Each day leading up to the 32nd annual Minnesota Book Awards announcement, we’ll be featuring an exclusive interview with one of our 36 finalists.
Interview with Natasha D’Schommer, author (with Marguerite Ragnow) of Tulips, Chocolate & Silk: Celebrating 65 Years of the James Ford Bell Library, part of the Minnesota Nonfiction category
How does it feel to be a Minnesota Book Award finalist?
Wonderful! I am especially happy that Tulips, Chocolate & Silk is a finalist because it uses visual storytelling to tell the history of the James Ford Bell Library collection.
Tell us something about your finalist book that you want readers to know.
The book is meant to be handled, turned around, and looked at. We have created this motion for the reader by having two covers, (no back cover) with the book reversing half way through. This is a physical nod to how we must examine history and the artifacts we have – from all angles, questioning and open to observations.
Share something about your writing process and preferences. For instance, where is your favorite place to write?
I am a photographer, though I do enjoy writing about my experiences in rare book libraries and museums. Either way I like to be near a window, in natural light. I think browsing the stacks for an unexpected surprise is equal in importance to researching my topic.
Minnesota has a reputation a place that values literature and reading. In your experience, what is it about our state that makes it such a welcoming, conducive place for writers and book creators?
Minnesota is different every two months, there is much to observe and experience. The weather here is its own character, sometimes kind, beautiful, and other times unpredictable. I think this is very stimulating for creative minds.
What is something you are good at that few people know about?
Handwriting. I wish I wrote and received more handwritten letters; this is a gentle and personal way of communicating. I have photographed many composers, poets and president’s letters and they convey so much in their handwriting. Once, at Princeton, I set a letter from Emily Dickinson next to a sketchbook page of Beethoven. Just to see their handwriting in proximity of one another was electric.
What do you love about libraries?
From my Preface to Tulips, Chocolate & Silk: John Muir said, ” When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” I think Muir would include the tugging of a book from its shelf and into the hands of the reader as an action with the same result.
Natasha D’Schommer is an artist and author. She is the recipient of the McKnight Artist Fellowship.