Thursday, February 28, 2019

Ana Raquel Minian

Ana Raquel Minian is an associate professor of history at Stanford and the author of the book Undocumented Lives: The Untold Story of Mexican Migration. From her Q&A with Isaac Chotiner for The New Yorker:

What is it about this moment in U.S.-Mexico relations regarding immigration that you think is interesting or unique?

Since 2008, there’s actually been net negative migration. So, what we see now is a lot of anti-Mexican rhetoric, for example, when Trump ran his campaign, we heard him say that Mexicans were coming in and they were probably criminals and rapists. But of course what he did not mention was that more Mexicans are leaving the country than coming in.

Mexican migration had grown steadily and increasingly since the end of the bracero program, especially undocumented migration. That was a guest-worker program that started in 1942, in which Mexican workers could come, work legally in the United States for short periods of time, and then return to Mexico. It continued until 1964. Undocumented folks were used to coming in the bracero program, and once the program ended, and they could no longer continue to come legally to the United States, they simply did so without papers. And migration continued to grow until 2008. So, in terms of what’s unique about this historical moment, in terms of Mexican migration, it’s that the rhetoric continues to be very anti-Mexican even though...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Elinor Lipman

Elinor Lipman is the award-winning author of many novels, including The View from Penthouse B and The Inn at Lake Devine; one essay collection, I Can't Complain; and Tweet Land of Liberty: Irreverent Rhymes from the Political Circus. She lives in New York City.

Lipman's new novel is Good Riddance.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Good Riddance, and for the 1968 high school yearbook at the heart of the novel?

A: It began with a chance purchase at a flea market in Stormville, New York. My significant other, who’d grown up in England without yearbooks (at least not at the Quarry Bank School in Liverpool) bought it proudly for $12 when I wasn’t looking. “Why would you want this?” I asked. “Americana,” he said.

When he got it home and studied it, he realized that the book had belonged to the teacher and yearbook advisor to whom it was dedicated. As he studied it, he saw that she had attended reunions faithfully, and had made notes. Eventually I went through every page. But the story and the hanky-panky are...[read on]
Visit Elinor Lipman's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Family Man.

The Page 99 Test: I Can't Complain.

The Page 69 Test: Good Riddance.

Writers Read: Elinor Lipman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

David Wallace-Wells

David Wallace-Wells is the author of The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming.

From the transcript of his interview with Fareed Zakaria:

ZAKARIA: So, David, what makes you so worried, so alarmist, now? It feels like there's an urgency to what you're writing.

DAVID WALLACE-WELLS, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: We're headed for some really bleak outcomes. So if we don't change course on fossil fuels, by the end of the century we'll get to about 4 degrees of warming. That would mean total global economic damages of $600 trillion, which is double all the wealth that exists in the world today. The U.N. says it would mean hundreds of millions of climate refugees, perhaps as many as a billion climate refugees.

It would mean twice as much war as we see today because there's a relationship between temperature and conflict. And that happens at the national level. It also happens at the individual level. So rates of murder and rape would go up. It has an impact on agricultural yields. It has an impact on public health because mosquitoes will be flying ever farther afield.

For all of these reasons, it is an all-encompassing problem. It changes, or threatens to change just about every aspect of modern life as we know it. And we have it within our power to change that course and to pull up short of 4 degrees, well short of 4 degrees, but we've done so little to signal that we're serious about that, that it makes me worried that we won't do enough in time to avert some of these catastrophic impacts.

ZAKARIA: But do you know the basic problem is with this -- with this analysis, which is that even you said, at the end of the century. So the problem is that, you know, it's -- the costs are very long-term for, you know, not doing something. And the pain is very short-term for doing something, carbon taxes, massive shift in your lifestyle, things like that. So at the end of the day people just don't worry about stuff that's so far in the future.

WALLACE-WELLS: Well, I think that we're beginning to learn that...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 25, 2019

Eva Hagberg Fisher

Eva Hagberg Fisher is the author of How To Be Loved: A Memoir of Lifesaving Friendship.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: What impact did writing the memoir have on you?

A: I’m a very slow real-time emotional processor, so I didn’t have a TON of feelings while I was writing it - though when I first drafted the first 100 pages (which we ended up cutting, it was like 99 percent relationship drama that didn’t need to be in the book!) I had a hard time distinguishing between the past and the present and got a little torn up and ashamed.

After that, the impact was overwhelmingly positive. The book started feeling like my friend. My editor was the only other person who was reading it, and it felt like this very intimate secret project that I got to do whenever I wanted to, which was often.

I had a fantasy that I was going to write by holing up in a cabin somewhere, but instead I was very pragmatic about just writing for an hour here or there, going over scenes, seeing if they worked.

I feel like I became a much better writer by working with my editor - it mostly felt like a really intense technical challenge; I knew the pitfalls I wanted to avoid and the emotional notes that I wanted to hit. And then feeling like I’d done that was really gratifying.

Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?

A: I hope they feel like...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Michael E. Mann

Michael E. Mann is a noted climate scientist and Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Pennsylvania State University. From his Q&A with Samantha Page for Cosmos:

Is a change in the way that we view climate change and the way that we talk about it going to keep us from those apocalyptic scenarios that we’re all kind of worried about?

All of these threads have come together in an almost perfect storm, if you’ll forgive the pun, that is creating a potential tipping point in the public consciousness.

There’s a race between two tipping points. The tipping point of the public consciousness, which we want to see, and the tipping point in the climate system that we don’t want to see and that we’re coming perilously close to. For example, the melting of major ice sheets and the global sea-level rise that would entail.

It’s a race between our ability to mobilise the public and policymakers to action and the increasingly devastating impacts of climate change we will see the further we go down this road of fossil fuel burning. That’s really the challenge, to turn this ship around as quickly as possible.

But we’re not going to avert all of the dangerous impacts of climate change. If you live in Puerto Rico or California, just about anywhere around the world – Australia is dealing with unprecedented summer heat right now, devastating heat and flooding events. Some bad stuff is already happening.

The challenge here is to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Roxanne Veletzos

From Deborah Kalb's Q&A with Roxanne Veletzos, author of The Girl They Left Behind:

Q: Your novel is based on your own family history. What did you see as the right balance between the fictional and the historical as you wrote the book?

A: I must admit this did not come easily. Much of Romania’s history at the time was complex and volatile, and challenging at times to balance against the intensely personal stories of two families and the daughter they share.

In the end, I had to be careful not to encumber the plot, but rather to thread historical developments with a delicate hand, in a way that supported the characters’ experiences.

Q: How much did you know about your family's history as you were growing up?

A: I was 11 or 12 when I first found out that my mother was adopted—although it wasn’t until a few years later when our family moved to California that the full details of her adoption became known to me.

I remember my mother tearfully revealing one day, that as a toddler, she had been abandoned on the steps of an apartment building in late January of 1941, just as the nation’s capital had erupted into a wave of violence against the Jewish population, which later became known as the Bucharest Pogrom.

Unfortunately...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 22, 2019

Don Winslow

Don Winslow's The Border is a follow-up to his 2005 novel The Power of the Dog and 2015’s The Cartel. From the author's Rolling Stone Q&A with Sean Woods:

Do you ever hear from any people in the narco world? Narcos or DEA, about your books…

Sure.

What do they say?

You know, for the most part they say I get it right, which is gratifying. I’ve heard the DEA gives the book out to agents who are going to that part of the world. I know that certain law enforcement agencies do. Other DEA people have been angry with me, about the anti-War on Drugs stance that I’ve taken.

What about the narcos?

Sometimes, sometimes. Look, I don’t wanna get into this too deeply, you know what I mean? Because I don’t want, in any way, to compare myself with Mexican journalists who’ve been killed covering this story. I dedicated Cartel to them. I dedicated The Border to one recently.

But yeah, you know, you get threats. I don’t like talking a lot about it, because my family reads these things, and I don’t wanna upset them. I’m a little more aware of my surroundings than I used to be...[read on]
Learn about Winslow's hero from outside literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Rachel Lynn Solomon

Rachel Lynn Solomon's new YA novel is Our Year of Maybe.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Our Year of Maybe, and for your characters Sophie and Peter?

A: Initially, I wanted to explore the aftermath of a kidney transplant between best friends because I’m fascinated by organ donation and can’t imagine a more selfless act.

As I grew to know my characters better, though, I wondered if this selfless act did actually include a bit of selfishness. Sophie, the donor, is in love with her best friend Peter, the recipient, and part of her hopes that after the transplant, he’ll love her back. It’s a very small part, she acknowledges -- but it’s still there. I wanted to dig deep with all those messy feelings.

Sophie and Peter evolved during the writing process, but Sophie was always more introverted, always very attached to Peter. And Peter was always more curious about the world beyond their friendship -- and yet he feels an immense amount of guilt because it's thanks to Sophie that he's able to...[read on]
Visit Rachel Lynn Solomon's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Andrew McCabe

Andrew G. McCabe served as deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from February 2016 to January 2018. He began his career at the FBI in 1996, working first as a street agent on the Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force, and eventually as its supervisor. Later, he led the FBI's Counterterrorism Division, the National Security Branch, and the Washington Field Office, and was the first director of the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, which developed new methods for lawfully and effectively questioning suspected terrorists. He lives in Virginia with his wife Jill, their two children and a dog.

McCabe's new book is The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump.

From the author's conversation with The Atlantic's Natasha Bertrand:

Bertrand: Before Robert Mueller was appointed, Trump met with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister in the Oval Office, where he disclosed classified information. How did you react when you found out about that conversation?

McCabe: It was the latest in a string of head-scratching, completely shocking events. For counterintelligence investigators, the idea that the American president would have a Russian foreign minister and his media into the Oval Office and that he would make a comment like that—a comment that so clearly undermined the effectiveness of his chief law-enforcement and intelligence agency—was just confounding.

Bertrand: That reminds me of a passage that jumped out at me in your book: “He thought North Korea did not have the capability to launch such missiles. He said he knew this because Vladimir Putin had told him so … the president said he believed Putin despite the PDB [Presidential Daily Briefing] briefer telling him that this was not consistent with any of the intelligence that the US possessed.” How do you explain that?

McCabe: It’s inexplicable. You have to put yourself in context. So I am in the director’s chair as acting director. My senior executive who had accompanied the briefer to that briefing, who sat in the room with the president and others, and heard the comments, comes back to the Hoover Building to tell me how the briefing went. And he sat at the conference table, and he just looked down at the table with his hands out in front of him. I was like, “How did it go?” And he just—he couldn’t find words to characterize it. We just sat back and said, “What do we do with this now?” How do you effectively convey intelligence to the American president who chooses to believe the Russians over his own intelligence services? And then tells them that to their faces?

Bertrand: Does this strike you as the behavior of someone who’s compromised?

McCabe: I mean, it...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Barry Eisler

Barry Eisler spent three years in a covert position with the CIA's Directorate of Operations, then worked as a technology lawyer and startup executive in Silicon Valley and Japan, earning his black belt at the Kodokan International Judo Center along the way. Eisler's bestselling thrillers have won the Barry Award and the Gumshoe Award for Best Thriller of the Year, have been included in numerous "Best Of" lists, and have been translated into nearly twenty languages.

Eisler's latest novel is The Killer Collective.

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

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Killer Collective?

A: It started with three separate series: the John Rain assassin series; the Ben Treven black-ops series; and the Livia Lone Seattle PD sex-crimes detective series. The universes in those series started overlapping with The Detachment—Rain and his partner, former Marine sniper Dox; Treven and Daniel Larison, a killer from the Treven book Inside Out.

And then Dox and Livia paired up in The Night Trade. So it was just a short leap to full-on Avengers: Infinity Wars territory…

But describing it that way makes it sound less organic than it really was. Because first, with Rain, he’s always trying to retire—to kill his way out of the killing business—and he never seems to make it. So there’s always a story there.

And the relationship between Livia and Dox from The Night Trade was really interesting. Oil and water, in some ways, and yet a powerful underlying connection.

And I started wondering…what would happen if Livia, in the course of her Seattle PD sex-crime detective duties, uncovered something so big that she was targeted in an attempted hit? Would she...[read on]
Visit Barry Eisler's website.

The Page 69 Test: Livia Lone.

The Page 69 Test: The Killer Collective.

Writers Read: Barry Eisler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 18, 2019

Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin's latest novel is In a House of Lies.

From his Q&A with Angus MacKinnon of Islay Book Festival:

AM: The Rebus novels have charted how Scotland has changed over the course of the three decades you have been producing them. What would you say were the biggest changes that have taken place over that time?

IR: The whole structure of the police has changed in Scotland, from having eight regional authorities to having one overarching organisation called Police Scotland. The way that murder inquiries are organised has changed and of course the technology available has changed hugely. If you go back to the early Rebus books, the computer is still not widely available. People tend not to have them in their homes even and certainly in the police station there would be very few available. DNA analysis is not widely used. All this kind of stuff. That has all changed and Scotland has changed with it. Rebus has changed. He has got older. He is now retired, he is no longer a serving police officer, he has some health issues. The world tends to make less sense to him. He looks around in a state of bewilderment at things that happen. The world has moved on but has he moved on with it substantially? He is a bit of a dinosaur in some ways, he has an older way of doing things and an older way of looking at the world.

I guess if we talk about changes in Scotland, the biggest change in my lifetime and certainly in the time of the Rebus books has been devolution. And who knows what happens next? The thing is I’m not a science fiction writer so until stuff has happened I cannot speculate or write about it. Brexit gets a very brief mention in the latest book but that is as much as I can do, I can’t write about Brexit until it has actually happened and I know what it means. I can’t write about independence until it happens because I’m not a sci-fi writer.

All this flux, all the uncertainty in the world. It is not easy for writers to deal with that. The real world at the moment seems so incredible that fiction writers are scratching their heads and going, ‘Well how do I make sense of this?’ You know, what place is there for fiction in this wildly-seeming fictional world.

AM: You’ve often said that you set out planning to write the Great Scottish Novel rather than to be a crime writer. It is not too late for you to have a go at summing it all up, what you have seen and what Rebus has seen in one novel? Philip Roth addressed a lot of the issues we’ve had in Scotland in American Pastoral and that seemed to predict the coming of Trump. Would a bit of you like to kill off Rebus and do something like that?

IR: I think the whole sequence of Rebus novels is...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Eugenia Kim

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

From her Q&A with Brendan Dowling for Publiclibrariesonline.org:

Can you talk about how your own family’s experience during the Korean war served as the inspiration for this story?

My family’s story is very close to that experience and actually it’s probably a little worse. My uncle took his family south to Busan, but rather than doing it in the summer, as portrayed in the book, he did it in January, when the Chinese joined the battle and Seoul was overtaken. He traveled south with an oxcart with his family in the dead of winter, so that was worse. My parents lost touch with him—not just for a couple of days [as in the book], but for six months. I just learned that recently after reviewing some of my father and mother’s papers. I had no idea it was that long. No wonder my mother wrote in her journal how much heartache she was suffering because they couldn’t find them. They eventually found them in a refugee camp after some order was restored in South Korea and the Red Cross was making lists. My mother [in America] managed to dispatch a friend with a truck to pick them up and take them the rest of the way to Busan. But even after that she didn’t know where they were in Busan, as there was no mail service quite yet. It took them that entire six months to get in touch and for my mother to be able to send packages to them.

You mentioned your mother’s journals. In the book, we get to learn about the character of the mother through her journals. Were those inspired by your mother’s journals?

They are her journals. They’re mostly in Korean. My sister, who’s the one who came over, translated them for me.

So the journals in the book are your mother’s writing?

I was able to incorporate them. Of course, it was a judicious picking of what was there. She didn’t write a lot of narrative. Mostly she...[read on]
Visit Eugenia Kim's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Kinship of Secrets.

Writers Read: Eugenia Kim (November 2018).

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Debra Jo Immergut

Debra Jo Immergut is the author of The Captives.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

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

A: The Captives was not my original title. It was one of a list of new possibilities that I sent my editor after Ecco purchased the book and we really got to work on it.

We all thought it did what a title should do--encapsulate the story, but without giving too much away. The reader understands early on that Frank and Miranda are both captives of their pasts, and Miranda is clearly a captive of the corrections system.

But then the title takes on additional shadings as the reader travels through the book's pages. So we all felt like it was the perfect choice for this work.

Q: Did you need to do much research to write the book?

A: The most important research I did was visiting and working in prisons. I tutored and taught incarcerated people, and I was in...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 15, 2019

Jo Perry

Jo Perry's new novel is Dead is Beautiful.

Frome the author's Q&A with The Irresponsible Reader:

Whatever one might think about Charlie (your protagonist we know best), there’s no denying that Rose is what most of your readers connect to. You recently posted something brief to Facebook about Rose’s origin — can you talk a little more about that?

During the scorching summer of 2008, I came upon a dusty, thirsty, exhausted, frightened dog that someone dumped in crowded home improvement store parking lot. I drove her home (she fell asleep immediately on the front seat of the car) and––after some listless attempts to find a home for her because we were strictly cat people––we were hers and we named her Lucy.

From the first moment she met me, Lucy upended my life, revealed new worlds and introduced me to people who have become deep, cherished, important friends. Lucy’s constancy, her sweetness despite being neglected and abused, her patience with me, a total dog-novice idiot, her sense of humor, her wisdom and her benevolence changed me completely. I experienced the bottomless, endless goodness dogs give us, and witnessed the casual and not so casual cruelties which human beings visit upon dogs hourly and daily.

The experience of knowing/experiencing Lucy, and Lola, the second dog who appeared to us, is the basis for Dead Is Better and the other books in the series—so yes, in general ways, Lucy is...[read on]
Visit Jo Perry's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jo Perry & Lola and Lucy.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Better.

The Page 69 Test: Dead is Better.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Best.

The Page 69 Test: Dead is Best.

My Book, The Movie: Dead Is Good.

The Page 69 Test: Dead Is Good.

Writers Read: Jo Perry (July 2017).

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister's new book is Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger.

From the transcript of her CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria:

ZAKARIA: What I love about your book is you are telling us a kind of hidden history of the politics of the Western world, really. What you say is, ever since the French Revolution, every 50 years there has been something I certainly was not aware of, a kind of a moment or a movement of women's anger.

TRAISTER: Um-hmm. And a lot of them -- I think we often, to the degree that we have been taught of the political import of women's anger, it's been in the context of explicitly women's movements, the feminist movement of the 1970s, the suffrage movement in the United States and in England in the early 20th -- late 19th, early 20th century. And yet, in fact, women's anger has been catalytic in movements that we don't necessarily associate with women, for example, in the United States, the labor movement in this country.

In the 1830s it was young women working in the Lowell textile mills in New England who went on some of the -- staged some of the first walkouts, the first strikes, formed one of the first unions in this country. In the early 20th century, it was immigrant laborers like Clara Lemlich who called for the walkout of 20,000 shirtwaist manufacturing workers.

And -- and yet we don't think of the labor movement in this country as having been initiated by women, and yet it was. And so part of what I'm doing in this book is looking at how women's anger particularly anger at economic, racial, gender inequality, been actually been incredibly catalytic at the start of so many of the movements that have wound up transforming our laws, our institutions, our customs. And yet we've never been taught the story or given the view of women's anger as politically potent.

ZAKARIA: Now, you use the word "anger," which is -- which is, to me, interesting. Because there are so many of these issues you think of, and you look back and say, "How could it possibly be that women were largely not allowed to be doctors or lawyers?"

You know, there are all these inequalities; there are all these various ways in which women were suppressed. And you think, "Thank goodness they were overcome." Did it take anger, or was it possible -- you know, you -- are you, kind of, characterizing it correctly?


TRAISTER: Well, part of the project of this book is to seek out where there was anger and to question...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Lindsey Stoddard

Lindsey Stoddard's new novel is Right as Rain.

From her Q&A with Veronica Vivona:

Right as Rain will be released this February! What is it about and why are you excited for its release?

RIGHT AS RAIN is the story of Rain Andrews and her family as they go through the first year of grief after her big brother’s death. Her dad has trouble leaving the bedroom and her mom is trying to push the family forward toward a fresh start, so she gets a new job and rushes the family from their home in Vermont all the way to the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York City. Through the novel, Rain is trying to keep her family together, understand her place in a quickly-changing Dominican neighborhood where she feels out of place, and hold the secret that makes her feel guilty, the secret that only she knows about that night, the night that...[read on]
Visit Lindsey Stoddard's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Ladee Hubbard

Ladee Hubbard is the author of the novel The Talented Ribkins.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: The Talented Ribkins takes place over the course of a week. Why did you decide on that time frame?

A: Honestly it was largely a practical consideration. In that sense, giving the novel a limited time frame was a way to increase tension and create a sense of urgency. There is a lot of backstory to the novel and I wanted to make sure that this was balanced by a real sense of forward momentum.

Q: Your writing has been compared to that of Toni Morrison, Colson Whitehead, and Thomas Pynchon. What do you think of those comparisons?

A: They are flattering, to be sure. I am greatly inspired by many writers and especially Toni Morrison who was my thesis advisor in college.

Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?

A: I...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 11, 2019

Gavin de Becker

Gavin de Becker is a famed security consultant and author. His best known book is The Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence. From his 2016 interview with Lena Dunham:

LD: What you've said, both in the book and in my communications with you about my experiences with stalkers, was, "Do not give this person anything. Do not give them the sound of your voice." These people, unwanted pursuers, they receive all communication in some way as positive communication. I think so many women have an ex-boyfriend who won't leave them alone for six months, and they think they can bargain their way out. Your approach seems to be just to slice it off, right?

GDB: Yeah. Slice it off sounds like you're talking about slicing off a guy's dick, so …

LD: You'll rephrase it slightly.

GDB: You handle it however you want. I'm the last guy to say, "Don't slice off a guy's dick," by the way. Anyway, yeah, you end it completely. The way I have found most effective in teaching on this subject is this: that that person rejoins the stranger pool. There's another 300 million Americans out there that you have no relationship with and they're not asking for one. This one you've specifically said you don't want a relationship with, so he has less business in your life than the other 300 million people. If you don't want a relationship, then he's a stranger. He becomes a stranger again, and that is your right. It is your right to decide who is in your life and who's not in your life. The moment he doesn't listen, and the moment he persists, and the moment he stays with it, that ought to empower you to recognize how right you were in your decision.

You know, men, young men in particular, they need very explicit communication. For example, if you'd say to a young man, "My head's just not in the right place for a relationship right now," he only hears...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Caroline Hulse

Caroline Hulse's new novel is The Adults.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

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

A: I was trying to write a suspense novel (strangely, the book wasn’t originally written as a comedy) and I wanted to write about a situation in which were people behaving badly because they felt insecure. I remembered an article I’d once read about people going on holidays with their exes.

At the time, I’d thought, why would anyone do that? Surely that would be hard. I realised this was a perfect conflict scenario, and everything flowed from there.

Q: You tell the story primarily from three characters' perspectives. How did you decide on your point-of-view characters?

A: I like writing from more than one perspective because, in real life, people can perceive the same situation in very different ways and this disconnect is...[read on]
Follow Caroline Hulse on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Anand Giridharadas

Anand Giridharadas is the author of, most recently, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.

From the transcript of his interview with Fareed Zakaria:

FAREED ZAKARIA: Anand Giridharadas wrote "Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World."

So first let me give you a chance to explain in brief, what is the thesis of your book?


ANAND GIRIDHARADAS, AUTHOR, "WINNERS TAKE ALL": The thesis of my book is that -- and it's a book about the United States. That we live in this era defined by a paradox. On one hand, it's an age of extraordinary elite generosity, of the kind, you know, you see when people go to Davos and do stuff around Africa and do stuff around malaria. And yet the second half of the paradox is in the United States this has also been, you know, a time of rising inequality, the most unequal time in 100 years, a period in which the bottom half of the country has basically not benefited from any of the astonishing technological and global developments that have made your and my life, and many people's lives so much better.

ZAKARIA: So what I'm struck by is, I think you painted an accurate picture. The changes that are causing this widening inequality, basically globalization, technological revolutions, are happening all over the world. Inequality within societies is growing everywhere. Inequality around the world, as a whole, has actually dramatically dropped because of the rise of hundreds of millions of people in China and India.

But there are countries that I presumed you think handled this better. They tax the rich more. They have -- you know, they celebrate entrepreneurs less. They have, you know, bureaucrats deciding how to allocate resources better. I'm thinking of places like France and Germany. And they have widening inequality. They have the same sense of being dispossessed. They have the same tensions that are being produced.

So why is it that you think that the U.S. system is producing these problems? Isn't it much more likely these are very broad, structural changes sweeping the world? Inequality is rising in India dramatically, right? So if those broad structural changes -- what the billionaires and millionaires -- and look, I share your -- some of your aesthetic distaste for the way in which they boost themselves and self-promote. But what they seems to be doing at the best of them are trying to respond to these problems as best they can. Governments are also trying but nobody quite has an answer and so the problem persists.


GIRIDHARADAS: And I would agree and disagree with that. You're right that inequality is widening in a lot of places. But I think this -- your talk of forces is really important because I think that's been a very dominant rhetoric of our age that the things that are happening are because of these big forces. And one thing I think that's important to remember is forces actually hit -- these forces hit places very differently.

So, yes, you have widening inequality in Europe also. But if you work 29 hours a week at a retailer in Europe, as opposed to 30, right, you don't have our drastically different level of health care the way you do in this country. And that means that when the same forces of China and automation hit Germany, they, you know, don't lead to some people going bankrupt or dying of preventable diseases the way we do in this country.

So forces are important. But democratic choices around how to respond to those forces are also important. And what I believe has happened is that the billionaires, as you say, have realized that we live in this age. They're not dumb. They're very smart. They make a lot of money because they actually understand the world. They understand these trends, they understand rising anger, and they've been in some ways tried to get out in front of it by promoting forms of change that are meant to address these issues but meant to address them in winner- friendly ways.

So lean in, good. Maternity leave, which is a little too expensive for them, not good. Charter schools, great. You know, higher taxes to fund equal and adequately funded public schools for everybody, not so...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 8, 2019

Jennifer Robson

Jennifer Robson's newest book is The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: You write that in post-World War II Britain, “For many people, life seemed to be getting worse, not better.” How did you recreate this period in your new novel, and what role did the 1947 royal wedding play at the time?

A: It was the contrast between the two – the pageantry and joy of the wedding, set against a backdrop of everyday life that was unrelentingly bleak – that first caught my attention.

I didn’t want to write yet another book about the royal family, since that ground has been covered pretty thoroughly; but I also didn’t think my readers would appreciate one long sob-fest about how dire things were in Britain after the war.

In terms of bringing the period to life, it was simply a matter of capturing the details of everyday life: the shortages, the queues, the terrible weather, and above all...[read on]
Visit Jennifer Robson's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jennifer Robson & Ellie.

My Book, The Movie: After the War Is Over.

The Page 69 Test: After the War Is Over.

Writers Read: Jennifer Robson (February 2016).

My Book, The Movie: Moonlight Over Paris.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Michael E. Mann

Michael E. Mann is a noted climate scientist and Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Pennsylvania State University. From his December 2018 Q&A with the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment Director Chris Field:

People had been wondering for a long time if it is warmer now than it used to be and you’re really the person who figured that out. What was the process and aftermath of coming up with a statistically robust record of Earth’s temperature going back 1,000 years?

Mann: What drove us to make these forays into reconstructing past climates with proxy data was an interest in natural climate variability. But when we assembled those data and we formed this reconstruction of past temperatures, we did the least scientifically interesting thing you could do, which was to average over them to get a single number for the average temperature for each year.

When we plotted that out we realized that the study maybe does have some implications for human-caused climate change. What we found was that the recent warming spike of the past century has no counterpart as far back as we could go a thousand years. It was published in 1998 which was the warmest year on record for the instrumental data that we have. What we were able to conclude was that not only was 1998 the warmest year on record for the past century, it was probably one of the few if not the warmest years as far back as we could go a thousand years. The warming trend that we've seen has no precedent as far back as we could go.

How did this discovery affect your professional life?

Mann: I suddenly found myself, a Berkeley physics and applied math major, in the very center of the most contentious political debate that we've possibly ever had as a society, the debate over human caused climate change and what to do about it. It isn't the path that I charted out. I envisioned a career where I would be in an office at my computer solving problems, crunching numbers. That's what I love doing. But when the hockey stick became this icon in the climate change debate, that was no longer an option. Whether I liked it or not, as the principal author, I became this public figure and I had to decide what I was going to do with that. Ultimately, I did decide to embrace that and use that as an opportunity to inform this conversation over what is potentially the greatest challenge we face as a civilization. I have no regrets. I can't imagine...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Elizabeth Wein

Elizabeth Wein is the holder of a private pilot’s license and the owner of about a thousand maps. She is best known for her historical fiction about young women flying in World War II, including the New York Times bestselling Code Name Verity and Rose under Fire. Wein is also the author of Cobalt Squadron, a middle grade novel set in the Star Wars universe and connected to the 2017 release The Last Jedi.

Wein's new book is A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II.

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

Q: How did you learn about Soviet pilot Marina Raskova and her regiments of all-female flyers in World War II?

A: I confess that I don’t remember when or how I first became aware of the Soviet women who flew in World War II. I’ve known about them for at least 10 years – since before I wrote Code Name Verity, which I began writing in 2009.

In its earliest form I wanted to make Code Name Verity’s pilot heroine a Soviet flyer (absolutely true – this is why the character Maddie Brodatt is of Russian heritage.)

My notes tell me that in 2010 I read an obituary for one of Marina Raskova’s pilots, and heard a feature on BBC radio about them. My fictional character Irina Korsakova in Rose Under Fire is a Soviet fighter pilot, loosely based on the real pilots Anna Timofeyeva-Yegorova and Lilya Litvyak.

So they’ve been on my radar for...[read on]
Visit Elizabeth Wein's website.

The Page 69 Test: Black Dove, White Raven.

The Page 69 Test: The Pearl Thief.

Writers Read: Elizabeth Wein.

The Page 99 Test: A Thousand Sisters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Cory Booker

Cory Booker is the junior United States senator from New Jersey and author of United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good. From his Q&A with VegNews:
VN: Taking into account what is reasonably realistic, what would you like to accomplish legislatively for animals and veganism?

CB: You know, look: I think that what we see happening in America is an awareness growing about the negative impacts that our current food system have on animals, and it’s great to see that consciousness and how people are demanding a change. You see very powerful corporate interests trying to fight against that change, when we, as Americans, don’t want to be engaging in activities that don’t support our fundamental ideas of justice and freedom. So, legislatively, I want to continue to be a part of a movement of folk who are fighting against corporate interests that are undermining the public good and the public welfare. So, I’m going to continue supporting bills that are about public health, whether it is pumping in all these antibiotics into animals that are literally threatening the safety of Americans. I believe that Americans do care about the cruelty to animals, and that’s why you see public movement to stop pig crating, which is harmful and violates our collective values as a country. I think that corporate power shouldn’t be snuffing out competition. This why I’ve been standing up. And we shouldn’t be trying to hurt industries—whether it’s the almond milk industry, dairy industry, or Veganaise or Just Mayo which has literally been under attack by the egg industry because they don’t like the competition. They shouldn’t undermine that. So, there’s a lot of bipartisan support for animal welfare bills, including some legislation I have to limit animal fighting. The testing of chemicals on animals is a big victory that I was able to have across party lines. So, I think there’s a lot of legislation we could be doing to stop sort of corporate power from reigning over the power of individuals to have freedom of choice, to see more compassion, to see a focus on public health. There’s momentum to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 4, 2019

Chris Cander

Chris Cander graduated from the Honors College at the University of Houston, in the city where she was raised and still lives, with her husband, daughter, and son. For seven years she has been a writer-in-residence for Writers in the Schools there. She serves on the Inprint advisory board and stewards several Little Free Libraries in her community. Her first novel,11 Stories, won the Independent Publisher Gold Medal for Popular Fiction, and her novel Whisper Hollow was long-listed for the Great Santini Fiction Prize by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. She is also the author of The Word Burglar, which won the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award (silver).

Cander's new novel is The Weight of a Piano.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

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

A: In this case, the word is a double entendre. There's the psychic, emotional weight of the piano in the characters' lives, which grows heavier and heavier for different reasons, and the actual physical weight, which makes it not only a symbolic burden but a real one. (By the way, this particular Bl├╝thner weighs 560 lbs. That's a lot of piano to drag through a desert--and...[read on]
Visit Chris Cander's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Weight of a Piano.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 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 the transcript of her interview with NPR's Rachel Martin:

MARTIN: You have been criticized by some on the left side of your party over the death penalty, for defending the death penalty after opposing it as district attorney for San Francisco then as attorney general defending it. How do you explain your position? How do you defend it to progressives who say it's immoral, it's ineffective?

HARRIS: So to be clear, I am personally opposed to the death penalty. I have always been, and I remain opposed to the death penalty. I believe, for a number of reasons, that it is a flawed system both in terms of the way that it has been applied historically, which is disproportionately against people of color and poor people, I know that it is a system for which the defenders would say it creates some deterrent. But in my experience, when somebody is about to pull the trigger of that gun, they're not sitting there thinking about whether it's going to be life without possibility of parole or the death penalty.

MARTIN: But you still think there's a place for it?

HARRIS: No. I don't. But as attorney general of the state of California, I had a constitutional responsibility to represent my clients. And one of my clients happened to be the California Department of Corrections and...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Terry Gamble

Terry Gamble's new novel is The Eulogist.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

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

A: The genesis for this book literally came from digging up the ancestors. Their exhumations occurred in the last decade of the 19th century, but I came across the receipts for the bodies when going through my father’s desk after he died in 2004.

The receipts – along with a letter exchange between my great-great-uncle – contained names that were unfamiliar, including the name “Olivia.”

Olivia, along with her siblings, had traveled to Ohio from Ireland as children, and in 1890, their bodies were exhumed from various churchyards to be replanted in the Olmstead-designed Spring Grove cemetery in Cincinnati.

I had traveled to Cincinnati several times for book readings and family weddings and was intrigued with the city that was hardly a village when my ancestors arrived on a flatboat 200 years ago in 1819.

I began to ask, “Who were these people?” “Why did they leave Ireland?” “What did they make of this new country – in particular, Cincinnati, that promised so much opportunity and yet which lay little more than a stone’s throw across the river from a slave state?”

These questions led me down a rabbit hole involving slavery, evangelical Christianity, immigration, gender, race, class – many of the issues we are dealing with today.

Olivia came to me almost immediately as I started writing, although she...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 1, 2019

Peter Singer

Peter Singer's books include Ethics in the Real World: 82 Brief Essays on Things That Matter.

From his Q & A with the photographer Howard Schatz:

HS: Suffering has been a major issue for you, powerfully informing your moral philosophy. I would like to explore something that I’m sure you’ve thought about, although I haven’t read anything you’ve written nor heard you discuss – how the fact that your parents escaped the Holocaust has affected you regarding the idea of suffering?

PS: Yes, it’s a good question, but it’s a very difficult question for me to answer because, of course, from my point of view, I came to the views that I hold through reflection, through philosophical arguments and discussion. And although I was always well aware of the background of my family… And not only, as you mentioned, that my parents escaped the Holocaust, but that my grandparents did not. Three of the four of them perished in the Holocaust. So, clearly, I was very aware of that.

But it’s very hard for me to say, really, whether that had a decisive role in the views that I now hold.

HS: You would think such psychological input has informed your objective thinking; that history and your upbringing has had an influence on you.

PS: I’m sure it informed it to the extent of an abhorrence of racism and authoritarian rule, and the use of force in government. Did it lead to the more general views I hold, in particular to the idea that reducing suffering is one of our primary ethical obligations? Possibly… Possibly, it did. But, as I say, I can’t trace that psychologically. I can’t look back and think, yes, I was conscious of that when I adopted this philosophical position.

HS: And that suffering transfers to some identification with the non-human animal kingdom?

PS: Yes, that’s right. Because I do think we see a related phenomenon. Isaac Bashevis Singer, the great Yiddish writer, who’s no relation to me, said: “When it comes to the animals, all men are Nazis.” He...[read on]
Peter Singer is Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. He is the author, co-author, or editor of more than thirty books, including Animal Liberation, widely considered to be the founding statement of the animal rights movement, Practical Ethics, and One World: Ethics and Globalization.

Visit The Life You Can Save website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 99 Test: The Life You Can Save.

The Page 99 Test: The Most Good You Can Do.

--Marshal Zeringue