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A brace of book launches


I’ve been to two very well attended book launches in Seattle this week – both them within walking distance of my home. The first was for Nicola Griffith’s new novel Hild, at Richard Hugo House on Wednesday; the second, last night, was for Judith Gille’s self-published memoir, The View from Casa Chepitos: A Journey Beyond the Border, at the Elliott Bay Book Company. It was gratifying to see both venues packed.

Nicola’s book I have no connection with other than knowing and admiring Nicola and looking forward to reading each of her novels. Judith’s book I do have a connection with: I designed and typeset the interior. (I had nothing to do with the flamboyant and effective cover, which was designed by Dorit Ely.)

I got to use Mark van Bronkhorst’s recently released OpenType Pro version of MVB Verdigris, which was completely appropriate to the visual feel that Judith wanted for her book. I even got to confront the interesting problem of how to treat a chapter opening with a drop cap, when the first word is the beginning of a quote in Spanish, requiring not only opening quotation marks but an opening inverted exclamation point as well. I could have finessed the problem by de-emphasizing the punctuation marks somehow, but in the end we decided that it worked with some judicious spacing and fiddling around. (Oh, yes: our chapter-opening convention also included small caps for the first several words, which in this case required italic small caps. Happily, Verdigris Pro includes them.)

Chapter opening from 'The View from Casa Chepitos'

I’ve already read and enjoyed Judith’s memoir, a thoughtful and empathic account of becoming a part-time resident of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Now I’m enjoying Nicola’s lively historical novel, in which she creates a believable milieu and a strong character for the 6th-century Anglo-Saxon abbess, Hild of Whitby.

One thing that both books have in common is strong women – including the authors.

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