Friday, May 18, 2012

Generally Horrible Questions: Liesl Freudenstein

The great Liesl Freudenstein
As I've perhaps mentioned, last fall I added some new states to my Book Land territory, including Colorado.  My first official act as a rep for the (What's the state slogan for Colorado? Former Land of Tebow for a Year or So State? Mile High State? Rocky Mountain State?) state involved joining my Random House colleague Michele at Boulder Bookstore for a staff presentation.  While several reps from adult publishing lines presented titles, after we finished, the children's book buyer for Boulder Bookstore stepped up and presented books for little people.  Three things struck me about Liesl Freudenstein: 1. she knows her stuff, 2. she probably would smack me if I made a Sound of Music joke about her extremely German/Austrian name, and 3. she's probably a seriously disturbed individual.  I mean that in the best way.  I thought, "Here's someone who gets the joke....or might be drunk." I'm always impressed by adults who can sell children's books and not transform into troll princesses with pink tiaras and Seussian speech patterns.  A few weeks ago I asked Liesl if she'd be willing to answer our horrible questions, and since she indeed IS a disturbed, possibly inebriated individual, she readily agreed.  So here you go, our first ever blog post dedicated to the children's section of Book Land.  I hope you've been vaccinated properly.

Generally Horrible Questions: Liesl "Von Trapp" Freudenstein

Less important: what Liesl and her hubby are reading on
their Greek vacation.  More important is what they're
drinking.  Am I right?
1.     How did you get in the book business?
I got in the book business to foil my dad's ambitions for me.  He wanted me to be an astronaut or at least a rocket scientist, but being a hard core rebel, I choose book selling.  Also, there was a bookstore down the road and I hung around so much they gave me a job.  [So...loitering and stickin' it to the man lead to bookselling.  I guess it's better than prison.  My sister is a rocket scientist, by the way.  It's overrated.]

2.     Why children’s books?  Was there a book that drove you to it (Finnegan’s Wake, perhaps?)?
I did every other job EXCEPT children's as obviously that is the SCARIEST and most DIFFICULT type of book selling and buying and it requires an expert.  Oddly, as soon as I had a child I was dubbed an instant expert and all of my shifts were in children's from then on.  When I had two children-I was dubbed an expert times two and given the buyer job.  [If this isn't an afterschool special promoting abstinence, I don't know what is.]

3.     What book(s) changed your life?
Truly I loved Mary Stewart's The Crystal Cave and Hollow Hills-my dad thinks this was the beginning of the end of my astronaut ambitions.  That and a deep mistrust of the laws of physics.  Give me magic! [Your father seems obsessed with the space program.  I can give him my sister's phone number. He'll appreciate you more afterward.]

4.     You have offspring (sorry).  What’s the best book to read aloud?  Twilight
Twilight does not make for a good read-aloud the dialogue is too stilted and there are too many silent longing glances.  Fortunately, my daughter is here to help me with the question.(pause for the asking of the  question...)

She votes for Redwall because it has "lots of fun accents and it's very entertaining with all of the songs and descriptions of food-it's fun to listen to mom read it."  I take that back, she can no longer help-Redwall is exceedingly difficult to read out loud--too many accents,  so many lengthy  picnics plus there is poetry and singing too.  [Sometimes Gianna reads me passages from Fifty Shades of Grey. That book is awesome for the tweens!]

5.     Seriously, how much do you love Twilight
I have never read I disqualified now? [Our love for you is undying.]

6.     What children’s book should everyone give their kids but has slipped under the radar?
We (previously mentioned daughter & I) think Ottoline and the Yellow Cat by Chris Riddell is brilliant. Whimsical, half graphic, and a mystery to boot.  I also think that every child should have a copy of When Dinosaurs Came With Everything by Elise Broach.  Not as much teen angst as Twilight, but the look on the mother's face when the baker gives her son a real dinosaur is way better than anything Bella could express. [Wait--Bella has expressions?]

7.     What’s the last adult book you read?  (Twilight is not an adult book.)
I just finished Karin Slaughter's new book--'cause when I'm not reading about teen drug use, depression, identity crisis, and the end of the world, I like to read about serial killers. [This answer is damn near perfect in every way.]

8.     As the first children’s book specialist featured on this blog, is today the greatest day of your life?
Today is truly the best day of my life--I hope it's as good for you as it is for me....oh, except for that time I was interviewed by Erin Zlotnik for her blog-she was my first. [You didn't save yourself for us?  Insert follow-up abstinence comment here.]

9.     Liz or Gianna?
I don't know Gianna, so I'm wondering what she's like.  [Gianna says she can be whatever you want her to be.  However, the correct answer is ALWAYS LIZ.]

10.  Harry or Voldemort? Or that older, frumpy woman in the pink suit from the movie trailers?
Harry-at least he has a nose-too creepy without a nose.....but the snake thing is interesting.  [This is a trick question.  The correct answer is "whoever Maggie Smith plays."]

11.  Amuse us with an anecdote from the land of little people.
Are you calling me short? [Yeah, I call everybody short.]  I just had a lovely conversation with a child regarding his vast Lego collection, how many books he has (at least 500 including sticker books), and how many blocks(millions and millions), and how l should really, really get more books, because well, he "has all these" as he completely dismisses my entire Lego section with a casual wave of his hand.  Kids are like that, tellin'  it like it is.  [Um...children should be seen and not heard...or not seen and not heard.]

12.  A friend of mine makes me watch Yo Gabba Gabba with her kid.  Also, she didn’t name her son after me.  How should I handle this situation?
That's tough!  I would offer to babysit, then give him a recording of the Barney song, play it until he has it memorized then send him home with it.  [I'm pretty sure that I'm not legally permitted to babysit anymore, but I like the way you think.]

13.  What’s your latest book love?
I am very excited for The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There-by Catherynne Valente.  I loved the first book The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making very much; it has a great voice capturing what makes books like Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland so wonderful.  A mix of dreamworlds and childhood  and unexpected complications--just like growing up. Plus it's an awesome title.  I also love a whole box of RH books I just received from Erin...I haven't opened it yet--I'm waiting for privacy--but there are bound to be some really awesome books in it like a kid's version of 50 Shades of Grey-maybe 25 Helpings of Mudpies?  [We are now searching the Urban Dictionary for the definition of "mudpie."....Yikes.  There are eight definitions and we aren't bold enough to put any of them on here. Definition #9 would be "cause for termination."]

Thanks Liesl!  You do Children's Book Land proud.


  1. I am so entertained by this. Liz, pretty please don't let the fact that Drew forgot to show me your email keep me from being interviewed! I really really want to be a part of the awesomeness!
    Sara from Little Professor

  2. You could interview our children's specialist but on second thought I don't think so. I couldn't bear the cruelty.