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Photo of Annabelle Cone, instructor of French
Annabelle Cone

Holding Court is an interview series that features the authors of the new books on display in the King Arthur Flour café in Baker-Berry Library.

In this week's edition, we speak with Annabelle Cone, comics scholar and instructor of French, who not only studies and teaches graphic novels, but created her own.  Empty Nesting, a graphic memoir, explores episodes in Cone's life with wit, insight, and humanity.

What is your book about?

Life after divorce at fifty, with a gay roommate and a grown daughter in a big old farmhouse in rural New Hampshire. Being in charge of it all, all of a sudden.

Where did you get your ideas for this book?

My own life!  But also from reading other people's graphic memoirs. I love self-deprecating humor and not taking one's personal crises too seriously.

What does research look like for you? What element of research could you not live without?

The book is a memoir, very much inspired by autobiographical feminist theory (which I have worked on in the past), and by graphic memoirs written by famous authors like Boulet, Gabrielle Bell, Julia Wertz and Allison Bechdel. The practice of writing a graphic novel came directly from the practice of teaching and researching the genre.

What do you think the library of the future will look like?

I hope very much like the library of the present. We need to keep reading books, but also designing books, book covers, page layouts, and to have a sense of organization of a book, from the preface, to the introduction, to the end notes, to the bibliography and the blurb on the back cover.

 What advice would you give to an aspiring scholar or writer?

Stick with it and don't doubt yourself. We need scholars and writers to explain the world and make sense of its many complications.

And finally, what do you read for fun?

If I had more time, I would dig into the many novels coming from Africa and Asia (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Haruki Murakami, to name the most famous). If I had more shelf space, I would acquire more graphic novels.