Thursday, April 30, 2015

David Joy

David Joy is the author of the novels Where All Light Tends to Go (Putnam, 2015) and Waiting On The End Of The World (Putnam, 2016), as well as the memoir Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey (Bright Mountain Books, 2011), which was a finalist for the Reed Environmental Writing Award and the Ragan Old North State Award for Creative Nonfiction.

From Joy's Q & A with Bradley Sides of Novel Enthusiasts:

NE: Your story about a teenager who struggles to pick his path is one with which, I think, most people can relate. Although Jacob has the added dangers of drugs, violence, poverty, and general brutality, do you think his story is, at least at its core, like any other teenager’s who is approaching adulthood?

DJ: Jacob’s is definitely a coming-of-age story, but it’s just that coming of age where he’s from doesn’t much make a damn. Jacob is from a place where circumstance governs maturity. Hard lives tend to grow up fast, and he’s had a tough row to hoe. But as far as there being a universality to that age, I think that seems to be one of the most pivotal times in life, that moment when you’re not really a grown up but you’re no longer a child, and so that period works really well to create conflict. The Catcher in the Rye wouldn’t be what it is if Holden Caulfield were any older. Jacob’s idealization of Maggie and his overall naivety for much of what’s going on around him are very much tied to that I-know-it-all-but-I-know-nothing reality of an eighteen-year-old kid. I had one reader tell me that he thought Jacob was an unreliable narrator, though it wasn’t a matter of Jacob being purposefully dishonest, but rather he was simply unable to fully grasp what was going on around him. I think that’s absolutely right, and that’s very much a characteristic of that age. Being a teenager is hard. Any adult who tells you differently has simply forgotten.

NE: I think Jacob is really dynamic, and for the record, I think he’s one of 2015’s great literary characters. He isn’t necessarily a bad person, but he’s also not really a good one either. He struggles. He accomplishes. He fights. He flees. He hesitates. He does. He is very real to me. Do you think Jacob is likeable or, at the very least, sympathetic?

DJ: I don’t necessarily want a reader to feel sympathetic for Jacob, but I do want them to...[read on]
Writers Read: David Joy.

The Page 69 Test: Where All Light Tends to Go.

My Book, The Movie: Where All Light Tends to Go.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Robert K. Lewis

Bay Area resident Robert K. Lewis has been a painter, printmaker, and a produced screenwriter.

His latest book is Innocent Damage, the third novel featuring ex-cop and recovering junkie Mark Mallen.

From the author's Q & A with Midnight Ink:

MI: Do you have a favorite murder case from a book (either yours or another author’s)?

RKL: The Abbey Grange, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is not only my favorite murder mystery, it’s also one of my favorite Sherlock Holmes stories. The Abbey Grange is actually one of the inspirations for Mark Mallen, because this is where Holmes really becomes judge and jury, and by doing so, gives us a glance into his great heart. This story is Holmes in one of his finest moments.

MI: What was your inspiration for this series?

RKL: Ah, that’s a large question. Mallen is made up of so many things that I’ve watched, read, and witnessed. There are, of course, the classic detectives: Sam Spade, Marlowe, Johnny Liddell, and Mike Hammer. Then there are the New York cop films of the 1970s: The French Connection, Serpico, The Seven Ups, The Warriors, Taxi Driver, and Death Wish. Also on that list would be other gritty films such as Panic in Needle Park and Midnight...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: Innocent Damage.

Writers Read: Robert K. Lewis.

My Book, the Movie: Innocent Damage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Declan Burke

The Lost and the Blind is Declan Burke’s sixth novel. Previous novels include Eightball Boogie, Crime Always Pays and Absolute Zero Cool.

From Burke's Q & A with Harry Guerin for RTE Ten:

Harry Guerin: Nazi submarines off the coast of Donegal – how and when did this idea come up on your own sonar?

Declan Burke: I'm from Sligo originally but I spend quite a bit of time in Donegal these days, up around Lough Swilly, and I've heard a few stories about German submarines operating off Donegal during World War II. Naturally, once I heard those stories I was thinking straight away about how I might work them into a novel. In the past I've written private detective stories and comedy crime capers, but I've always wanted to write a spy novel, albeit one in which the hero is a normal person who finds himself plunged into the murky world of spooks and triple-crosses and so forth – William Goldman's Marathon Man is one of my favourite thrillers. So I thought it might be fun to try to bring those elements together, and The Lost and the Blind is the result.

The modern part of the story takes place during the last days of the Celtic Tiger. Did you have a lot of anger that you wanted to get down on paper?

Not really, to be honest. There was a lot of anger about the mismanagement and corruption of this country in Absolute Zero Cool, which came out in 2011, and Slaughter's Hound, which was 2012, but polemic doesn't necessarily make for good storytelling. At this stage, like most people, I'm mostly inured to the stupidity of it all. I suppose...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Burke's Crime Always Pays blog.

Writers Read: Declan Burke.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 27, 2015

Jehanne Dubrow

Jehanne Dubrow is the author of five poetry collections, including most recently The Arranged Marriage, Red Army Red, and Stateside.

From her Q & A with Jeannine Hall Gailey:

Speaking of your new book, I thought one line (related to the title) really revealed the heart of the book: The first line from “Set Jerusalem Above My Highest Joy—Psalm 137” “Every marriage is arranged to be /broken.” Can you discuss?

JD: The Arranged Marriage explores different forms of forced intimacy. Yes, the book considers an actual arranged marriage, but it also examines how even those relationships entered into consensually can be shattered, how they can wound us. There’s also a terrible moment of trauma at the heart of The Arranged Marriage. When my mother was a young woman, she was held hostage at knifepoint by a man who had escaped from an asylum for the criminally insane. Writing The Arranged Marriage, I came to understand that this moment of violence was a kind of arrangement of the fates, a closeness that could have broken my mother if she hadn’t been so strong.

Many of your books deal with conflicts of a different, more global nature (the stresses of life in the military, childhood in a Communist-controlled nation, etc.) and this one feels more intimate, more personal. I was thinking of it as a director narrowing the focus of her camera. How different/difficult was it to write this particular book? How has it been giving readings? I saw in your study guide that you interviewed your mother for this book; was that a difficult/rewarding process?

JD: The Arranged Marriage is based on two years’ worth of interviews with my mother. Occasionally, the collection felt as if it wrote itself. Even before I spent time interviewing my mother...[read on]
Visit Jehanne Dubrow's website.

Writers Read: Jehanne Dubrow (April 2010).

Writers Read: Jehanne Dubrow (November 2012).

Coffee with a Canine: Jehanne Dubrow and Argos.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro's new novel is The Buried Giant.

From his Q & A with Elysha Chang for Electric Lit:

Chang: What was behind the decision in setting The Buried Giant in a mythical, medieval England? Did you know this would surprise people the way it has?

Ishiguro: Often the setting comes quite late in the process. I usually have the whole story, the whole idea, and then I hunt for the location, for a place where I can set it down.

So I’m a little bit naïve, maybe, about what the finished thing will look like in terms of genre. It’s sort of like I’ve wandered into people’s countries without knowing where I’ve landed. And after I’ve been there for quite some time, someone says ‘you realize you’re in Poland now.’ And I say, ‘Oh really? I just followed this trail of stuff I needed.’

I didn’t wonder how people would define or categorize The Buried Giant until it was done. And then as publication approached, I started to see it from the outside. I’d been so absorbed with trying to get the thing to work from the inside.

I did think about setting it in a very real contemporary, tense situation. I considered Bosnia in the 1990s as a setting, and well, I thought about Rwanda but didn’t consider it for too long, because I feel unqualified to write about Africa. I know so little about African politics, African culture. The disintegration of Yugoslavia I felt closer to, because I live in Europe. These massacres were occurring right on our doorstep. I wanted to look at a situation in which a generation (or two) has been living uneasily in peace, where different ethnic groups have been coexisting peaceably and then something happens that reawakens a tribal or societal memory.

Chang: What made you ultimately decide on this more distant reality?

Ishiguro: Well, if I had done that you’d be asking me why I was suddenly interested in Yugoslavia, and if I have relatives that used to go there, and what do I think about what Milosevic did or said on this or that day. It becomes a completely different kind of book. Some people write those kinds of books brilliantly. It’s almost like reportage. They’re very powerful and very urgent books.

Maybe in the future I’ll feel compelled to write that kind of specific and current book, but right now I feel that my strength as a fiction writer is...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sara Gruen

Sara Gruen’s latest novel is At the Water's Edge.

From her Q & A with Claire Kirch at Publishers Weekly:

You’ve said that a vintage photograph in The Chicago Tribune inspired you to write Water for Elephants. Did a similar event inspire At the Water’s Edge?

Although the seeds were sown decades earlier (I first visited Urquhart Castle when I was twelve), the catalyst that turned it from fond memory to book fodder was an online article I stumbled upon four years ago. It was about government secrecy, but what really caught my attention was a 70-year-old declassified letter from Scotland Yard stating unequivocally that the government believed the monster existed. Before I knew it, I’d fallen down a Nessie rabbit hole. At some point over the course of the afternoon, it dawned on me that I was setting my next story.

At the Water’s Edge is set against a backdrop of World War II. What kind of research did you do before writing?

I spent five weeks in the Highlands, scouring the archives at the Inverness Courier, interviewing people who lived in the area during the war, researching the 1st Special Service Brigade, even trying to persuade the equivalent of the U.S. Coast Guard to throw me into the loch. I prowled around the castle, got lost in the Cover, and found myself on the wrong side of the law while exploring WWII ruins that I later discovered were...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 24, 2015

Catherine Reef

Catherine Reef is the author of more than 40 nonfiction books, including many highly acclaimed biographies for young people. She lives in College Park, Maryland.

Reef's recent young adult biography, Frida & Diego: Art, Love, Life, explores the tumultuous lives, marriage, and work of the artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

From the author's Q & A at How Did You Write That?:

HDYWT: How did you come up with the idea for Frida & Diego?

Catherine: I like to write about creative people. I had written biographies of poets, novelists, and composers — of E. E. Cummings, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Ernest Hemingway, Leonard Bernstein, and others — but I had never written about a visual artist. And after completing my books on Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters, I wanted to move away from England and the nineteenth century, to enjoy a change of scene. I considering several subjects before settling on Frida Kahlo. She was such a colorful figure, in every sense of the word, and she was a pioneering self-portraitist.

I delved into Kahlo’s story, though, I became equally intrigued by her husband. Diego Rivera was larger than life-again, in every sense. He, too, was a significant artist, one of the most important muralists of the twentieth century. I also saw how tightly intertwined their stories were and how tumultuous their marriage was. Their intense love drew them together, drove them apart, and brought them together again. It didn’t always make them happy. But here is what fascinated me, and what I admired most about the pair: however much each one hurt and disappointed the other in love, they remained true to each other as artists. Rivera appreciated Kahlo’s talent, encouraged her, and championed her work, and she...[read on]
Visit Catherine Reef's website.

The Page 69 Test: Frida & Diego.

Coffee with a Canine: Catherine Reef & Nandi.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Elizabeth Alexander

In her memoir,The Light of the World, Elizabeth Alexander writes about her husband Ficre Ghebreyesus, who died shortly after turning 50.

From the author's Q & A with Michele Filgate at Salon:

Ficre was an artist and you talk about that a lot in the book, and about his style. And in one particular passage you write: “Ficre did not paint what he saw. He saw in his mind, and then he painted, and then he found the flowers that were what he painted. He painted what he wanted to continue to see. He painted how he wanted the world to look. He painted to fix something in place. And so I write to fix him in place, to pass time in his company, to make sure I remember, even though I know I will never forget.” I thought that was a beautiful way to talk about the common human instinct to hold on to our loved ones. I’m wondering how you wrote about someone that you knew so well and that you loved so much without idealizing them. How do you write from an honest place about a person who means so much to you?

Yeah, that’s a challenge, isn’t it? The quick answer is, I don’t know. I just did it. It’s mysterious. But I think also one thing I was aware of, and this is to the word “nostalgia,” I knew I had to write this book quickly…I had to write it when I was still in it. Because I thought if I’m too far away I would forget things. But I think it’s not about forgetting things. I thought I might idealize things. And so I wanted to be able to just be in such raw feeling and experience that I almost didn’t know what I was writing. I was just writing. And I just really, really was clear that I was kind of racing against the clock, because of course you never stop missing the person. You never stop breathing. But you do pull yourself together and keep on.

I’ve often heard that you should wait to process things that you have gone through before you write about them. But I love that you’re saying you wanted to process them in the actual moment. So I’m wondering, do you think the writing would’ve been different if you waited years to write about this?

Oh, I’m...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Conor Brady

Conor Brady is the author of A June of Ordinary Murders.

From his Q & A with J. Kingston Pierce at The Rap Sheet:

JKP: What was it that made you choose 1887 as your time-frame for A June of Ordinary Murders? Were you attracted primarily by Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee?

CB: The Jubilee became the focus for extraordinary political tension in Ireland. Those loyal to Britain wanted to celebrate, while those who believed in Irish nationalism opposed any acknowledgment of Victoria's long reign. She had sat on the throne while the Great Famine ravaged the country. A million died and two million were driven out by hunger to America, Britain, Australia, and elsewhere.

JKP: While conducting your research for Ordinary Murders, what was the most unusual thing you learned about life in Dublin or Ireland during the 1880s?

CB: Probably the extent to which alcohol played a part in the lives of working people. There were very few comforts other than drink, so when anybody had a few shillings to spare they generally invested in the oblivion of alcohol.

JKP: You make it sound in your book as if the Dublin Metropolitan Police force was rampant with divisions between the Catholic Irish officers and their Protestant English superiors. I kept expecting there to be more fireworks as a result of those differences. But was 1887 still too early for such disparities to become a problem?

CB: The tensions were there. But...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Jonathan Franzen

Jonathan Franzen is the author of four novels (Freedom, The Corrections, Strong Motion, and The Twenty-Seventh City).

From his interview with Susan Lerner in Butler University’s literary journal Booth:

SL: There’s been heated discussion lately about the uptick of adults who read literature written for young adults. Recently in Slate, the journalist Ruth Graham declared that adults should be embarrassed if what they are reading was written for children, and that it would be a shame if readers substituted “maudlin teen drama” for the complexity of great adult literature. What are your thoughts?

JF: I don’t care what people read.

SL: You have no opinion on the question of whether or not readers might be cheating themselves if they’re reading YA lit?

JF: If it’s a loss, it’s their loss, not mine.

SL: Well, I guess that’s the point of Graham’s argument, that it is their loss and that it’s perhaps a greater loss, a collective loss, that fewer people would be—

JF: Most of what people read, if you go to the bookshelf in the airport convenience store and look at what’s there, even if it doesn’t have a YA on the spine, is YA in its moral simplicity. People don’t want moral complexity. Moral complexity is a luxury. You might be forced to read it in school, but a lot of people have hard lives. They come home at the end of the day, they feel they’ve been jerked around by the world yet again for another day. The last thing they want to do is read Alice Munro, who is always pointing toward the possibility that you’re not the heroic figure you think of yourself as, that you might be the very dubious figure that other people think of you as. That’s the last thing you’d want if you’ve had a hard day. You want to be told good people are good, bad people are bad, and love conquers all. And love is more important than money. You know, all these schmaltzy tropes. That’s exactly what you want if you’re having a hard life. Who am I to tell people that they need to have their noses rubbed in moral complexity?...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mona Eltahawy

Mona Eltahawy's new book is Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution.

From her Q & A with Denise Balkissoon for The Globe and Mail:

You say many people are “all too happy to hear how badly Muslim men treat their women,” even when their own behaviour is sexist.

It troubles me deeply that the group that speaks the loudest about the niqab and how the niqab is misogynist is the right wing, Islamophobic, xenophobic racists. My point all along has been that it is possible to talk about misogyny within my own community and also call it out in the right-wing racist community that tries to use my words against Muslim men.

Almost an entire chapter is about your opposition to the niqab. Are you worried that in coming out so strongly, you might alienate women who consider themselves feminists and believe that wearing it is their choice?

This idea of the niqab being feminist is an idea I totally reject. I think it directly contributes to erasing women and it directly contributes to a very dangerous idea of piety, equating it to the disappearance of women. I know there are some who oppose my position on this vehemently, and that is their right. And it’s my right to say: Just because a woman does something doesn’t mean that I have to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Holly Robinson

Novelist, journalist and celebrity ghost writer Holly Robinson is the author of several books, including The Gerbil farmer’s Daughter: A Memoir and the novels Beach Plum Island and Haven Lake. Her articles and essays appear frequently in The Huffington Post, More, Parents, Redbook and dozens of other newspapers and magazines. She and her husband have five children and a stubborn Pekingese. They divide their time between Massachusetts and Prince Edward Island, and are crazy enough to be fixing up old houses one shingle at a time in both places.

From Robinson's Q & A with Amy Sue Nathan:

Amy: Is Haven Lake a real place or just a real place in the novel? I know all your novels are set in the same area of Massachusetts where you live. For Haven Lake, how did you decide on/come up with this specific setting?

Holly: Haven Lake wasn’t a real place when I began the novel, but it feels very much like one now that I’ve created that world and lived in it. Setting plays a huge role in my books because I always feel that, by choosing the right setting, you can amplify the emotions in a novel. For instance, my first novel, The Wishing Hill, was set partly in Mexico and partly on the Massachusetts North Shore, because one of the characters in my novel is a painter who must travel between those two places as she tries to unravel the mystery of why the woman she thought is her mother is really someone else. I wanted the emotional shock she feels upon making that discovery to be painted in a very visual way on the page, by comparing the bright colors and heat of Mexico with the earthier, cooler tones of New England.

Likewise, Haven Lake has a dual setting: the Massachusetts North Shore and the Berkshires. Haven Lake is the name of the farm where two tragic deaths—a suicide and a mysterious drowning—occur that shatter the commune of people living there in the 1970s. Now, when one of the main characters, Sydney, has to return to Haven Lake, she is besieged by her childhood memories of this place. The dark pine woods, the stone walls, the pond, even the silhouette of the foothills around the farm all bring back memories, forcing Sydney to...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Holly Robinson's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Wishing Hill.

The Page 69 Test: Beach Plum Island.

Coffee with a Canine: Holly Robinson & Leo.

Writers Read: Holly Robinson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 17, 2015

Janet Polasky

Janet Polasky is the author of Revolutions without Borders: The Call to Liberty in the Atlantic World.

From her Q & A ay the Yale University Press blog:

Yale University Press: What was the inspiration for your book?

Janet Polasky: Years, actually decades ago, as an undergraduate studying in London, I discovered a misfiled letter from Thomas Paine in the Public Records Office. That letter introduced me to unlikely alliances among London mechanics, Parisian lawyers, and abolitionists from Philadelphia—eighteenth-century revolutionaries I had never met before. I have been running into Paine’s itinerant friends ever since, negotiating with Barbary pirates to free hostages, distributing shoes to French armies on behalf of English radicals, spearheading an insurrection in Saint Domingue to free the slaves with funds gathered in London and Charleston, and sliding down bed sheets to escape a hanging in Dublin.

The revolutionaries I encountered in the archives, men and women, black and white, ignored borders. Their international struggles for universal human rights do not fit neatly into national histories. So, why, I wondered, do historians divide this revolution into self-contained national stories? Actually, I think I know. That’s where we get our stories of founding fathers.

YUP: Who are some of those border crossers?

JP: Thomas Jefferson’s next-door neighbor was one. A Tuscan merchant who enthusiastically adopted the American revolutionary cause as his own, Filippo Mazzei later served as the Polish king’s emissary in revolutionary Paris. Or Anna Falconbridge, whose journal describes the settlement of black loyalists from America in Sierra Leone—to her mind, “a premature, hare-brained, and ill-digested scheme.” Joel Barlow, the Connecticut poet turned entrepreneur distributed shoes to French soldiers on behalf of London radicals, and negotiated with Barbary pirates for the release of hostages. Or there was Vincent Ogé who, frustrated by laborious, equivocating French debates over slavery, sailed back to Saint Domingue to lead an insurrection demanding rights for all people “without regard to race.” He was joined by veterans of the American Revolution.

The Dutch Patriot Gerrit Paape, who set out from Amsterdam with just a sleep sack and two false passports, asked the wife he left behind, what could be more enticing than to join revolutions all over Europe that....[read on]
--Marshal Zeeringue

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring Up The Bodies, won the Man Booker prize in 2009 and 2012. Her newest book is the short story collection, The Assassination Of Margaret Thatcher.

From the author's Q & A with Carole Burns:

How did you become fascinated by Thomas Cromwell?

It was the very singular arc of his story: blacksmith's son to Earl of Essex, poor boy to king's right-hand man. It has a strong archetypal quality to it. You want to know: What kind of man could achieve that and stay at the top of Henry's court of predators, be close to the king for some eight years before disaster struck? And during those eight years, he helped reshape the nation.

Your depiction goes against the prevalent image of Cromwell as a ruthless despot.

Cromwell's role was explored intensively by academic historians, but people's imaginations are not shaped by scholars; they're shaped by popular historians and fiction writers. And of course, Thomas Cromwell had really fallen victim to Robert Bolt and "A Man for All Seasons," and we see him emerge in a very bad light. Even though I would say there can be other ways of thinking, my interpretations are valid; they're not plucked out of the air. It's not that I was looking for a hero. I was looking to explore a very complex man who was flawed and equivocal and ambiguous, and I'm not big on...[read on]
Mantel's Wolf Hall made Ester Bloom's top ten books for fans of the television series House of Cards, Rachel Cantor's list of the ten worst jobs in books, Kathryn Williams's reading list on pride, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of books on baby-watching in Great Britain, Julie Buntin's top ten list of literary kids with deadbeat and/or absent dads, Hermione Norris's 6 best books list, John Mullan's list of ten of the best cardinals in literature, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five books on dangerous minds and Lev Grossman's list of the top ten fiction books of 2009, and is one of Geraldine Brooks's favorite works of historical fiction; Matt Beynon Rees called it "[s]imply the best historical novel for many, many years."

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Margaret Dilloway

Margaret Dilloway's latest novel is Sisters of Heart and Snow.

From the author's Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:

I always want to know what sparked a particular book? What was the question haunting you that drove you to write?

“How do we love difficult people?” is a frequent topic of conversation among the women I know. There’s always someone having trouble with a relative or in-law, and they wonder—at what point do I give up on this person? How much should I guard my heart?

What is it about sisters that is so fascinating?

I personally always wished for a sister. Unfortunately, my parents wouldn’t cooperate. I have two brothers. So I had to content myself with jealously observing the sister relationships of my good friends. And now that I have two daughters and a son, I can observe these bonds, too.

The chemistry between sisters is a bit different than that of mixed-gender sibling relationships. Between my kids, the girls have....[read on]
Visit Margaret Dilloway's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns.

The Page 69 Test: The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns.

Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Dilloway and Gatsby.

Writers Read: Margaret Dilloway.

My Book, The Movie: Sisters of Heart and Snow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tom Cooper

Tom Cooper’s work has recently appeared in Oxford American, Boulevard, Gulf Coast, Mid-American Review, Willow Springs, and dozens of other magazines and journals. He lives in New Orleans, where he writes and teaches.

Cooper's recently released first novel is The Marauders.

From the author's Q & A with Diane Colson for School Library Journal:

Thank you so much, Tom, for bringing these most singular characters to life. And the setting is so intimately portrayed, such as in this description near the beginning, “They were plunged in dark, moonlight banded across the water, the only sounds the insects and frogs singing in full chorus, the soft slap of waves against the hull.” Have you experienced this yourself?

Most of the book is the result of many revisions and edits. You’d probably think I was a caveman if you read some of my early drafts. Certainly you would think me delusional to be wasting a perfectly good piece of paper. On the other hand, I have a deep love of the Gulf and tried to preserve some bit of nature, a dying bit of nature, in prose. I’ve always admired most the authors who are craftspeople with their prose.

Young people may have heard about the BP oil spill of 2010, but The Marauders reveals how deeply the area was damaged. You show this without going into lengthy exposition on the accident itself, allowing the characters to describe their own experiences and observations. Did you do any research into the effects of the oil spill to construct these scenes?

I did a bunch of research. Books, movies, news articles, but mainly footwork. Many of my college students at the time were born and raised in bayou and they’d tell me many stories. But I myself have never been a shrimper, or trawler, as they call them here. I wouldn’t last 30 seconds. I’d end up in a hospital room, in traction.

Aside from talking with my students, I’ve made many local acquaintances who tell me stories everyday. The story explored in The Marauders is still going on. People signed ridiculous...[read on]
Visit Tom Cooper's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Marauders.

Writers Read: Tom Cooper.

The Page 69 Test: The Marauders.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 13, 2015

Matt Haig

Matt Haig is the author of novels, screenplays, children’s novels and journalism--and now a memoir, Reasons to Stay Alive. From his interview with Kate Kellaway for the Guardian:

Why did it take you 15 years to get the courage to write about depression?

I was meant to be writing a blog for the Books Trust, as their writer in residence, about novel writing but ran out of things to say and was starting to repeat myself. So I thought: OK, I’ll write about depression, this thing I had always had inside me and wanted to get out. And I got an incredible response, not because the blog was great but because I’ve noticed when anyone talks honestly about depression, it breeds a warm, sincere response from people. Everybody has a story about depression yet, for decades, we have been silent about it.

Is writing a way out of depression?

Writing is not the way but it helps. In February 2000, I was in the depths of depression. I was 24 and back from Ibiza, living at home in Newark [Nottinghamshire], in my childhood bedroom. I started writing bits and pieces – unreadable, angsty stuff. Articulating what is in your head is therapeutic. Words are a shared thing – depression lends itself to melodrama: you believe you’re going through something no one else has been through. At 31, Abraham Lincoln wrote: “I’m the most miserable person now living.” That is the drama of being a young man. That is the drama of depression.

How did you recover?

I still get bouts of depression but I am a lot better than I was. Staying sane and well is...[read on]
Visit Matt Haig's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: The Dead Fathers Club.

My Book, The Movie: The Dead Fathers Club.

The Page 69 Test: The Labrador Pact.

The Page 69 Test: The Radleys.

Writers Read: Matt Haig (February 2011).

My Book, The Movie: The Radleys.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mary Norris

Mary Norris began working at The New Yorker in 1978. Originally from Cleveland, she now lives in New York.

Her new book is Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen.

From her Q & A with Marian Ryan for Salon:

Your profanity chapter is full of hilarious examples of language writers are competing to get into the magazine. One piece by Ben McGrath debuted “bros before hos” in the New Yorker, creating a spelling dilemma with “hos”—hmm, I see that Webster’s gives the plural of “ho” as either “hos” or “hoes.” Where do you turn if it’s not in the dictionaries of record?

When a word is not in Webster’s or Random House, I will look online. There are many dictionaries of slang, but you have to choose your source carefully. One of our sources is the New York Times, but of course it’s no good for profanity! One feels so silly looking up “jism,” say (though there are variant spellings), and even sillier querying it. You try to find a respectable source for the profanity, and it is a bit of a challenge. Rap lyrics, especially.

You once had a dialogue with James Salter probing his somewhat-unusual use of commas. He had clear, if idiosyncratic, reasons for his choices. There’s something very personal about punctuation choices and a person’s particular syntax.

Yes, James Salter was incredibly generous and patient in his explanations, and I was touched by how important those distinctions are to him. Punctuation can work like gesture, and it’s very individual. So is syntax—that’s style, and it’s a reflection of personality.

What makes for a good copy editor?

If there’s a combination that makes an ideal copy editor it’s high intelligence and...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Lawrence Wright

Lawrence Wright's latest book is Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief.

From his Q & A with Andrew O'Hehir for Salon:

It occurs to me that one difference between Scientology and other religions is that they have zero tolerance for what you might call semi-apostasy. I spent much of my childhood in a largely Mormon town in rural California, and there were a lot of kids who drank and smoked and had sex but were nominally Mormons, the people sometimes called “Jack Mormons.” Of course that’s not approved of, but no Mormon would deny that such things happen, and it’s not like they were exiled from their families because they drank a beer. Every religion has those people, who identify but don’t really follow the creed. Scientology doesn’t have those people yet.

Another parallel that’s interesting: My first book was about the Amish. It was set in a little valley in the center of Pennsylvania that’s famous among anthropologists because of its schismatic face. There were three different buggy colors denominating different groups of Old Order Amish. There was the white, the black and the yellow. Then there were Mennonites who were affiliated but no longer a part of the Amish circle. But if your daughter was a yellow-buggy type and she married a white-buggy guy, you would never talk to her again even though you would live in the same valley. They would get along with each other as long as they’re not related. In Scientology that is termed “disconnection.” In Amish society it’s called “shunning.” Whether one or the other, it’s cruel and shattering. People love the Amish, they treat them like endangered penguins or something; they’re adorable. But they are a fanatical sect. It’s a beautiful culture and I loved our experience there but it’s hard to condone the practice of shunning. They see that as the only way of preserving their religion. So it’s not unique to Scientology, but...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 10, 2015

Asali Solomon

Asali Solomon's new novel is Disgruntled.

From her Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross:

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross back with Asali Solomon, the author of "Disgruntled," a novel about race, class, identity and the impact of divorce on a child. It's told from the point of view of a girl named Kenya, growing up in the '80s in West Philadelphia, the daughter of black nationalist Afrocentric parents.

So one of the family issues in the book that really breaks up the family is that the father in the novel ends up having an affair with one of the mother's good friends...

SOLOMON: One of the Seven Days.

GROSS: ...Who's also a member of the group, the Seven Days, and this woman gets pregnant with Kenya's father. And so Kenya's father makes this offer to Kenya and her mother that they could just expand the family and welcome in, you know, this other person and this other person's baby. Would you read that passage from your novel?

SOLOMON: Sure. So this is Johnbrown, the father, talking to Sheila and Kenya after Sheila discovers he's been having an affair.

GROSS: And Sheila is...

SOLOMON: The mother - Kenya's mother.

GROSS: Kenya's mother, yep.

SOLOMON: (Reading) With your permission, Sheila and Kenya, I'd like for Cindalou and the baby to move in here. I'd like for us all to be a family. What did you say, Sheila asked. She dabbed at her mouth with a napkin and looked genuinely as if she hadn't heard, as if she was asking for a small clarification. Did you say cream or sugar? Lemonade - you want me to pass the lemonade? Well, Cindalou and I have been going to some events at the Yoruba temple, and - oh, you actually go out of the house? Glad to hear that. And I don't think the temple is for me. I mean, organized religion is organized religion, but some of the families in the traditional African - get back to the point. So you want to move that bitch and her bastard up in here where I pay the mortgage? I'm not understanding what this has to do with the temple because from what I know about traditional West African polygamy - Lord Jesus have mercy - the man supports the family. No, brother; I make the money. And here, she laughed, what you're proposing is pimping, and I am not a whore.

GROSS: Thank you for reading that. And that's Asali Solomon reading from her new novel, "Disgruntled." I love the way he's gotten this woman pregnant, he wants to, like, move her in, with this new baby, into the family and basically be polygamist, and he's got this philosophy that's going to justify it. It's not like he was philandering, you know what I'm saying?


GROSS: He was being disloyal or unfaithful. It's like, no, no, it's like African tradition of polygamy, and it's - you know? I - there's the hippie version of that, too.

SOLOMON: Oh, yes, of course, of course.

GROSS: (Laughter) There's the white hippie version of that.

SOLOMON: Yeah, that's not - that's not specific to - I mean, you know, this scenario is specific to black people, but I don't think that impulse to sort of, like, rationalize your behavior with, you know, some greater philosophy is, you know - I think that's a universal desire. But I also want to say, just as a side note, that, apparently, is my father's favorite scene...[read on]
Learn more about Disgruntled, and visit Asali Solomon's faculty webpage.

My Book, The Movie: Disgruntled.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Masha Gessen

Masha Gessen's new book is The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy.

From her interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air:

GROSS: So the Tsarnaev family moved to the U.S. shortly after 9/11, but not the whole family came; the parents and the youngest, Dzhokhar, came. But the parents waited until they got asylum before bringing over the rest of the children from Kazakhstan. So how old was Tamerlan, the oldest son, when he got here?

GESSEN: He was 16, which is a horrible age to emigrate. And it was also a very difficult moment for the family because, you know, here was their first born, who they believed was destined for greatness. But he was too old to really go to high school and get into a good college, so how were they going to make sure that he got sort of the greatness that he deserved? The whole family and some friends were mobilized to figure this out. And they decided that he was going to become a boxing star, that he was going become a boxer and join the U.S. Olympic team. And one of the weird tragedies of the story was that this wasn't an unrealistic dream. It wasn't crazy. He was that talented. He was - immediately after he started boxing, he started winning amateur competitions. He may very well have been on his way to the U.S. Olympic team. He didn't make it, apparently, because right around the time that he would've qualified, the amateur competitive circuit changed its rules to disqualify non-U.S. citizens. So he had permanent residence, but he didn't have citizenship, and he could no longer compete.

GROSS: His youngest sibling, Dzhokhar, was much more Americanized than Tamerlan was 'cause he got here earlier; he got here younger. So he was much more American in terms of, you know, having better English, knowing how kids did things in America.

GESSEN: Yes, he was 8 when he got here, so he started second grade in the United States. He was a good student. He spoke English without an accent. His high school classmates remember him as a social superstar. Everybody loved him. There was something that was happening to him around the time that he started college - or just before. I mean, he - there were weird and sometimes inexplicable...[read on or listen to the interview]
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Matthew Parker

Matthew Parker's non-fiction books include Monte Cassino: The Hardest-Fought Battle of World War II; the Los Angeles Times bestseller Panama Fever, which was one of the Washington Post’s Best Books of the Year; and The Sugar Barons, which was an Economist Book of the Year.

His latest book is Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born: Ian Fleming in Jamaica.

From Parker's Q & A at Artistic Licence Renewed:

What inspired you to write about Ian Fleming specifically within the context of his life in Jamaica?

Jamaica has a fascinating, vivid and shocking history, as I discovered when researching my last book, The Sugar Barons. It was for a hundred years the most important place in the British Empire, and more than anywhere else made Britain rich in the eighteenth century through its sugar crop, grown by enslaved Africans. It was also the cruelest and most brutal place in the Empire.

While researching The Sugar Barons, I discovered Goldeneye. I hadn’t known that Fleming spent so much time in Jamaica, or that he had written all the James Bond novels and stories there. So I looked again at the books and found Jamaica everywhere, not just in the siting of three of the novels – Live and Let Die, Dr No, and The Man with the Golden Gun – but in the underwater scenes (Fleming’s best moments), the pirates (mentioned in seven of the novels), the jet set milieu Bond moves in (the North Coast in the 1950s was the most glamorous place in the world to take a holiday), the obsession with race and much more.

James Bond is an imperial hero, projecting British power across the world, putting Britain back on top. I think it is fascinating that he was created in colonial Jamaica, which was changing from imperial throwback to independent nation in the time that Fleming was there, providing a microcosm of...[read on]
Visit Matthew Parker's website.

The Page 99 Test: Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born.

Coffee with a Canine: Matthew Parker & Danny.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Claire Fuller

Claire Fuller is a novelist and short fiction writer. For her first degree she studied sculpture at Winchester School of Art, specializing in wood and stone carving. She began writing fiction at the age of 40, after many years working as a co-director of a marketing agency. Fuller has a masters in Creative and Critical Writing from The University of Winchester.

Fuller's new book is Our Endless Numbered Days.

From the author's TNB Self-Interview:

So, what is the story?

Peggy, an eight-year-old English girl, is taken on holiday by her father. But the holiday isn’t ten days in a static caravan on the south coast like I had when I was a child. He takes her to a remote cabin in a European forest and tells her the rest of the world has disappeared, and she believes him. She’s only eight remember, and he’s very convincing. They survive there for the best part of a decade and Peggy then makes it back home in mysterious circumstances.

I heard you didn’t start writing until you were forty. That’s pretty old, isn’t it?

Oh, enough of the age thing. There are lots of authors who didn’t start writing until they were older. Annie Proulx, for instance. She didn’t start writing until she was in her 50s, and her first novel was published when she was 57. I think...[read on]
Visit Claire Fuller's website.

The Page 69 Test: Our Endless Numbered Days.

Writers Read: Claire Fuller.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 6, 2015

David Joy

David Joy is the author of the novels Where All Light Tends to Go (Putnam, 2015) and Waiting On The End Of The World (Putnam, 2016), as well as the memoir Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey (Bright Mountain Books, 2011), which was a finalist for the Reed Environmental Writing Award and the Ragan Old North State Award for Creative Nonfiction.

From Joy's Q & A with Jason Howard at Appalachian Heritage:

JH: The book is set in North Carolina, and one of the characters runs a meth ring while another turns to violence. As you know, Appalachia is often stereotyped as a violent, drug-ravaged, poverty-stricken region. Did you worry about falling prey to this image of the region in creating these characters and dealing with these issues? How did you walk this tightrope?

DJ: This is a big question…There is a drug epidemic in Appalachia, just as there is educational issues and vocational limitations and a host of other systemic problems that have existed for a long time. To the rest of America, this is the only thing they see reported about this region. They see it on the news and they watch reality television shows like Moonshiners or Appalachian Outlaws or a documentary like The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia and that becomes Appalachia. That’s where the stereotype is rooted. The reality is that while these problems exist, they don’t define us, and I think that’s why we get so defensive. At the same time, I think dismissing these things is just as problematic as using that stereotype to encapsulate an entire region and a people. At the very least we need to take these opportunities to initiate conversation.

I think it’s dangerous to ever talk in universalities. I can walk out my front door in the heart of Jackson County and take you to visit a man who still digs ramps and branch lettuce, a man who predicts the weather based on how the fat rises and sinks in a jar of bear meat. I can take you just over the mountain from there to a place where addicts are trading stolen goods for methamphetamine and oxycontin, or show you a house where a man was tortured to death. Then there’s a woman in town who left the mountains and got a law degree, a daughter of farmers who got an education and came back to open a law firm. There are kids at the southern end of the county whose parents are millionaires from Florida, kids born and bred in the mountains in gated communities on Tom Fazio designed golf courses. These are all different truths of a single place. These are all Appalachian stories. The problem doesn’t lie in the truth of it, but...[read on]
Writers Read: David Joy.

The Page 69 Test: Where All Light Tends to Go.

My Book, The Movie: Where All Light Tends to Go.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the author of Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now.

From the transcript of her March 2015 interview with Fareed Zakaria:

ZAKARIA: So you disagree with President Obama when he says the Islamic State does not represent Islam or he says it isn't Islamic. And what I want to ask you is this, you are a very smart and you understand that he's not writing an intellectual dissertation. This is not a thesis about the accurate way to describe ISIS. What he's trying to do is delegitimize them.

ALI: Yes.

ZAKARIA: And thus the king of Jordan also says in an interview with me, please don't call them Islamic.

ALI: Yes.

ZAKARIA: We don't call them Islamic because we regard them as renegades. So the point is not that any of these leaders don't see that, of course, they are drawing on a version of Islam.

ALI: Yes.

ZAKARIA: But they are trying to delegitimize it by denying them that label. Do you disagree with that strategy?

ALI: I think the strategy of let's not call it Islamic because we're going to delegitimize them has actually being tested. We've seen it, you know, in the U.S. since 9/11 2001, but in the Muslim world, perhaps in, you know, three or four or five decades ago, and it hasn't worked. It hasn't stopped them.

ZAKARIA: But let me understand. So you would rather that the president of the United States say yes, the Islamic State is Islamic, it draws on important strains within Islam and Islam is a bad religion. You think that's going to be a successful strategy?

ALI: I don't think I will ever have our president say...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Tim Hallinan

Bruce DeSilva's new novel is A Scourge of Vipers.

From his interview with fellow novelist Tim Hallinan:

[Your] two series are startlingly different in voice and tone. The Rafferty novels [featuring an American journalist living in Bangkok] are dark and literary. The Bender novels [featuring a Los Angeles burglar with tormentors on both sides of the law] verge on slapstick-noir. They are so different that I would never guess the same person had written them if your name wasn’t on the covers. While this isn’t unique (Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder and Bernie Rhodenbarr novels spring to mind), it is a rare display of virtuosity. How can you be two different writers at the same time?

First, thanks for the huge compliment. I love Block, and I also love Donald Westlake, who wrote both the noir Richard Stark novels and, under his own name, the hilarious Dortmunder books.

The root of the difference in my books is the voice. I can’t think of any single aspect of writing that changes the way a story is presented more than the voice in which it’s told. The Poke Rafferty books are written in a sort of close third person, with the camera often trailing a few feet behind Poke but occasionally flying off to show us something else, something Poke doesn’t know about. I try to make this voice neutral, to keep the narrative transparent so that we’re more aware of the characters and their feelings than we are of the writer who’s between us and them. Ideally, the third-person narrative works like a clear window through which we see the story and which rarely calls attention to itself.

The Juniors, on the other hand, are in first person, and it’s Junior’s first person, which means it’s devious, it’s skeptical, it’s got a very wide frame of reference and—most important—it’s fundamentally crooked. There are people he always deals honestly with (two, to be precise, and it’s going to widen to three if I can ever finish King Maybe), but for everyone else, the truth is just one more conversational gambit. Once I write an opening sentence in Junior’s voice, eighty percent of the book’s characteristics are set in stone. It’s going to be irreverent. It’s going to be deceptive. It’s going to be smart, because Junior is very smart, and sometimes he’s smarter than he needs to be, just to keep himself from getting bored.

The voice changes the way we read the story. There’s as much injustice, as much violence, as much exploitation, as much killing, in a Junior Bender book as there is in a Poke Rafferty story. There are even...[read on]
Visit Timothy Hallinan's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: A Nail Through the Heart.

The Page 69 Test: The Fourth Watcher.

My Book, The Movie: The Fourth Watcher.

The Page 69 Test: Breathing Water.

The Page 69 Test: Crashed.

My Book, The Movie: Crashed.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 3, 2015

Corina Vacco

Corina Vacco trespassed on toxic land and wrote the first draft of her debut novel, My Chemical Mountain, while parked in her car at the foot of a radioactive landfill—this book went on to win the Delacorte Prize for a First Young Adult Novel, was a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, and made the shortlist for the 2014 Green Earth Book Award.

From Vacco's Q & A with Karma Bennett for Alibris:
I’ve read My Chemical Mountain, but could you describe it in your own words?

My Chemical Mountain is a coming-of-age story about three lifelong friends whose reactions clash when a rogue chemical company kills one boy’s father and blatantly contaminates their blue collar town and favorite summertime swimming hole. It’s a story about revenge, eco-terrorism, landfill folklore, industrial wonderlands, undying loyalty, imperfect love, and huge mistakes.

Your book has a really strong environmental theme. How did that come about?

When I was living in New York, one of my friends invited me on a “toxic tour” of her neighborhood. We visited a contaminated landfill, a radioactive creek, and some boarded-up homes. She and her husband told stories about growing up amid unspeakable pollution—splashing in puddles the color of anti-freeze, navigating their bikes down the landfill’s slopes, crazy stuff—and I was blown away. My main character’s voice appeared in my mind soon thereafter. I asked him questions: What is it like to live near one of the most poisonous landfills in the world? Why do you and your friends swim in the creek when you know it’s not safe? Are you furious about what happened to your father? He answered, “Yeah, I’m furious. And I want revenge.” I ended up driving out to the industrial yards alone, parking my car at the foot of a radioactive landfill, and...[read on]
Visit Corina Vacco's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: My Chemical Mountain.

Writers Read: Corina Vacco.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Meghan Daum

Meghan Daum is an author, LA Times columnist, and editor of the essay collection Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids.

From her Jezebel Q & A with Karyn Polewaczyk:

Why do you think, in 2015, childless-by-choice people are expected to have a "why"—a people-pleasing elevator pitch of sorts, which several writers brought up in their pieces: a practiced reason, to disperse when people ask?

Frankly, the "why" mandate kind of irks me. I'm not someone who gets off on being coy and confrontational in social settings, so I'm probably not the one who's going to answer the "Why don't you have kids?" question with "Why did you have kids?" But I think that's a fair answer if you're inclined to give it.

What bums me out is when people who never wanted kids end up saying things like, "Well, I tried but I couldn't have them." Yes, that shuts down the questioning and everyone's entitled to answer as they wish, but I'd much rather hear people say "It just wasn't for me." We need to reach the point where that answer is acceptable and non-shocking. Clearly we're not there yet. Also, I'll say that I'm not personally a big fan of the word "childfree." I fully support other people's right to use it and I readily admit it's much less cumbersome than "childless by choice" – it makes a much better hashtag and I'll probably use it when I have to—but I wish...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

John Hargrove

John Hargrove spent 14 years as a killer whale trainer, mostly at SeaWorld. His new memoir is Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish.

From his Fresh Air interview with Dave Davies:

DAVIES: John Hargrove, welcome to FRESH AIR. I'd like to begin with the incident that you describe at the very beginning of the book. You're in France at this point, and you're in the water with a whale named Freya. What happened?

JOHN HARGROVE: I had an aggressive incident with her. It was the most severe waterwork aggression I had in my career, and it was the only time in my career in a waterwork aggression where I remember being truly unnerved by it - feeling like that I may not be able to get out of the situation. I had been swimming with her son in another pool, and then I ultimately ended up swimming with Freya. And as soon as I dove into her pool, I had another trainer throw me some fish. And Freya came at me, and I offered the fish to her. She refused the fish, and she immediately started pushing me, with a closed mouth but into my chest, and pushing me into the middle of the pool. While I was trying to deflect off her best I could, but those animals are so incredibly agile. There's no way. So she just stayed on me and just kept on me where there was no way I could deflect off till she had me right in the middle of the pool. And they do that because you're furthest away from safety. You're furthest away from land. You're furthest away from the other trainers. And then she drug the entire length of the side of her body down my body, making contact, so with her underside, her ventral side of her body, with the side of my body. And then she stopped with her tail flukes, one submerged, one above the water. And I didn't know if she was going to hit me in the head with her tail flukes, which would've easily broken my neck. She did not do that, thankfully and obviously, but then she went under. She ultimately sank down below me. She turned sideways. She opened her mouth, and she put the entire width of my body in her mouth right as I called out to the trainer that was closest to me to, you know, get ready to call paramedics. As soon as I said that last word, she pulled me under. She didn't hold me under very long or pull me very deep. And she ultimately opened her mouth, and she and I both floated to the surface together. And I repeated it - call paramedics. And she rolled. She grabbed me again in her mouth. She pulled me under. It was the exact same topography as the first pull-under.

DAVIES: And was this a pattern that you recognized?

HARGROVE: Certainly, I had seen trainers being pulled under by whales before, and I had been pulled under by whales before. But I had never seen a whale grab a trainer by their torso before. So to feel her entire jaws - and she's 7,000 pounds - around my hip bones. I mean, you know, seeing her, looking her in the eye during the entire incident. So I knew - I could see Freya's eyes still focused on me also, and I knew...[read on or listen to the interview]
--Marshal Zeringue