Saturday, July 20, 2019

Courtney Maum

Courtney Maum is the author of the novels Costalegre, Touch, I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, and the handbook Before and After the Book Deal: A writer’s guide to finishing, publishing, promoting, and surviving your first book, forthcoming from Catapult. Her writing has been widely published in such outlets as BuzzFeed; the New York Times; O, the Oprah Magazine; and Poets & Writers. She is the founder of the learning collaborative, The Cabins, and she also runs a service called “The Query Doula” where she helps writers prepare their manuscripts and query letters for an agent’s eyes.

From Maum's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Why did you decide to write a novel based on the lives of art collector Peggy Guggenheim and her daughter, Pegeen?

A: I was originally researching Peggy Guggenheim for a different project, and it was in that research—reading Peggy’s memoirs and so forth—that I noticed the erasure of her daughter, Pegeen.

It wasn’t that Pegeen wasn’t in the memoirs, or that her mother denied her existence or anything, it’s just that when the topic of her daughter did come up, (which was rarely), Peggy didn’t seem to ascribe much importance to her existence. Pegeen was like an accessory that Peggy remembered to wear out of the house once in a while.

This marked me. My feelings were hurt for her, for Pegeen. And I started thinking about what it would be like to have “modern art” as a rival for your mother’s love. What it would be like to be forced to move all over the world, to have your formal education halted, in order for your mother to protect the artists she most cherished.

I decided to answer these questions, to explore what life in the 1930s would have been like for...[read on]
Visit Courtney Maum's website.

The Page 69 Test: I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You.

The Page 69 Test: Touch.

The Page 69 Test: Costalegre.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 19, 2019

William Boyle

William Boyle's new novel is A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself.

From his Q&A with Steph Post:

What was the most difficult scene in any of your novels for you to write? How did you manage it?

There’s a scene in A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself that starts out as a long screwball set piece and descends into chaos and violence. That was the hardest (and yet most fun) thing I’ve ever written. There were a lot of moving parts, a lot of characters to keep track of. This was especially a challenge given that I tend to like keeping things small (“Fewer moving parts mean fewer broken pieces,” as David Bazan sings.) The other challenge there was the tonal shift from screwball comedy to violent tragedy. I studied one of my favorite films, Something Wild, to see how Jonathan Demme accomplished it so...[read on]
Visit William Boyle's website.

My Book, The Movie: Gravesend and The Lonely Witness.

The Page 69 Test: Gravesend and The Lonely Witness.

Writers Read: William Boyle (September 2018).

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Cate Holahan

Cate Holahan's newest book is One Little Secret.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for One Little Secret, and for your cast of characters?

A: My two daughters, ages seven and nine, had asked to join their friends at sleepaway camp for the first time ever. Camp wasn’t something I’d experienced during childhood. So, like any good journalist-turned-over-protective mom, I began researching the heck out of various facilities in Maine.

As I journeyed down the Internet rabbit hole of camp articles, I stumbled upon a 2016 New York Post piece about parents going wild after sending their kids to camp for the summer. Reading it gave me the idea of a group of kid-free type-A parents, with lives more entangled than they realize, behaving badly and...[read on]
Visit Cate Holahan's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Cate Holahan & Westley.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Catherine Chung

Catherine Chung was born in Evanston, IL, and grew up in New York, New Jersey, and Michigan. Writing has been her life-long passion, but as an undergraduate she indulged in a brief, one-sided affair with mathematics at the University of Chicago followed by a few years in Santa Monica working at a think tank by the sea.

Eventually she attended Cornell University for her MFA, and since then she and her books have been given shelter and encouragement from The MacDowell Colony, Jentel, Hedgebrook, SFAI, Camargo, The University of Leipzig, VCCA, UCross, Yaddo, Civitella Ranieri, The Jerome Foundation, the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, and the Constance Saltonstall Foundation. Her brother, Heesoo Chung, has also given her a bed and fed her lots of ice cream at criticał times.

Chung is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and a Director’s Visitorship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She was a Granta New Voice, and won an Honorable Mention for the PEN/Hemingway Award with her first novel, Forgotten Country, which was a Booklist, Bookpage, and San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2012. She has published work in The New York Times, The Rumpus, and Granta, and is a fiction editor at Guernica Magazine. She lives in New York City.

Chung's new novel is The Tenth Muse.

From her Q&A with Steph Cha for Guernica:

Guernica: The Tenth Muse is a book framed by both storytelling and math. Math problems become parables; the story of a theorem becomes the story of several lives. I’m interested in how you use these two methods of describing the world, and how you see them playing off of and interacting with each other.

Catherine Chung: The physicist Freeman Dyson once famously (among mathematicians at least) compared mathematicians to birds and frogs. He said the mathematicians who are birds survey everything from up above, and delight in mapping far vistas and getting a sense of the big picture, whereas frogs live in the mud and see the objects around them in all their tiny, complex details, and that is their understanding of the world. I’ve always thought that’s a good description of writers as well, and that the metaphor can probably extend to any field of study or kind of person. We’re all trying to understand the world from our different perspectives, from where we stand and how we look at the world—whether it’s grand and sweeping, or intimate, detailed, and granular. It’s good to remember that our individual ways of seeing the world are never the whole picture, and that, taken together, they give us a richer, more comprehensive sense of not even what the world is, but how we might apprehend it.

So I just wanted to give some sense of that in this book, to play with how the vast and the intricate are always at play in any moment. To view a life in terms of the sweep of history that encompasses it, but also at the personal level. And the ways different points of view—the mathematical and the scientific, but also the...[read on]
Visit Catherine Chung's website.

Writers Read: Catherine Chung.

My Book, The Movie: The Tenth Muse.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Margaret Verble

Margaret Verble is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Her first novel, Maud's Line, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky.

Verble's new novel is Cherokee America.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Cherokee America is inspired by your own family history. What's the blend between the fictional and the historical in the novel?

A: The plot lines of Cherokee America are pure fiction. To my knowledge, none of the characters based on real people ever got themselves into the kind of messes I’ve created for them in the book.

However, the fiction is planted in real locations, life histories, and relationships. For instance, the bawdy house is real. I’ve been on its porch many times. And the ominous black thunder cloud that appears over the Bushyhead detachment of Cherokees as they start their journey on the Trail is a documented fact.

Also, Nannie Cordery, who carried the same name in real life, really was, as a small child, picked up by the Cherokees somewhere in Arkansas. But was she given away accompanied by a ham? Not to my knowledge. That’s...[read on]
Visit Margaret Verble's website.

My Book, The Movie: Maud's Line.

Writers Read: Margaret Verble (March 2019).

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 15, 2019

David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson

D.B. Jackson is the pen name of fantasy author David B. Coe. He is the award-winning author of more than twenty novels and as many short stories. His newest novel, Time’s Demon, is the second volume in a time travel/epic fantasy series called The Islevale Cycle. Time’s Children is volume one; Jackson is working on the third book, Time’s Assassin.

From his Q&A with Claire O’Dell:

Tell us about The Islevale Cycle and, about Time’s Demon in particular.

The Islevale Cycle is a time travel/epic fantasy series that tells the story of Tobias and Mara, Walkers – time travelers – who Walk back through time hoping to prevent a devastating war. Upon their arrival in the past, however, the assassination of their sovereign traps them in a dark misfuture with the only survivor of the assassination plot: the sovereign’s infant daughter. They have to keep the princess safe as the assassins seek to finish their work, and as the two of them seek to reestablish the rightful line of ascension to the throne.

That’s a very basic overview – there’s a lot more to the story than that: subplots, secondary characters, a romance or two, lots of intrigue. In short, I tried to blend in all the ingredients readers might hope to find in a sprawling epic fantasy. The first book, Time’s Children, came out last October. Time’s Demon is the second book in the trilogy, and as such it deepens the story and introduces new perils and conflicts, while also starting to resolve certain key plot points. Tobias, Mara, and the infant princess, Sofya, are on the run, pursued by the sovereign’s killers. They are aided by a variety of characters – humans and “demons,” or Ancients, as they’re called in Islevale. In particular, this second book focuses on Droë, a Tirribin, or time demon, who is fascinated by human love in general, and infatuated with Tobias in particular. She seeks to help him, but she’s deeply jealous of Mara. And since Tirribin are deadly predators, this is a...[read on]
Visit D. B. Jackson's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Thieftaker.

The Page 69 Test: Time’s Children.

Writers Read: D.B. Jackson.

The Page 69 Test: Time’s Demon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Andrea Bobotis

Andrea Bobotis's new novel is The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt?

A: My novel is based on a murder that happened in my family two generations before me. It was a story I'd heard all throughout my childhood, and I think I had to write it down in order to free myself of it.

Q: The novel takes place in a South Carolina town--how important is setting to you in your work?

A: Very important! I would go so far as to say that setting is a separate character in my novel. The fictional town of Bound, South Carolina, is small and insular enough to provide a perfect breeding ground for the secrets and intense family dynamics that drive the plot.

What's more, my novel is set in the late 1980s, when the textile industry is beginning to collapse in the South, with flashbacks to the onset of the Great Depression, when dependence on cotton deepened economic loss. Ultimately, the decline of ...[read on]
Visit Andrea Bobotis's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Thelma Adams

Thelma Adams is the author of the historical novel Bittersweet Brooklyn, the bestseller The Last Woman Standing and Playdate, which Oprah magazine described as “a witty debut novel.” In addition to her fiction work, Adams is a prominent American film critic and an outspoken voice in the Hollywood community. She has been the in-house film critic for Us Weekly and The New York Post, and has written essays, celebrity profiles and reviews for Yahoo! Movies, The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine,, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Parade, Marie Claire and The Huffington Post. Adams studied history at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was valedictorian, and received her MFA from Columbia University. She lives in upstate New York with her family.

From Adams's Q&A with Yona Zeldis McDonough for the Lilith blog:

YZM: How about the historical accuracy of your other novel, Bittersweet Brooklyn, which deals with the mafia back in the East?

TA: There’s a lot of fact to Bittersweet Brooklyn, a novel that had the working title Kosher Nostra. I based it on my grandmother, the late Thelma Lorber Schwartz, and her infamous older brother Abraham “Little Yiddle” Lorber. While he became a relatively low-level fixer in the Jewish mob, Murder Inc., she’s the book’s focus. They were schleppers, the American-born children of immigrants who left Drohobych, Ukraine in the late 19th Century. Abie’s shameful stories, or the facts of his criminality, were not frequently shared by my father, Abie’s nephew. I don’t think he knew the full extent of his uncle’s crimes and associations.

Strangely, I knew even less about the other, quieter brother, Louis. I discovered that the man for whom my father Lawrence was named was a genuine war hero. In contrast to his older brother Abie, Louis channeled his violence into...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Thelma Adams' website.

The Page 69 Test: Playdate.

My Book, The Movie: Playdate.

The Page 69 Test: Bittersweet Brooklyn.

My Book, The Movie: Bittersweet Brooklyn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 12, 2019

Chris Tebbetts

Chris Tebbetts's new YA novel is Me Myself & Him.

From his Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Me, Myself, and Him, and for your character Chris?

A: The prologue of this book—where Chris passes out doing whippets behind the ice cream store where he works—is autobiographical. I first wrote about it as a short piece of creative nonfiction but then started to wonder what might happen to a character in the same position.

My first idea was that it would be a traditional novel, following Chris (who I named after myself, to reflect the combination of memoir and fiction I was using), who gets shipped off to live with his famous but difficult father in California for the summer as a result of his drug-fueled accident.

However, as I pecked away at that idea, and wrote… and wrote…and wrote… I just couldn’t seem to get Chris on that plane to California. It was like the story wanted him to stay home in Ohio, and I wasn’t quite sure why.

After some further writing and exploring, that notion eventually led me to writing a dual narrative where we follow Chris through two different outcomes. In one thread of the story, Chris is busted for...[read on]
Visit Chris Tebbetts's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Mike Jay

Mike Jay has written extensively on scientific and medical history. His books on the history of drugs include High Society: Mind-Altering Drugs in History and Culture and The Atmosphere of Heaven. He lives in London.

Jay's new book is Mescaline: A Global History of the First Psychedelic.

From his Vice Q&A with Max Daly:

I was surprised to find out the Plains Indians took mescaline. Can you tell me more?

The Plains Indian peyote ceremony developed when the tribes were taken into forced captivity on the reservations. Before then, it was known only to those who visited the areas of Mexico and southern Texas where it grew—mostly Apache bands such as the Lipan and the Mescalero. But after the Texas-Mexico railroad opened in 1881, peyote from Texas began to reach the Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache reservations in Oklahoma.

Following the Ghost Dance ceremonies in 1890, which were suppressed after the massacre at Wounded Knee, communal singing and dancing was banned on the reservations. Peyote ceremonies took place in tipis, away from the prying eyes of government agents. Participants ate peyote buttons, usually dried, while seated all night around a central fire, purified with prayers, tobacco, and incense, and sang songs accompanied by a drum and rattle that passed around the group. Songs were channeled during the ceremonies and different traditions and forms of ritual evolved.

For men who had been brought up as warriors, the peyote meeting became a microcosm of their vanished world. Peyote worship preserved their culture and identity and nurtured an ethos of self-respect, particularly abstinence from...[read on]
Visit Mike Jay's website.

The Page 99 Test: Mescaline.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Catherine Chung

Catherine Chung was born in Evanston, IL, and grew up in New York, New Jersey, and Michigan. Writing has been her life-long passion, but as an undergraduate she indulged in a brief, one-sided affair with mathematics at the University of Chicago followed by a few years in Santa Monica working at a think tank by the sea.

Eventually she attended Cornell University for her MFA, and since then she and her books have been given shelter and encouragement from The MacDowell Colony, Jentel, Hedgebrook, SFAI, Camargo, The University of Leipzig, VCCA, UCross, Yaddo, Civitella Ranieri, The Jerome Foundation, the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, and the Constance Saltonstall Foundation. Her brother, Heesoo Chung, has also given her a bed and fed her lots of ice cream at criticał times.

Chung is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and a Director’s Visitorship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She was a Granta New Voice, and won an Honorable Mention for the PEN/Hemingway Award with her first novel, Forgotten Country, which was a Booklist, Bookpage, and San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2012. She has published work in The New York Times, The Rumpus, and Granta, and is a fiction editor at Guernica Magazine. She lives in New York City.

Chung's new novel is The Tenth Muse.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Why did you choose to focus on a mathematician in your new novel, and how did you come up with your character Katherine?

A: I love mathematics, and at its highest levels I feel like it's closer to poetry than anything else, or maybe music or even mysticism in the way it makes me feel. I love that it can contain statements that are incredibly profound and clear and far-reaching in their implications, but also mind-bogglingly complex.

So I wanted to write about someone who does math at that level, and I wanted also to write about a woman who's incredibly talented and brilliant in a field that has always been incredibly lacking in women. The few women who did rise to the top and accomplish great things have amazing life stories of commitment and dedication and passion and grit.

Q: What do you think Katherine's story says about the challenges faced by women mathematicians over the past half-century or more?

A: I think the stories of women in mathematics are really...[read on]
Visit Catherine Chung's website.

Writers Read: Catherine Chung.

My Book, The Movie: The Tenth Muse.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Timothy Jay Smith

When Timothy Jay Smith quit an intriguing international career to become a full-time writer, he had a host of real life characters, places and events to inspire his stories. His first novel, Cooper’s Promise, in some ways is still the most autobiographical of his novels, though he was never an American deserter adrift in Africa. But he was in The Mining Pan bar and he did meet Lulay and he did stowaway on a barge that landed him in an African jail.

His third novel, The Fourth Courier, is set in Poland in 1992. In it Smith looks back at the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, as witnessed through the eyes of an FBI Special Agent on assignment to stop a nuclear smuggling operation out of Russia. Smith’s newest book continues his style of page-turning thrillers steeped with colorful characters.

From Smith's Q&A with Rich Ehisen:

Open Mic: We’ll talk about process in a bit, but right now tell me a bit about “The Fourth Courier.”

Smith: The timing of the book is the spring of 1992, about three to four months right after the fall of the Soviet Union, which was dismantled legally on Christmas Day 1991. That is an important thing to note because that’s when the border between Russia and Poland became very porous and there was a lot of fear that Russia was unable to really handle or secure all the nuclear material that it had. The story is basically that there has been a series of gruesome murders in Warsaw, Poland in the spring of 1992. On the hands of the third victim they discover traces of radiation. Because all three men had been murdered in the same way, the theory becomes that the couriers carry nuclear product out of Russia into Poland to go on to some place in the world. the US sends an FBI agent to work with the Polish police in order to investigate the case and try to figure out what’s really going on.

Open Mic: This had some basis in reality for you, correct?

Smith: Yes. I was on an assignment around that time in Latvia, where I had a meeting with a decommissioned and very unhappy Russian general who at the end of the meeting suggested we go somewhere where no one could hear us. He took me way out into this forest, I had no idea what was going on, and he said he could get me anything I wanted. I looked very puzzled at him and said ‘I don’t know what you mean.’ He said, “atomic.” There had been some discussion in our meeting about Russia’s nuclear arsenal in Latvia, and he apparently had some control over it so I think he had totally misunderstood why I was there and thought this was something he might be able to sell and...[read on]
Visit Timothy Jay Smith's website.

Writers Read: Timothy Jay Smith.

My Book, The Movie: The Fourth Courier.

The Page 69 Test: The Fourth Courier.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 8, 2019

Richard Zimler

Richard Zimler's novels include The Search for Sana, The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, and The Seventh Gate. He has won many prizes for his writing and has lectured on Sephardic Jewish culture all over the world. He now lives in Porto, Portugal, where he teaches journalism and writes.

Zimler's latest novel is The Gospel According to Lazarus.

From his Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Gospel According to Lazarus?

A: The idea came to me in a very disturbing dream I first had in 1989. To explain, I need to go back to a few years before that…

One of my elder brothers, Jerry, grew ill with AIDS around 1986. At the time, I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area and he was working in New York as a clinical psychologist. I helped him through a series of debilitating opportunist infections, including one that caused lesions in his brain and left him with dementia for about a week.

It was tremendously upsetting, of course. In fact, I often felt as if I’d been trapped in a merciless, ongoing nightmare. Caring for him in New York hospitals – feeding him and walking him around in his wheelchair – also gave me frequent panic attacks. I constantly feared that I, too, might die young – if not of AIDS, then of some other disease or misfortune.

Jerry died on May 6, 1989. He was only 35 years old. I was crushed. Losing a brother or sister makes you...[read on]
Visit Richard Zimler's website.

The Page 99: Guardian of the Dawn.

The Page 69 Test: The Gospel According to Lazarus.

My Book, The Movie: The Warsaw Anagrams.

Writers Read: Richard Zimler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Naomi Booth

Naomi Booth is the author of Sealed.

From her interview with Ross Jeffery & Anthony Self at Storgy:

‘Sealed’ is described as a ‘gripping modern fable on motherhood, and a terrifying portrait of ordinary people under threat from their own bodies.’ The novel deals with a particular disease that provides a unique horror element in the narrative that is very eco-based. Global warming has become a prevalent speaking point at the moment, so was this a commentary on our environment at the moment, or was this something you always wanted to address?

NB – At the time I was writing Sealed, I was reading a lot of non-fiction about climate change and the environment. The critic Timothy Morton uses the term “dark ecology” to describe the way that we’re looped into the world and are profoundly connected to all other life-forms. He argues that we’ve already entered the next mass extinction event, that we’re past the point of no return, that we are already, in some senses, the walking dead. I found this a really uncanny and affecting idea. I was also read a wonderful book by Eula Bliss called On Immunity, in which she discusses the experience of pregnancy in relation to environmental contamination. She argues that our bodies, even at birth, are already polluted: she cites research that shows all kinds of chemicals and toxic substances, including paint thinners and DDT and triclosan, present in breast milk. These ideas really got under my skin, and I found myself wanting to...[read on]
Visit Naomi Booth's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Dominic Smith

Dominic Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of five novels, including The Last Painting of Sara de Vos.

His new novel is The Electric Hotel.

From Smith's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Electric Hotel?

A: One of the things I'm interested in as a writer is what I think of as the gaps and silences of history. So when the Library of Congress put out a report about five years ago saying that more than 75 percent of all silent films have been lost forever, I was intrigued.

I kept wondering whether there was a lost masterpiece in all this vanished celluloid. And as I started to research the world of early silent film, I discovered that America’s first movie town was Fort Lee, New Jersey, not Hollywood, and that some landmark films were made before World War I.

This was the seed of the book, which tells the story of a lost silent film that ruined the famous French director and actress who made it. It also tells the story of the rise and fall of...[read on]
Visit Dominic Smith's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre.

The Page 69 Test: Bright and Distant Shores.

The Page 69 Test: The Electric Hotel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 5, 2019

Meghan Holloway

Meghan Holloway found her first Nancy Drew mystery in a sun-dappled attic at the age of eight and subsequently fell in love with the grip and tautness of a well-told mystery. She flew an airplane before she learned how to drive a car, did her undergrad work in Creative Writing in the sweltering south, and finished a Masters of Library and Information Science in the blustery north. She spent a summer and fall in Maine picking peaches and apples, traveled the world for a few years, and did a stint fighting crime in the records section of a police department.​​

She now lives in the foothills of the Appalachians with her standard poodle and spends her days as a scientist with the requisite glasses but minus the lab coat.

Holloway's new novel is Once More Unto the Breach.

From the author's Q&A with Rich Ehisen:

Open Mic: Let’s talk about language. Your narrative flows so beautifully, but still feels economical, with no wasted words. Writers sometimes fall in love with the beauty of sentences over their value to the story. Do you ever struggle with that? And if so, how do you overcome it?

Holloway: I love lyricism in writing both as a writer and as a reader. I strive for vividness and for a very sensory reading experience when I’m writing, but it is a challenge to not get caught up in the writing itself. I have to also remember that I am a storyteller. I try to keep the idea in the back of my head that regardless of how lovely a sentence flows, how beautiful it is on the page, it still needs to move the plot forward. If it doesn’t, I need to be ruthless in cutting it despite how pretty it is. That’s not easy and it takes a lot of practice, but one thing that helps is that once I finish a draft I usually print it out on paper and go through it and read it aloud. That helps me figure out how well the story flows, and also where I need to cut out the loveliness and...[read on]
Visit Meghan Holloway's website, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Istagram.

My Book, The Movie: Once More Unto the Breach.

The Page 69 Test: Once More Unto the Breach.

Writers Read: Meghan Holloway.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Whitney Scharer

Whitney Scharer is the author of The Age of Light.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: You write that your "fascination with [photographer Lee Miller] sprang from images--images of her and images taken by her." What were some of the particular images that you found especially compelling?

A: There are so many images of and by Lee that I find fascinating. One thing I loved was how she often reinterpreted portraits of herself, created by Man Ray and other men, in her own work.

In one of Man Ray’s photos, he has Miller in the nude, her head caged inside a fencing sabre guard. Lee took the sabre guard and used it in her own shoot: in her version, her model is at ease, with the sabre guard wrapped around her shoulders like a shawl. Lee’s image reclaims the sabre guard from the sadomasochistic overtones it had in Man Ray’s work. When I was drafting my novel, I used the sabre guard photographs as a jumping off point for one of the first scenes I wrote.

Another of the first images I used in drafting my book was Dave Scherman’s photo of Lee bathing in Hitler’s bathtub after Hitler had fled Munich at the end of the war. Her expression in the pictures is...[read on]
Visit Whitney Scharer's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Kamala Harris

Kamala D. Harris is a lifelong public safety and civil rights leader, and is currently serving as a U.S. Senator from California. Her new book is The Truths We Hold: An American Journey.

From her interview with Wei Tchou for The Cut:

You wrestle with the idea of power and how people who are in power help people who are disadvantaged by the system. How do you think about power as somebody who has had a lot of it?

I mean here’s the thing. First of all, my first and my entire career was as a prosecutor. Until I came to the United States Senate. And at a very young age in my life and my career I spoke these words, which I write about in the book, but it was part of my identity which I would declare every time I walked into the courtroom: “Kamala Harris for the people.” And I took it very seriously.

So the concept there, and how I wrote about it in the book, is that “for the people,” not “for the victim” alone, but “for the people” because our system of justice was designed with an understanding that a harm against any one of us is a harm against all of us. And I feel very strongly about that in terms of how we should proceed and then think of and handle any one of us being harmed. We should proceed and think of this as a harm against all of us.

And if you study our system of justice, that’s a value that was a founding principle of our justice system and therefore who we are as a country. And so I’ve used my positions to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Jennifer Kincheloe

Jennifer Kincheloe is the author of the novels The Secret Life of Anna Blanc and its sequel The Woman in the Camphor Trunk. The third novel in the series, The Body in Griffith Park, is out this month.

From Kincheloe's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your character Anna Blanc?

A: She just popped out. She was supposed to be an homage to Alice Stebbins Wells, a middle-aged minister who became the first cop in LA in 1910. But Anna turned out nothing like Alice.

In some ways, I took my own characteristics at 19 and stretched them. For example, I was relatively privileged. Anna was filthy rich. I was brave. Anna's downright heroic. I was a little self-absorbed. Anna begins the series incredibly self-absorbed.

Q: Did you always know you'd be writing more than one book about Anna, and do you think she's changed at all from one book to the next?

A: The Secret Life of Anna Blanc was supposed to be my practice novel. It was my first, and I didn't think anyone would ever read it. But when my writer's group reacted favorably to the book, and it subsequently sold, I decided I'd like to write more in the series.

And yes, Anna is growing up, changing within each book in some...[read on]
Visit Jennifer Kincheloe's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Woman in the Camphor Trunk.

Coffee with a Canine: Jennifer Kincheloe & Monkey.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 1, 2019

Scott Shapiro

Scott Shapiro is a professor of law and philosophy at Yale and the co-author, with Oona A. Hathaway, of The Internationalists: How A Radical Plan to Outlaw War Remade the World.

From his May 2019 interview with Isaac Chotiner for The New Yorker:

When you say that there is a long history of conservatives being mistrustful of laws of war, do you mean both international ways of regulating what our troops can do in war, like some sort of world court, and also our own laws or the military’s own laws?

Yes. So John Bolton, for example, has waged a war on the International Criminal Court for many years, since the beginning of its existence, and spent an enormous amount of time when he was in the State Department going around the world, trying to get countries to sign what we’ll call the Article 98 agreements, which basically said that these countries would not coöperate with the court in prosecution of American service personnel, and then denied them foreign aid if they didn’t.

But his objection has been very much about the notion that an international tribunal will prosecute American service personnel. Whereas there is another strand that objects even to our own government, our own military, prosecuting our own service personnel, and there are several strains to it, some of them being understandable, some of them being quite reprehensible. When I say understandable, I think that there are arguments. I don’t think they carry the day, but let me just say that there are at least arguments that make sense.

So one of them is war is hell, and shit happens, and it’s very hard to hold soldiers to such high standards. Oliver Wendell Holmes’s famous expression, that “detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife,” comes to mind—the idea being that, if you’re in that situation, you can’t be expected to follow all the rules perfectly. There’s also the idea that there are too many rules, and that the rules are too constraining and that we’re tying, as they say, our boys’ hands. And it’s especially problematic in cases where there’s an asymmetry, where the U.S. military is fighting a group that doesn’t follow the rules. So it’s not just that we have a lot of rules, we’re fighting other militaries who are ostensibly bound by those rules, too. But, also, what do we do when they’re not following the rules, they hide among civilians.

Those, I think, are arguments that need to be taken seriously, and people have obviously debated them, and it’s not obvious what the solution should be in particular cases. I went and I watched a lot of the Fox News clips about these cases that it seems like Trump was responding to. And they sometimes use these arguments, but they also use the arguments like, “These are our guys and you need to protect them. They’re risking their lives for us and we have to protect them.” And it’s tribalism. Like...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Heidi Diehl

Heidi Diehl is the author of Lifelines.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Lifelines, and for your character Louise?

A: Initially, I wanted to write about a time and place that fascinated me: 1970s West Germany, a time of huge social change. The decades immediately after World War II were marked by Germany’s collective silence about its crimes in the Holocaust; as the postwar generation came of age in the ‘60s and ‘70s, young people demanded public reckoning and remorse.

I was interested in personal experiences of this public shift, and I was particularly inspired by the intersection of art and politics in the early ‘70s—the ways that, for young German artists and musicians, creative experimentation intertwined with the broader cultural changes. This time period struck me as exciting, but also emotionally challenging and psychologically complex—rich material for a novel and its characters.

Louise is the novel’s protagonist, and her character developed slowly, as I explored both her creative work and her personal history. Her vantage point, as an American in Germany, offered...[read on]
Visit Heidi Diehl's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Christopher Klein

Christopher Klein is the author of four books, including When the Irish Invaded Canada: The Incredible True Story of the Civil War Veterans Who Fought for Ireland’s Freedom.

From a Q&A with his publishers:

Did an Irish-American army really attack Canada?

Yep, it’s no blarney. When the Irish Invaded Canada is a true story. In fact, an Irish-American army attacked Canada not just once, but five times between 1866 and 1871 in what are collectively known as the Fenian Raids.

When did you first learn about the Fenian Raids?

When researching my last book, a biography of heavyweight boxing champion John L. Sullivan, I came across a mention that one of his ring opponents was a veteran of the attack on Canada. I did a double-take because I, like most Americans, had never heard of the Fenian Raids.

What made you want to write a book about them?

The more I delved into the story, the more I found that there was an incredible adventure story to be told about these revolutionaries who fled Ireland’s Great Hunger, fought on both sides of the Civil War, and then united to attack Canada multiple times. When the Irish Invaded Canada is the first popular history of the Fenian Raids told from the perspective of the Irish-Americans who carried out the invasions, and it allowed me to tell the story of those Great Hunger refugees who...[read on]
Visit Christopher Klein's website.

The Page 99 Test: When the Irish Invaded Canada.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 28, 2019

Therese Oneill

Therese Oneill's latest book is Ungovernable: The Victorian Parent's Guide to Raising Flawless Children.

From her Q&A with Caroline Leavitt:

I love this book so much I want to marry it. How did you ever think to write about this? What was the why now moment?

First of all, thanks, Caroline. The book is too young to consider your offer of marriage but yet you honor our family name with your proposal.

I had this idea the day I signed the contract for my first book “Unmentionable.” I thought a “what to expect when you’re expecting VICTORIAN STYLE!” would be a natural follow up to a book about how to be a tidy Victorian lady. Let me loop your next question about the research being hilarious/horrifying in here.


Which my very supportive agent and editor (Jessica Papin and Jean Garnett respectively) would not allow. I am from Oregon and New York ladies just terrify me. Manhattan needs more weed and Birkenstocks.

I thought it would be hilarious. But I began my research by looking...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Kelsey Rae Dimberg

Kelsey Rae Dimberg is the author of Girl in the Rearview Mirror: A Novel.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Girl in the Rearview Mirror, and for your character Finn?

A: The idea for the novel came from multiple inspirations: classic film noir, which I was watching obsessively around the time I started the book; the Phoenix setting; a desire to explore social class and privilege.

Finn as a nanny character came to me early, as I tried to think of who might have access to a wealthy family but belong to a different world. The nanny was the ideal role: she has intimate access to the Martins, and she’s almost part of the family—but when it comes down to it, she isn’t.

Q: The novel involves a political family--why did you choose politics as one focus of the novel?

A: Actually, in early drafts, the family patriarch was...[read on]
Visit Kelsey Rae Dimberg's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Akemi Johnson

Akemi Johnson's new book is Night in the American Village: Women in the Shadow of the U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa.

From her interview with Jon Letman at Lobe Log:

You write about a cycle of self-defeat in which bars and clubs frequented by U.S. soldiers encourage excessive drinking which can lead to crimes that sometimes erupt into international incidents that, in turn, may result in soldiers losing “liberty” privileges and being confined to their base, only to have the cycle repeat itself later. You even described a bar that serves a strong cocktail called the “International Incident.” How can this cycle be broken?

At that orientation I attended, alongside this message of Okinawa as paradise, there was another conflicting message that this is an extremely loaded situation where any small action—a crime or incident by one individual—can blow up into an international incident and have ramifications on the U.S.-Japan security alliance. There is incredible pressure on service members to act responsibly, and not do stupid things, commit crimes.

But I’m not really sure how that message is getting across because obviously there are still incidents happening. The question is how do you really stop this cycle? It seems like what’s happening now is not working. I think a lot of locals (Okinawans) have come to the conclusion that the only way to really stop the cycle is to close the bases and remove the service members from the island.

Can you describe how the U.S. military incentivizes working on bases for Okinawans, Japanese, and other nationals, including former members of the military?

One reason is that Okinawa is the poorest prefecture in Japan, so I think more than other places in Japan, working on base is...[read on]
Visit Akemi Johnson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Jim Acosta

Jim Acosta is CNN's Chief White House Correspondent and author of The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America.

From his interview with The New Yorker's Isaac Chotiner:

When you quote the Emma Lazarus poem to Stephen Miller, are you hoping to change his mind? To reach viewers? What is going through your mind?

My thinking at that moment is that everyone is watching this live, and they are seeing someone standing at the podium saying they are not just going to change the nation’s immigration system but the prevailing sense of what immigrants have been to America for generations. And I thought, at that moment, what Stephen was talking about was essentially a policy that flies in the face of America’s tradition of welcoming immigrants into this country, a tradition that says not all immigrants have to come into this country speaking fluent English and having a Ph.D. There are folks, like my dad, who came into this country at eleven years old, couldn’t speak English, couldn’t write English, but was pulled aside in class and taught how to do that and worked as a blue-collar guy in grocery stores for forty years, but paid into Social Security, paid into Medicare, and helped raise two kids who are doing quite well.

That, also, is part of our immigrant experience. And what I thought was happening that day with Stephen Miller was that he was again trying to tell the American people that up was down and black was white. Telling people that the Statue of Liberty doesn’t apply to immigration, to me, was a huge moment, because it said to me that they are not really willing to deal with reality when it comes to advancing their interests and their agenda. And that has to be...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 24, 2019

Karen Odden

Karen Odden's interest in the Victorian era goes back to her New York University doctoral dissertation, which explored how the medical, parliamentary, and literary representations of nineteenth-century railway disasters helped to create a discourse out of which Freud and others fashioned their ideas of “trauma.”

Her first book, A Lady in the Smoke, was a USA Today Bestseller and won the 2017 New Mexico-Arizona award for eBook Fiction.

Odden's new novel is A Dangerous Duet.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: You've noted that your father was a pianist. How did you end up creating your character Nell, a pianist in 19th-century London?

A: There’s not a tidy answer to that one, honestly. I’d say the impulse came from a few different strands of thought and memory.

First, my father was a fine pianist, and so piano was always part of my life as a child. After he died in 2012, it sharpened my memories of him playing piano in our living room.

We had a goldenrod carpet (it was the ‘70s) and sometimes I would lie underneath the piano, listening to the disembodied notes coming through the air, and watching my father’s feet in their Hush Puppies as they moved among the three pedals.

I wasn’t ever close to my father, who was rather a loner, engaged in collecting model cars and trains, reading his books, and photographing the sights he saw on trips he took alone.

But after his death, which stemmed from his Type 1 diabetes, I realized that his diabetes in many ways shaped and defined his childhood; while his older brothers could play football and baseball, my father couldn’t, and so piano became his companion, and music a significant way of communicating.

This suggested to me some ways that my heroine Nell’s interactions with...[read on]
Visit Karen Odden's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Karen Odden and Rosy.

The Page 69 Test: A Lady in the Smoke.

My Book, The Movie: A Lady in the Smoke.

My Book, The Movie: A Dangerous Duet.

The Page 69 Test: A Dangerous Duet.

Writers Read: Karen Odden (March 2019).

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Louise Aronson

Louise Aronson's new book is Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life.

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

GROSS: As a geriatrician, one of the things you have to deal with is that your patients are probably mostly on multiple medications, dealing with multiple problems. And you have to make sure that the medications are balanced and they're not having bad interactions with each other. And sometimes the symptoms they come and see you with are probably side effects of the medication. And also, older people respond differently to certain medications. What are some examples of that? 'Cause I think it's really useful to know what those medications are.

ARONSON: Absolutely. Well, older people respond somewhat differently to, actually, most medications because the way the body handles a medication depends on its being metabolized, generally in the liver or kidney. And those functions tend to decline or change with age. It's also the medication is affecting the rest of the body. That's what we hope for. But the rest of the body is also different. So any medication - this is one of the hard and fast rules of geriatric medicine - any medication can do anything, (laughter), in an older person. And I've had experiences. So a new blood thinner came out a few years ago, and a grandson called me about his grandmother to say, well, she's - it was a Saturday, and he said, she's so confused. She's just not herself. What should we do?

And I asked a variety of questions about any indication of infection or new problems, and there really weren't any. So the other critical question is, any new or changed medicines? And she was on this new blood thinner. Now, he said he'd looked on the Internet, as did I, to see if this reaction was listed, and it was not. But critically, the vast majority of medicines, although given to older adults since older adults have more diseases, are not tested in older adults. So researchers have traditionally said, well, we're not going to include older people in our studies because their bodies are different, and or because they have other ailments that might interfere with their reaction to this medicine. But then they give the medicine to those same older people, which is most older people.

And so very frequently with a new medicine, we will see...[read on]
Visit Louise Aronson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Harlan Coben

With over 70 million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben is the #1 New York Times author of thirty one novels including the recently released Run Away.

From his responses to prompts set at the Guardian:

The book that changed my life

Marathon Man by William Goldman, who died recently. My father gave it to me when I was maybe 15 or 16. It was the first time I read an adult thriller where I said to myself: “I can’t put this down – someone could put a gun to my head and I wouldn’t put this down! How lucky is this Goldman guy to do this for a living?” Subconsciously, I think, that started me on this career path. Bill Goldman later became a valued friend and mentor. I miss him greatly.

The book I wish I’d written

This is bad karma. As you get older, you hopefully stop feeling this way. There are books I love that I think are pure genius – but I was not meant to write them. That’s a good thing. If I had written them, I wouldn’t have experienced the joy of reading them.

The book that changed my mind

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates helped open my eyes to the reality of racism in the US. Everyone should read it. I’m not yet “woke” – I think that is an...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 21, 2019

Louis Bayard

Louis Bayard's new novel is Courting Mr. Lincoln.

From his Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Why did you choose to tell the story in Courting Mr. Lincoln from the alternating perspectives of Mary Todd and Joshua Speed?

A: The story is essentially a love triangle, with Lincoln in the middle, so from the start, I felt I had to give equal weight to the triangle’s two other “legs.” Plus I think the combination of their perspectives – the fact that Mary and Joshua interpret the same events in quite different ways – gives the reader a fuller, more stereoscopic picture of what’s going on.

Q: What did you see as the right mixture of fact and fiction as you wrote the novel?

A: I wish I could say I stumbled on an exact formula, but the ratio is case-by-case with each book. I do try to honor the...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Louis Bayard's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Black Tower.

The Page 69 Test: The Pale Blue Eye.

The Page 69 Test: The School of Night.

The Page 69 Test: Roosevelt's Beast.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Ashley E. Jardina

Ashley Jardina is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Duke University. Her new book is White Identity Politics.

From her interview with Sean Illing for Vox:

Sean Illing: So when did whites start thinking about their whiteness in a politically meaningful way again? And what precipitated this sudden awareness?

Ashley Jardina: My argument is that it’s the growing diversity of the United States. There’s this series of events that are in many ways a product of that increasing diversity. So I began by looking at the massive waves of immigration that happened in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and how that changed the demographics of the United States.

At this point today, it’s projected that whites will cease to be a majority by the middle of the century. This fact, which was brought into sharp relief by the election of Barack Obama, ignited a wave racial awareness among white Americans, and I think we’re still reckoning with the political consequences of this.

Sean Illing: What does the data tell us about how whites are defining their own anxieties or concerns?

Ashley Jardina: Deep down it’s about this fear that America isn’t going to look like them anymore, that they’ll lose their majority and with it their cultural and political power. It’s also tied up in the belief that whites are experiencing discrimination now.

The gains that racial and ethnic majorities are making, either socially or politically or economically, are coming at the expense of their group. In many ways, it’s about...[read on]
Visit Ashley Jardina's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Paullina Simons

Paullina Simons's latest novel is The Tiger Catcher (The End of Forever Saga).

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Tiger Catcher, and for your characters Julian and Josephine?

A: This story came from the same place that all my others have come. I simply had an idea.

In this case, the idea was about a man who loved a woman so much he bridged time and space to find her. I didn’t realize at first it was going to be this huge. But after about a year of writing and thinking about it, I knew. It just kept growing.

The Tiger Catcher is a love story of Julian and Josephine, set in Los Angeles and London. He is on his second or third career, living in the land of dreams for sale, and searching for someone to change his life. She is a stage actress, shuffling between New York and L.A. working toward her big break. When they fall in love, it’s like a fairytale, because they fall in love in paradise.

Unfortunately, Josephine is not what she pretends to be. This causes a fracture in the foundation on which Julian has built his life and destroys the hopes on which he built his future. The Tiger Catcher is the story of the love, of that fracture and its aftermath, and what both Julian and Josephine must do as...[read on]
Visit Paullina Simons's website.

The Page 69 Test: Lone Star.

Writers Read: Paullina Simons (December 2015).

My Book, The Movie: The Bronze Horseman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Alafair Burke

Alafair Burke's latest novel is The Better Sister.

From her interview at Crime Watch:

If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?

Constance Zimmer. Explaining why would require too much talking about myself, but I love her work and the characters she has selected so far.

Of your books, which is your favourite or a little bit special for you, and why?

Ack, that’s like choosing your favorite kid, but harder because unlike many parents, I actually like all my books. (That was a joke, to be clear.) The recent trilogy (The Ex, The Wife, and The Better Sister) is important to me because of what I think the books have to say about the gendered nature of violence and abuse in our society, as well as the roles that women are expected to play in...[read on]
Visit Alafair Burke's website.

The Page 69 Test: Dead Connection.

The Page 69 Test: Angel’s Tip.

The Page 69 Test: 212.

The Page 69 Test: All Day and a Night.

The Page 69 Test: The Ex.

The Page 69 Test: The Wife.

The Page 69 Test: The Better Sister.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 17, 2019

Belle Boggs

Belle Boggs's latest novel is The Gulf.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Gulf, and for your character Marianne?

A: Marianne is a poet, broke and living in Brooklyn, when she is invited (by her ex) to run a creative writing school for Christian writers--the Genesis Inspirational Writing Ranch. With no other jobs on the horizon, and facing imminent eviction, she makes the leap to do something ethically dubious.

She's pushed along by her own anger at right-wing evangelical Christians, who abound in the place where she grew up, where her father and sister still live.

I began working on the novel in 2011, which is when the novel begins, and was really preoccupied with the Tea Party backlash to Obama's election, which was especially evident in rural Virginia, where I'm from and still visit often. I was also interested in scams and bad businesses and the negative impact of for-profit education, as well as the precarious financial position of artists.

I wanted to create a character who would participate in that world, and be ethically implicated by it, but also someone who would...[read on]
Visit Belle Boggs's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Nigel Hamilton

Nigel Hamilton's latest book is War and Peace: FDR's Final Odyssey: D-Day to Yalta, 1943–1945. From the transcript of the author's interview with Fareed Zakaria:

ZAKARIA: So 75th anniversary of D-Day. The Normandy landings are, I think, for much of the world, this sort of the moment of World War II. This is the moment when the Allies move onto the Continent of Europe and begin the process of rolling back the Nazi conquest of Europe. And you reveal that Winston Churchill, the great World War II leader was actually opposed to this.

HAMILTON: I'm afraid to say he was. It's really been covered up for the last seven decades, largely because he was such a brilliant writer that he wrote his own version of World War II and he didn't want to go into that. But I've spent 10 years on my trilogy and I wanted to look at it from FDR's point of view.

And FDR immediately after the American defeated Pearl Harbor was determined to impose a strategy, an American strategy on how to defeat first the Germans, then the Japanese. And it in that strategy, it was crucial that ultimately United States Forces would have to meet The Wehrmacht in open battle.

ZAKARIA: The interesting thing you point out is that Winston Churchill, who we're going to rethink of is this great military commander in chief was wrong on almost all his military strategies during the war. And he's wrong for two reasons, one, sometimes he was just plain wrong and other times it was a secret way to actually try to retain the British Empire while defeating the Germans.

HAMILTON: Yes. I mean, one could say that this was a reasonable national strategy if it worked. But the trouble was, for all his genius as a leader, as an orator, as somebody who could marshal the will of a nation as he did in his finest hour in 1940, even though he been to military college which FDR hadn't, he was very unlucky in very impetuous and never really understood...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Jennifer Ryan

Jennifer Ryan grew up in Britain and moved to Washington, DC fifteen years ago. Previously a non-fiction book editor, she now writes novels set in Second World War Britain and inspired by her grandmother’s stories of the war.

Her second novel, The Spies of Shilling Lane, tells the tale of a woman who heads into the London Blitz to see her daughter, only to find her missing.

From Ryan's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Spies of Shilling Lane, and for your character Mrs. Braithwaite?

A: A few years ago, a quiet 99-year-old woman died in a sleepy London suburb. Below the floorboards in a secret attic annex, they found a semi-automatic Sten gun, ammunition, and other espionage paraphernalia. It was headline news: she was an MI5 operative during and following the Second World War.

As a Second World War aficionado, I was always aware of the roles women played in espionage, especially in mainland Europe as part of the Special Operations Executive.

But it wasn't until Eileen Burgoyne's past was dug out that I realized how women were used by MI5, who were dealing with threats within the country, including enemy spies, people of German decent who harbored Nazi sentiment, and fifth columnists who supported the Nazis, planning to take down the country from the inside.

I immediately started to imagine how...[read on]
Visit Jennifer Ryan's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Spies of Shilling Lane.

Writers Read: Jennifer Ryan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 14, 2019

Eric Rauchway

Eric Rauchway is a distinguished historian and expert on the Progressive and New Deal eras at the University of California, Davis. He is the author of several acclaimed books on the subject, including The Money Makers, The Great Depression and the New Deal, and Blessed Among Nations, and has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, the New Republic, the Los Angeles Times, Dissent, and The American Prospect.

Rauchway's latest book is Winter War: Hoover, Roosevelt, and the First Clash Over the New Deal.

From the author's HuffPost Q&A with Zach Carter:

This is a book about a presidential election and its transition. Do you see overtones for today?

There are a number of levels in which the parallels you’re suggesting between the early 1930s and today hold true. The least important one right this second is the practical effect of the New Deal, which is the recovery from the Depression. We’re not currently in a recession, let alone a depression. But why it’s vital for proponents of a Green New Deal to use that phrasing is that it rallies Americans to a sense of shared national purpose that recently has been ceded to the political right.

We’ve forgotten how successful Roosevelt and other politicians of the ’30s and ’40s were at creating a progressive sense of common purpose. And that’s certainly important for people on the left today.

And the other is the history of neoliberalism. There’s a long history within the Democratic Party, beginning at least with Jimmy Carter and going all the way through Barack Obama, which concedes to the right the idea that the market is the best way to organize the resources of society, that the best government can do is fiddle with or adjust the social outcomes created by the free market.

The Roosevelt era dawned with an acknowledgment that the market really screwed up. And that what we were calling “the market” was really a system that Republicans had built up to aid rich people and businesses. It wasn’t a market in any conventional sense. For young people who grew up in the Great Recession, there are...[read on]
Learn more about Winter War and follow Eric Rauchway on Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: Winter War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Keely Hutton

Keely Hutton's new novel is Secret Soldiers.

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

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Secret Soldiers, and for your character Thomas?

A: The idea for my upcoming middle grade novel, Secret Soldiers, started with some confusion while I was binge-watching the BBC show Peaky Blinders three years ago. The main character, Tommy Shelby, suffers from PTSD due to his time as a soldier in World War I.

My editor and I had agreed that my next book should be in the same vein as my debut novel Soldier Boy, so I’d been researching wars and child soldiers. I hadn’t found anything that really grabbed my attention until I watched Tommy Shelby’s flashbacks, which showed him fighting in tunnels.

A quick Google search revealed that thousands of sappers and miners tunneled beneath the battlefields of the Great War to undermine the enemy’s position and break the brutal stalemate of trench warfare. Fascinated, I researched whether any child soldiers fought in World War I and was shocked to discover that over a quarter of a million underage British boys...[read on]
Visit Keely Hutton's website.

The Page 69 Test: Soldier Boy.

My Book, The Movie: Soldier Boy.

Writers Read: Keely Hutton (July 2017).

--Marshal Zeringue