Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Jeff Abbott

Jeff Abbott's new novel is The Three Beths.

From his Q&A with Matthew Turbeville at Writers Tell All:

MT: Where did your idea for The Three Beths come from, and would you mind talking about what it’s been like writing more everyday thrillers about women characters, especially starting with your last novel Blame, which was also welcomed with amazing acclaim from your peers and critics alike? What made you decide to go outside yourself and write about these women characters, and do you have a favorite?

JA: Well, first, the idea for The Three Beths came from a couple of different places. I thought about those missing persons cases you sometimes hear about where the police are convinced that a loved one or a relative had a hand in the disappearance, but they can prove nothing. So the accused, and the rest of the family, has to go on with their lives. What would it be like to be living inside that family, to be loyal to a missing parent and yet to also be loyal to the parent who is accused of murder? What goes on behind those walls? And then the other idea came from doing a search on social media once for an old friend, and seeing exactly how many hits I got just typing in her very common first name. . .it struck me that if I wanted to find a number of Beths, or Jeffs, or Michelles, that was easy to do. And then, because I write crime fiction, I wondered…[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Jeff Abbott's website.

The Page 69 Test: Trust Me.

The Page 69 Test: Adrenaline.

The Page 69 Test: Downfall.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Rob Dunn

Rob Dunn is a professor in the Department of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University and in the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen. His new book is Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live.

From the transcript of Dunn's Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross:

GROSS: Cats and dogs. So many people have pets. What kind of microbiology do they introduce into our homes?

DUNN: So cats and dogs - and especially dogs - have a huge impact on what's in your home. And so if we were to swab your computer screen, Terry, and then look at look at which microbes were on the computer screen, about half of the variation between what's on your computer screen and somebody else's computer screen is whether or not there has been a dog in that room. And so they affect the microbes everywhere in the house. Their microbes drift up and around all over the place.

And so we can actually identify whether or not there's a dog in the house just based on the microbes 99 percent of the time. And cats have an effect, too, but it's more subtle. They seem to bring both bacteria and some fungi, and they make some things more rare. And it's hard to know just exactly which effect, what sort of effects the dogs and cats and their microbes are having. And they can be very complex. But one of the things we see is that people, especially in urban environments with dogs, tend to have kids who are less prone to allergy and asthma.

And one of the things that we think may be happening is that the dogs are actually a vehicle for the connection of those kids to just a little bit of nature, that in these environments in which we've isolated ourselves so much from the rest of the world, that the dirt on a dog's paw may be enough connection to forestall allergy and asthma, at least a little bit. We don't see that effect with cats. But with dogs, it's pretty strong. And by the same token, dogs in rural environments seem to have less effect on allergy and asthma, and we think that's because in rural environments, you're getting so many other exposures to nature that the dog matters...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 12, 2018

Sam Wiebe

Sam Wiebe is the author of Cut You Down, Invisible Dead and Last of the Independents, and the editor of the Vancouver Noir. Wiebe lives in Vancouver.

From his Q&A with Dana Gee for the Vancouver Sun:

Q: You are a crime writer by trade, so I was wondering looking back, are there books that terrified you?

A: Red Dragon by Thomas Harris and Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates. Both make you identify with very unpleasant people.

Q: What must a story be to be classified noir? What are the key elements?


A: Dennis Lehane called noir “working-class tragedy,” and I think there’s some truth to that. It’s about bad things happening to people a lot like us.

Q: What are the clichés that should be avoided when writing these types of stories?

A: It’s only a cliché if you do it poorly. A femme fatale in 2018 with a predilection for shoulder pads and venetian blinds would be silly. But a character well-versed in sexual psychology? Endlessly fascinating.

Q: Vancouver is not typically considered a noir type place, but that assumption is very wrong, right?

A: Dead wrong. Noir is about...[read on]
Visit Sam Wiebe's website.

My Book, The Movie: Invisible Dead.

The Page 69 Test: Invisible Dead.

The Page 69 Test: Cut You Down.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Matthew D. Hockenos

Matthew D Hockenos is the author of Then They Came for Me: Martin Niemöller, the Pastor Who Defied the Nazis.

From his Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Why did you decide to write this biography of Martin Niemöller?

Today few Americans recognize the name Martin Niemöller (1892-1984). Many people, however, are aware of the German pastor’s famous post-World War II poetic confession:

First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.


I wanted to take a closer, more critical look at the man behind the celebrated quotation.

Then They Came for Me tells the whole story of Niemöller’s life: his conservative Protestant upbringing in Germany; his experience commanding German U-boats in World War I; his animosity toward liberals and Jews; his initial support for Nazism; his later struggle with Hitler; his incarceration in Nazi concentration camps; and finally, his embrace of pacifism and peace movements during the Cold War.

On a lighter note, the book also portrays Niemöller as a loving father of seven children (two of whom died in World War II), a caring husband, a devoted pastor, and a charming albeit...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 10, 2018

William R. Newman

William R. Newman is the author of Newton the Alchemist: Science, Enigma, and the Quest for Nature's "Secret Fire". From his Q&A at the Princeton University Press blog:

People often say that Isaac Newton was not only a great physicist, but also an alchemist. This seems astonishing, given his huge role in the development of science. Is it true, and if so, what is the evidence for it?

The astonishment that Newton was an alchemist stems mostly from the derisive opinion that many moderns hold of alchemy. How could the man who discovered the law of universal gravitation, who co-invented calculus, and who was the first to realize the compound nature of white light also engage in the seeming pseudo-science of alchemy? There are many ways to answer this question, but the first thing is to consider the evidence of Newton’s alchemical undertaking. We now know that at least a million words in Newton’s hand survive in which he addresses alchemical themes. Much of this material has been edited in the last decade, and is available on the Chymistry of Isaac Newton site at www.chymistry.org. Newton wrote synopses of alchemical texts, analyzed their content in the form of reading notes and commentaries, composed florilegia or anthologies made up of snippets from his sources, kept experimental laboratory notebooks that recorded his alchemical research over a period of decades, and even put together a succession of concordances called the Index chemicus in which he compared the sayings of different authors to one another. The extent of his dedication to alchemy was almost unprecedented. Newton was not just an alchemist, he was an alchemist’s alchemist.

What did Newton hope to gain by studying alchemy? Did he actually believe in the philosophers’ stone, and if so, why? And what was the philosophers’ stone exactly?

Newton’s involvement in alchemy was...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 9, 2018

Meghan MacLean Weir

Meghan MacLean Weir's new book is The Book of Essie.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Book of Essie?

A: I wrote Essie at a time when my parents had moved in with my husband and me to help care for our children. We were incredibly lucky, but it was also challenging at times to be living with my parents as an adult, and it made me reexamine what it had meant to me, growing up, to be the daughter of a small-town Episcopal priest and to always feel as if I was being watched and judged and reported on.

Essie is under much more scrutiny than I ever was, given that her family is on a reality show and so is watched by the whole country rather than just the parishioners at her father's church, but I think that makes it more interesting for the reader, that the stakes for her are so high.

I also wanted to tell a story that would reflect on the ways in which...[read on]
Visit Meghan MacLean Weir's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Reid Hoffman

Reid Hoffman is an entrepreneur and investor. In 1998, he was a founding Board member and executive vice president of PayPal. In 2003, he co-founded LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional networking service. He was an angel investor in Facebook and Zynga, and in 2009, he became a partner at the venture capital firm Greylock Partners. He currently serves on the boards of Airbnb, Apollo Fusion, Aurora, Coda, Convoy, Entrepreneur First, Gixo, Microsoft, Nauto, and Xapo, as well as not-for-profits Kiva, Endeavor, CZI Biohub and Do Something. Hoffman's latest book is Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies.

From the transcript of Hoffman's Q&A with Fareed Zakaria:

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about politics. You have been pretty active, and you say a lot of people who are in business share some of your dismay with what Trump stands for and what he's doing but they don't want to -- they don't want to say anything. Why?

HOFFMAN: Well, I think, you know, the classic thing is, "Hey, it's business; I've got a responsibility to shareholders; I have a responsibility to customers," and all of that. But I actually think that -- I have this phrase, "Spiderman ethics: With power comes responsibility."

And so I think, personally, that's it's part of having business leaders; you need to speak up about that future that you can see for all of us and you need to have your voice be heard. And so I have leaned into politics unlike ever I have done before because I think it's so dangerous, the path we're on, and we need to correct.

ZAKARIA: What do you say to people who point out that the Trump administration is presiding over, you know, record unemployment levels -- in other words, record lows; growth seems strong; what are you complaining about?

HOFFMAN: So I think there's at least two things. So one is I think Obama and the previous administration did a lot of good things. And so I think there is a tailwind from that. But I also think that people are underfactoring the amount of stimulus and just debt that's going into propping this up. And so they're using subsidies to try to block the impacts of tariffs and other kinds of things. And so I think we are taking a loan against the future that we need to be very cautious about....[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Martha Freeman

After graduating from Stanford University, Martha Freeman worked as a newspaper reporter, copy editor, substitute teacher, college lecturer, advertising copywriter and magazine writer before finding her true calling as a writer of children's books. She has since written more than 20 books for children. Freeman's new children's picture book is If You're Going to a March.

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

Q: What inspired your new book, If You're Going to a March?

A: Like a lot of people, I have found myself going to a lot of marches since January 2017. To make lemonade out of the situation -- this is a good thing. I think many of us were complacent and the current political situation has shaken us awake. (Shaken us "woke"?)

At these marches, there were a lot of kids. Since many of the issues (gun violence, family separation, climate change) disproportionately affect today's kids today and as representatives of future generations -- this made sense.

But I thought young children especially might not know what to expect at a march, and might not know the larger significance of political action in a democracy even if they'd been to one or two. I also thought parents could use a book like mine as a jumping off point for...[read on]
Visit Martha Freeman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Strudel's Forever Home.

The Page 69 Test: Strudel's Forever Home.

Writers Read: Martha Freeman (January 2018).

The Page 69 Test: Zap.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Peter Sagal

Peter Sagal is the host of NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! and author of the new book, The Incomplete Book Of Running. From the transcript of his Q&A with NPR's Ari Shapiro:

SHAPIRO: Your personal record for a marathon was three hours and nine minutes.

SAGAL: Yes, it was. I'm so glad you brought that up because otherwise I would have had to.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter) You did it at age 46.

SAGAL: I did.

SHAPIRO: And you write in the book, I had shown at least to myself that time and age are not walls but fences, and fences can be jumped. That was 2011.

SAGAL: Yes.

SHAPIRO: It's now 2018.

SAGAL: It sure is.

SHAPIRO: Do you still believe that time and age are fences that can be jumped?

SAGAL: What I was trying to do with that race is I had started seriously running at age 40, which is when according to all the studies your athletic performance begins to decline no matter what else you do. And it became very important to me to see if in fact I could at least delay that. And I did it. And it remains inspirational to me. But now that I'm some years older, I know that kind of time is behind me. So my emphases these days are different. I'm not running as fast as I used to or as long as I used to, but I'm still doing it almost every day.

And I think that in the future, although I will run until somebody or something stops me, I'll be doing it for different reasons. And those reasons will have more to do with...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 5, 2018

Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin's latest Rebus novel (the 22nd) is In a House of Lies.

From his Q&A at the Guardian:

Which writers most influenced your writing?

Muriel Spark was a huge influence. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – one of my favourite books ever – led me down this rabbit hole because Miss Jean Brodie is descended from a real-life Edinburgh character, William Brodie, who was gentleman by day and thief by night. So he became one of the influences for Jekyll and Hyde. Another influence was a book called Confessions of a Justified Sinner, by James Hogg, which is one of the first serial-killer novels.

Is there a book you really wish you’d written yourself?

A Dance to the Music of Time, by Anthony Powell. That book was a fascinating primer for me in how to write a sequence of books with the same cast of characters, and having the main character age along the way. This notion that life is a dance to the music of time – if you’re writing a series it’s...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Kathleen Hall Jamieson

Kathleen Hall Jamieson is the author of Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President.

From her Q&A with Slate's Isaac Chotiner:

Isaac Chotiner: What leads you to be confident enough to make the judgment that Russian interference likely provided Trump’s winning margin?

Kathleen Hall Jamieson: There are so many different pathways by which the effect on the electoral outcome could have been achieved that the likelihood that some combination of them achieved it is relatively high, and two of the three individual pathways are of themselves significant enough that they could have accomplished that end.

What are those pathways?

The first, which is the one that is the weakest of the arguments, is the Russian social media interventions.

First, they reached 126 million Americans that we know of through Facebook, and there was reach as well, although not that substantial, on other platforms.

Second, the message aligned with Donald Trump, because my argument isn’t that they put new messaging in, but rather that they amplified messaging that was already there. For example, you find very strong anti-immigrant appeals. You also find attacks on Hillary Clinton, or I should say on her candidacy, but also on Hillary Clinton the person, that are consistent with the Trump attacks. She’s corrupt. She’s lying. She should be in prison.

Isn’t this then a way of saying, “Well, you know. Trump could have spent slightly more money, and amplified his message, and that would have made the difference?”

Yes, because the argument about the impact of social media is that it increased the balance of the messaging in a way that on the margins would have made the difference. It is not an argument about new messaging.

What I argue is that there’s strong evidence that they were trying to mobilize evangelical Christians who were white, conservative Catholics, and they were trying to mobilize veterans and military households. Those are...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Michael Caine

From Michael Caine's NPR interview with Ari Shapiro:

SHAPIRO: I'd like you to take us back to your youth, if you would. You were 6 years old when you were evacuated from London during World War II in the Blitz.

CAINE: Yes.

SHAPIRO: How did that experience shape the person you've become?

CAINE: It shaped it in a couple of ways actually. Mentally, I lived on a farm for six years, and I got a great education. And there was also another thing about - the war was an incredible thing for all of us in one way. And, I mean, talk about use the difficulty, which is my motto.

SHAPIRO: Use the difficulty.

CAINE: Yeah. Yeah, use the difficulty. But using the difficulty was - in the war, the only food you could get was organic food because they used all the chemicals in explosives. And so for six years, all we had was organic food. And there was no sugar. And all these things that we worry about so much now - in the war, you couldn't get them. So we all grew up sort of very healthily in the war.

SHAPIRO: Before the war, you were poor, malnourished. You say you had rickets. And the war actually helped you become a strong, tall, healthy person.

CAINE: Oh, yeah. Well, I came from a slum in London. And London then was very...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 2, 2018

Eugenia Kim

Eugenia Kim's new novel is The Kinship of Secrets.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: You write that the The Kinship of Secrets was inspired by your own family's story. At what point did you decide to write this novel?

A: When I went to Korea in 2010, my second time, I did some book events for The Calligrapher’s Daughter. My sister, Sun, joined me there and while I had some vague idea of writing a continuation to The Calligrapher’s Daughter, I was somewhat resistant and I wasn’t sure what the story might be.

We took a train to Busan, to look at the neighborhood where my sister spent the war years, and on that train ride I asked her what it was like for her to have come to America at age 11.

I was 6 when she came to the U.S., so I wasn’t aware of why she’d been separated from the family (the Korean War and problems with U.S. immigration) for 10 years. I had assumed that she, like many immigrants, were eager to come to America.

But her answer to my question was, “It was the blackest day of my life,” and...[read on]
Visit Eugenia Kim's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Lou Berney

Lou Berney's new novel is November Road.

From his BookPage interview with G. Robert Frazier:

Author Ivy Pochoda describes November Road as a novel that defies categorization—as part love story, part gangster story, part cross-country adventure. How would you describe it?

I love Ivy’s description of November Road. I didn’t set out to write a novel with so many different elements, but I know I’m drawn—as reader and writer—to stories that have a lot going on, a lot of layers, a lot of characters colliding with each other. I used to worry that was a weakness of mine, as a writer, but now I just kind of embrace it. There’s a quote, I think it’s from Don Quixote, I love: It’s better to lose by a card too many than a card too few.

Your hero, Frank Guidry, isn’t exactly a good guy. How did you tackle making him a person that readers could ultimately root for?

Frank Guidry is definitely not a good guy. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be likable and engaging and complicated, so I worked hard to make him all that. Most importantly, though, I needed to make him capable of change. I didn’t know until I wrote his last chapter if Frank actually would change, but I really wanted him to—and...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Lou Berney's website.

The Page 69 Test: Gutshot Straight.

--Marshal Zeringue