Thursday, July 19, 2018

Carola Dunn

Carola Dunn's latest novel is The Corpse at the Crystal Palace: A Daisy Dalrymple Mystery (Volume 23).

From her Q& A with Vicki Mejia-Gewe at FangirlNation:

Daisy Dalrymple, your most famous series, is a mystery set in the 1920s where the main characters are the daughter of a viscount and the middle class Detective Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard. Why did you choose to focus on that era?

I’d already been writing Regencies for a good few years and I was intrigued by certain parallels between the 1920s and the 18-teens.

For instance, I’ve already talked about some of the changes in the lives of women between the two periods. But the Regency was already changing their situation. In terms of basics, look at the change in clothes. The wide hooped skirts of the earlier Georgians gave way to the Empire line, allowing far more freedom of movement. Fashion moved backwards later, alas, to hoops and bustles and 18″ waists, and then the horrific “S” bend of Edwardian corsetting. But by Daisy’s time, partly because of fabric shortages during WWI, clothes at last resembled something we might well wear today.

Ease of travel was another parallel. Compared to earlier Georgian times, in the Regency, roads were much improved, footpads and highwaymen much less frequently encountered, and someone invented springs for carriages, making them much more comfortable. The railway came along later, but unless you had money and lived not too far from a station, foot, horse, cart, or carriage was the way you travelled. In Daisy’s time, of course, the railways were still a common way to travel for all and sundry, but were supplemented by motor-cars and motor-buses that made it easier to reach out of the way places. The arrival of cars on the scene was an enormous change; so too was the influence of...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Carola Dunn's website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Carola Dunn and Trillian.

The Page 69 Test: Heirs of the Body.

The Page 69 Test: Superfluous Women.

Writers Read: Carola Dunn (July 2015).

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

R. F. Kuang

Rebecca F. Kuang studies modern Chinese history. She has a BA from Georgetown University and is currently a graduate student in the United Kingdom on a Marshall Scholarship.

Kuang's new book, her debut novel, is The Poppy War.

From Kuang's Q&A with Ilana C. Myer at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:

The horrors of war as depicted in this book hit especially hard because they are based on real events. In most fantasy, including of the “grimdark” variety, we can tell ourselves that at least it’s fiction. Here, the impact is more intense because we know such things happened. Do you think this makes sense? What were your thoughts and feelings when tackling this material?

The reason why I haven’t been calling it grimdark is because I tend to see grimdark as employing violence and death as aesthetic, while The Poppy War employs violence for historical accuracy. There’s also this element of fetishism and gratuitous gore in (some, not all) grimdark that I don’t love. I think violence should serve a purpose other than making the book seem “edgy.” As an aside, a few people have mentioned that the violence and darkness in TPW is more harrowing precisely because we know that all of this actually happened. I didn’t exaggerate anything. Everything on the page–everything about the Rape of Nanjing or the atrocities committed by Unit 731–was...[read on]
Visit R. F. Kuang's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Poppy War.

Writers Read: R. F. Kuang.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Gale Massey

Gale Massey lives in St. Petersburg, FL. Her stories have appeared in the Tampa Bay Times, Walking the Edge, Sabal, Seven Hills Press, and other journals. She has been the recipient of scholarships and fellowships at The Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Writers in Paradise, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Massey's debut novel is The Girl From Blind River.

From her Q&A with Steph Post:

How important is the setting in your novel?

Well, it’s crucial really. In Blind River there are broken sidewalks, freezing rain, a diner, a pawn shop. There’s a river that smells of runoff from the town’s only manufacturing plant. Then there’s the Walmart on the highway just outside of town. I love using weather to intensify a scene. Snow and ice, rain, leads to runny noses, freezing fingertips. These things create a scene and an atmosphere for the reader to experience. Jamie feels ensnared by her family and Blind River, I want the reader to feel what she feels, so they’ll root for her to get the hell out of there.

Are there any symbols running throughout your novel?

I use poker and gambling to symbolize some aspects of American culture. Children in this country are sold a dream they can rise from the circumstance they are born into, that the American Dream will come true for anyone willing to work hard enough, that pulling one’s self up from the bootstraps is actually possible. But many people are born into circumstance they will never find their way out of and the dream of making a better life for themselves and their children really isn’t viable. That’s why the lottery system has seen such a crazy boom in the last three or four decades. People living in poverty, such as the kind I grew up in, know deep down that education alone isn’t going to pull them out of their circumstances, that...[read on]
Visit Gale Massey's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Girl From Blind River.

Writers Read: Gale Massey.

The Page 69 Test: The Girl From Blind River.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 16, 2018

Tommy Orange

Tommy Orange's acclaimed debut novel is There There.

From his Q&A with Hannah Beckerman for the Guardian:

The novel explores what it means to be Native American today. What does it mean for you?

It’s meant a lot of different things over the years. Currently it means going back to see my dad, who lives in Oklahoma now, and slowly trying to learn the language, because while he’s fluent he didn’t raise us with it. It means making sure my son knows that he’s Native too. It’ll keep meaning more things along the way.

Why didn’t your dad teach you the language?

There’s a lot of pain related to the past, and I think he was wanting a fresh start, wanting to raise us in Oakland and have us figure it out for ourselves. I think if we had been born in the 21st century to a dad who was fluent in Cheyenne, we probably...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Lucy Tan

Lucy Tan's new novel is What We Were Promised.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for What We Were Promised?

A: As an MFA student at the University of Wisconsin, I wrote a short story set in Shanghai about two hotel maids being accused of stealing a bracelet. The feedback from my workshop was that the story had promise, but was limited by the form.

When my professor suggested I try writing it as a novel, I was relieved and excited. There was so much more I wanted to explore about the characters in that story, and turning it into a novel would allow me the space to do that.

The short story I initially wrote became the basis for the first three chapters of the novel told from the point of view of Sunny, one of the housekeepers who...[read on]
Visit Lucy Tan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay's books include Bad Feminist, Difficult Women, and Hunger.

From her Q&A with Laura Snapes for the Guardian:

You recently tweeted about the so-called “incels”, the internet subculture whose members refer to their inability to find a romantic or sexual partner as “involuntary celibacy”. Girls are taught that men will lay claim to their bodies. Why are we culturally resistant to teaching boys that they don’t deserve sex?

That’s just the way it is. We have to change that and we have to teach both young men and young women about enthusiastic consent. And that a woman can say “no” at any time and it may suck, but you still have to listen to that “no”. Until we get there, we’re gonna continue to see things like in Santa Fe, where a young woman rejected a man and he went to school and killed her and nine others. No one is guaranteed love or affection and I don’t say that callously, because I think that love and affection and sex are important and that everyone should have their shot. But the men that can’t get laid, there’s a reason. It’s because they’re sociopaths and nobody wants them, and I’m not gonna cry for them.

Who’s your literary hero?

I love...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 13, 2018

Amy Mason Doan

Amy Mason Doan's new novel is The Summer List.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Summer List, and for your characters Laura and Casey?

A: I wanted to write a novel about girlhood friends reuniting after years of estrangement, but for a long time it was only the wisp of an idea.

Then one night two years ago I was camping with my family by the Oregon coast and some kids ran up with a scavenger hunt list. I gave them a graham cracker (one of the easiest items on the list, because it was S’mores city at the time). And they looked so excited, rushing off to get their next item.

I started picturing two grown women reuniting for a scavenger hunt. I knew it could be a satisfying, funny, poignant story if I told it right. I also knew that the women would need a good reason for the adult hunt, because I didn’t want it to be gimmicky. I realized they’d have to go on scavenger hunts as girls.

I’m an extremely visual writer. I need to play the story in my head and block it out like a film before I can set it down on paper. So before I wrote any of the high school scenes, I could picture young Laura—sensitive, lonely, teased for developing early and for her religious mother, spending her summers kayaking around this beautiful lake but desperate for a friend.

And I saw Casey moving in across the water like...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Adam Tooze

Adam Tooze is the director of the European Institute at Columbia University and author of the forthcoming book, Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World.

From his Slate Q&A with Isaac Chotiner:

[Chotiner:] Everywhere I look—from Brexit to Hungary to the rise of a populist government in Italy to Marine Le Pen making the final round in France to what’s happening in Germany right now—it all seems to fit under a similar rubric, which is the rise of right-wing populism. Do you think it’s helpful to put all of these events under the same rubric?

I’m not very compelled by the populism argument. I mean, I think at this point it’s become so much of a meme that it’s beginning to act into the world. Some of the protagonists do identify themselves as populist and they’ve been labeled as such, and so that labeling and that self-identification is beginning to exert effect. What I would agree with is to say that Europe, like the United States, has been subject to some common shocks, and the common shocks one might think of as being things like the financial crisis or the spectacular derailment of Western policy in the Middle East, in North Africa, in Western Asia, and that then creates flows of people and challenges that all these different countries and the EU, NATO, organizations like that, have to deal with.

When those sorts of entities are exposed to those kinds of common shocks, then what you see is national fault lines, national fragilities, manifesting themselves across all of those countries at the same time.

The Brexit disaster is completely predictable given the ambiguities of the relationship of right-wing Brits—and indeed left-wing Brits—to the EU. Now, that’s a completely different phenomenon from reservoirs of extreme nationalist public opinion in Hungary, which draw their historical inspiration from memes and themes of national persecution, which go all the way back to World War I and the dramatic aftermath of World War I. Modern Hungary is a shadow of what it once was, and has been throughout the 20th century, and at certain moments, nationalist politicians in Hungary can mobilize that.

And that isn’t the rhetoric of what we call Italian populism, which in fact has two distinct strands. One is the League, which is a previously regional party, which emerged out of Northern Italian resentment against everything south of Rome, and on the other hand the Five Star Movement, which is an unforeseen type of politics, which is much more modernist in a kind of freaked-out … it’s positively Californian, right, in its belief in tech, and the mechanisms of popular referenda. They then form a coalition, given the logic of European politics, with the League, which allows them both to govern, whilst in Britain the Tories are clinging onto power with the help of the most right-wing parties in Northern Ireland. Both of these are responses to the shocks that Europe has suffered since 2008. Do they add up to the same political phenomenon? I...[read on]
Visit Adam Tooze's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Amber Brock

Amber Brock's new novel is Lady Be Good.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Lady Be Good and for your character Kitty?

A: I often have ideas or characters come to me as I’m driving to work and listening to music. In Kitty’s case, I was listening to “Symphony in C” by Cake and “Walking on Broken Glass” by Annie Lennox when the image of a girl popped into my mind. She had platinum blond hair, bright red lipstick, and a wicked smile.

I immediately wanted to know what that girl was up to. I drew inspiration from the machinations in Dangerous Liaisons and Emma, and the story and characters started to take shape in my mind from there.

Q: What type of research did you need to do to recreate New York, Miami, and Havana in the 1950s?

A: I always do an enormous amount of research before and during the writing process. It’s probably my favorite part! For this novel, I read some fantastic non-fiction books (including...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie's latest novel is The Golden House. From his Q&A with Arifa Akbar at the Guardian:

Which classic novel are you most ashamed not to have read?

Middlemarch. I always get beaten up for it. I owned up to it on TV once – when they still had books programmes on TV – and the newspapers said: “He calls himself a writer!”

Who is your favourite literary hero or heroine?

Leopold Bloom in Ulysses, even though he eats food I can’t stand, like offal, beef and inner organs. He’s one of the all-time great literary figures.

What kind of reader were you as a child? Which books and authors have stayed with you since childhood?

I was a hugely obsessive reader, a real bookworm. My parents were very smart and didn’t force me to read just “good” books, so Batman comics were OK. It meant I got the bug at an early age. A lot of writers emerge from the cocoon of being great readers. Growing up in Bombay, I read whatever western children’s literature we got there; we didn’t get Winnie-the-Pooh so I discovered it much later. I read Lewis Carroll’s Alice and...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue