Monday, August 20, 2018

Cherise Wolas

Cherise Wolas's new novel is The Family Tabor.

From her Q&A with Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl:

GG: To what extent does grammar play a role in character development and voice?

CW: The deep-diving I do into the marrows of the people in my novels—I never call them characters because they are completely real and alive to me—organically creates their unique voices, their specific cadences of thought and speech, which includes how they grammatically express themselves. The particular voices come naturally, but then I work very, very, very hard to get each voice absolutely right; every interiority and every line of dialogue must belong to that particular person, and could not be thought or spoken by any other person in the book.

I feel incredibly fortunate that the ways in which my fictional people think and express themselves, affects readers so much they feel my people jumping off the page and into their own lives. With The Resurrection of Joan Ashby, I’ve received many requests from readers asking where they can purchase the story collections and novels written by Joan Ashby and excerpted in the book. This lets me know that I made Joan Ashby fully real and completely alive. This overwhelming response is joyous to a writer. And the same incredible response seems to be happening with The Family Tabor, for...[read on]
Visit Cherise Wolas's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Resurrection of Joan Ashby.

The Page 69 Test: The Family Tabor.

Writers Read: Cherise Wolas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Christina June

Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor. She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become – whether it’s her students or her characters.

June is a voracious reader, loves to travel, eats too many cupcakes, and hopes to one day be bicoastal – the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland. She lives in Virginia with her husband and daughter.

Her debut novel, It Started with Goodbye, was released in May 2017; the newly released Everywhere You Want to Be is its companion.

From June's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Everywhere You Want to Be, a modern-day Little Red Riding Hood story?

A: I knew Tilly, the "evil" stepsister from my first book It Started With Goodbye, had a story to tell, and after going with my good friend, Lisa Maxwell, on a research trip to New York (for her New York Times bestseller The Last Magician), I wanted to write a New York book too!

And what better substitute for the evil forest in Little Red Riding Hood than the skyscrapers of NYC? The rest just fell into place as I began to brainstorm.

Q: What did you see as the right blend of the traditional fairy tale and your new characters?

A: A lot of fairy tales we loved as children have just a few really recognizable elements, but when you dig deeper, it's the themes that stick with us.

I wanted to make sure the things we associate with the story were there--the red cape, the big bad wolf, Grandma, the basket of bread--but...[read on]
Visit Christina June's website.

Writers Read: Christina June.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Vince Beiser

Vince Beiser's new book is The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How It Transformed Civilization.

From his interview with NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro:

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I want to start with the obvious. How are we running out of sand? It would seem to be an infinite resource.

BEISER: It would seem. Well, in fact, there is an awful lot of sand in the world. It's, in fact, the most abundant thing on the planet. But at the end of the day, there's only so much of it like anything else in the world. And how we can be running out of it is it's also the resource that we consume more of than anything else except for air and water. So you put it all together, especially concrete, and we are using 50 billion tons of sand every year. That's enough sand to cover the entire state of California.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Wow. And there are different types of sand, though. You point out in your book sand in water is more important for industrial use than desert sand.

BEISER: Yeah. One of the great ironies of the whole issue is desert sand, which, you know, we have so much of, is basically useless. And the reason for that is the No. 1 thing that we use sand for is making concrete. And desert sand is too round to work in concrete. Desert sand has been worn down through thousands of years of erosion by wind tumbling and tumbling it and tumbling it. So the grains - the actual grains themselves end up kind of rounded with their edges and corners broken off, whereas sand that you find in riverbeds and on beaches and at the bottom of the ocean is more angular. So it locks together much better to form concrete.

It's like the difference between...[read on]
Visit Vince Beiser's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 17, 2018

Keith O'Brien

Keith O'Brien's new book is Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History.

From his Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Fly Girls, and how did you choose the five women to write about?

A: I stumbled upon this idea by accident in the spring of 2016. I read a stray line in another book – a line that mentioned a female air race in 1929.

To be honest, I had never heard of such a thing. So I dug down a little. And then I dug a little more. And then I went to the library and I stayed there, spending long nights in newspaper archives. It quickly became clear to me that this was an important story that needed to be told.

Choosing the characters – really focusing the story – was the next step. Lots of women flew airplanes between 1927 and 1937 – the decade when Fly Girls takes place.

Who do you include? Especially when each of them is so fascinating? And who do you leave out? This is where it’s important to know your story, know your narrative.

Once I knew that, it was pretty simple to figure out which characters mattered. I was telling a story about women fighting for the right to fly and race airplanes. You can’t do that without...[read on]
Visit Keith O'Brien's website.

The Page 99 Test: Outside Shot.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Cynthia Miller-Idriss

Cynthia Miller-Idriss is the author of The Extreme Gone Mainstream: Commercialization and Far Right Youth Culture in Germany.

From her Q&A at the Princeton University Press website:

Why did you write this book?

I stumbled across the new forms of commercialization analyzed in this book while I was sorting through photographers’ databases in search of a cover photo for my first book. I was immediately hooked—fascinated by how much had changed in German far right subculture since I had completed my prior fieldwork five years earlier. The skinhead aesthetic that had dominated the youth scene since the 1980s had all but disappeared, and was replaced with mainstream-style, high-quality commercial brands laced with far right ideology, symbols, and codes. I planned to write an article about it, but the project wouldn’t let me go. I literally found myself waking up in the middle of the night thinking about the codes, trying to disentangle their meanings and wondering whether youth even understood them. I felt compelled to understand it, and that’s what led to this book.

How does the coding work within the commercial products?

The brands and products encode historical and contemporary far right, nationalistic, racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, and white supremacist references into...[read on]
Visit Cynthia Miller-Idriss's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Extreme Gone Mainstream.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Helaine Becker

Helaine Becker is the author of the new children's picture book, Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Why did you decide to write a children's picture book about the mathematician Katherine Johnson?

A: I was working on another book about space for National Geographic when I stumbled across a brief snippet on line about Katherine Johnson. This was well before Hidden Figures came out, so there was almost nothing out there about her. I was smitten. I wanted to make sure everyone else out there knew how amazing she was!

Throw in the mix that I am a staunch feminist and sick and tired that women's accomplishments - minorities too - are continuously erased from the record. I wanted to set the record straight.

Q: How did you research the book?

A: Katherine Johnson was 96 years old at that time. It wasn't easy to find her - she...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tim Harford

Tim Harford's latest book is Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy.

From his interview with Fareed Zakaria:

ZAKARIA: Steam engines, silicon chips, social media, these are the sorts of inventions that people point to when asked what made the modern economy, but the undercover economist Jim Harford looks at the subject differently. He always puts a twist on any subject he covers and that's why I love reading his columns in the "FT" and his books.

His latest book is called "50 Inventions That Shape the Modern Economy."

Tim Harford, so you have figured out what are the 50 inventions that shaped the modern economy. Actually they are the fun ones. This is sort of--


TIM HARFORD: Yes. Yes. Not the steam engine, not the motor car, the ones that we don't appreciate, the ones that we overlook. The bar code or barbed wire or one of my favorites is paper. It's--

ZAKARIA: Paper? Explain that.

HARFORD: Well, when I started looking on this book, "50 Inventions," people said you must talk about the Gutenberg press, the movable type printing press that was revolutionary, it was disruptive, the novel, the newspaper, all of this was made possible by the printing press. And of course, that's true but the whole point of the printing press is it's a way of mass producing writing and there is no point in mass producing writing unless you can also mass produce a writing surface.

And that's paper, and if you try to use a printing press on, say, animal skin parchment or silk, you can do it, technically it works, economically completely impossible. So then paper was just a wonderful symbol to me of an invention that's very inexpensive, it's quite simple and it's disruptive, it's important because it's so inexpensive.

ZAKARIA: And the gramophone. Another strange invention to my mind, why do you think it defined or -- you know, the modern world?

HARFORD: Well, the thing about the gramophone is...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at 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.

Writers Read: Tim Harford (February 2014).

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 13, 2018

Nicola Cornick

Nicola Cornick is a writer and historian who was born and brought up in the north of England. Her new novel is The Phantom Tree.

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

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Phantom Tree, and for your character Alison?

A: A number of threads came together to form The Phantom Tree. I’ve always been interested in the lesser-known figures from history, especially women whose stories have been lost from the historical record.

One of these was Mary Seymour, the daughter of Queen Katherine Parr and Thomas Seymour. There is no account of what happened to Mary beyond the age of about three and I found this fascinating and was increasingly drawn to tell her story.

At the same time I saw a little portrait on the wall of my uncle’s house. He had picked it up in a market and was excited to find it had an inscription on the back claiming that it was a picture of Anne Boleyn.

Being a writer with a penchant for mysteries I started to speculate: Was it really a lost portrait of Anne or could it be some other Tudor lady? Mary Seymour, perhaps… And the story started to grow from there.

When I first started writing the book it was all about Mary, and Alison was a minor character but...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Megan Abbott

Megan Abbott's new novel is Give Me Your Hand.

From the transcript of her interview with NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro:

GARCIA-NAVARRO: .... You've set mysteries in gymnastics clubs and cheerleading teams and now the oh-so-brutally competitive science academic community. But your work focuses on this fine line between friendship and rivalry, and you do this so well. How do you explore what's almost a trope about women without making it a trope?

ABBOTT: Yeah. It is really tricky. I mean, there's that phrase that sort of gets bandied around - frenemy, you know? - for those women in our lives who we are very close to. But there is that competitive instinct. And I think part of it is that - is still, as a culture, women are not supposed to be ambitious or competitive in the same way. And when they are, it's frightening. So it gets sort of subverted or pushed down or suppressed. And then, when it does emerge, it can emerge in odd ways. And I'll confess while I was writing this that it was during the presidential campaign, so sort of the fear of female ambition was...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Megan Abbott's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Marianne Levy

Marianne Levy's new novel for kids is Katie Cox vs. the Boy Band; it's a sequel to Katie Cox Goes Viral.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: What was it like to write about Katie again, and do you think she's changed at all since book one?

A: The second book picks up just a month after the end of the first, because I wanted to keep exploring Katie's sense of discombobulation.

She's famous, but she doesn't feel famous, her life is changing, in that she's got a recording contract and a fan base, but day to day, many things, like her messy bedroom and her school routine, are exactly the same.

She's caught between these two worlds now, almost two different versions of herself. And that's...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue