Saturday, May 31, 2008

Nan Mooney

Katharine Mieszkowski of Salon interviewed Nan Mooney, author of Not Keeping Up with Our Parents: The Decline of the Professional Middle Class.

The start of the Q & A:

How would you characterize the educated middle-class professional you're writing about?

These are people who went to college and have at least a four-year degree. Oftentimes, they have extended education beyond that, a master's or a Ph.D. They're people who work in white-collar professions, usually not the high-end professions like law or medicine or finance.

Why did you want to write about this group?

Because I fall into this group and so many people I know fall into this group, and I feel like we fall under the umbrella of having done everything they say you're supposed to do to be financially secure in America.

There is this myth that if everyone could just go to college and get the proper job skills we would all be financially comfortable, and I was looking around me and saying, "Well, that's not true."
Read the full interview.

Visit Nan Mooney's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 30, 2008

Elmore Leonard

From Neely Tucker's interview with Elmore Leonard in the Washington Post:

"The second-worst movie ever made," he's saying, "is the first version of 'The Big Bounce.' God, it was awful." This was a book he wrote back in the 1960s that was indeed made into a terrible movie. He pauses to inhale from a Virginia Slim. "The worst movie ever made was the second version of 'The Big Bounce.' I met Morgan Freeman on the set; he's a good actor, I like him, I asked him what he was doing there. He said, 'Well, I'm the law guy.' And I said 'No, not your role. I mean, what are you doing in this thing?'"

* * *

"This one time, he ran into a bull semen salesman at an opera," says Greg Sutter, his researcher of 25 years. "A bull semen salesman! At an opera! You think Dutch Leonard is going to let that go by?"

(No. See "Mr. Paradise.")

Read the full article.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stephanie Klein

Stephanie Klein is the author of Moose: A Memoir of Fat Camp.

From Newsweek's Karen Springen interview with Klein about her memoir and related subjects:

NEWSWEEK: Is it true that all your "Moose" book tour stops will feature free chocolate?

Stephanie Klein: Yes! What kind of fat camp party would it be without a little junk food?

What was the most surprising thing about fat camp?

They weighed us on meat scales. The kids who were too heavy got weighed on a truck scale at the truck stop.

That must have been humiliating.

Humiliating. It's unbelievable to me, even to this day. They had barbed wire all around camp to keep us in so we didn't sneak out at night to go find food elsewhere. One parent sent menus from local restaurants nearby. Because we were so deprived, we would at night read the menu items out loud and imagine how they tasted. There were lots of humiliating experiences, but fun experiences too. For the first time in your life the opposite sex is paying attention to you. That's an aspect that people don't necessarily think about. Everyone is all of the sudden getting some boyfriends and girlfriends.
Read the full Q & A.

Visit Stephanie Klein's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Julie Compton

Julie Compton is the author of Tell No Lies.

Martin Edwards interviewed her for Shots magazine. The opening of the interview:

ME: In the UK, there aren't many lawyers who write crime fiction, but in the US it seems there's a large number of attorneys who turn their hand to legal thrillers. Any idea why that might be?

JC: I think there are several reasons. I'm not familiar with the work environment for lawyers in UK law firms, but here in the US, it can be quite grueling. It's not unusual to work 12 to 14 hour days. We have a saying here – the law is a jealous mistress – and there's much truth in that, especially for younger lawyers who are still trying to prove themselves. It's extremely difficult to have a life outside of work. Those who do often find they get a reputation for not being "committed" enough to the practice. So, many lawyers dream of escaping the grind to pursue other interests.

The logical "other interest" is, for many lawyers, writing. After all, lawyers do a lot of writing on the job, and most write well. Many (like me) wrote creatively when they were younger and gave it up when the demands of law interfered. So it's not a stretch to attempt to make the first love a second career. (The ones who manage to do both, such as Scott Turow, get a gold star in my book).

ME: Tell No Lies is your first published novel. What other writing have you done previously?

JC: I know it's a clich̩ to say it, but I've been writing as long as I can remember, in one form or another. I still have notebooks I wrote in as a little girl, filled with stories about sassy heroines with unusual names like Summer and True. I gave up my creative writing once I entered law school; I just didn't have the energy after a long day of classes and studying cases. It wasn't until I became a stay-at-home mom after my second daughter was born that I finally began writing again. I wrote some short stories and poems, and started on the novel that eventually became Tell No Lies. I also did freelance work for a local paper Рit helped me to feel legitimate as a writer. One of my short stories became a finalist in Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers contest, giving me a badly needed boost of confidence.
Read the full Q & A.

Visit Julie Compton's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Maeve Binchy

From a Q & A with Maeve Binchy at her publisher's website:

What's the first book you remember reading?

The first book I read was Winnie the Pooh. My father used to read it to me and I used to keep asking, "Where was I?", so he told me I had a house in the Hundred Acre Wood and I believed it.

* * * * *

Name your favourite literary hero and villain.

Favourite literary hero is Leopold Bloom in James Joyce's Ulysses. My choice of villain is the weak, wishy-washy unnamed narrator of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, a woman so spineless and lifeless she did not deserve to survive.
Read the full Q & A.

Visit Maeve Binchy's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 26, 2008

Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby’s novels include High Fidelity (1995), About a Boy (1998) – which were also adapted for the big screen – and How To Be Good (2001). His latest books is the YA novel, Slam.

Two exchanges from his brief Q & A with Anna Metcalfe for the Financial Times:

What book changed your life?

Fever Pitch, my first published book.

Who are your literary heroes?

Charles Dickens, Anne Tyler, and the scriptwriters Ray Galton and Alan Simpson.

Read the full Q & A.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Jim Krusoe

Jim Krusoe is the author of five books of poetry, a collection of short stories called Blood Lake and two novels: Iceland and the newly published Girl Factory.

From his "Author Snapshot" at January Magazine:

Please tell us about your most recent book.

Girl Factory is about a guy who discovers six young women suspended in acidophilus in the basement of the yogurt store where he works. He’s trying to find a way to bring them back to life. In this process one of the questions I asked myself was: what does it mean to try to help someone? I’m afraid the results are mixed, at best.

* * * * *
What’s the question you’d like to be asked?

How many drafts to you do? (The answer is about 40, and the reason I like to tell is to let others know the process is a long one. When I began to write I imagined a novel would be finished after about three drafts, and I worry too many other writers may set an artificial limit on when they decide a book is finished. For me, and much to my surprise, the process of revision is as pleasurable, or maybe more so, than the actual imagining.)
Read the full Q & A.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Kate Mosse

Kate Mosse is the author of the New York Times-bestseller Labyrinth. She is also co-founder and Honorary Director of the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction, which annually celebrates and promotes the best works of fiction written by women throughout the world.

Her new novel is Sepulchre.

From a Q & A at Mosse's website:

Labyrinth was set in Carcassonne, in southwest France, and you return to the same region in Sepulchre, albeit centuries later. What is it about that region that inspires you as an author?

Eighteen years ago now my husband and I bought a tiny, biscuit-coloured house in the medieval fortress city of Carcassonne, in the shadow of the walls of the 13th century Cité. The moment I saw it, I fell in love – with Carcassonne in particular and with the Languedoc in general, the name given to the region of southwest France bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the West, the Mediterranean Sea to the South and the great wall of the Pyrenees to the south west. When I’m there, my imagination runs riot. It’s a combination of the outstanding, imposing, physical beauty – the endless blue sky, the wild weather than shifts from brilliant sunlight to black thunder clouds in a moment, the untamed garrigue, the mountains – and the fact that history lies littered all around. The ancient labyrinthine caves with Pre-Historic paintings, the Roman baths and roads, for this book, the Celtic legacy and the Visigoth history of the 5th, 6th and 7th centuries AD. It would be hard for any author, with such materials to work with, not to want to people the real landscape with imaginary characters. This time, focusing on the 19th century in Sepulchre rather than the 13th as in Labyrinth, it gave me the opportunity to go back to some of the places (and some of the characters) about which I’d written and see how time had changed them.
Read the full interview.

The Page 69 Test: Sepulchre.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 23, 2008

Marcus Sakey

Marcus Sakey is the author of The Blade Itself, At the City's Edge, and Good People, due out at the end of this summer.

Julia Buckley asked him a few questions about his craft; the opening exchanges of the interview:

Marcus, first of all, congratulations on all of your successes. Your website is filled with great news. So my first question is—is this a dream come true? Have you always aspired to be a writer? Or did you happen into it and find that you were quite good at it? Or some other thing I didn’t mention?

Thanks! I’m delighted but a little dizzy. I’ve had an awful lot of luck.

It’s a dream come true. I’ve wanted to do this pretty much my whole life. So, knowing that, I promptly went to college to study something else, then got a job doing something else still. Ten years later, hating my job, I decided to quit, and was fired before I could get a word out. True story. So it seemed like an opportune time.

Your reviews have been terrific. I was struck by the quote from the Chicago Tribune on your website, indicating that your work is “even better than they say.” I would be happy if someone said this about my talent in any context. But—weird as this may sound—are good reviews ever intimidating?

You know, they are, because by the time you get them, you’re deep into something else. So you get about ten seconds of happy glow followed by a double handful of pressure. While I like my finished work, in process I’m wracked with doubt—is this interesting enough, big enough, new enough, good enough. And someone saying nice things about something I’ve already done adds to that.

That said, to any reviewers out there, please, don’t feel the need to “help me” by gratuitously bashing my books.
Read the full Q & A.

The Page 69 Test: The Blade Itself.

The Page 69 Test: At the City's Edge.

Writers Read: Marcus Sakey.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 22, 2008

James Rosen

Jamie Malanowski, managing editor of Playboy and author of The Coup, interviewed James Rosen, author of The Strong Man: John Mitchell and the Secrets of Watergate.

Their opening exchange:

PLAYBOY: Let's start at the beginning: who was John Mitchell, and why should we care about him?

ROSEN: First of all, thanks for having me on John Mitchell was the closest thing to a friend Richard Nixon had in government, and, as a result, became the highest-ranking U.S. official ever to be convicted on criminal charges and to serve prison time. After a fabulously successful career on Wall Street, where his innovations in the financing of public works projects made him an indispensable figure to mayors and governors in all fifty states, Mitchell merged his law firm with Nixon's in 1967. The next year, Mitchell served as campaign manager for Nixon's amazing comeback presidential bid, and, after Nixon won, reluctantly agreed to serve as U.S. attorney general. As head of the Justice Department from 1969 to 1972, Mitchell served as the nation's chief law enforcement officer during a period of extraordinary turbulence in American life, one that witnessed the Kent State killings, the Mayday riots, the heyday of radical groups like the Black Panthers and the Weather Underground, and a number of controversies unprecedented in their nature and seriousness, e.g., the desegregation of Southern schools, the Pentagon Papers, and the episode where the Joint Chiefs of Staff were discovered to have been spying, during wartime, on the commander-in-chief. After resigning to run Nixon's '72 re-election campaign, Mitchell became embroiled in the Watergate scandal, and ultimately served nineteen months in prison for his role in the cover-up.
Read the full interview.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Katie Estill

Katie Estill is a graduate of Kenyon College and has an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is the author of two novels, Evening Would Find Me and Dahlia's Gone.

Laura Benedict interviewed her at Notes from the Handbasket.One exchange from the interview:

LB: Dahlia’s Gone could be described as a literary crime novel. Did you set out to specifically write a crime novel, or did the story evolve into one?

KE: I wrote Dahlia’s Gone because I wanted to write that story, and it was about a murder, but the novel also came from the context of my life. At the time, I was head of a county task force, and our mission was to reduce violence against women, so I was interacting with all sorts of people I’d never known before. Law enforcement officers, for one. I came to empathize with their experience as human beings, who, for the most part, are basically doing social work, but the kind that’s sometimes very dangerous. So these things were made real to me, not just as ideas. And also, in the small town atmosphere in which I live, if a young woman is murdered, it’s quite possible that you’ve brushed shoulders with at least one of the parents, and so you are more affected by these incidents. I became emotionally engaged.
Read the full interview.

Learn more about the author and her work at Katie Estill's website.

Dahlia's Gone has been nominated for the Hammett Prize by the North American Branch of the International Association of Crime Writers.

The Page 99 Test: Dahlia's Gone.

(h/t to The Rap Sheet.)

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Donna Foote

Donna Foote is the author of Relentless Pursuit: A Year in the Trenches with Teach for America.

From a Q & A about the book at her publisher's website:

Q: You follow the first year teaching experiences of four new TFA Corps Members (CMs). How did you pick those particular teachers?

A: First, I picked the school. I chose Locke High School because I knew it was home to the largest cluster of TFA teachers in Los Angeles, and it also happened to be one of the school sites for TFA’s five week “Boot Camp”—which meant I would be able to follow a group of recruits there from training through teaching.

Aside from wanting all the corps members (CMs) to be working at the same school, I was looking for a group of teachers who would be representative of the TFA corps as a whole. There were some 15 TFA recruits hired to teach at Locke High School for the 2005-06 school year. Among that cohort, I was looking for ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographic diversity. I also wanted both male and female candidates, and I wanted them to be teaching in different content areas. What I did not, and could not know, was how each would fare as the year unfolded. In that respect, Taylor, Hrag, Rachelle, and Phillip were random picks.

Q: Where did your initial interest in TFA come from and how were you introduced to Locke?

A: I was working at Newsweek in 1990 when TFA first began. I remember reading a few pieces about this young Princeton grad called Wendy Kopp who was trying to change the world by starting a teacher corps. I was intrigued. I clipped the stories and eventually filed them away. Though I kept an eye on TFAover the years (and two of my nieces ended up joining TFA) I never found a strong enough peg to hang a story on. That changed in 2005, when I read a press release that reported that 17,000 people had applied to TFA, and among them were 12 percent of the graduating class at Yale. The Yale statistic struck me as extraordinary. I wanted to know more. Why would so many grads from elite schools like Yale, with presumably many better paying offers, give up two years of their upwardly mobile lives to
teach in low performing schools across the country?

At around the same time, a good friend who was new to teaching got a job at Locke High School. Her war stories were gripping; she invited me to come to her classroom to help out and see for myself. My visit was a revelation. Most of the kids in her 9th grade English class couldn’t read. And it wasn’t just that they were stumbling over words. They literally could not read. The day I observed, her students were sounding out words like C-A-T! When she mentioned that TFA held its summer training institute at Locke, everything suddenly clicked. I decided I would tell the story of how we educate our poorest students through the eyes and experiences of our most privileged.
Read the entire Q & A.

Related: "Teach for America Grows Up: What TFA can teach the NCLB [No Child Left Behind] era" by Sara Mosle in Slate.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 19, 2008

Amitav Ghosh

Amitav Ghosh's books include The Calcutta Chromosome and The Glass Palace. His latest novel, Sea of Poppies, will be available in the U.S. in the fall.

Two exchanges from his brief Q & A with Anna Metcalfe for the Financial Times:

What is the last thing you read that made you laugh out loud?

Upamanyu Chatterjee’s The Mammaries of the Welfare State. I found a laugh on every page while I was on the plane from India to Australia.

* * *

What novel would you give your own child to introduce them to literature?

I’ve given them so many and they never read them! I’d give them science fiction – Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001.
Read the full interview.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ellen Cooney

Ellen Cooney is the author of seven novels including the newly published Lambrusco. Her short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Literary Review, and Glimmer Train, among other publications.

From a Q & A at her publisher's website:

How did an author with an Irish surname, living in coastal Maine, come to create Lambrusco, a novel epitomizing–and even mythologizing–the Italian partisan movement in the crucial war years of the early 1940’s?

The province of my novel, Emilia-Romagna on the Adriatic coast, is sort of where New England, my always home, is located in America. I come from Italians on my mother’s side. The Cooney is from my dad’s family who in fact are English, from Yorkshire, in Bronte country. I’ve always been keenly aware that I’m an American because of immigrants from two very different countries. As my English grandmother used to say–and she had spotted me as a baby writer from the get-go–“You get your words from us, and your spirit from those Italians.” I’m remembering myself at the age of about twelve, devouring Bronte novels with a background soundtrack of my Italian grandmother’s beloved Caruso. In the air are smells of tomatoes and garlic, along with steam from a pasta pot. On tv is one of the WWII films my dad–a WWII vet–never wanted to stop watching or talking about. I’d go from a Bronte to an American war novel without missing a beat.

The roots of this novel go deep. My Italian grandfather was a barber and one day as a very young kid–a kid who was always in the library–I found a picture of Mussolini in an old copy of Life magazine. My nonno looked so much like him, I became very nervous; I knew what a Fascist was. Although I was heartily assured that our family was on the side of the good guys, I went more with the barber thing, and cooked up a nonno as my own personal Figaro, of the Rossini. I’d known for ages I would have to get around to writing an Italian novel, but I kept putting it off, hoping it would take me over one day like a force of nature. Which it did.
Read the entire Q & A.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Claire Tomalin

From a Q & A with Claire Tomalin about her award-winning biography of Samuel Pepys:

The popular image of Pepys is that of a womanizing civil servant whose main achievement was the reforming of the Navy? How fair is that?

Pepys did pursue a lot of women. He is amazingly frank about this in the Diary, and also allows us to see that his success with women was pretty limited. He was a civil servant (before they were so named) and he gave more energy to naval administration than to womanising. He became a dedicated professional, working very long hours and organising a team of assistants to assist him in his work. He spoke effectively in the House of Commons for more shipbuilding. He persuaded Charles II to set up examinations for lieutenants. He effectively set up the Navy List, and he instructed captains to keep journals of their voyages. He did not take on the worst abuse, the system of pressing. In the history of the Royal Navy, Pepys is an important figure. But his greatness lies in the writing of the Diary - a unique and extraordinary achievement.
Read the full Q & A.

Learn about Claire Tomalin's "five most important books."

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 16, 2008

Joel Goldman

Joel Goldman is the author of Motion To Kill, which introduced trial lawyer Lou Mason. Mason reappeared in the Edgar nominated The Last Witness, Cold Truth, and Deadlocked, which was nominated for a Shamus award.

His new novel, Shakedown, begins a new series featuring FBI Special Agent Jack Davis.

From a Q & A at Goldman's website.

Q: You have a page on your website called Crime Scene. What's that about?

A: One of the things that make any story come alive is where it takes place. That's certainly been true for me. My books are set in Kansas City, my hometown. Great writers make the setting where the story occurs as real and influential in the story as any character, whether it's a neighborhood, city, county or region. With Crime Scene, I'm going to explore those places and how writers bring them to life and ask readers to share their favorites character places with me.

Q: What drives your stories?

A: That's a great question and it took me about two and a half books to figure that out. About midway through my third book, Cold Truth, I realized that I was writing about families and their conflicts as much as I was writing about murder and mayhem. The conflicts that stem from family relationships are textured, nuanced and varied. It's impossible to run out of ideas. All I have to do is ask myself what happens when things go wrong.
Read the full Q & A.

The Page 69 Test: Shakedown.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Gail Jones

At January Magazine, Summer Block profiled and interviewed Gail Jones, author of 2004’s Sixty Lights and, more recently, Sorry, which opens with the murder of a white anthropologist in Australia.

The first exchange from the interview:

Summer Block: Let’s start with some questions about your most recent novel, Sorry. The novel is about forgetting and remembering, and the ways that people and nations can choose to eradicate difficult memories of the past. What is the balance between acknowledging the past, and not letting it dictate your present? Is there a way to truly atone for past national sins? Is it ever possible to really move on and say, OK, now we can put this behind us?

Gail Jones: There is no single response to these complex issues. Each country negotiates its own highly specific history; however the issue of remembering or forgetting is central to all. I am reminded of Milan Kundera’s famous statement: “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” The first responsibility is to remember what it serves the state to repress; the second to recall, to tell and to consider the recovered history through the lens of justice.

My novel allegorizes the “forgetting” of the so-called Stolen Generations in Australia, those Aboriginal children forcibly removed from their families by order of state policy from about 1900 to 1970. The anguish and suffering of these people is the basis for a collection of heart-rending testimonies delivered to the Australian Parliament in May 1997. One of the recommendations of the report was that the government of the day offer a formal apology to indigenous Australians for the wrongs done to them. The [Howard Liberal] government refused to say “sorry,” a matter that was rectified [recently] when the new Labour government in Australia, under the leadership of Kevin Rudd, issued an apology at the opening of parliament. This did not necessarily atone or repair the hurt, but it did signal a new initiative for reconciliation and dialogue between Aboriginal and other Australians.
Read the profile and full Q & A.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Rick Perlstein

Jamie Malanowski, managing editor of Playboy and author of The Coup, interviewed Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America.

Their opening exchange:

PLAYBOY: Seen as a figure who governed in a time in between sunny Franklin Roosevelt and sunny Ronald Reagan, it’s amazing that the dark, complex Richard Nixon ever made it to the presidency. How did that happen?

PERLSTEIN: Welllll—to use a favorite Ronald Reagan opener—first let’s make one thing perfectly clear. Reagan wasn’t so sunny! He rose to power, first as governor of California in 1966, then as president in 1980, very much by playing to people’s fears and resentments in a time of social transformation. I very intentionally used a picture in my book of Reagan scowling—as he used to do when he said a hippie was someone “who dresses like Tarzan, has hair like Jane, and smells like Cheetah,” or, when someone admired the protesting Baby Boomers’ “youthful energy,” that “I’d like to harness their youthful energy with a strap.” Richard Nixon went to school on Ronald Reagan’s 1966 gubernatorial campaign—harnessing the majority’s rage at those insolent protesters, and riding it all the way to the White House.

The reason he was so uniquely qualified to do so was because he’d been harnessing the rage and resentments of those around him ever since he won his first election, for student body president at Whittier College. As a youth, he always felt looked-down-upon, despised for being too unpolished, too uncool. So he made people who felt like him his political constituency, which was a smart move, because, after all, those who feel themselves unpolished and uncool are everywhere in the majority.
Read the entire interview.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Nicholas Dawidoff

Nicholas Dawidoff's books include The Fly Swatter, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and In the Country of Country, which was named one of the greatest all-time works of travel literature by Conde Nast Traveller. His first book, The Catcher Was A Spy: The Mysterious Life Of Moe Berg was a national bestseller and appeared on many best book lists. His new book is The Crowd Sounds Happy: A Story of Love, Madness and Baseball. He is also the editor of the Library of America’s Baseball: A Literary Anthology.

One exchange from an April 2008 interview with Princeton Alumni Weekly:

You are a longtime Boston Red Sox fan. Has life changed since the Sox started winning championships?

This was terrifying for Red Sox fans in the abstract: What would we do when our team actually became successful? We had so much invested in this notion of being fans of the team that was a lot like man — sort of fated and doomed by nature. It’s pleasurable to win, but I think for me, the pleasures of victory aren’t nearly comparable to the pleasures of process. For so long I had wondered what it would be like and how I would feel if the Red Sox won the World Series.

And what it felt like [in 2004] was the same as it felt like every year. I was glad that they won, and it was a nice feeling, but ultimately, I just missed baseball. I had to trudge on through the winter.
Read the full Q & A.

Read an excerpt from The Crowd Sounds Happy and learn more about the book at the publisher's website.

Check out Dawidoff's list of the five best baseball novels.

Writers Read: Nicholas Dawidoff.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 12, 2008

Daniel Solove

Annika Mengisen, editor the New York Times "Freakonomics" blog, interviewed George Washington University law professor Daniel Solove about his recent book, The Future of Reputation.

Their opening exchange:

Q: In your book you point out that technologies change but human nature stays the same. What does this mean for our online reputations?

A: For the first time in history, anybody can publish information to a worldwide audience; in the past, only those with access to mainstream media could do so.

The students currently in high school and college — what I call Generation Google — will have to live with a series of information fragments about their personal lives.

In college, students often experiment as they strive to develop their own identities; they often do silly things.

One example is streaking — many college students do it, and it’s almost a rite of passage at some college campuses. In the past, such things were forgotten. But now, it’s so easy to capture everything in a photo or on video.

The gossip that pervades college campuses, high schools, and many other settings doesn’t fade into obscurity — it lives on. Gone are the days of innocent experimentation, of being foolhardy without having to suffer permanent regret.
Read the full Q & A.

Read an excerpt from The Future of Reputation and learn more about the book and author at Daniel Solove's website, the Concurring Opinions blog, and the Yale University Press website.

Solove is an Associate Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School. His other publications include The Digital Person: Technology and Privacy in the Information Age (2004) and Information Privacy Law (2006).

The Page 99 Test: The Future of Reputation.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Barbara Fister

Barbara Fister is the author of two mysteries, On Edge, and the newly released In the Wind.

She's been the subject of a number of recent interviews. Here's an exchange from a Q & A with Sandra Ruttan:

Your new book is called IN THE WIND. Where did the idea for the title come from?

Well, it’s a Dylan reference tied to the fact the story is about a Vietnam War-era crime, and a reference to the setting (the Windy City), and slang for being a fugitive, which is the status of the character in the book who my narrator is helping, a woman who is being hunted now for the murder of an FBI agent 35 years ago. Also, I seem to have a prepositional phrase thing going on with my titles . . .
Read the full Q & A.

And here's an exchange from Fister's "Snapshot" at January Magazine:
What inspires you?

I get my dander up about a lot of things, and writing is a good outlet. In the Wind was a therapeutic way to deal with my negative feelings about George Bush. It was strange, as I did research for the story, to read about counterintelligence practices exposed after Watergate; they’re identical to what’s going on today. When Chris Dodd read from the 1976 Church Committee hearings this past December on the floor of the Senate as he filibustered a bill sanctioning warrantless wiretapping, it sent chills up my spine. We’re in a weird time warp; the only thing missing is the outrage and the tear gas. That said, though my book has political themes, I try to play fair with the issues. Anything less would belittle the very real issues at stake, and straw men don’t make for very compelling characters in fiction.
Read the rest of the "Snapshot."

Writers Read: Barbara Fister.

The Page 99 Test: In the Wind.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben has won an Edgar Award, Shamus Award and Anthony Award--the first author to win all three. His new novel is Hold Tight.

One exchange from his brief Q & A with Anna Metcalfe for the Financial Times:

What book changed your life?

Marathon Man
by William Goldman, when I was 16. It was the first book that gripped me. I thought: one day, I want to do this.
Read the entire Q & A.

Read about what Coben was reading last month.

Visit Harlan Coben's website and MySpace page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 9, 2008

Katherine Howell

Damien of Crime Down Under put a handful of questions to Katherine Howell, author of Frantic and The Darkest Hour.

Their first exchange:

Your first novel FRANTIC has been a big success and congratulations on an engrossing read. The story features 2 very strong female characters in Sophie Phillips and Ella Marconi, both put under extreme pressure. Were you consciously aiming for this powerful dual lead or is that the nature of their jobs? How closely did you draw off your experience as a paramedic for Sophie?

I always wanted to use the paramedic angle, but I also wanted to develop a series. Having a paramedic protagonist as the ongoing character was going to be a problem, though, because it wasn't plausible to have her rush about the city solving crime or going through some incredibly difficult and traumatic experience in each book. Detective Ella Marconi was the answer: she could give the procedural angle on the story, she could provide access to information about the case that the paramedic could never have, plus she was another point of view so allowed the reader a break from the shellshocked mind of Sophie.

I drew from many of my experiences as a paramedic for Sophie, mixing and matching elements of what I'd been through so her cases are not lifted entirely from real life but do stem from there. I like to use the little things that only a paramedic could know: what it's like to crouch in the backseat of a crashed car, caring for the trapped passenger while the driver sits dead behind the wheel and rain pours down outside, for example, or how blood flows off the stretcher and onto the ambulance floor and out under the back door as you're rushing a dying patient to hospital. How you feel about the ones you can't save.People are fascinated with what goes on behind the ambulance's darkened windows, and the books let me show them.
Read the full Q & A.

Visit Katherine Howell's website.

Last year Howell introduced herself to American readers at Sarah Weinman's "Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind."

The Page 69 Test: Frantic.

The Page 99 Test: The Darkest Hour.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Charles Barber intern Callie Enlow interviewed Yale University’s Charles Barber about his latest book, Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry is Medicating a Nation.

The start of the interview:

PLAYBOY: Who did you write this book for?

BARBER: I think the natural audience is the people that have taken the drugs and have had a wide range of experiences on the drugs. I’ve also been contacted by a large number of their family members.

PLAYBOY: Some people don’t know the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist, not to mention a social worker and a counselor. Might that make it hard for people to seek appropriate treatment?

BARBER: That’s part of what I’m saying in the book. Therapists haven’t done a great job in marketing themselves. Most people who are drawn to the healing arts are not drawn to marketing themselves, and of course there’s not a product to push, like a pill.

PLAYBOY: Why have Prozac and other antidepressants have been so successful?

BARBER: In the early 90s, there was this sort of gee-whiz quality about anti-depressants. The previous generation of anti-depressants had much more side-effects and could be lethal in overdose. Prozac has much less side-effects and is basically non-lethal. We’ve been very quick to embrace this way of treating these illnesses and the rates of anti-depressant prescriptions continue to rise. The stigma of taking a pill has been largely eradicated. We’re drawn to quick fixes.
Read the entire Q & A.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mike Lawson

Mike Lawson's third DeMarco novel, House Rules, will be released in June 2008. Back when the first DeMarco thriller, The Inside Ring, was published, Luan Gaines interviewed Lawson for Curled Up With a Good Book. Their opening exchanges:

What was your inspiration for this novel?

I can’t recall a specific or particular inspiration for The Inside Ring. My novels usually start with an idea or a what-if question: what if the Secret Service was involved in an assassination attempt on the President? My second novel deals with sexual harassment involving a Presidential contender and in that case I suppose the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings or even Bill Clinton’s problems could have contributed to my thinking. But there was also a what if question for that novel, but telling it sorta reveals the plot.

Did you base the Washington personalities on real people or are they composites?

Both. The Speaker in The Inside Ring is physically very much like Tip O’Neill, a popular Speaker of the House back in the late 80’s – and, and this is a total coincidence, because I wrote the book before Dennis Hastert – the current Speaker of the House became Speaker – but my Mahoney bears an amazing physical resemblance to Mr. Hastert – although I think my guy would be a lot more fun than Mr. Hastert and I doubt Mr. Hastert has my Mahoney’s sinful proclivities. There are other characters in the book that were also inspired somewhat by real people. For example, in the book there’s a retired army colonel, Bryon Moore, who is based very much on a Navy admiral I worked with. In the main, however, the characters are imaginary, or composites, if you will.
Read the full interview.

Visit Mike Lawson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Carl Zimmer

Mykola Bilokonsky interviewed Carl Zimmer about his new book, Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life.

The first question and answer:

What made you choose E. coli as a topic for your latest book? Obviously the subject affords a great wealth of information to explore, but so do many others - why work with this one?

CZ: My books usually start out with a lot of connected thoughts drifting around in my head. To turn that thought-cloud into a manuscript, I first have to narrow it down to something that can fit in a few hundred pages, not a few thousand. This time around, I started thinking a lot about life--what it means to be alive, what rules govern life no matter what form it takes. Biologists know so much more today about life than just a few years ago that they can really start to ask these questions in a meaningful way. But I knew I didn’t want to write about all 10 million species of life on Earth. So it occurred to me, what if I just choose one species? Which one would I choose? The choice was obvious --E. coli. The story of E. coli is really the story of modern biology, from the 1940s, when scientists struggled to discover what genes are, to today, when they are rebuilding life from scratch.
Read the entire Q & A at Newsvine.

Read an excerpt from Miocrocosm, and learn more about it and the author's work at Carl Zimmer's website.

Writers Read: Carl Zimmer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 5, 2008

David Dobbs

David Dobbs is the author of Reef Madness: Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the Meaning of Coral (2005).

From a Q & A at the publisher's website:

What’s this book about?

Reef Madness
describes a 35-year argument that took place in the late 1800s between Charles Darwin and a younger scientist, Alexander Agassiz, over how coral reefs formed. That’s the issue at its simplest — a scientific conflict. But it’s also a story of intense personal and philosophical conflicts: of a son trying to deal with the huge legacy of a very famous, brilliant, but maddeningly flawed father, and a wider dispute among scientists about the rules of science. It was both a blood feud and a philosophical debate of the most elemental kind. And though it was forgotten for most of the last 50 years, it was at the time one of the hottest controversies in science.

There have been piles of books about Charles Darwin. But the Darwin in your book is a bit different than the one we’re used to meeting. How so?

In this book we see Darwin at two different times. One is quite young, before he’s really found his feet. And this young Darwin is a completely different animal than the gray-bearded, rather sickly Darwin of the popular imagination and most histories. It isn’t new to Darwin scholars, but it can be astonishing — and rather delightful — for the rest of us to discover that the young Darwin was a bright but aimless young man. He hardly studied his first two years at Cambridge, for instance; he was far more interested in hunting and in playing cards and drinking. His father was terrified he’d end up a ne’er-do-well sporting type. He almost didn’t take the job on the Beagle; when his father objected, he let the thing drop, and then hurried off to hunt, for it was the first day of partridge season, and almost nothing could make him miss that. He only took the Beagle job when his uncle whacked him upside the head and convinced his father it was a good idea.

Then on the Beagle, he became a very bold thinker and naturalist, and most especially a very imaginative geologist. He took five times as many notes on rocks as on animals; he considered himself a geologist above all. And he was a very bold one. It was then that he came up with his coral theory.

That’s one Darwin we meet here — the aimless sport who transforms into the adventurous and very bold theorist — neither of them much like the cautious and dyspeptic scholar of later years.

The other Darwin we meet is the older one with whom Alex starts his long debate. This was a very gracious man, which is completely consistent with the typical historical view of Darwin. He was a warm-hearted man, generous, and wrote wonderful encouraging warm letters to any fellow scientist whether they were with him or against him. This was the tone of his relation with Alex. The two liked each other. But Darwin’s graciousness, while quite genuine, was also the soft covering over a relentless effort to advance his own theories and cause. He had a unique way of charming, pushing, cajoling, and thoughtfully leading his colleagues in his direction. Alexander’s relationship with this Darwin was fascinating. He had to deal with two of the century’s most fascinating geniuses — each quite maddening in his own way — and somehow still find answers his own way.
Read the full Q & A.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 4, 2008

John McFetridge

Declan Burke interviewed John McFetridge in December 2007. Their opening exchanges:

What crime novel would you most like to have written?

SWAG – or really anything by Elmore Leonard.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?

I read all over the place and I don't feel guilty about any of it.

Most satisfying writing moment?

When the ending to DIRTY SWEET presented itself. Up till that moment I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Now it’s closer to just no idea.
Read the full Q & A.

John McFetridge's Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere is due in the U.S. in July 2008 from Harcourt.

The Page 69 Test: Dirty Sweet.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 3, 2008

David Lodge

David Lodge is a literary critic and novelist who has won numerous awards for his books and was twice shortlisted for the Booker Prize (for Small World and Nice Work).

A couple of exchanges from his brief Q & A with Anna Metcalfe for the Financial Times:

What book changed your life?

James Joyce's Ulysses , which I read as an undergraduate. It had a tremendous effect on my own writing and remains the single most exciting literary experience I ever had.

* * *

Who would you like to sit next to at a dinner party?

Henry James. I'd love to find out how close I was in my novel about him. And he was a great diner-out.

Read the full Q & A.

From a mini-profile of Lodge in the Guardian:
Lodge invented a literary parlour game called 'Humiliation' in Changing Places, which remains popular at dinner parties. Players name classics of literature that they have not read, the winner being the one who exhibits the most woeful literary lacuna. In Changing Places, Lodge's obnoxious American academic, Howard Ringbaum, admits that he has never read Hamlet - and thus wins the game (but loses his job). Lodge himself owns up to War and Peace.
View a photo of David Lodge's writing room.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 2, 2008

Mario Batali

Mario Batali is the author of the James Beard Award-winning Molto Italiano, the newly released Italian Grill, and other cookbooks.

From his Ink Q & A at

Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.

Jim Harrison is America's greatest living fiction writer for many reasons and deserves a Nobel Prize. Although every single one of his books and volumes of poetry and short stories is perfect, I think a great start is The Road Home. As you read anything he has written you initially marvel at the complexity of the characters and the realness of their dialogue, both internal and external. The tale in The Road Home is of several generations of families that Jim has explored before, and their exquisite and bumpy ride through the rich terrain of the Native American cultural and physical landscape in the Midwest. As you read further you discover the true protaganist is Harrison himself, his love and Zen-master appreciation of the natural world, and the toll that world's inescapable intersection with civilization can take on human experience. He is funny to the point of laughing out loud, wise to the point of inspiration, and such a wordsmith that I often reread entire pages for the simple pleasure of their cadences.
Read the full Q & A.

Check out Mario Batali's list of five great American books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Chris Knopf

Jochem van der Steen of Sons of Spade interviewed Chris Knopf, author of the Sam Acquillo Hamptons mysteries, The Last Refuge, Two Time, and Head Wounds.

Q: What makes Sam different from other fictional (unofficial) private eyes?

Sam is an engineer. Not a very exciting profession to those who don’t know engineering. But as with any pursuit, there are plenty of very clever and creative engineers, and Sam is one of those. He was a trouble-shooter, then headed up his company’s R&D department, so he’s professionally and temperamentally inclined to question the obvious, brood over anomalies, solve puzzles and never accept the accepted truth if it doesn’t fit with his observations. He’s also socially conflicted. He grew up in a blue collar, rough and tumble world, but like a lot of guys my age from that time, earned an education, and subsequently, a more sophisticated lifestyle than his roots would suggest. So he has one foot in each emotional paradigm – hard-edged, working class anger and erudite, intellectual curiosity.

Q: What are your thoughts on the psycho sidekick in PI novels?

Sam has a few sidekicks, none psycho. I’m familiar with the type, which I think writers invent to provide a surrogate dark side to their principle – a foil that helps with character development and plot. I think most of those sidekicks would be better off being shot before they hurt somebody.
Read the entire Q & A.

My Book, The Movie: Chris Knopf's Two Time.

--Marshal Zeringue