Saturday, September 23, 2017

Sarah Shoemaker

Sarah Shoemaker is the author of the new novel Mr. Rochester, which recounts the story of Jane Eyre from Rochester's point of view.

From Shoemaker's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: What did you see as the right balance between Charlotte Bronte's original story and your own inventions?

A: My intent was to write Rochester’s full story, from his earliest memories to the approximate time that Jane Eyre ends. Since Rochester is nearly 20 years older than Jane, that means that the story of his life before Jane takes more space in the book than his life with Jane does.

I used everything I could find about him that Bronte tells us in Jane Eyre (which is more than a casual reader might think) and then filled in with my own inventions.

My intention, of course, was to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 22, 2017

William Drozdiak

William Drozdiak's new book is Fractured Continent: Europe’s Crisis and the Fate of the West. From his Q&A with Slate's Isaac Chotiner:

Isaac Chotiner: People tend to view [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel as the only thing standing between western democracy and the abyss, but how much do you think the different crises facing Europe are actually the result of her actions, and German actions more broadly?

William Drozdiak: The fact is that she was left alone, basically, to solve all these problems with the absence of leadership from other European countries and even from the Obama administration. She’s dealing with the debt crisis. She singlehandedly had to negotiate the Greek situation with her finance ministers, and then Obama outsourced to her dealing with Putin on Ukraine. She had no support from the feckless leadership in France. She was just overwhelmed and literally exhausted when I saw her.

But the Germans did make big mistakes. I think they pressed too hard on austerity and so now the income gap between North and South in Europe is worse than ever. They did not have a coherent policy on Ukraine because a lot of Europeans, even though they went along with sanctions, were grumbling about all the lost trade and, indeed, even within Germany that was the case. On Brexit, they could have had a deal in which they could have talked David Cameron back from doing his referendum, but not enough was done to let him off the hook. A lot of these problems, I think, resulted from basically Merkel just being overwhelmed.

On refugees, she showed great moral and humanitarian courage...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Claire Douglas

Claire Douglas's new novel is Local Girl Missing.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Local Girl Missing, and for your characters Frankie and Sophie?

A: When I was about 21 (in the mid-1990s) a girl from my street went missing after walking home from our local nightclub. It was a huge thing in our town - the police even came and interviewed me and the friends I was with that night as we would have arrived home around the time she went missing.

A few months later, in a different town not too far away, another young girl was murdered after leaving a club. Both these incidences really affected me and my friend and we promised each other that we would always make sure to leave a club together.

But it got me thinking about how I would have felt if it had been my friend who had gone missing. How would it have affected me all these years later? Would the guilt eat me up? Would I be desperate to know what had happened to her? The idea stemmed from there and ...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton is the first woman in US history to become the presidential nominee of a major political party. She served as the 67th Secretary of State—from January 21, 2009, until February 1, 2013—after nearly four decades in public service advocating on behalf of children and families as an attorney, First Lady, and Senator. Her new book is What Happened.

From the transcript of Clinton's conversation with Fresh Air's Terry Gross:

I think what some people are trying to figure out about your book and your tour, your book tour, is how much of it is about trying to defend our democracy — which you think is under attack, both by Russia but also by part of the right wing in America — and how much of it is just self-justification, like you lost, you're angry, you're specifically angry at some people, and Russia, and, like, where is the line? And I think a lot of people [are] more comfortable with the part where it feels like you're defending American democracy and less comfortable where you feel like you're just in it to justify yourself and to say, "I should've won, I did really win, and I'm really angry that I didn't."

But I think they go hand in hand. Because I don't think you could know the story without me also saying, "Look, I made mistakes", and I talk about...

You do.

All of the mistakes that I made, my campaign made, and I'm happy to acknowledge those, because that was part of the retrospective that I had to go through to write this book. I don't think you can understand what I am most worried about in defending democracy unless you follow along with what happened.

So yes, I do think sexism and misogyny played a role, and it's not just about me — I make that clear. I think voter suppression played a much bigger role than people are acknowledging. That is not going away. I think Comey cost me the election, but it was aided and abetted by Russia, WikiLeaks and all the other things we've now found out about Russia.

So take me out of the equation. I'm not running again. I'm not going to be on the ballot. So take me out of the equation and say, "OK, the mistake she made, maybe we can learn from that, etc., etc. But what do we have to worry about?" I think I do a very clear job of saying here are the things we need to worry about going forward. And I also try to say, "Hey this is something that we all have a stake in." I am fundamentally optimistic about our country, but...[read on]
Follow Hillary Clinton on Facebook and Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Denise Chanterelle DuBois

Denise Chanterelle DuBois is the author of the new memoir Self-Made Woman, which tells the story of her gender transition. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Why did you decide to write this book?

A: I never really did intend to ever write this book. In fact, I never intended to ever write a book. Why should I? By 2010 I had reached a point in my life where at age 56, I was just relaxing.

I was enjoying finally becoming Denise, after decades in the closet, experiencing and enjoying classical music for the first time in my life, running/swimming, snorkeling on the beaches and coves on the north shore of Kauai, eating healthy, sleeping well, enjoying a close knit circle of friends, and just reflecting on my life as I watched the yellow sun set into the blue Pacific on the north shore almost every evening.

But something was off and it slowly began to gnaw on me. How could I possibly just end things here? How could I just melt back into society as Denise, take the easy road, not tell my story, and turn my back on others who I knew were out there suffering right now as I once did?

I was in a unique position to write my life story and this was the right time for me. Even if my story ended up saving just one person from checking out for good wouldn’t it still be worth it? Without question worth it!

And then I thought of...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 18, 2017

Katy Tur

Katy Tur is a correspondent for NBC News and an anchor for MSNBC. Her new book is Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History.

From the transcript of her Q&A with Fresh Air's Terry Gross:

GROSS: ... When you - when he was saying insulting things to you at rallies, what got the biggest, angriest response - angry at you, not at him?

TUR: Definitely December 7, 2015. This was a rally in Mount Pleasant, S.C. It was the day that he announced that he wanted to ban all Muslims from coming into America, even Muslims - at that point during the day, Muslims who might've been serving overseas in our military, Muslims who might've been overseas visiting friends or family, Muslim athletes who might've been, you know, at a match or a meet overseas, anybody, where there were questions about all sorts of well-known people that might not be able to get back into the country.

And this was a real turning point in his campaign. It was a real test of whether or not his support would stick with him. We hadn't had any primaries yet. Nobody had voted. But he was getting these massive crowds. And he was being excused for anything that he said. And this was a test - will his supporters condone him going after an entire religion?

At the time, San Bernardino had just happened a week or two before. People were scared about terrorism. This couple had gone into an office party, and shot it up and killed a number of people. And Donald Trump was saying that the administration in power - the Obama administration - was doing nothing to protect Americans, that they weren't vetting people properly, that they were putting your life at risk. Your family and your sons, your daughters, your wives, your husband, your grandparents are at risk every day because the Obama administration is not protecting you, and the media is complicit in this. So they're not only angry at Washington, they're angry at us, the journalists.

And this was one of those rallies where I felt like it was good to keep a lower profile. So I sat down on the stage - not the stage, the press riser. I wasn't standing up in front of my camera. I wasn't easily seen. I was just sitting, taking notes as he was talking. And we're waiting for him to announce the Muslim ban. He doesn't get to it yet in the rally. And suddenly, just like the first rally, I hear my name - Katy Tur. She's back there. Little Katy, what a lie it was. What a lie she told. And he's pointing at me in the crowd. The entire place turns, and they roar...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ashley Shelby

Ashley Shelby is prize-winning writer whose fiction and essays have appeared in Slate, The Seattle Review, The Portland Review, Los Angeles Review, J Journal: New Writings on Social Justice, The Drouth (U.K.), Sonora Review, Post Road, Southeast Review, Third Coast, and other literary outlets. She's received the Red Hen Press Short Fiction Award, the Enizagam Short Story Award, the Third Coast Fiction Prize, and was recently named a Pushcart Prize nominee. Her newly released debut novel, South Pole Station, has received praise from Publishers Weekly, NPR, USA Today, Time, Library Journal, LitHub, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and Bookpage. It has also been named an Indie Next Pick for July.

From Shelby's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for South Pole Station, and for your main character, Cooper?

A: My sister, Lacy Shelby, spent a full year at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station during the 2002-2003 research season as a production cook. She’s one of a select group of women who has ever spent the entire winter season at the South Pole—she even received a Presidential medal and commendation for this achievement.

Anyway, she would send me letters from Antarctica at a time when I was working as a young editor in New York, and though she was never long on details (discretion is key to life at South Pole), the culture she described captured my imagination.

Climate scientists working alongside carpenters, meteorologists, astrophysicists, and research techs matching wits with janitorial staff, administrators, and dining assistants—what can’t happen in an environment like that?

As for Cooper, she started out sharing some qualities with me—an artist with early promise who felt she hadn’t lived up to those expectations. But, as characters are wont to do, she took on a life and a personality of her own, and transcended the flimsy scaffolding I’d constructed for her.

I am always interested in the artistic imperative, how we obey or ...[read on]
Visit Ashley Shelby's website.

Writers Read: Ashley Shelby.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Franklin Foer

Franklin Foer's latest book is World Without Mind: The Existential Threat Of Big Tech. From the transcript of his Q&A with NPR's Ari Shapiro:

SHAPIRO: (Laughter) In this book, you don't just argue that we should be clear-eyed about the costs of these free services [like Facebook and Google]. You argue that this is actually an existential threat. Explain what that threat is.

FOER: So if you're of a certain age, you have a good appreciation for the ways in which we've all become a little bit cyborg. I grew up using maps and having a sense of direction, and now I have a phone. I used to try to remember numbers, and now I have - I can just call them up instantly. And that's great. But what's happening right now is that we're in a phase of human evolution where we're merging with machines. And...

SHAPIRO: But why is that a bad thing? Like, so what?

FOER: So these companies - it's not necessarily a bad thing. But we're not just merging with machines. We've been merging with tools since the beginning of human evolution. And arguably, that's one of the things that makes us human beings. But what we're merging with are machines that are run by companies that act as filters for the way in which we interact and process the world. And so the values of those companies become our values.

We become dependent on these companies in a way in which...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 15, 2017

Kim Zarins

Kim Zarins is the author of the YA novel Sometimes We Tell the Truth.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea of a modern-day version of The Canterbury Tales, with high school students as the characters?

A: I'm a medievalist and have been teaching Chaucer for years, so when my agent and editors were discussing the possibility of me doing a retelling of Chaucer for teens, I was very keen on the idea. I took it and ran with it. It was such a delight to write.

Q: What did you see as the right balance between the original Chaucer and your own modern update?

A: I was willing to let go of Chaucer's Middle English and historical realities like the Black Death and so on, because I think sometimes if we see period dress, we forget how much we have in common with people from so long ago (think of seeing Shakespeare plays in modern dress—it can be very powerful!).

Modernizing the Tales meant the language and cultural contexts would become more relatable and accessible. (Some readers don't even know it's a retelling until I spill the beans in an Afterword at the end!).

I may not be faithful to Chaucer's Middle English or late-14th century life, but I sincerely hope I am faithful to the themes, issues, and layers within Chaucer's complex text. I wanted the novel to be enjoyable for someone new to Chaucer as well as readers looking for my modern play...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Ronlyn Domingue

Ronlyn Domingue is the internationally published author of The Mercy of Thin Air and the Keeper of Tales Trilogy—The Mapmaker’s War, The Chronicle of Secret Riven, and The Plague Diaries. Her essays and short stories have appeared in New England Review, Clackamas Literary Review, and Shambhala Sun as well as on, The Nervous Breakdown, and

From Domingue's conversation at Border Crossing:

Border Crossing: The Plague Diaries begins with a prophecy. The narrator, Secret Riven, has been given a choice to bring darkness or light:
I thought I had a choice to accept neither. I wanted no part of a prophecy, though my blood and bones knew it to be true. Foolish, because I’d read enough myth, lore, and fairy tales to know when one receives a call–hold a candle to a sleeping monster lover, search the world for a lost daughter, take a basket to Grandmother’s house, spin straw into gold–one must heed it.
Secret Riven is a particular archetype of heroine: a reluctant one, easily distracted. Could you talk about Secret’s struggle to accept her fate, and your reasons for writing such a reluctant heroine in our current age?

Ronlyn Domingue: From the moment she comes into the world, Secret is not ordinary. Birds have a council in the room soon after she’s born. Her mother is from a kingdom far away; Secret resembles the people of that region—black hair and tawny skin—and she also has eyes the colors of night and day. She doesn’t speak until she’s seven years old, and before that, she realizes she has the ability to communicate with creatures and plants. She copes by trying to hide her abilities and, literally, herself.

As she gets older, she suspects there’s something ahead for her. She gets attention she doesn’t want for...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Ronlyn Domingue's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: The Mapmaker's War.

My Book, The Movie: The Mapmaker's War.

The Page 69 Test: The Chronicle of Secret Riven.

My Book, The Movie: The Plague Diaries.

The Page 69 Test: The Plague Diaries.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Loretta Ellsworth

Loretta Ellsworth's newest novel is Stars Over Clear Lake.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Stars Over Clear Lake?

A: It was a combination of things that led to writing this book. I grew up in Mason City, Iowa, near Clear Lake and the Surf Ballroom, and had always wanted to write about this historic place. And when I was young and on road trips with my family, my father often pointed out the remains of a German POW camp in Algona.

It was serendipity that when I combined these two together, that the story seemed to sprout wings and take off.

Q: What kind of research did you need to do to write the novel, especially about German POWs in the United States?

A: I read a great deal about the POW camps in America and Iowa, visited the POW Museum in Algona, Iowa, and spoke with a descendant of a German POW who later immigrated to Iowa.

My novel required a great deal of research of the Surf Ballroom and Clear Lake, Iowa in the 1940s. When you’re writing about a real place, you want to make sure you get everything right.

I spent time in the Clear Lake Library, where they have a history room, and I also interviewed people who had attended dances at the Surf in the 1940s. And I had someone...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Jean Tirole

Jean Tirole, the winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Economics, has been described as one of the most influential economists of our time. He is chairman of the Toulouse School of Economics and of the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse and a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His new book is Economics for the Common Good.

From the author's Q&A at the Princeton University Press blog:

Economics has come under sharp attack, especially since the 2008 financial crisis. Is it a science?

Economists’ judgment may be impaired by financial conflicts of interest, political friendships, or ambitions to be a publicly recognized intellectual. But we must also be humble and accept that as a science, economics is an inexact one. Like any science, it is built on to-and-fro between theory, which provides a lens to the world and allows us to understand observations and describe their implications, and empirical work, which measures the importance of effects and helps question the theory: lab experiments need fieldwork, econometrics, big data. But our knowledge is imperfect; good data may be unavailable, theories may oversimplify, and behavioral patterns and self-fulfilling phenomena (such as bank runs or bubbles) may complicate the analysis. Overall, an economist will generally feel more comfortable analyzing past events and proposing future policies rather than forecasting. A characteristic that is incidentally shared by doctors and seismologists, who detect environments that are conducive to a heart attack or an earthquake and provide useful recommendations, and at the same time may be hard-pressed to predict the exact timing of the event or even...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 11, 2017

Kayla Olson

Kayla Olson's new young adult novel is The Sandcastle Empire.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you create the world you describe in The Sandcastle Empire?

A: I created The Sandcastle Empire’s world by doing a lot of research, and by asking a lot of what if?

As far as the research goes, I stumbled upon an article similar to this one about how U.S. communities will face chronic flooding as sea levels rise, and started following the idea down a path of, well, how would those environmental changes affect the people who live in those areas? How would the ripples of those changes then spread into the rest of the country—and beyond?

It was the first time I’d thought about environmental change through the lens of what could happen in our world when sea level rise hits a tipping point, from a social standpoint, as opposed to simply how do we reverse environmental change, or prevent it from happening at all?

Aside from questions of those sorts, I watched numerous...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Arnie Bernstein

Arnie Bernstein is the author of Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund.

From his Q & A with Randy Dotinga for the Christian Science Monitor:

Q: What started this movement [The German-American Bund]?

The German-American Bund was born out of various factions and groups that came into being during the 1920s post-war era, when Germans immigrants and descendants of previous immigrant generations in the US were faced with enormous prejudices.

These groups looked back to the Fatherland, the rise of Hitler and National Socialism for inspiration. They adopted uniforms resembling those of SS and brownshirts, created family retreats where they could espouse their ideals in private with like-minded individuals, printed their own newspaper, and held parades among with other activities.

The Bund was led by Fritz Kuhn, who labeled himself “the Bundesf├╝hrer." Kuhn was a German immigrant himself and a Hitler loyalist.

Q: How big was the group?

It's impossible to say, given that they were secretive and also bad record keepers. It's estimated they had between 15,000 to 20,000 official members. Those numbers don’t include non-members who were sympathetic to the Bund and its mission and may have provided...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Arnie Bernstein's website.

Writers Read: Arnie Bernstein.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Sophie Chen Keller

Sophie Chen Keller's new novel is The Luster of Lost Things.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: You've noted that the inspiration for this novel came from a "lost" flyer that you saw in Hawaii. How did that eventually turn into the book?

A: While camping on a volcano in Maui, I stumbled across a “Lost” flyer that someone had posted at the campsite. It was for a missing camera that contained irreplaceable family photos with sentimental value.

It was clear how much the camera meant to whoever posted the flyer, and I couldn’t stop wondering whether they had ended up finding it. I thought about all the things people lost, and what they were really looking when they looked for something like a missing camera. I wondered whether anyone responded to these flyers.

That’s when I had my first idea of who Walter would be—a boy who dedicated himself to answering “Lost” flyers. Naturally, that led me to the intriguing question of why he was doing it.

Upon returning from the trip, I began writing Walter’s story. I thought of it as a grown-up version of the books my mom used to read out loud to me before bed.

I wanted it to bring us back to those childhood classics, to that time when the world was bright and brimming with possibility. As we get older, it becomes...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 8, 2017

Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly's new novel is The Late Show. From his Q&A with Alafair Burke at the Los Angeles Review of Books:

ALAFAIR BURKE: An obvious first question: You already have two beloved series characters, Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller. Why introduce a new protagonist, Renee Ballard?

MICHAEL CONNELLY: There were three things pushing me toward Ballard. The first was that I knew I was embarking on writing my 30th book, which was something I never thought would ever happen, but since it was going to I thought I might as well mark the moment with something new. At this same time I happened to turn 60 years old — another thing I never thought would happen — and thoughts of mortality led me toward feeling that I had a duty as a storyteller not to rest on my laurels. I had not gone out with a new protagonist in 10 years. It was about time I did something new.

And the last thing was the clincher. On the TV show Bosch, we use real LAPD homicide detectives as accuracy consultants and one of them, Detective Mitzi Roberts, told me about her stint as the graveyard shift detective in Hollywood, about how you handle all kinds of cases — basically rolling on any call for a detective. Added to that I had seen Roberts as a detective and knew she was determined and fierce, qualities I love to put into my characters. I suddenly...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Bonnie Pipkin

Bonnie Pipkin's new novel is Aftercare Instructions. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Aftercare Instructions, and for your main character, Genesis?

A: I started writing the novel while I was in the MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. I knew I wanted to tackle the topic of abortion, but do it in a way that felt like one piece of the larger picture. Having an abortion doesn’t have to define your existence. It is something you must process and heal from, but it’s not the whole story.

The first scene of the book came to me as the starting point: that a girl would have an abortion and her boyfriend would leave her during the procedure. After that, I had to learn who she was and what motivated her beyond that choice.

Q: In an interview with School Library Journal, you said of your decision to place your character's abortion before the story starts, "It was really important to me that the choice never be questioned and to approach this topic without shame." What has been the response to how you handled the issue of abortion in the book?

A: Of course there are people who are maybe seeking out the journey-to-the-choice perspective in a novel, but...[read on]
Visit Bonnie Pipkin's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Vanessa Grigoriadis

Vanessa Grigoriadis's new book is Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus. From her Q&A with Isaac Chotiner at Slate:

Chotiner: One of the ideas you raise in the book is that maybe one of the reasons that sexual assaults are happening is because men feel constricted by the rise of feminism and can’t express themselves. But sexual assaults have actually gone down over the past couple decades, at a time we’ve seen more equality in the society at large. Is there any contradiction there?

Grigoriadis: Where do I say that? I don’t think I say that feminism is making guys ... I mean, I throw that out as an idea, but no, I don’t really believe that.

You write, “Guys might be asserting themselves in the bedroom because they can’t in other places.”

Yeah, I know. I know. I said that. [Laughs.] It was a weird idea. Look, I don’t know. We’re talking about these young millennials. If young girls are getting better grades than guys, if they’re playing sports really well, if they’re way more represented at prestigious universities than guys are, if they’re potentially going to be more employable than guys are, then why is it that so many of them are being violated, or at least feel violated, in the bedroom? That honestly isn’t a conversation that has gone on, and a lot of that is because America is a fucked up place and people don’t get sex ed. They don’t have any way to talk about this with their parents, because their parents are really deeply conflicted about sex and don’t want to bring it up with their kids and all that shit. That’s part of what it is. But it is true that it seems like sexual equality is...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Michelle Gagnon

Michelle Gagnon's latest novel is Unearthly Things.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for this modern-day Jane Eyre story set in San Francisco?

A: I’ve always loved Jane Eyre--it was such a groundbreaking book for its time; Jane really qualifies as an early feminist.

My former husband was a fourth generation San Franciscan who was raised in the uber-wealthy high society world that the Rochesters inhabit (in fact, I used the building he grew up in as a model for their mansion).

It was so strange to me to discover, after nearly a decade of living in San Francisco, that there was this entire world most of the city barely knew about, complete with such dated traditions as cotillions and men’s clubs.

I wanted to show that dichotomy through the eyes of my Janie, who feels just as much like...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Michelle Gagnon's website.

The Page 69 Test: Don't Turn Around.

My Book, The Movie: Don't Turn Around.

The Page 69 Test: Don't Let Go.

My Book, The Movie: Don't Let Go.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 4, 2017

Claire Booth

Claire Booth is a former true crime writer, ghostwriter, and reporter. She lives in California. The Branson Beauty, featuring Sheriff Hank Worth, is her first novel.

Booth's latest novel is Another Man's Ground, the second Sheriff Hank Worth Mystery.

From her Q&A at Criminal Element:

Another Man’s Ground delves into unsettling territory, particularly in relation to the gruesome homicides. How do you manage to respect the gravity of the crime while simultaneously crafting a witty and entertaining story around it?

It’s a tricky line to walk. I really do believe that the effect crime—especially murder—has on people needs to be treated with respect. Naturally, that can be a very bleak and agonizing aspect of a story. I’m helped in pulling my books back from that abyss by the family life I’ve created for my main character. Hank has little kids who always bring him back to life, so to speak. And he has a very cantankerous father-in-law who lives with them. Having those two try to get along gives me a lot of opportunities to lighten things up.

What constitutes a crime that is worth novelizing?

Something about the crime you create has to be unique. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be...[read on]
Visit Claire Booth's website.

My Book, The Movie: Another Man's Ground.

The Page 69 Test: Another Man's Ground.

Writers Read: Claire Booth.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Lucy Ives

Lucy Ives's new novel is Impossible Views of the World.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Impossible Views of the World, and for your character Stella?

A: Several years ago (six years, to be precise) I was supposed to be writing something else when the opening lines of the novel suddenly popped into my head. I wrote them down without knowing what they meant and went on to write the next couple of pages.

I struggled for a while to figure out what this was about: Why was I so interested in this curator? What was going on at the museum where she worked? It was all very weird and mysterious!

I kept going with the book and eventually, sort of like a “magic eye” image, it all started to make a kind of sense and a picture emerged.

It interests me that I’ve managed to write a literary mystery novel here, because certainly the story and characters, while very vivid to me, were not initially things I’d planned. They were very spontaneous, somewhat spookily so. It’s a little like...[read on]
Visit Lucy Ives's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Kamila Shamsie

Kamila Shamsie's new novel is Home Fire.

From her Q&A with Vanessa Thorpe for the Guardian:

What was behind your own take on homegrown Islamist terrorism?

I was really intrigued by the way most people assume Islamic State propaganda is built on violence. Research by Charlie Winter [senior research fellow at King’s College] that I looked at shows much of it is about a sense of belonging and of state-building. It is not that I believe IS are really planning a welfare state equivalent out there, or anything like that; it is the fact this side of it has not been told. I also felt we are accused of sympathising if we say that a young man who goes out there is anything other than a monster. There is more sympathy for the girls, as if grooming can only apply to girls and be about sex.

Much of your new story pivots on secrets kept from loved ones. Is writing a secretive process for you?

The secrets kept inside this book are damaging, whereas a writer aims for their work, with which they have an intimate relationship for a while, to ultimately...[read on]
Learn about Kamila Shamsie's six favorite books inspired by literary classics.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 1, 2017

Lilliam Rivera

Lilliam Rivera is the author of the young adult novel The Education of Margot Sanchez.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Education of Margot Sanchez, and for your main character, Margot?

A: The idea for the novel came to me somewhat from my own experience. My first job at 14 years old was working with my father. My father worked as a nursing aide in a private hospital in Manhattan.

At that time, I really looked up to my father. He could do no wrong. Although we never really worked in the same department, I did get to see him. It was the first time that I saw him doing humbling work. He took care of mentally handicapped children.

I got to see him in quite a different light. He became human, if that makes any sense. I tried to capture that moment in a teenager’s life when you see your parents for the first time, flaws and all.

Q: How was the novel’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?

A: I actually did not come up with the title. The title was done by...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue