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.

Within a month of research I was on the phone to my agent saying “TELL THEM WE GIVE THE MONEY BACK THIS IS THE WORST IDEA FOR A FUNNY BOOK EVER O GOD IT’S ALL WHISKEY AND LEECHES THAT DON’T EVEN WORK!!”

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

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Rachel Barenbaum

Rachel Barenbaum is a graduate of Grub Street’s Novel Incubator program. In a former life she was a hedge fund manager and a spin instructor, before moving to the New Hampshire woods to write. She has an MBA from the Harvard Business School and an AB in Literature and Philosophy from Harvard College.

Barenbaum's new book, A Bend in the Stars, is her first novel.

From the author's Q&A with NPR's Ari Shapiro:

SHAPIRO: That idea of gravity bending light gives your book its title, "A Bend In The Stars." Did you have it from the beginning?

BARENBAUM: No. Actually in the beginning, I called it "The Measure Of Time," which is the name also of an essay by Henri Poincare, because really at its heart, the problem of relativity or the notion of relativity is really based in this question of, what is time? So time is a construct. We've invented it. What is a second? What is a minute? What is an hour? This notion of time is really what I was focused on.

SHAPIRO: For a first novel, this is such an ambitious project to take on, like, Einstein's theory of relativity and a century ago history of Russia. I mean, like, that's a big bite to take.

BARENBAUM: (Laughter) I guess. You know, I think maybe this is why - one of the reasons why I dug into it so deep and so hard - was because I think people shy away from relativity, from science. I hear a lot of people saying, oh, I don't do numbers. And I always wonder, well...[read on]
Visit Rachel Barenbaum's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Bend in the Stars.

The Page 69 Test: A Bend in the Stars.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Jean Kwok

Jean Kwok's new novel is Searching for Sylvie Lee.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: You write that your missing brother was the inspiration for your new novel. Can you say more about that, and how you came up with the idea for your character Sylvie?

A: When my dear older brother Kwan didn’t come home to Brooklyn for Thanksgiving, we all knew something was very wrong. I was already living in the Netherlands with my Dutch husband at the time. I remember receiving that phone call from my family and feeling like I was suffocating. I kept trying to take a deep breath but couldn’t seem to get any air.

Kwan was the most brilliant, competent, resourceful person I knew. How could he be missing? He was the person who would know what to do, the one we would all call in an emergency. That feeling of terror, of needing to step up and take charge to try to save someone I loved, was the emotional impetus behind Searching for Sylvie Lee.

From there, of course, golden girl Sylvie was born, as was her younger sister Amy. When dazzling Sylvie flies to the Netherlands for a final visit with her dying grandmother and disappears, it is up to timid Amy to pull herself together and try to find her beloved sister.

Once I created the characters, however...[read on]
Visit Jean Kwok's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 10, 2019

Heidi Diehl

Heidi Diehl's new novel is Lifelines.

From her interview with Jeff Dingler for Saratoga Living:

It’s a very ambitious debut novel. What was the inspiration to write something so outside of your comfort zone?

I was really quite interested in that time period: the ’70s in West Germany. My grandparents were German immigrants to New York, and my mom’s had a lot of connections to Germany. It was a place that was really close to my parents, and I’ve been there a lot. But having this German heritage is, of course, quite troubling when you think of German history and the Holocaust. There had been this culture of denial after the war, this culture of silence, and in the late ’60s and ’70s, it began to swing the other way. People who were born in the postwar generation were really trying to find ways to come to terms with that history. Which, I guess, as a person of that heritage, I was also trying to grapple with so many years later. So I found a lot of inspiration in that time period. It just seemed so psychologically complicated.

The novel got an endorsement from George Saunders. What did that feel like?

It was such a generous take on the book from him. Actually, when George was...[read on]
Visit Heidi Diehl's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Elliot Ackerman

Elliot Ackerman is the author of the novels Waiting for Eden, Dark at the Crossing, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and Green on Blue. He is both a former White House Fellow and Marine, and served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart.

Ackerman's new memoir is Places and Names: On War, Revolution, and Returning.

From the transcript of his interview with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly:

KELLY: It also prompts the question of - as you look at the Middle East now, to what extent it's all one war?

ACKERMAN: I think it's absolutely all one war, and I think that's been one of the things and one of the reasons that I wrote this book and came back, was this intuitive understanding that whatever we announced in Iraq when we left in 2011, you know, that it wasn't over, that it's still not over today, as we're sitting here - it's still playing out. And one of the things that's been difficult, I think, for my generation of veterans is that because the wars haven't ended, every single one of us who've left the war have had to basically make a separate peace, had - to a certain point - say, you know what? I've done my last deployment. I know other people are going to be deploying. But I'm finished.

KELLY: And what does that sound like? Is it, my war is over?

ACKERMAN: I can remember many occasions talking with friends of mine, saying, you know, we wish - you know, we wish this was even like Vietnam, when it was just sort of - it was over, or the Second World War, where it was over, and we would all go on and go to business school or do whatever we were going to do next, and it was clear there was no choice to be made; this was done.

And for this generation of veterans, I think that's been complicated because...[read on]
Visit Elliot Ackerman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Green on Blue.

My Book, The Movie: Green on Blue.

My Book, The Movie: Dark at the Crossing.

The Page 69 Test: Dark at the Crossing.

Writers Read: Elliot Ackerman (February 2017).

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Amy Mason Doan

Amy Mason Doan's new novel is Summer Hours.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: In our previous interview, you described Summer Hours as "a female nod to The Graduate with a touch of The Sure Thing." How did you come up with that concept, and with your character Becc?

A: I’ve always wanted to write a feminist, gender-swapped homage to The Graduate. My rendition is different in many ways, but the post-graduate confusion, generational conflicts, and central love triangle are there.

In The Graduate, Ben Braddock is torn between an older woman, Mrs. Robinson, and the woman his own age, the more innocent Elaine. In Summer Hours, Becc grapples with her feelings for an older man and her innocent best friend, Eric, who’s loved her for years.

It’s shocking to me that it hasn’t been done before, because it’s such a juicy, iconic story that’s ripe for reinterpreting from a female point of view. And it brilliantly examines our timeless post-grad fears: I’m worried about my future. What if I turn into my parents?

I went to U.C. Berkeley, where much of The Graduate takes place, and I was a reporter for 20 years. So I can’t hide the fact that Becc is essentially a much bolder version of me when I was younger.

Lost and jobless, she has a secret summer fling with...[read on]
Visit Amy Mason Doan's website.

Writers Read: Amy Mason Doan (August 2018).

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 7, 2019

Clay Risen

Clay Risen's latest book is The Crowded Hour: Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Riders, and the Dawn of the American Century.

From the transcript of his interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep:

INSKEEP: Well, were [Roosevelt's Rough Riders] hugely famous when the United States organized an army and invaded Cuba in 1898?

RISEN: Absolutely. You know, there was this moment in 1898 where I think - and this is the significance of the war - is that it changed how America thinks about its military and about its role in the world. And it gave a positive spin to the idea that American can have a military and should go out into the world to intervene, to bring freedom.

And for a lot of people, even at the time - and editorialists wrote about this. They said the Rough Riders are emblematic of that new America, of this idea that we have this power and we have this - the strength and these values at home. And now we're going to arm them and take them out into the world. And to me, that resonates throughout the 20th century. Time after time, we do that same sort of thing.

INSKEEP: So let's note this is the beginning of the idea of America going out into the world to make the world a better place by force when that seems to make sense to Americans. But there's also the identity of the individuals themselves. What did the personnel of the Rough Riders suggest to Americans about who America was?

RISEN: Well, this is one of the ironies because one of the things that Roosevelt talked about and one of the things that he valued about the Rough Riders was this was not just his idea about American masculinity but also what in his mind was diversity, but within a very narrowly prescribed idea about what diversity was. They were all...[read on]
The Page 99 Test: A Nation on Fire.

Visit Clay Risen's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Hilary Davidson

Hilary Davidson’s debut novel, The Damage Done, won the 2011 Anthony Award for Best First Novel, and the Crimespree Award for Best First Novel. The second book in the series is The Next One to Fall and the third is Evil in All Its Disguises. Davidson’s first standalone novel, Blood Always Tells, was published by Tor/Forge in April 2014.

Her new novel is One Small Sacrifice.

From Davidson's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for One Small Sacrifice, and for your character Detective Sheryn Sterling?

A: I like to joke that writing a mystery is like playing an extended game of “What If?,” but it’s actually true.

Writing One Small Sacrifice started with questions that I kept turning over in my mind. What if you had a suspect whose fiancĂ©e has suddenly gone missing under strange circumstances, and what if that same suspect had been involved in the death of another woman a year earlier? What if the NYPD detective who’s investigating him has become obsessed with the case, and what if her own family history is influencing her decisions about the case?

The wonderful thing about writing from multiple viewpoints is that it allows you to delve into the mind of each character and explore their motivations, and that drives the plot. Where the characters come from is harder to explain: I could hear Detective Sterling’s voice when I started writing the book, and it came with...[read on]
Learn more about the book and the author at the official Hilary Davidson site.

The Page 69 Test: The Damage Done.

The Page 69 Test: Blood Always Tells.

The Page 69 Test: One Small Sacrifice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Jamie Metzel

Jamie Metzl is a technology futurist and geopolitical expert, novelist, entrepreneur, media commentator, and Senior Fellow of the Atlantic Council. His new book is Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity.

From the transcript of Metzl's interview with Fareed Zakaria:

ZAKARIA: So the basic message of the book seems to me to be the genetic revolution is coming much faster than we think, and we are going to be able to make human beings?

METZL: Well, certainly the genetic revolution is coming much faster than we think. And it's going to change a lot of things. The first thing it's going to transform is our health care. Then it's going to change the way we make babies. Then it's going to change the nature of the babies we make. And over time, it's going to alter our -- even our evolutionary trajectory as a species. And it's a huge deal. It's coming soon, and we're not ready.

ZAKARIA: So the health care, I think, people understand, that we're now going to be able to look inside our genes to figure out what are the things that cause illnesses, perhaps fix them.

METZL: Yeah.

ZAKARIA: But the making babies part is the one that I think is most -- seems most revolutionary. Yuval Harari talks about how you -- you now might have the ability for the first time ever to really change what it means to be a human being and make, you know, much bigger, stronger, smarter human beings. Is that right?

METZL: Yeah, well, biology is at play. Our species has evolved by what we call the Darwinian principles of random mutation and natural selection for almost 4 billion years. And now, for the first time ever, and forever starting from now, we are going to have the ability to alter our biology in increasingly significant ways.

And it's going to happen in stages, all using technologies that already exist.

So the first stage is going to be using IVF and embryo selection -- and our knowledge of what -- to read the genomes of different people, to be able to select from among -- let's say it's 15 embryos in average IVF -- then we're...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Laura Tucker

Laura Tucker's new book is All the Greys on Greene Street.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for All the Greys on Greene Street, and for your character Olympia?

A: I wanted to write about an artist living in a time and place where making art was as natural as breathing.

Q: The novel takes place in New York City in the early 1980s. Why did you choose to set it there, and how important is setting to you in your writing?

A: Setting is really important to me; I’ve always loved books that give you insider access to special or unusual worlds. By 1981, artists and galleries had taken over a lot of abandoned industrial spaces in SoHo. I was curious to know what it would have been like to be a kid growing up there.

Q: Can you say more about why you decided to focus on artists in this novel?

A: I'm fascinated by...[read on]
Visit Laura Tucker's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 3, 2019

Suketu Mehta

Suketu Mehta is the New York-based author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, which won the Kiriyama Prize and the Hutch Crossword Award, and was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize, the Lettre Ulysses Prize, the BBC4 Samuel Johnson Prize, and the Guardian First Book Award. His new book is This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant's Manifesto.

From the transcript of his interview with NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro:

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So you see immigration as a form of reparations.

MEHTA: Absolutely. The poor countries aren't asking for sacks of gold to be fetched to them. They're asking for the borders of the rich countries to be open not just to goods but to people. And you know what? When people move, everyone benefits. The rich countries benefit. And the migrants themselves benefit. And the countries that they move from benefit because the rich countries aren't making enough babies. The migrants improve their standard of living by an average of fivefold. And the best and most targeted way of helping the poor of the world is through remittances, which account for $600 billion a year.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's when immigrants send money home to their families in the countries that they come from.

MEHTA: Exactly. Worldwide, the total of remittances are about four times all the foreign aid that was sent to the poor nations, so it's the best and most targeted way of helping the poor back in the global South.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK. But let's say someone accepts your premise and your facts but, frankly, just doesn't want to live in a multicultural place, believes that a country is stronger if it is unified by a common heritage.

MEHTA: Well, I would say to them, buddy, you...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 2, 2019

A.K. Small

A.K. Small's debut novel is Bright Burning Stars.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How much did you incorporate your own experience as a ballet student into Bright Burning Stars?

A: I love this question. I think a big part of why I began writing BBS was to re-enter the world of ballet, almost like allowing myself a do-over, if you will.

I quit dance at the height of my potential and later deeply regretted my decision. I used the memory of my own “studio” and “stage” experiences a lot while drafting the story. The physical aspect of ballet and the various dance scenes are very much me inhabiting my old dancer body and...[read on]
Visit A. K. Small's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Daniel Kennefick

Daniel Kennefick is associate professor of physics at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He is the author of Traveling at the Speed of Thought: Einstein and the Quest for Gravitational Waves and a coauthor of An Einstein Encyclopedia.

Kennefick's new book is No Shadow of a Doubt: The 1919 Eclipse That Confirmed Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

From his Q&A at the Princeton University Press blog:

What compelled you to write this book?

The story of the 1919 eclipse is one of the most dramatic and significant in the history of science, and one that I’ve always found fascinating. What compelled me to research it closely was my puzzlement about the criticisms of Eddington which I heard repeated more and more, especially while working on volume 9 the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, which covered Einstein’s life during the year 1919. I found the complaints about Eddington’s supposed bias in favor of Einstein unconvincing, especially the claim that Eddington’s pacifism was responsible for his desire to prove Einstein right. I thought that it was time someone looked closely at the actual data analysis decisions, using original documents preserved in the archives. I decided to write the book because I found the complete story of the eclipse which I put together to be fascinating and the centenary seemed like a perfect occasion to tell that story. I also felt that there was a danger that important work on the 1919 eclipse was being overlooked. As part of my research I learned that a re-analysis of the photographic plates taken in 1919 was conducted in 1978 by English astronomers at the Royal Greenwich Observatory using modern plate-measuring equipment and computers. They completely vindicated the work of the original team, and yet their re-analysis had gone totally unrecognized and unread. It was even misrepresented in the one book which did allude to it, Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. So I felt it was...[read on]
Learn more about No Shadow of a Doubt at the Princeton University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: No Shadow of a Doubt.

The Page 99 Test: No Shadow of a Doubt.

--Marshal Zeringue