Monday, June 27, 2016

Pamela Erens

Pamela Erens's new novel is Eleven Hours.

From her Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:

To me, pregnancy and giving birth were the most profound states of my being. It changed everything. And I think in Eleven Hours, you’ve captured absolutely everything about its nature. Did anything take you by surprise as you were writing? Some subliminal memory?

Not really! I guess I’ve permanently forgotten whatever I’ve forgotten about my own childbirth experiences. I think it’s useful for writers to have highly selective memories, actually. What sticks is what’s has a certain heat to it, a resonance. It becomes usable as material, even if in very altered form. The birth in Eleven Hours resembles the ones I went through only glancingly. I tried to draw on my memory of what contractions felt like—which was difficult, as pain is hard to reconstruct when it’s over. But other than that, Lore’s labor is a complete invention: something I felt could happen in just that way.

This novel is a slim one, yet it’s so crushingly powerful, I don’t see how you could have made it longer. I’m wondering if writing it was in any way like childbirth?

Well, I did try to make the book longer! I was worried about it being too short to be considered a novel, yet it obviously wasn’t a short story. I tormented myself by looking up definitions of the novel: “over 40,000 words” “over 60,000 words,” and so forth. Every time I added material, I thought: Great! But within days I would have cut something else. And now whatever word count it came to—I no longer even know—seems utterly irrelevant.

How writing this book was like childbirth: The process...[read on]
Visit Pamela Erens's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Janet B. Taylor

Janet B. Taylor is the author of Into the Dim.

From her Q & A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Into the Dim, and for your main character, Hope?

A: [I thought,] “I’d like to see what would happen if you took a modern teenager and thrust them into the Middle Ages, and see how they would deal with it."

As far as Hope goes, I had her in mind for a long time. I adore all those awesome kick-ass heroines in literature nowadays.

But...most of us are not sword or martial art experts, trained since birth to be killers. Many of us at that age were awkward and socially inept. Hope is all that, plus a big old bunch of phobias.

The only thing she has going for her is...[read on]
Visit Janet B. Taylor's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Wesley Chu

Wesley Chu's new book is The Rise of Io, the first in a new series set in the same world as his breakthrough Tao trilogy. From his Q & A with Joel Cunningham for the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog:

After three books, we thought we were done with the Tao universe. Did you? When did you realize there was more story to tell?

I remember writing the The Rebirths of Tao’s epilogue and getting a little melancholy. Roen will forever be my firstborn, and I love him like I love Eva, and people who follow me on Twitter know I Dean Koontz-level love my dog. But I feel like I left him in a good place.

If you think about it, the guy had something like a thirty-five year arc in the trilogy. That’s a solid run. I’ve put him through the ringer more times than I could count. Not gonna lie; I get a really weird joy out of kicking his ass.

Way I figure, the dude deserves a break, his pizza, and an occasional cameo to yell at the kids to get off his lawn. Same with Tao. I think I explored their relationship to the fullest. It’s time to see what the other Quasing are up to.

As for realizing I had more stories to tell, the original book two for the Tao series was The Lives of Baji. That obviously never happened, but I have always wanted to continue the story from another Quasing’s point of view.

I’m really sorry that point of view ended up being Io. Oops.

What sets the Io books apart from the Tao trilogy?

Roen is by far my readers’ favorite character. He’s lovable, honest, clumsy, and sometimes dumb as a cardboard box. You never question his heart, though. He’s a solid guy who...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 24, 2016

Sarah McCoy

Sarah McCoy is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee; the novella “The Branch of Hazel” in Grand Central; The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico; and The Mapmaker’s Children (Crown, 2015).

Her work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post and other publications. McCoy has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She calls Virginia home but presently lives with her husband, an Army physician, and their dog, Gilly, in El Paso, Texas.

From McCoy's Q & A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Why did you decide to pair the stories of Sarah Brown, daughter of the 19th century abolitionist John Brown, and Eden Anderson, a fictional modern-day woman?

A: I’m spellbound by this interplay—by the impact of Sarah Brown on us, the contemporary Eden Andersons of today….Sarah Brown and Eden Anderson mirror each other in so many subtle ways. The beauty of their interwoven story is how readers interpret their reflection….

They differ in the way each of us differs from our neighbor, our sister, our friend, even the closest person to us. Because our life recipes are composed of different ingredients, in a different timing, and influenced by external and internal components that we might not ...[read on]
Visit Sarah McCoy’s website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico.

The Page 69 Test: The Baker's Daughter.

Coffee with a Canine: Sarah McCoy and Gilbert.

The Page 69 Test: The Mapmaker's Children.

My Book, The Movie: The Mapmaker’s Children.

Writers Read: Sarah McCoy (May 2015).

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Margaret Dilloway

Margaret Dilloway has been a writer ever since she learned how to write. In high school she was a California Arts Scholar in creative writing and she won a National Council of Teachers of English writing award. She practiced writing in a variety of forms, such as being a theater critic and a contributing editor for two weekly newspapers, doing technical writing, and writing plays, before publishing three critically acclaimed books for adults: How to Be an American Housewife, The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns, and Sisters of Heart and Snow. Her research for Momotaro: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters included a trip to Japan and a samurai sword-fighting class. Dilloway lives in southern California with her husband, three children, and a goldendoodle named Gatsby.

From Dilloway's Q & A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Sisters of Heart and Snow follows women in two different time periods. How did you come up with the idea for the book and for its structure?

A: My mother was from a samurai family so I knew I wanted to write something along those lines. I looked up "samurai women" and found Tomoe Gozen, who lived in the 12th century, and wanted to write about her. She was a female captain, said to be the best archer in Japan, an incredible swordswoman, and...[read on]
Visit Margaret Dilloway's website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Dilloway and Gatsby.

My Book, The Movie: The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns.

The Page 69 Test: The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns.

My Book, The Movie: Sisters of Heart and Snow.

The Page 69 Test: Momotaro: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters.

My Book, The Movie: Momotaro: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters.

Writers Read: Margaret Dilloway.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Yona Zeldis McDonough

Yona Zeldis McDonough is the author of novels such as A Wedding in Great Neck and You Were Meant for Me as well as dozens of books for children. She is the editor of and a contributor to The Barbie Chronicles: A Living Doll Turns Forty, as well as All the Available Light: A Marilyn Monroe Reader.

McDonough's latest novel is The House on Primrose Pond.

From the author's Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:

Q: Why did you choose New Hampshire as the location for your novel?

A: I have set my past six novels in and around New York City. This was less an active decision and more of a default position. Setting in a novel should function almost as a “character”, and to make that “character” come alive, you have to know it well—the sights, sounds and smells of a place. Since I was raised in New York and have lived here for most of my life, writing a New York setting came effortlessly to me. But recently I began to chafe at that very ease and wanted to push my own boundaries. I turned to New Hampshire because it’s a state I have come to love. My husband is from Portsmouth, NH and we have visited and spent time there during the course of our marriage. And for many years, we rented a cottage in an enchanted, lakeside spot and that is where I chose to set The House on Primrose Pond. I knew the place intimately, and so I could write about it with confidence and with passion. I wanted the place to come alive to the reader, and in order to make that happen, it had to be fully, gloriously alive to me.

Q: The story is mainly told from a single point of view, with one exception. Care to comment?

A: The story is mostly Susannah’s: how she copes when she loses her husband in a bicycle accident, how she feels as she attempts to rebuild her life in a new place. But the character of Alice, the elderly neighbor who at first offers friendship but later seems almost a threat, needed some greater explanation and I could only do that if I wrote a couple of chapters from her point of view. Without a glimpse into her heart and soul, Alice’s behavior toward Susannah and more importantly her daughter Calista, could seem questionable, and even malign. I did not...[read on]
Learn more about the author and her work at Yona Zeldis McDonough's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Yona Zeldis McDonough & Willa and Holden.

Writers Read: Yona Zeldis McDonough.

The Page 69 Test: The House on Primrose Pond.

My Book, The Movie: The House on Primrose Pond.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

Miranda Beverly-Whittemore's new novel is June.

From her Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:

I love the whole idea of old Hollywood glamour and I bet the research was a hoot. How did you research this? What surprised you about the research (or better yet, disturbed you?)

I’ve long been obsessed with celebrity. Maybe as a little girl I wanted to be rich and famous (one of my first memories is oohhhing and ahhhing over Princess Diana’s wedding on a newsreel, projected on a bed sheet in the backyard of the British Embassy in Dakar, Senegal), but I quickly realized how unpleasant so many aspects of that life are, and the whole idea of being watched all the time still terrifies me.

Then, after my first novel came out, I was a co-producer on a short adaptation of that book to film, and had my first experience on a real Hollywood set. It was enchanting to watch the well-oiled machine that filmmaking is (especially as a writer who spends most of my time as a maker completely by myself) —everyone has their specific job, and when all those jobs are fitted together, the whole thing works. I realized I wanted to write not just about celebrity, but about a film set, and I thought there was no better witness to such a place than a child who gets to be a part of it.

In June, there are two generations of celebrities—in the modern day, two sisters, one an A-lister a la Jennifer Aniston, and the other a character based on Carrie Fisher; at the beginning of the book, you discover they’re the daughters of the movie star who is the celebrity in the book’s 1955, a matinee idol named Jack Montgomery. Having a family of movie stars across sixty years gave me the opportunity...[read on]
Visit Miranda Beverly-Whittemore's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 20, 2016

Mark Singer

Mark Singer has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1974. His new book is Trump and Me.

From Singer's Q & A with Rachel Cooke for the Guardian:

In his introduction to your book, the editor of the New Yorker, David Remnick, traces Trump’s decision to stand for president to the 2011 White House correspondents’ dinner, when Obama made jokes about him. [In a dig at Trump’s obsession with his citizenship, Obama said he was ready to make his “birth video” public; he then showed a clip from The Lion King.] Do you agree that humiliation was the spur?

It’s not clear. In terms of his ego, that would mean he felt those jokes, and I doubt he can feel anything. But if you see the video of him, he’s seething. Watch it on YouTube. It’s terrific!...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Alison Umminger

Alison Umminger is the author of American Girls. From her Q & A with Melissa Albert at the BN Teen blog:

American Girls has some of the trappings of a sunny, more traditional story—the cute famous guy, the glamorous location—but it takes a darker, unexpected path. How much of the story’s shape did you know going in?

I guess that I’m what they call a “pants-er” in that I rarely know what I’m going to write when I start a book. I had Anna and her voice in my head for a very long time, but originally she had a dead mom and a Marilyn Monroe obsession, both of which seem kind of absurd when I think about where the actual novel went. For a long time, too, I wanted her to be in love with Dex, her sister’s boyfriend, but those interactions just kept skewing creepy. The book took on a life of its own when I was writing the scene on the roof where Anna first meets her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Roger, again, and he tells her that she’s “kind of like a Manson girl.” I honestly believe there’s something outside the writer about writing, because I really did feel like the book told me exactly what it wanted to do next from that point on. My biggest concern was that in spite of the dark material, the book did not glorify or glamorize those murders, even as I sought to find...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Jennifer Gilmore

Jennifer Gilmore's new YA novel is We Were Never Here.

From her Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:

Every novel seems to spark from something that haunted the writer. What sparked you to write this?

That’s very true. I was quite sick in my twenties. What happened to me haunted and invigorated me, like our past always does. I wanted it to take place fictionally though in a time when it would be most shocking. Being sick as a young person is a strange thing, but when you are 16, as Lizzie is here, and you’re not yet comfortable in your skin, that’s a terrible thing. So what if your illness is what, in the end, gives you the power to actually be yourself? I wanted to look at that. How you get power out of being powerless.

I have to ask about the title, which I love with a passion. Can you talk about that please?

Titles are difficult. I’m so glad you like it! I was thinking about Lizzie wishing this time in her life had never happened. But if it had never happened then the wonderful things that came out of that experience—falling in love, making friends, becoming open to life, really—wouldn’t have happened either. She only realizes this later. For a long time she wishes none of it had happened, and the boy she meets has his own secrets , a past he wishes he had not been present for as well.

Illness, especially long-term or chronic, is like being in another country where you don’t know the language, and you captured it absolutely perfectly. What was it like to write about?

Writing about being sick...[read on]
Visit Jennifer Gilmore's website.

--Marshal Zeringue