Monday, October 24, 2016

Gayle Forman

Gayle Forman is a journalist and award-winning and New York Times bestselling author whose many young adult novels include I Was Here, Just One Day, and If I Stay, which was also a major motion picture. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Forman's new novel is Leave Me.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Leave Me, and for your main character, Maribeth?

A: Several years ago I was on a family vacation when I started having chest pains. This was frightening for a number of reasons—my mother had her first bypass surgery at 48 in spite of having no visible risk factors or symptoms—but also because I had two young children.

If I needed this intense surgery, who would take care of my children? Who would take care of me? I was the default mom who worked from home. I did everything. The book began almost as a revenge fantasy, but when it turned out my heart was fine, it went into the drawer.

It came out years later, this time with Maribeth. I had some things to say about parenthood and the assumption we still have that mothers are the default parent and should martyr themselves for their families and sacrifice themselves. I wanted to look at what happens when...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Gayle Forman's website.

The Page 69 Test: If I Stay.

The Page 69 Test: Where She Went.

The Page 69 Test: Leave Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tim Harford

Tim Harford's new book is Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives.

From the transcript of his interview with NPR's Michel Martin:

MARTIN: So your book opens with a story that I had not heard before about the jazz pianist Keith Jarrett and the concert that almost didn't happen but gave us his most popular work, one of the most popular pieces in piano jazz. Actually, let me just play a little bit of it.


MARTIN: So the story - as I said, it's really fascinating. I had never heard this before, that he - could you just give me the short version? He shows up to play a late-night concert and the instrument is terrible, and you take it from there.

HARFORD: It's unplayable. There's been a mix-up. It's too quiet. It's out of tune. The pedals are sticking. And initially, he just refuses to play. But in the end, he's guilt-tripped into it. And because of all the adjustments he has to make in playing this piano, he finds a new way to play. And it is the most popular solo piano work, the most popular solo jazz work in history. But it was only recorded because Keith Jarrett thought it would be a disaster and he wanted documentary evidence of what a musical catastrophe sounds like. So it's a brilliant example that having to cope with all kinds of problems and imperfections can make us more creative.

MARTIN: What does messiness do for you that tidiness does not?

HARFORD: So one of the things is it is just helping you...[read on]
Visit Tim Harford's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Tim Harford: top 10 undercover economics books.

The Page 69 Test: The Undercover Economist.

The Page 69 Test: The Logic of Life.

The Page 99 Test: Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure.

The Page 99 Test: The Undercover Economist Strikes Back.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Andrew Nagorski

Andrew Nagorski's latest book is The Nazi Hunters.

From his Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Why did you decide to focus on the Nazi hunters, and how did you research the book?

A: As a foreign correspondent, I often found myself examining the legacy of the war and the Holocaust. After the Nuremberg and Dachau trials, the victors in World War II were quick to turn their attention to the Cold War and largely lost interest in bringing Nazi criminals to justice.

Defying that trend, a relatively small group of men and women known as Nazi hunters dedicated their lives to making sure that there was some measure of justice—and fought against forgetting.

The hunted, those who participated in mass murder, are always a subject of morbid fascination. But I feel strongly that the hunters also deserve our attention. They are the ones who made Germans and so many others acknowledge and deal with their recent past, which is the first step towards learning the lessons of history.

Of course the era of Nazi hunting is coming to a natural end soon because there will no more Nazi war criminals still living. As a result, the story of the hunters and the hunted can now be told almost in its entirety. As a writer, I saw this as an opportunity to weave a narrative spanning the whole postwar era.

To do so, I needed to meet the surviving Nazi hunters in Europe, Israel and the United States and get their first-hand stories...[read on]
Visit Andrew Nagorski's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 21, 2016

Beth Macy

Beth Macy is the author of Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South.

From the transcript of her Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross:

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. And if you're just joining us, my guest is Beth Macy, author of the new book "Truevine." And it's the true story of two albino African-American brothers, George and Willie Muse, who spent much of their lives in freak shows in the first half of the 20th century. And the larger story she's telling here is about race, class and entertainment in the first half of the 20th century. So at some point they're reunited with their mother by accident. They're performing in a - was it a carnival or a circus? - in Roanoke, where their mother now lived.

MACY: Right. It's 1927. Roanoke is this - was once a really booming city, and it's now big enough that it can play host to the big one or the Greatest Show on Earth, which was Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. And somehow it came to her attention that the circus was in town. Remember, she couldn't read. She told relatives that it came to her in a dream that the circus was in town and her boys were on it. And she was going to go get them.

GROSS: And she did. How did she do it?

MACY: So she found her way to the fairgrounds in Roanoke, Va., which was just in the southern part of downtown. It was also the site of a roaring KKK rally soon before. And during that era when a carnival would come and play a show for a week, there would be one day that African-Americans would be allowed to attend. But on circus day, a big circus like Ringling would only stay one day and they'd go to the next location. And so there was seating in the back of the big top for African-Americans to sit.

And the side sideshow was the one place I was told where segregation codes would sort of break down because...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Abby Geni

Abby Geni is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the recipient of an Iowa Fellowship. “Captivity” won first place in the Glimmer Train Fiction Open and was included in The Best American Short Stories 2010; it was also selected for inclusion in New Stories from the Midwest.

She is the author of the novel The Lightkeepers and the story collection The Last Animal.

From Geni's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Lightkeepers, and for your main character, Miranda?

A: The whole thing began with my love of mysteries. A few years ago, I read everything by Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer and Dorothy Sayers, and I became enamored with the perfect architecture of a mystery plot, in which everything that happens has to happen. Even the red herrings and tangents of the story must be there to enhance the tension and keep up the suspense.

I knew that I wanted to write my favorite kind of mystery, which takes place in an enclosed setting with a limited array of suspects. That idea simmered on a back burner of my brain for a long while before I began writing The Lightkeepers.

As far as my discovery of Miranda, I came to know her through her letters. The novel is epistolary - written in the form of letters Miranda is penning to her dead mother - which gave me a unique window into her mind. I loved getting to know her through what she chose to write to her mother and how she chose to describe her daily life.

It's not the easiest way to create a book, and I don't know that I'd tackle an epistolary novel again, but...[read on]
Visit Abby Geni's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Lightkeepers.

Writers Read: Abby Geni.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen's new memoir is Born to Run.

From his Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross:

GROSS: So do you think that your stage persona draws both from, like, the angry and uninhibited side of you and the more inhibited, timid side of you?

SPRINGSTEEN: I think it's both there. I think if you just - you know, I think plenty of folks if you just looked at the outside, it can read - you know, it's pretty alpha male - you know? which is - is a little ironic because, you know, it's - that was personally never exactly really me. I think I created my particular stage persona out of my dad's life. And perhaps I even built it to suit him to some degree. I was looking for - when I was looking for a voice to mix with my voice, I put on my father's work clothes, as I say in the book, and I went to work. Whether it was the result of wanting to emulate him so I felt closer or whether it was - I wanted - as I say in the book, I wanted to be the reasonable voice of revenge for what I'd seen his life come to. It was all of these things. And it was an unusual creation, but most of these - most people's stage personas are created out of the flotsam and jetsam of their internal geography. And they're trying to - they're trying to create something that solves a series of very complex problems inside of them or in their history. And I think when I unknowingly - when I went to do that, that's what I was - I was trying to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tina Connolly

Tina Connolly's new novel is Seriously Shifted,a sequel to Seriously Wicked.

From the author's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: The books combine magic with the everyday activities of a high school girl. What do you see as the right balance between the two?

A: When I studied at Clarion West a decade ago, Maureen McHugh mentioned that it was important to remember that everyone should have to deal with their real life, even if they get to go on magical adventures.

We all have to pay the rent and go to the dentist and so on. Or, in the case of Cam, go to a tedious American History class and make sure she’s passing Algebra. It was important to me to not give her a ...[read on]
Visit Tina Connolly's website and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Tina Connolly (May 2015).

My Book, The Movie: Seriously Wicked.

The Page 69 Test: Seriously Wicked.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 17, 2016

Emily Ross

Emily Ross received a 2014 Massachusetts Cultural Council finalist award in fiction for her novel Half in Love with Death. Her fiction and nonfiction have been published in Boston Magazine, Menda City Review, and The Smoking Poet. She is an editor and contributor at Dead Darlings, a website dedicated to discussing the craft of novel writing. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Massachusetts Boston, and is a 2012 graduate of Grub Street’s Novel Incubator program.

From her Q & A with Christina Casano at Girls in Capes:

Girls in Capes: I wanted to ask you about how you came across this story. It’s based on a real person, right?

Emily Ross: It is, actually. It’s kind of an interesting story. I had written two novels that were sort of similar to this one, but they were just failures – I couldn’t figure out how to plot them. So I was talking to my sister, kind of complaining, and she said, “You should take a true crime and use that for your plot, then you would have a plot.” And she said, “Not only that, but I know one you should use.”

And she told me that when she was twelve years old she had been obsessed with this sensational murder that was in the news about this guy, this serial killer that they called The Pied Piper of Tuscon. She said she had read the article over and over and it absolutely terrified her and I was fascinated because for one, I had never heard of this and my sister and I were fairly close, and I had no idea she had this obsession.

So that set off, okay I’m going to find out more about this. It’s about this man named Charles Schmid. He was 23 and in 1964 – and this is pretty creepy – but he killed a fifteen-year-old girl named Aileen Rowe and buried her in the desert, and he actually did it with two friends, and it was just a totally cold crime to see what it felt like to kill someone. And then a year later he killed his seventeen-year-old girlfriend, Gretchen Fritz, and her younger sister Wendy, who was thirteen.

The thing that really fascinated me was that...[read on]
Visit the official Emily Ross website.

The Page 69 Test: Half In Love With Death.

Writers Read: Emily Ross.

My Book, The Movie: Half In Love With Death.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Leslie Connor

Leslie Connor is the author of All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your new book, and for the idea of a boy growing up in a prison?

A: The little seed of an idea started with an article in The New York Times about a long-time inmate at Bedford Hills, which is a prison for women in New York state. It was a story of radicalism, violence, defiance, redemption, and surprisingly, excellence.

One very poignant part of the story was about how this woman had a young daughter on the outside and how she managed to be a good parent to her child from behind bars. That struggle gave me the child-centered part of the story.

Q: The book focuses on the idea of a home, and what a home can mean. What do you think readers might take away from the book?

A: I think it’s possible they will go away from this read with an expanded viewpoint on what...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Rogers Brubaker

Rogers Brubaker's latest book is Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities. From his Q&A with Debra Liese at the Princeton University Press blog:

This book has taken you into new territory. What drew you to the subject?

RB: In the summer of 2015 I became fascinated by the intertwined debates about whether Caitlyn Jenner could legitimately identify as a woman and Rachel Dolezal as black. The debates were dominated by efforts to validate or invalidate the identities claimed by Jenner and Dolezal. But at the same time they raised deeper questions about the similarities and differences between gender and race in an age of massively unsettled identities. I had planned to spend the summer months working on a completely different project, but this “trans moment” afforded a unique opportunity to think systematically about sex and gender in relation to race and ethnicity as embodied identities that are increasingly – yet in differing ways and to differing degrees – understood as open to choice and change.

You begin with the pairing of “transgender” and “transracial” in the debates about Jenner and Dolezal. One common trope in the debates was that transracial is “not a thing.” Do you disagree?

RB: Of course transracial is not a “thing” in the same sense as transgender: there’s...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue