I love advance review copies. For a book nerd, receiving one on my porch is like Christmas every day. Sometimes, the book is just another Fifty Shades wannabe. Then, one comes along that makes you hit the ceiling and shout, “EVERYONE IN THE WORLD MUST READ THIS!” That’s how I feel about The Doldrums.
As someone who still mourns the death of the Harry Potter series, I’m always looking for books that give me that same feeling: like I’m a little kid and the world is full of magic. Although The Doldrums does not have magic, it certainly feels magical.
Three lonely children embark on a series of adventures filled with danger, laughs, and a bit of sorrow. From page one, I was hooked and utterly thrilled when I noticed the little “Book One” addendum on the cover, because that means there’s more coming.
In The Doldrums, meet Archer, who lives in the family mansion surrounded by taxidermy exotic mammals, but whose mother (due to the loss of his grandparents on an iceberg) won’t let him near anything exciting. There’s the boy next door, Oliver, who’s scared of life because his cat ate cement (long story). Finally, Adélaïde, the French girl with a wooden leg (supposedly eaten by a crocodile). When Archer decides to find his grandparents–who he’s certain are still alive–his friends go along, but of course, nothing comes easily, especially where icebergs are concerned.
I had the lucky chance to interview author and illustrator Nicholas Gannon about his quirky opus, and here’s what he had to say.
What inspired you to write THE DOLDRUMS?
I didn’t set out to write a book, actually. It was sort of an accident. After graduating art school in NYC in 2008, I found myself working a construction job in upstate New York. It was there that I first sketched Archer on a two-by-four. He was the first character I’d drawn that truly resonated with me so I went on sketching him. (Now, his original drawings are all stuck in the walls of a home in upstate New York.) Adélaïde began as a sketch of a girl with knee-high socks but one of the socks didn’t look quite right so I turned it into a wooden leg.
I rented a top floor bedroom of a brownstone belonging to a renowned family. The bedroom had a balcony overlooking secret gardens and it was there that I began writing a small, fictional newspaper called The Doldrums Press to play around with writing and the ideas I had for Archer and Adélaïde. (I’d never written anything before.) Oliver grew out of that newspaper and the newspaper itself grew into the book. I’m still surprised by the whole thing.
Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?
Archer, Oliver, and Adélaïde are equal to me. Each one gives me a chance to do things I would miss if they weren’t in the story. Even Mrs. Murkley is loved. I will say I’d like to have Oliver hanging around my apartment.
What are some adventures you’d like to take … but haven’t yet?
I tend to be more of a coffee and cigarettes and staring out the window kind of person. But I do enjoy traveling and have done quite a bit of it. High on my “next list” is to visit Mongolia and see the Dukha with their reindeer.
THE DOLDRUMS is Book One. What’s next for the series?
That’s difficult to say without giving away some big question marks in book one. I can say the trio is still together and going strong and there’s snow—lots of snow. (It’s a long story.)
Who are your major influences, whether they be literary, film-related, or otherwise?
There are a great many. In terms of prose: P.G. Wodehouse, Hemingway, Vonnegut, Dahl, and Lewis.
World building: Dickens, Balzac, and Garcia Marquez.
I’m also a huge fan of film with the framing of shots in old movies like Lawrence of Arabia and Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Rear Window. The vignette storytelling of Tarantino influenced me as did the color palate of Jean Pierre Jeunet. I also love Dutch and Flemish painters of the 1600s.
But more than books or films or Dutch painters from the 1600s, I’d say music has the greatest impact on me. I played trumpet up until eighth grade and had fantasies about Julliard. I played in a brass ensemble, and we performed with members of the New York Philharmonic and also did a Christmas concert at the White House. I don’t play anymore, but it stayed with me. It’s very similar to writing. I listen to a lot of contemporary classical music and soundtracks.
What do you hope readers learn from THE DOLDRUMS, child and adult alike?
I’m mostly just interested in books as escapism, but I think it’s impossible to write something and not have a theme arise. In book one of The Doldrums, the major theme became: who you are versus who you want to be. Each of the main characters faces this question in their own way. And the result is three children who come together with the intention of running from their lives who end up running for their lives. Ultimately, that’s probably the message. It’s not what you do or how you do it but who you do it with.
About the Author: Nicholas Gannon studied illustration at Parson School for Design and held a number of odd jobs before becoming a full-time author. He now resides in Brooklyn. For more, visit his website: http://nicholasjgannon.com/.
To buy The Doldrums, head to Amazon. (Really, like, right now.)