Saturnalia by Paul Fleischman


Paul Fleischman


Saturnalia by Paul Fleischman

It is December 1681, and the words of Mr. Baggot, the tithingman, terrify young William. William is living a strange double life. By day he is a printer's apprentice living in a white man's house. By night, he is Weetasket of the Narraganset tribe who must risk Baggot's wrath to search for his lost brother. Then comes the winter celebration of the Saturnalia-the ancient Roman holiday on which masters and slaves trade roles. Will William's secrets be revealed? And what dark deeds of others will be brought to light on this fateful night?

About the Author

Paul Fleischman

As a child: I had an idyllic childhood ten blocks from the Pacific in Santa Monica, California. My two sisters and I had a big house to roam, one that included a telescope, shortwave radio, and a door that opened onto a wall. We also had a hand printing press and all learned to set type and to read backwards, since that's the way type is arranged in the composing stick. I had my own printing business in my teenage years. We also grew up with an author in the house, my father, Sid Fleischman, whose books we were privileged to hear read aloud, chapter by chapter, as they were written. That turned out to be a huge part of my education.

As an adult: I took classes in everything but writing in college -- from astronomy to folkdancing to film history. I took off two years and lived in a colonial-era house in the woods of New England. That experience kindled an interest in history and nature, just as playing recorder in an early-music consort there awakened me to the joys of chamber music. Many of the books I've written since have come out of those interests, from historical fiction to poems for multiple voices. After living in many parts of the U.S., I'm now a short distance from Monterey, California, where I was born.

As an artist: I like variety, and have written in just about every genre, from the wordless book to opera. I like to feel fresh ground under my feet and am drawn to new types of books: using newspaper clippings with text (Dateline: Troy), writing for consorts (Big Talk), bridging prose and plays (Seek and Breakout). The sound of the human voice excites me, and the idea of bringing people together. I often write books that lend themselves to performance, scaled not for the theatre, but for the living room -- where my father read his books.

Things you didn't know about Paul Fleischman:

1. I joined fifteen other writers and artists in a book devoted to the letter "a.".
2. I have a border collie named Jingo.
3. My high school friends and I had an alternate world a bit like Weslandia, complete with an invented sport called Skrugby and our own underground school newspaper.
4. Some of those friends successfully stole the copy of Gainsborough's The Blue Boy from our high school library and held it for ransom.
5. As no staff members noticed, we had to print a story on the theft in our newspaper.
6. Writers need a day job when they're starting out. My first one was as a bagel baker.
7. I rode a bicycle from Los Angeles to Vancouver when I was 19.
8. In my teens and twenties my handwriting was so small that I could fit four or five lines between the lines on a page of notebook paper.
9. For several years I hosted a party in which we competed in reading the worst passages from Christmas newsletters we'd received. Medals were given.
10. I have frequent daydreams in which Beethoven returns to the present and I am his guide.

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Publication date

1st June 2013




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