thing You Said Quote

Click here to read an extract from this deeply romantic YA.

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn | Extract

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn

Quinn Cutler is sixteen and the daughter of a high-profile Brooklyn politician. She’s also pregnant, a crisis made infinitely more shocking by the fact that she has no memory of ever having sex. Before Quinn can solve this deeply troubling mystery, her story becomes public. Rumours spread, jeopardising her reputation, her relationship with a boyfriend she adores, and her father’s campaign for Congress. Religious fanatics gather at the Cutlers’ home, believing Quinn is a virgin, pregnant with the next messiah. Quinn’s desperate search for answers uncovers lies and family secrets – strange, possibly supernatural ones. Might she, in fact, be a virgin?

Click here to read an extract from The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer.

Who is Phyllis Posnick?

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Stoppers: Photographs from My Life at Vogue By Phyllis Posnick 

The name Phyllis Posnick is synonymous with Vogue and the extraordinary fashion editorials the magazine’s audience loves. Posnick is best known for creating photo editorials to illustrate the magazine’s Beauty and Health articles, but cast off any ideas you have about close-ups of lips and eyelashes. Instead, picture models bathed in paint or posing next to cuts of fresh meat. This collection invites readers to glimpse the complex production process—and the collaboration and creativity—behind each extraordinary editorial. The book features images by a who’s who of legendary photographers: Irving Penn, Steven Klein, Annie Leibovitz, Mario Testino, Patrick Demarchelier, Tim Walker, Anton Corbijn and Helmut Newton.

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The following is an extract from Stoppers: Photographs from My Life at Vogue By Phyllis Posnick 

Foreword

Whoever coined the maxim “A picture is worth 1,000 words” clearly had Phyllis Posnick in mind. For more than twenty-five years now, I’ve had the huge privilege of working with Phyllis and publishing in Vogue the fruits of her labors with Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz, Bruce Weber, Steven Klein, Tim Walker, Patrick Demarchelier, Mario Testino, David Sims, Anton Corbijn, and, of course, Irving Penn, or Mr. Penn, as he was known around the Vogue offices. Phyllis is more than a match for all of these consummate and renowned image-makers, who have no doubt counted themselves extremely lucky to be partnered with such a gifted and formidable collaborator. Yet there was something particularly magical about her pairing with Mr. Penn. That relationship flourished because she, like him, could distill the essence of any given story into one single and solely memorable picture, be it a portrait, a still life, or some wonderful conceptual flight of fancy. But if you have leafed through this book, pausing again and again to gaze at her incredible body of work, which is by turns majestic, intimate, and provocative, then you already know that. One has only to meet Phyllis to understand her particular brand of brilliance. Everything about her is meticulously planned, carefully considered, expertly executed. She herself is a study in rigorous taste (a personal style that borders on the ascetic) contrasted with unexpected flourishes (her passion for monumental vintage modernist Scandinavian jewelry). You could say the same of her approach to her picture-making, which she studiously—and, I’m sure she won’t mind my saying, stubbornly—pursues in the name of originality and intelligence. Nothing is ever banal with Phyllis. She could be the creative offspring of Lee Miller and Luis Buñuel: from the former, a deep commitment to photojournalism, that an image should always convey a clear and direct meaning; and, from the latter, a twisted, surreal sense of humor, with Phyllis deploying a little shock value to draw you deeper into the narrative of the picture. She has certainly never shied away from taking risks, walking the line, going that little bit further to make a sitting work. I’ve always been amused by the tale of one of Phyllis’s assistants taking a call one day from her boyfriend, who casually asked where she was. “In a sex shop, again, buying props for a shoot with Steven Klein” came her reply. In Phyllis’s time at Vogue, she has wrangled everything—flora, fauna, insects, supermodels, movie stars, athletes, and all manner of titans of the cultural and political landscape. Phyllis makes every picture she takes for Vogue an adventure, and that, let me tell you, makes coming to work every day absolutely thrilling.

 – ANNA WINTOUR

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Copyright © 2016 Phyllis Posnick