Beausoleil Books will be hosting Denise Gallagher, author of Moonsong, a children's book that releases on October 1st and can be pre-ordered through our website. Moonsong is a brightly illustrated lyrical tale with an old-world feel. You can learn more about Moonsong and the story of Fulki by visiting our website.
Denise will be joining us on October 17 at storytime for a Release Party! This party will be tons of fun for kids ages 4-8 (and the adults too!). Denise will be reading her story to us, signing books, and giving out prizes. You won't want to miss it!
For now, get to know a little more about Denise below.
Where are you from?
I was born the day after Mardi Gras in the heart of New Orleans.
Tell us a little about your body of work. What types of books do you author?
Once upon a time, I was a graphic designer who dreamed of illustrating children’s books. Somewhere along the way, I decided that if I wrote stories to accompany my illustrations, I could create characters and subjects that I enjoyed drawing, and that really challenged me. I rather liked the writing part and began finding inspiration in folktales, animals, and the (often weird) books that I loved as a child. And I never thought I’d say this, but I’m currently working on my first partially illustrated middle grade novel — a magical story about a boy, a bear, and a magical teaspoon.
What was your inspiration for writing Moonsong?
The idea for Moonsong was sparked by my childhood friendships with imaginary animals, wild or otherwise. I’d spend hours with them, having tea, singing made-up songs, and whispering secrets. As I grew, I may have left those friends behind, but I never let go of the creative freedom I felt when I was with them. I am Fulki, the main character of Moonsong. The little girl who rebels against arbitrary rules. Rules that are followed simply because that’s how it has always been, though nobody can remember why. In Moonsong, Fulki’s friend, the Tiger, helps her to bravely challenge those rules, and she ultimately changes the old traditions to the benefit of her village and the world in which she and the Tiger reside.
What has been your favorite thing about process of writing and publishing Moonsong? Moonsong went through many iterations over the years. As its creator, it is fascinating to have seen how the story and art changed and grew along with me as an author and illustrator. I always believed in the story and am immensely proud of the hard work and winding path it took to become a reality. I’m also grateful for the wonderful people I’ve met along the way. Authors and illustrators for children really are a kind and supportive group and I’m lucky to count many new friends among them.
How have your life experiences shaped your body of work?
Literature and art are an escape for me—a way to leave reality behind and to live inside of my head for a while, or a way to peer inside the head of other creatives. Often snippets of these escapes find their way into my writing or drawing. Other times, I’m inspired to create by a word or two of poetry, a stanza of music, a glimpse of nature, or a seemingly mundane moment. These are the bits of my life that come together to shape every creative thing that I do.
When you aren’t writing and promoting your books, what do you love to do?
I love to while away the hours curled up with a cup of tea and my sketchbook or a really good book. I also enjoy vibrant conversations over coffee with my husband. And when attending a live concert, my heart will soar, particularly when my son is performing on his violin. And then there are the times when I venture out to commune with nature—hiking, kayaking, and greeting the flora and fauna along the way.
We have seen you in our store several times and love having you here. What do you most love about Beausoleil Books?
The first time I visited Beausoleil Books was with a friend on a rainy Friday afternoon. It was a welcome, warm, and cozy respite—a place to be still, surrounded by art and literature, and the sound of friends quietly chatting together. Lafayette is fortunate to have a bookseller who cares about its local authors, artists, and readers. Beausoleil Books has become one of my very favorite creative places.
What are you most excited about for the future?
Now that the hard work of writing and illustrating Moonsong is complete, I’m excited for the fun part —reading to children; meeting readers, families, and teachers; and discussing art and literature with friends old and new. I’m also looking forward to really diving into the work of polishing the text and creating the illustrations for my upcoming middle grade novel.
What’s your favorite place to eat downtown?
We are so lucky to have such a wide variety of deliciousness in Downtown Lafayette! How can I choose just one? That being said, I’d never turn down a lunch date at Pop’s, dinner at Tsunami, or a stop at Johnson’s Boucaniere!
What books are on your nightstand right now?
I keep a special stack of my very most favorite books nearby. The stack includes: The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo, The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, and The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, to name just a few. I’m very proud of my growing library, though, as I just can’t seem to stop buying books!
What was your favorite book as a child?
I still have my dilapidated copy of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice written by Barbara Hazen and illustrated by Tomi Ungerer. It is deliciously weird, with eyeballs in jars, tentacles emerging from vats, and random creatures peering from the shadows. I remember poring over it, finding every odd and creepy bit, and wanting to climb the castle stairs along the river Rhine with Humboldt the apprentice, or to disappear in a puff of pale blue powder along with the Sorcerer himself.
Any advice to parents trying to encourage their young ones to be lifelong readers?
One of the things I hold dear is the belief that books are the first works of art and literature that children are exposed to. There are some devastatingly beautiful books out there that are truly works of art. I encourage parents to choose books that speak to them as well as to their children and read to them often. Some of my most cherished memories are of sharing my favorite books with my own children. We even read novels together as a nightly ritual long after they could read themselves. Visit the bookstore or library often and let your children choose. There is no “wrong” book for a budding reader. As long as they are reading something that they enjoy, they will grow to love reading for the simple pleasure of doing so.
Anything else you want to say about yourself, your role at Beausoleil, or about Acadiana/Lafayette?
I’d like to thank Beausoleil Books for championing local authors and artists like myself. Your help in spreading the word about the wonderful work that is being created right here in Acadiana means so very much to me. I’d also like to thank the people of Acadiana for supporting local artists and creatives. It is always heartwarming to see all of the friendly faces at events and to hear the uplifting comments from my community. You have given me the courage and inspiration to continue to create and to be my true creative self. For that, I thank you!
Gail Carriger describes The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klun as a breakout contemporary fantasy that’s “1984 meets the Umbrella Academy with a pinch of Dougas Adams thrown in,” and we wholeheartedly agree. Although I also couldn't help but imagine Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.
Our main character, Linus, leads a quiet solitary life in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. He maintains a strict routine. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages. After years of following the rules and regulations to the letter, Extremely Upper Management orders him to the highly classified Island of Marsyas to evaluate the living arrangements of six of the most “dangerous” children: a female gnome, a wood sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the most adorable Antichrist you’ve ever met.
After spending month getting to know the children and their caretaker, Linus learns not to judge a magical creature by its appearance or abilities, that what makes us different is also what makes us strong, and that a home is made up of more than just walls and roof. With his evaluation coming to an end, will Linus choose to destroy a home or defy his precious rules and regulations?
We will be meeting in The Whisper Room to discuss The House in the Cerulean Sea on Saturday July 31 at 11:30. Readers may like to be warned that this book includes off-page domestic abuse and family separation.
Support Beausoleil Books by buying a copy of The House in the Cerulean Sea via our affiliates Bookshop and Libro.fm. Pair you read with our customized Jules and Esther Candle du Mois – scents of salt air, seaweed, myrtle, vanilla, lavender, lemon & tobacco all combined to create the “Cliffhanger.” Come into the store and purchase a candle along with the book to get 20% off!
Jefferson Street Journal is Beausoleil Books's online blog for book reviews, news, and more!