Blog tour: Gae Polisner

Today, TeachingBooks.net welcomes author Gae Polisner as she stops by on her blog tour to discuss her new book The Pull of Gravity (Frances Foster Books/FSG, 2011).

The Pull of Gravity (Frances Foster Books, 2011) follows two teens—Nick and Jaycee —who, armed only with the wisdom of Yoda and a rare, first-edition copy of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, set out to keep a promise to their dying friend.

First, let me explain Nick and Jaycee’s friend, the Scoot. He suffers from Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome, an extremely rare condition that rapidly ages the body, and almost never sees fit to let a child live beyond their teens. The Scoot is 16, and his final wish is to find the father who abandoned him years ago. To fulfill the Scoot’s wish, Jaycee and Nick embark on a quest to bring back the man to say goodbye to his son. Or, if not, to at least deliver the Steinbeck classic to him (you’ll have to read the book to learn why).

To write this book, I first had to learn the basic facts about Progeria. A New York Times interview with a dying 15-year-old boy had sparked my curiosity about the rare condition. At the time I wrote the first draft of my book, there were only 108 recorded cases of Progeria in the world. I needed to know the whats and hows of Progeria (sadly, no one knows the why), and be able to describe its progression and physical attributes.  Here’s a photo from the internet of a boy with Progeria:


Image courtesy of Gae Polisner, 2012

And, here is my protagonist, Nick, describing his friend:

“I glance behind me to where Scooter sits in Dad’s oversized recliner in the corner, writing in that dumb old notebook of his. He’s hunched like a little old man—all three feet three inches of him—the reading lamp shining through his skull. His skin, thin like paper, reveals a road map of purple veins.”

Next, I had to do some homework on Of Mice and Men. I reread the stunning, spare classic, paying attention to the pieces I might want to include verbatim (because in The Pull of Gravity, Jaycee reads aloud to Nick from the book). Then, I needed to find out what might make for a very valuable copy.

Turns out a few elements must be present. For starters, it has to look like this:


Image courtesy of Gae Polisner, 2012 

Also, it must be in mint condition, signed by John Steinbeck, himself.

And, finally, it must be a first printing containing the word “pendula” on page nine. Subsequent printings eliminate the description of Lennie’s arms as pendula.

So, if you find a copy of Of Mice and Men with those elements, depending on market factors, you’re looking at a very valuable treasure, just like the one Nick, Jaycee and the Scoot have!

Hear Gae Polisner pronounce and speak about her name. Listen now.

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