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Seattle, WA, 98104
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Welcome to Chatwin Books. We are a new publisher of print and digital books in a wide range of topics, run by a team with many decades of experience in all aspects of the book business.

At the heart of who we are, and what we do, is working with authors to support their craft, and their entire body of work, throughout the publication process. Using our experience and drive to help our authors create great books is the surest way our team can ensure a great experience for our readers.

In addition to the work we do for our own books, we do editorial, design, author branding, marketing, and other work on a contract basis for other publishers and authors. We also distribute books from other publishers, both print and digital.

Author Profiles

In-depth (5–10 minute read) profiles on the authors we are proud to work with, their process, and behind-the-scenes peeks into the publishing process.

The Man with Bees in His Beard: The Art of Brian Dempsey

Julie Greene

The Gallery at Arundel Books is currently hosting a show of Brian Dempsey’s drawings and prints, including work from his upcoming children's book, The Man with Bees in His Beard. The show will run through September 2. 

Dempsey 1.jpg

Dempsey’s artwork uncovers the magical beauty of the everyday, where simple moments become scenes of dream-like beauty and quiet energy. He invites viewers into reflection, contemplation, and tranquility.

Want to learn more about Dempsey and The Man with Bees in His Beard? Visit: http://www.chatwinbooks.com/shop/the-man-with-bees-in-his-beard.

The Practical Herbalist

Ariel Herman

by Ari Herman

 Enfleurage at The Hidden Alchemist in Pioneer Square.

Enfleurage at The Hidden Alchemist in Pioneer Square.

It looks like magic. Passers-by stand and watch the slow drip-drip-drip of the tinctures being made. The glass assemblages called 'enfleurage' are the most striking feature of The Hidden Alchemist in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square. It looks like something out of a movie, but it’s a lot more than that. The apparatus is singularly pre-industrial, with the grace of a pre-Enlightenment chemistry lab. Behind it are bottles containing dried herbs and teas on amber-lit shelving, while smaller tincture bottles and ointment jars adorn the various tables and shelves. 

The Hidden Alchemist is an atypical business, but it is exactly the kind of place one might expect to find in the byzantine basements of the Grand Central Arcade in Downtown Seattle. Intermixed with the herbs, tinctures, salves and remedies are stacks of literature informing the reason and purposes for each article of flora used to sustain human health and well-being.

The store is owned and operated by Sunny Savina Bertollini. She employs a cold enfleurage extraction method, often using multiple herbs in concert together. She tells me that her remedies have successfully treated burns, scars, eczema, weak metabolisms, hormonal imbalances, the common cold and the side effects of chemotherapy. As Sunny shares, The Hidden Alchemist itself was paid for almost entirely by a woman who Sunny successfully helped during a bout with cancer. Sunny would never, however, turn away from Western medicine for ideological reasons. She is the first to admit, “Herbalism is not the only way to tackle a problem, but it is the basis for modern medicine. We need to keep herbalism part of everyday life.”

She started her first herb garden when she was nine. In those formative years she was frequently displaced, but always had a garden, even if it was only a single pot with chamomile in it. “As a child, I always had ugliness around me, but there was beauty in herbs and plants. I would make teas mostly. I did that until I was in my early 20s, when I learned to make tinctures, which was quite the revelation,” she recalls. Her upcoming book series with Chatwin will be a guide for anyone who wants to learn how to use multiple herbs together to treat common ailments; This technique is known as “compounding herbalism.”

It was over 20 years ago that Sunny was approached by a little old lady in a bookstore, who took her arm and  announced they were going to be the best of friends. “At first I thought she was senile,” Sunny remarked. “But she insisted, ‘No, really, let’s go have tea.’”

This was the beginning of a seven year apprenticeship with Marianne Sarella. Sarella primarily worked out of books passed down through the matriline of her family, extending back some 500 years. As Sunny tells it, Sarella told her that these books (and the women who wrote them) managed to avoid being burned  for witchcraft during the Inquisition. Each generation of women would write a new book, adding their native knowledge, and the oldest of these is illegible. Sarella never let Sunny take notes, insisting that she learn the recipes by heart.

“The one recipe she did give me was Thieves Oil,” Sunny admits. She goes on to explain that Thieves Oil is an anti-microbial oil innovated for grave robbing and plague pillaging during the Middle Ages, and that thieves would cover themselves in it to protect against the “humors” (smells) of diseases associated with the dead and dying.

Just over a century ago, apothecaries and herbalists were everywhere. Now it is a rare opportunity to be able to visit one. An apothecary was the first line of defense against ailments, prescribing herbal compounds that are the foundation of modern pharmacology. These herbs are not patented, nor do they have fancy names, pretty models or commercial spots on television suggesting you speak to your doctor about their efficacy.

Many of Sunny’s customers rely on her compounds, tinctures, creams, and ointments to help maintain their health. In the context of a national discussion over medical costs, cost-effective alternatives to Big Pharma are worth investigating. Sunny knows this, though she distinguishes herself from modern pharmacists as a promoter of overall health, rather than a provider of treatment for illnesses.

There are two important distinctions between traditional medicines and modern pharmacology: the specificity of a drug’s effect, and the premium charged for it.

Bearing this in mind, what does herbalism have on modern pharmacology? Sunny’s argument is concise and diplomatic. She passionately explains her pursuit of the studies published in PubMed.gov, but she stops to make a distinction, “A drug makes your body do something, an herb ‘gentles’ it there. I know that what I do works. I know why it works—These remedies are as precise as I can make them—I strive to blend both traditional herbal lore that has been passed down with what we’ve learned since.”

“All of these things can work harmoniously together if we let them,” she concludes.

 Sunny at The Hidden Alchemist in Pioneer Square.

Sunny at The Hidden Alchemist in Pioneer Square.

Sunny released her first book, For Love of Lavender, with Chatwin in 2015. The book pays homage to a commonly available herb that anyone can incorporate into their home medicine cabinet and kitchen. According to Sunny, for 90% of people, lavender acts as a nervous system calmative. In a country where caffeine intake is very high, lavender has the ability to deploy a neurological parachute, saving our caffeine-sensitive biology from burn-out. Sometimes these little fixes and adjustments can have larger impacts on overall well-being than we expect. Her next book will begin a series with Chatwin Books Publishers, tentatively entitled “The Practical Herbalist,” and will begin with home recipes for salves and oils. The following book will be devoted to tinctures. The third will focus on growing your own herb garden in limited areas, such as an apartment. She also plans to produce a volume devoted to herbs for pregnancy.  

As of May 20th, 2016, The Hidden Alchemist will close its doors in Pioneer Square. The Hidden Alchemist will be moving to a new location in Seattle’s Chinatown district. The new location is yet to be determined, but it is expected to open by the beginning of August, 2016. The online end of the business, however, will continue during the transitional period.

If you’d like to visit The Hidden Alchemist in its current incarnation, they will be open through May 20th. In July they will be exhibiting at the Lavender Festival in Sequim, and should be opening in their new space in late Summer. In between, you can visit online for delivery by mail.

 Sunny Savina Bertollini

Sunny Savina Bertollini

If you'd like to donate to the relocation of The Hidden Alchemist, you may do so at the following URL: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-hidden-alchemist-needs-a-new-home

 

Soft Love for Hard Drugs: A Daughter's Journey to Remember Her Mother

Ariel Herman

By Ariel Herman

   It’s a typical overcast afternoon in downtown Seattle, and Candace Doyal is sorting through old letters that her mother sent from prison. She lets me read through the letters with her, mostly hand-written on legal pad, all with envelopes stamped “State Prison” in red. Doyal culled through them, stacking the letters in two piles, one of which will be considered for her debut photography and prose book, This Thing Is About to End,  on addiction, prison, and family.

    Her lips tighten and eyes mist over from time to time. Words like “disappointment” and “love” emerge as recurring themes. Each is full of promises, many are full of regrets. The letters were sent between 1984 and 2001 while her mother was serving some 15-20 separate prison terms, usually for drugs, sometimes fraud. The tone of the letters contain that deep yearning for her distant  child. Exhausted, we return the letters to their reliquary storage box.

“I was pretty angry and bitter when she would get arrested,” Doyal explains to me from her back porch in West Seattle. She lights a cigarette and continues, “I didn’t really read the letters then. I didn’t take them to heart, because I was frustrated about the situation.”

Doyal,  33, is a photographer and storyteller, as well as part-time bartender, painter, and arborist. She has had a camera around her neck since she was 17. Her photography is a combination of staged scenes and portraiture. “[They’re] images from growing up that have been seared in my mind,” she points out as we thumb through work for the book. A woman sitting reflectively in a prison cell. A bleary-eyed junkie posing on a bed. On the back of the images are raw and plainly written prose that caption each photo like the lonesome wail of a dog barking in the distance. She is a fan of Bukowski, and like him, anyone can pick up her work and feel it.

Compiling this book has been cathartic for Doyal, and yet some childhood wounds still remain. “I’ve always been pretty much an open book,” she explains as she throws a Frisbee for her dog, Jack. “There’s nothing more important than the human connection. I’ve never held back from connecting with people on a deeper level, I can’t help it. On a selfish level, it’s cathartic, on a social level it’s about broadening my community – to open hearts and minds, and to have my heart and mind opened.”

Her book, due to be released by Chatwin in late spring of this year, is memoir with implicit commentary on the criminalization of addiction and of the need for prison reform in the United States. “We just get so stuck as a society, and as individuals… I watched [mom] struggle. I lost faith in people changing,” she pauses. “Then I worked for a non-profit that did post-release assistance work, and I watched people start over. They were given a new lease on life. It changed my world. I realized that I can have an impact.”

Programs like these are deeply impactful, and those who manage to get into them rarely suffer from recidivism. Doyal’s mother never went through such a program. As a result, she repeatedly returned to prison, leaving her daughter to be raised by her grandparents and surrounding community. Still, the letters arrived in her mailbox from her lonely, struggling mother.

Candace herself once served a week in jail. She was so ashamed that she didn’t call anyone to bail her out. It gave her a sense of what her mom went through. Doyal realized this wasn’t the life she wanted, and felt the experience provided perspective on how her mom must have felt, stuck behind bars with a daughter growing up outside in the world. “Mom must have had so many layers of guilt – it makes total sense why she went back to heroin over and over again. How do you move through that stuff? Especially when you’re doing it to yourself over and over again.”

Doyal’s experience being raised by addicted parents parallels a major topic in the American popular discourse, namely prison reform. Her mother’s perpetual recidivism caused serious problems for Candace. “The lack of stability fucked with me really bad. Because of the way I grew up, I learned to pay very close attention to my surroundings.” Her face softens then, remembering better times, “We went to tons of NA and AA meetings. Big biker dudes would throw me over their shoulder and carry me around. It was a very diverse,very honest, loving crowd. The message I always got was be your best for people, and help when you can – and if you’re gonna break the law, only break one at a time.” Laughing now, “You don’t speed and not wear your seatbelt.”

“No one could love me as much as my mother loved me,” Doyal tells me. Behind the words are both plain fact and a winning attitude

Throughout our interview, I keep seeing her dip into pools of painful emotions, then reach up and out beyond the shadowy canopy into sunlight. “It’s also about having faith – and I’m not talking about religion,” she smiles. Despite the almost complete absence of her mom, Doyal was bolstered by her community and bears the mark of the many gifts of generosity that have been the guiding stars of her life.

“I’ve been very fortunate with the people who were more evolved than me, emotionally and otherwise, who pulled me up, and really encouraged me when they didn’t need to.” She recounts, “…I had a surrogate, regular family – white picket fence, everyone brushed their teeth, went to school – all that. I did chores. And went to lots of therapy. From the time I turned 15, there was a progression of deaths. It occurred to me that Mom wasn’t gonna be around forever. So I got into therapy, because she was getting out soon and I wanted to have some sort of relationship with her that wasn’t pissed off and angry.”

In 2001, Doyal’s mother was released from prison for the last time. After years of letters, prison visits, and continual recidivism, Candace finally got to spend one-on-one time with her mother. She describes the time as cathartic and deeply rewarding. It went on for two months. “We experienced a lot in a short amount of time.” Then, her mom stopped answering calls.

When the calls remained unanswered, Candace went over to her mom’s trailer to check on her. Her car was in the driveway, and she could hear the phone ringing inside. Breaking into the trailer with a screwdriver, she immediately saw an arm dangling over the bed. Her mom had died of an unknown cause—the investigation is still “pending”. She was just 40; Candace was 19. This moment underscored a deep pain that has driven Candace to create work that addresses the many questions surrounding her mom, principally the nature of addiction, what society is doing about it, and what can we personally do about it.

Out on the back deck, Doyal lights another cigarette. She tells me she likes to write here, in the back yard, with Jack by her feet, smoking a cigarette and drinking thick coffee. Her favorite word is “perseverance.” Returning to the subject of her mother, she affirms, “There was nobody I wanted in my life more. She was my greatest gift and my greatest heartache. But also, when she died, there was this weight that was lifted. She wasn’t hurting me anymore.”

Despite the tumultuous subject material, her work is movingly optimistic and powerfully frank, best explained by a quote from one of Doyal’s favorite authors, Kahlil Gibran, “The deeper sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain.”

Doyal used this quote in post-interview correspondence and explained, “This is about embracing everything that life throws at you, for better or worse. It’s kind of about taking the judgment out of any given situation and letting the experience be the experience. It is about how experience, “good” or “bad,” breeds depth and a well-balanced, empathetic nature toward the world. Acceptance and growth and tolerance.”

Mitch Hedberg once joked that alcoholism was the one disease you could get yelled at for having—the same could be said for any addiction. Doyal’s work provides occasion for the viewer to think and feel about how families, and specifically children, are affected by the criminalization of addiction. Less than outright policy change, the work by its very nature can serve to inspire a timely and productive conversation about how we approach the treatment of addiction.