Friday, September 30, 2016

Caroline Leavitt

Caroline Leavitt is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow, Pictures of You, Girls In Trouble, and other books.

Leavitt's new novel is Cruel Beautiful World.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Cruel Beautiful World?

A: When I was 17, I sat behind a girl who was engaged to a much older, controlling guy. I thought this was nuts. A year after I got out of high school, I heard the news. She had decided to break up with him, and he calmly stabbed her to death.

I was so haunted. I couldn't figure out how she wouldn't have known he was violent, or why she had stayed with someone controlling--not until 10 years later when I was in a controlling relationship of my own.

My fiancé had died suddenly and I was dying from grief. I went against the wishes of my mother, my friends and my grief therapist and threw myself in a relationship with a guy who didn't want me to eat (I was 100 pounds but he thought I was fat), didn't want me seeing my friends or even his friends, and very gently would criticize everything I did.

Why did I stay? Because I knew if I left, the grief would come back. I finally left when I found that he had deleted part of my novel and rewritten it--putting in a Groucho Marx joke!

Four years ago, I saw something online from the sister of my high school friend. She was still...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Caroline Leavitt's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Pictures of You.

My Book, the Movie: Pictures of You.

The Page 69 Test: Is This Tomorrow.

My Book, The Movie: Is This Tomorrow.

My Book, The Movie: Cruel Beautiful World.

The Page 69 Test: Cruel Beautiful World.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Marti Leimbach

Marti Leimbach's latest novel is Age of Consent.

From her Q&A with Caroline Leavitt:

I’m always curious about why a writer needs to write a certain book. What sparked you?

I was preparing for a class for I was teaching for University of Oxford and feeling a little stuck for ideas on writing exercises for my students. So I went to Writer’s Digest—why not? There was a competition being advertised on the site. I didn’t enter the competition, but I noticed the “writing prompts” that were used. One of them was a large Motel sign lit up in neon colors against a night sky. For some reason, the image stayed in my mind.

Shortly after, I wrote a scene in which a girl, newly fifteen, enters a motel room and has sex with a man she doesn’t like much. That has become her habit, to allow the sex because she doesn’t know how to stop it. I knew immediately that I’d tapped into a memory from my own life. The motel was like one I’d been taken to under those same circumstances.

The girl in the novel has been to a motel like this before, too, always for an hour or so with this same man. She isn’t attracted to him, doesn’t like the sex, is ashamed to be there, but also ashamed to disappoint him. She feels obligated. She is bound to him. I knew how she felt. I remembered...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Ann E. Burg

Ann E. Burg is the author of Unbound: A Novel in Verse. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your main character Grace, and how did you first learn about the history of the Great Dismal Swamp?

A: I was actually researching for another story when I came across an NPR article about the work of Daniel O. Sayers, a professor at American University, who has been leading research teams in the Great Dismal Swamp since 2004. That was my first encounter with the maroons.

The idea that an artifact can help us determine what someone ate, how they clothed themselves, or built their homes fascinates me. But it can never tell the whole story. Away from my computer and books, I began to wonder about the people. This connection is always the next step.

My imagination stretches across time and place and begins to stitch together vague shadows. These shadows knock about in my mind until they become infused with life, until they become so substantial that I can even hear them speak—that’s when I begin writing.

There is always more research to be done...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Jamie Brenner

Jamie Brenner is the author of The Wedding Sisters. She fell in love with books reading Judy Blume while growing up in suburban Philadelphia. After college at The George Washington University, she spent over a dozen years in book publishing as a publicist, scout, and agent before finally getting up the nerve to write her first novel. Her debut, the historical The Gin Lovers, was named by Fresh Fiction as one of the Top Thirteen Books to read in 2013. She lives in New York with her husband and two daughters.

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

What inspired this story of three sisters and a triple wedding?

The idea for The Wedding Sisters came after my second marriage at age 40. Marrying in your forties is very different than marrying in your 20s. You realize that a wedding isn’t all about you, but is really about family. It isn’t about that day, it’s about the past and the future. At my second wedding, I thought more about my daughters’ happiness than my own. And I missed my grandparents, who were not around to see it. I realize how that at my first wedding, they understood worlds more than I did about what I was entering into with a wedding ceremony. The things I came to understand between my first and second weddings are what I explore with The Wedding Sisters.

Weddings are defining moments not only for couples, but also for families. The Wedding Sisters captures this complexity from all sides by considering multiple points of view, from mother-of-the-bride Meryl to her three daughters. How has the experience of crafting so many perspectives changed how you feel about weddings in general? What advice would you give a bride-to-be?

Going into this novel, I was thinking first about the stress on the mother of the bride. There is the desire to give your daughter her dream wedding, but at the same time, there is always the pitfall of letting your own wedding fantasy get in the way -- consciously or unconsciously. In the beginning of the book, Meryl’s husband reminds her, “This is not about you.” I realized writing the book that the same applies to the bride herself. I think the conventional wisdom for the bride is, “this...[read on]
Visit Jamie Brenner's website.

Writers Read: Jamie Brenner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 26, 2016

Margot Lee Shetterly

Margot Lee Shetterly is the author of Hidden Figures: The American Dream And The Untold Story Of The Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win The Space Race. From the transcript of her interview with NPR's Michel Martin:

MARTIN: ...[W]hy do you think we don't know this story? Now, I confess to you that when I mentioned to a couple of different people that I was working on this and that I was about to have this conversation with you, a number of people said the same thing to me, which is it makes me mad. Why didn't I know this? Why am I only just finding this out? Why do you think that is?

SHETTERLY: That is such a good question. I would say that is the one question that everybody asks me about this. And, you know, it's something I really kind of struggle with because on the one hand, a lot of people did know this story in Hampton, Va. You know, I was just in Hampton yesterday and was talking to a lot of different people, and they were like, well, we did know these women. And we knew they worked there. And they were all very modest.

If you ask Katherine Johnson, how did it feel to be a trailblazer and do this very high-pressure, groundbreaking work, you know, just as often she'll say, well, I was just doing my job. And I think a lot of the women period felt that. They had a lot of different identities in addition to being professional mathematician at NASA. They were mothers. They were wives. They were people who were active in their church, in their community. So this was only one aspect of their identity.

But I think a lot of it's because it was women's work. I mean, the engineers were the men, and the women were the mathematicians or the computers. The men designed the research and did the manly stuff, and the women did the calculations, you know, at the behest of the engineers. And so I think that it really does have to do with...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Louis Bayard

Louis Bayard is the author of the new young adult novel Lucky Strikes.

From his Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Lucky Strikes and for your character Amelia, a teenager who runs a gas station in 1930s Virginia?

A: Amelia came and found me. She has an importunate quality to her, as any reader will discover, and once I’d been introduced to her, the only questions left were: “What’s your story? How can I best tell it?”

Q: How did you research the Depression-era setting and especially the history of gas stations in that time?

A: Well, there’s a reason the book name-checks Clark Gable and Joan Crawford and Myrna Loy because I grew up watching those vintage Hollywood movies on TV (even though I was a couple of generations removed).

So I think I carry a lot of that time period inside me, but of course, I made a point of reading a lot of literature from the period to make sure I got the idioms right.

I know nothing about cars or gas stations, then or now, so...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Louis Bayard's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Black Tower.

The Page 69 Test: The Pale Blue Eye.

The Page 69 Test: The School of Night.

The Page 69 Test: Roosevelt's Beast.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Nisi Shawl

Nisi Shawl's new novel is Everfair.

From her Q&A with Ardi Alspach for the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog:

Given how steampunk technology is used mainly for good in Everfair, it seems that you have a positive view of technology in general. Do you see the technology in our time evolving positively or negatively?

Greg Bear used to lecture aspiring writers about how the two World Wars ruined Western Civilization’s optimistic view of technology—he cited publishing timelines and glossed plots and pretty much proved his point, because he’s brilliant. For me, though, growing up in the African-American community, it was obvious technology was going to keep us from picking cotton and sharecropping and succumbing to a whole host of pre-industrial horrors. So I guess the milieu of ’50s and ’60s black culture is what first gave rise to my contra-Bearian optimism in that regard.

Later, as a teenaged hippy, I read Richard Brautigan’s poem “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace,” and realized that the supposed dichotomy between nature and artifice was itself artificial. I still believe that.

There are awful and scary things going on in conjunction with technology. Yet I don’t blame technology for the awfulness and scariness developing in its wake. That’s on us. However...[read on]
Visit Nisi Shawl's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 23, 2016

Gayle Forman

Gayle Forman is a journalist and award-winning and New York Times bestselling author whose many young adult novels include I Was Here, Just One Day, and If I Stay, which was also a major motion picture. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Forman's new novel is Leave Me.

From her Q&A with Caroline Leavitt:

I always say a writer is haunted to write. Was anything haunting you when you started Leave Me?

I started the book twice, so I suppose I was haunted twice. The first time, I was haunted by chest pains, and by fear. My mother had bypass surgery at 48, even though she had none of the risk factors (save crappy genetic luck) and when one week I started having terrible chest pains, I was convinced, this was it. It was my turn. I was freaked out by the prospect of that intense surgery, but more freaked out by the prospect of the recovery. I helped my mother recover from her surgery, but my own daughters were young (3 and 6 at the time) so I kept wondering who would take care of them if I needed surgery? And, really, who would take care of me? That was what was haunting me when I first started the book, almost as a revenge fantasy.

Spoiler alert: It wasn’t my heart. Once I found that out, I put the book away for five years. I’m still not entirely sure why I pulled it back out again, this time with a new character (Maribeth) and family. I was haunted by many things, or maybe furious about many things—gender inequity, the ongoing taboo of women putting themselves first, ever—but as I got deeper into the novel, I understood something else was going on. I was haunted, and Maribeth, too, by all the unsaid things that pile up in a relationship over time and how they...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Gayle Forman's website.

The Page 69 Test: If I Stay.

The Page 69 Test: Where She Went.

The Page 69 Test: Leave Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Anna Snoekstra

Anna Snoekstra is the author of Only Daughter.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Only Daughter?

A: After seeing the Ingrid Bergman film Anastasia, I was fascinated with the idea of imposters. The impersonation of missing persons has happened countless times throughout history. Martin Guerre in 16th century France; Anastasia Nikolaevna in Russia and Walter Collins in Seattle, both in the 1920s.

I was really interested to see how this scenario would play out in a seemingly perfect suburban world. I was curious to play with ideas of women performing certain roles: Wife, mother, daughter.

In Only Daughter I took this performance to its most extreme with a woman impersonating the decade-long missing Rebecca Winter. She impersonates someone that meant so many different things to the different people in her life and has to navigate the dualities of that performance.

Of course, there is one person who knows she is an imposter, and that is the person...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Christine Reilly

Christine Reilly's debut novel is Sunday's on the Phone to Monday.

From her Q&A with Caroline Leavitt:

I always think authors are compelled or haunted to write a book—what compelled you?

My biggest passion, tied with writing, has always been listening to people. Human behavior fascinates me – when I was younger, I knew I’d either be a writer, a teacher, or a psychiatrist. (Reading is a type of listening to people.) I started Sunday’s on the Phone to Monday with a set of stakes, and challenged myself to answer them. What happens to a family during and after the worst possible circumstances – death and illness -- occurs? What happens to a woman when her sanity slips away? What would a brother who would do anything for his sister act like? What happens when “anything” results in destruction?

I loved all the music references in the book—is it your taste, too? Do you listen to music as you write? Thank you! It is, though I honed in on one...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Elizabeth Rynecki

Elizabeth Rynecki is the author of Chasing Portraits: A Great-Granddaughter's Quest for Her Lost Art Legacy. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: You write, "In 1999 I built a website dedicated to sharing my great-grandfather's art." How much did you know about his art to begin with, and how did your original project turn into this book and a companion documentary film?

A: I grew up with a lot of my great-grandfather’s paintings hanging in both my parents’ and grandparents’ homes. It was always around me, in the background even if I wasn’t really paying attention.

I understood from an early age it was the work of my great-grandfather, Moshe Rynecki, who perished in the Holocaust, but that’s about all I knew--my parents and grandparents didn’t often talk about the war, and even less about what came before.

It wasn’t until I read my Grandpa George’s memoir (discovered in 1992, after his funeral), that I learned much about Moshe himself. Even then, I didn’t really get a good perspective on his life and work until I began digging for more information.

In late 1998 my Dad proposed we build a website to showcase my great-grandfather’s art. His thinking was this: we have the art in our home, very few people see it every year, and putting it online would make it more accessible to people around the world.

In retrospect, it was a pretty novel idea. While most museums had something of an online presence in the late ‘90s, finding private collectors and their collections online was exceedingly rare.

It was hugely serendipitous; as people saw the site, they...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 19, 2016

Emily Barton

Emily Barton is the author of The Testament of Yves Gundron and Brookland.

Her new novel is The Book of Esther.

From Barton's Q&A with Caroline Leavitt:

I love the premise, changing history so that the Jewish warriors of the Middle Ages actually succeeded. What was haunting you into writing this particular book?

Partly the enigma of the historical Khazars themselves. We know that they were a Turkic warrior tribe whose ruling classes converted to Judaism, but we don’t know why, though there is speculation. Then, the whole idea of a warrior Jew! Michael Chabon has written about how incongruous the idea seems to contemporary people, who see before us “an unprepossessing little guy, with spectacles and a beard, brandishing a sabre: the pirate Motel Kamzoil,” though in fact, lots of Jewish people have been badass warriors, all the way back to Judah Maccabee. And part of it, too, is reimagining the myth of origins. When my family got pogromed out of Ukraine and Russia, they...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Ann Hood

Ann Hood's new novel is The Book That Matters Most.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for this novel, and do you think most people do have one book that matters most to them?

A: I have been wanting to write a book that celebrated reading and the magic of books. One night I visited what seemed like the perfect book club. They were smart, funny, enthusiastic--and over 30 years of meeting had become like family.

On my way home that night it clicked--my book that celebrated reading could revolve around a book club.

I think most people have a book that mattered most during...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett's newest novel is Commonwealth. From her Q&A with Lily Meyer at Slate:

I love Philip Roth in the way that Franny loves Leo before she meets him, but that love is complicated for me. I’m a Jewish woman, and we aren’t his favorite species on Earth. Do you ever have trouble with those writers as a woman?

When I was younger, I did. Lolita killed me when I was in college. It frightened me and offended me, and later on it became my favorite book because I could read it as a book about language and love and insanity and bravery and the hideousness and complexity of the human soul. When I was young I had a really hard time with a lot of things I read as a woman, but somehow—and I don’t know if this is a strength or a weakness—it fell away. Updike’s four Rabbit Angstrom novels, which I reread last year, are the most mind-blowingly offensive things you’ll ever read.

But they’re so good!

Exactly. There’s nothing like them. Nothing touches them. I’m careful when I recommend those books, but to my mind, if you want to be a writer, you can go to an MFA program, or you can stay home and read the Rabbit books. Everything you need to know is in those books or the Elena Ferrante Neapolitan novels. What the Rabbit books bring you is...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 16, 2016

Elizabeth Eulberg

Elizabeth Eulberg's new book is The Great Shelby Holmes. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Shelby Holmes and John Watson?

A: After having so many people tell me to watch the BBC's Sherlock series, I finally gave in. Within the first 10 minutes, I was struck with how Benedict Cumberbatch played Sherlock--to me, it was as if he had the social skills of a young child. Then I had that "A-HA!" moment of making Sherlock Holmes a young girl.

Then I did a lot of research on the characters to develop my own Holmes and Watson--I wanted them modern, but also very different from each other in almost every way even down to the fact that Shelby is addicted to sugar while Watson is...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Nicholas Dodman

Nicholas Dodman is one of the world’s most noted and celebrated veterinary behaviorists. He founded the Animal Behavior Clinic—one of the first of its kind—at Tufts in 1986. A leader in his field, Dodman is has published four bestselling books, two textbooks and more than 100 scientific articles and contributions to scientific books and journals, and holds patents for inventions related to the control of animal behavior.

Dodman's latest book is Pets on the Couch: Neurotic Dogs, Compulsive Cats, Anxious Birds, and the New Science of Animal Psychiatry.

From the transcript of his August 2016 interview on The Diane Rehm Show:

REHM: Always a pleasure. Let's begin by clarifying what you mean by neurotic dogs, compulsive cats. Are you saying that human beings and these creatures we adore so much really share the same kinds of emotions?

DODMAN: Absolutely. I think I knew that from a very young age, you know, as an uneducated 9-year-old. That was the feeling that I had that was, you know, taught to me by my mother, by watching her example. And then, with the wave of science that swept over with veterinary school, that sort of buried some of the thoughts for a while. But slowly, over the course of, you know, 46 year veterinary career and 35 years at Tufts, I came across case after case of animals with issues that looked, for all the world, like they were the animal version of an equivalent human condition.

REHM: Give me an example.

DODMAN: Well, where I first got involved was with the compulsive disorders that, even in animals, I like to call obsessive compulsive disorder, OCD. A lot of my friends would not appreciate the word obsessive because they'd say, you know, how do you know an animal thinks. Well, I think they think and they look like they're obsessing so I call it by the name I think it is. But, you know, it started with horses. And...[read on]
Learn more about Pets on the Couch at the publisher's website.

Coffee with a canine: Nicholas Dodman & Rusty.

The Page 99 Test: Pets on the Couch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Chris Holm

Chris Holm's new novel is Red Right Hand.

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

What’s the most important quality in a sidekick?

I’m tempted to say loyalty — but from a writerly point of view, I think the most important quality in a sidekick is that they serve as a good foil for the protagonist. Left to his own devices, my protagonist — Michael Hendricks — is a prickly, self-destructive loner. His sidekicks — Lester in The Killing Kind and Cameron in Red Right Hand — are funny, sociable, and surprisingly well-adjusted given the circumstances in which they find themselves. (I’d like to think they’re also quite different from one another.) Each injects their story with an interesting friction that’s fun to write, and hopefully to read. Each...[read on]
Visit Chris Holm's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Killing Kind.

Writers Read: Chris Holm (September 2015).

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Catherine Banner

Catherine Banner is the author of The House at the Edge of Night. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your new novel, and for the island of Castellamare?

A: It was actually very unexpected, and it started with the 2008 financial crisis. I was 18 at the time, so in the years that followed that historical event made a big impression on me, but I didn’t see any European writers yet telling stories about it, particularly about being young and coming from a small town in its aftermath.

I wanted to read those stories, and so the idea for The House at the Edge of Night began to emerge out of that wish.

At first, the island was supposed to be mythic: a small, enclosed community which would feel real but also encompass the qualities of many places I knew – the small town in the north of England where I lived, and the small towns in Italy where I spent a lot of time, in a pure way because of its geographic isolation.

But as I researched the history of Mediterranean islands, I discovered that it was full of incredible untold stories, and so these became part of the fabric of the book and Castellamare grew more and more real as a place.

One of the most interesting things for me as a writer is when...[read on]
Visit Catherine Banner's website.

The Page 69 Test: The House at the Edge of Night.

Writers Read: Catherine Banner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 12, 2016

Rae Meadows

Rae Meadows is the author of Calling Out, which received the 2006 Utah Book Award for fiction, No One Tells Everything, a Poets & Writers Notable Novel, and the widely praised novel, Mercy Train (released in hardback as Mothers and Daughters).

Meadows's new novel is I Will Send Rain.

From her Q&A with J. Aaron Sanders:

What is your best failure story?

I began a novel my second MFA year, moved to NYC, finished the book, and sent it out to a few agents with odd confidence that someone would want it. I had arrived! One politely passed, another never responded, and the third sent me a scathing letter: “I wanted to take a shower after reading this book. I hated all the characters.” It was quite stunning. I put the manuscript in a drawer, embarrassed, defeated. It took me a long while to face writing again.

I have the letter somewhere—I can’t even remember who the person was. Why the book made her so angry, I’ll never know. But with the long view I’m glad she knocked me down. Writing makes one a better writer—we all know that—even if...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Rae Meadows's website.

The Page 69 Test: Mothers and Daughters.

The Page 69 Test: I Will Send Rain.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Gillian Barker

From a Q&A with Gillian Barker, author of Beyond Biofatalism: Human Nature for an Evolving World:

Question: What do you mean by “biofatalism”, and what does it mean to get beyond it?

Gillian Barker: When people are discussing aspects of today’s societies that seem to call for change—problems like racism, sexism, violence, economic inequality, and global warming—a certain form of pessimism is very common. We’ll never escape these problems, many people say, because they are an expression of tendencies that are “in our genes” or “hardwired” as a result of our evolutionary history. Sometimes this view is criticized as a form of genetic determinism, but that isn’t really a good label.

Most people who make claims like this aren’t genetic determinists; they think that environment makes a difference to human behavior. But they think that the environmental changes that would be required to create more peaceful, egalitarian, or ecologically sound societies would be extreme, requiring intolerable sacrifices. So according to this picture, our nature—the set of cognitive capacities and behavioral tendencies built by our evolutionary past—traps us in social arrangements that are unjust, unhappy, and ultimately unsafe. Not because environmental interventions are ineffective, but because...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Jo Baker

Jo Baker's latest novel is A Country Road, A Tree. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Why did you decide to focus on the writer Samuel Beckett's experiences during World War II in your new novel?

A: I’ve been fascinated by Beckett ever since I studied his work for my MA in Irish Writing at the Queen’s University of Belfast.

Before my MA I’d done a very traditional Eng. Lit. degree at Oxford. It was a brisk trot through the English canon (and it was very much “English” English, rather than anything wider) from Beowulf to Virginia Woolf. After that, Beckett’s work seemed like something from a different planet.

I didn’t realize it at the time but what we were looking at was Beckett’s wartime and post-war work. Those blasted landscapes and battered, persecuted characters – the work we think of as “Beckettian.”

It was only when I read, independently, the early work that I realized what a radical change had been effected between these two phases. The early work could almost have been written by a different person; it was certainly written by someone who was heavily influenced by James Joyce.

I was fascinated by...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 9, 2016

Joseph E. Stiglitz

Joseph Stiglitz's new book is The Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe. From his Q&A with Isaac Chotiner at Slate:

You’ve written about the connection between monopolies and inequality. How much do you worry about the rise of companies such as Amazon and Google? We tend to think of monopolies as being about steel.

I do worry about it a lot. I do not think there are any simple solutions. I do think, for instance, the Justice Department has made a mistake in not recognizing Amazon’s monopsony power.

Do you think people like Hillary Clinton and others in the Democratic Party recognize going forward how important these issues are?

I think so. The reason why I say that is even Obama, who was more conservative ...

More conservative than Hillary?

More conservative than Hillary, yes. I think his temperament is basically more conservative and he did not go as far on Dodd-Frank as many people wanted. He opposed some of the key provisions that eventually got in the bill.

What I was going to say was his Council of Economic Advisers has highlighted the increase in market power and he issued an executive order asking each agency to come up with initiatives to deal with it. That train has left the station, so I really think that this is going to be...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Mike Grosso

Mike Grosso is the author of the new middle-grade novel I Am Drums.

From his Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with your character Sam, and why did you decide to have her be an aspiring drummer?

A: I've always felt like drummers live on another planet. I learned to play growing up, along with guitar and bass, and there's a different emotional connection a musician has with the drums.

When I created Sam, I thought about what's going on in a drummer's head that other musicians (and non-musicians) might not understand. The character of Sam, along with her story, wrote itself from there.

Q: How did your own experiences as a teacher affect the writing of the novel?

A: It helped me understand middle grade voice more than anything. As a teacher, I spend more time with kids than adults. There's a cadence and rhythm to the way kids speak and interact with the world, and middle grade stories don't work unless...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Christian McKay Heidicker

Christian Heidicker is an awfully charming young author from Utah.

Cure for the Common Universe is his debut novel.

From his Q&A with Ann Cannon for The Salt Lake Tribune:

One of this novel's charms is its unique premise. Tell us how "Cure for the Common Universe" came to be.

This all began when I wrote a piece for a scientific journal about flower pollen dissemination. My editor at Simon & Schuster, Christian Trimmer, just happened to pick up the June 2014 issue of "Yon Flowery Bits" and read my article. He was captured by the way in which I was able to breathe life into the flower's plight, specifically its helpless desire to pollinate — waiting on a breeze or a buzz that may never manifest.

Mr. Trimmer didn't think the flower angle would quite hook a teenage audience, so he Googled the phrase "Pressing Issues of Our Time." Of course the first thing that came up was video-game addiction. He had me run a search/replace on the document and thus pollen became pixels, roots AV lines, honeybees Serena, and weed whackers GamerGate. The rest is history. [Editor's helpful hint: Read the book and these comparisons will make more sense.]

Did you write this novel with a particular reader in mind? Who do you think the ideal audience is for your book?

Like everything I write, I was thinking of a homeless man named Jesús Gómez, who...[read on]
Visit C. M. Heidicker's website.

Cure for the Common Universe is among Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick's top seven geeky love stories that prove nerd love is the best love.

The Page 69 Test: Cure for the Common Universe.

Writers Read: Christian McKay Heidicker.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Camille Aubray

Camille Aubray's new novel is Cooking for Picasso. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: How did you come up with the idea for your novel, Cooking for Picasso?

A: Ever since I was a writer-in-residence at an arts colony in Vence, I’ve returned to the French Riviera again and again, enchanted by the incredible light and the infinite shades of blue sea and sky—and of course Pablo Picasso. You can’t turn around here without bumping into a Picasso exhibit, and there he is with those dark eyes staring at you and daring you to ask him a question. Well, I started asking!

And while exploring Picasso’s story, I learned about a fascinating episode in his life: in 1936 he was in such turmoil (mostly from juggling too many ladies all at once!) that he stopped painting—until finally he sneaked away from Paris to the Côte d’Azur and, under a different name, rented a villa. No one really knows what he did during this mysterious interlude, but it inspired him to pick up his brushes again.

Furthermore, among the artwork he created during this interval, there are two paintings of an unidentified dark-haired woman peering into a mirror. All this fired up my imagination. Wandering past the busy fishermen’s boats, the inviting cafés, the farmers’ markets bursting with seasonal food, I visualized a young woman on a bicycle, carrying a basket of delectable Provençal specialties to the house of a mysterious patron who...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 5, 2016

James E. Campbell

James E. Campbell is a UB Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. His new book is Polarized: Making Sense of a Divided America.

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

How can Americans be ideologically polarized when research indicates that they are not very politically sophisticated or informed?

JC: There is no doubt that most Americans are not highly informed about politics or very sophisticated in their political thinking. This does not mean, however, that they cannot be ideological in the sense that they have some fundamental perspectives or values they apply to politics. Pretty much everybody has a sense about what they think is politically right or wrong and that is, at its core, what ideology is about. Unfortunately early studies of political thinking labeled the highest level of political conceptualization as ideological. But ideologies can be based on vastly different levels of political thought, from philosophies to gut instincts. If nothing else, knee-jerk liberals and wing-nut conservatives are...[read on]
Learn more about Polarized at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Polarized.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Caroline Heller

Caroline Heller is the author of the book Reading Claudius: A Memoir in Two Parts. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: What was the role of Edward R. Murrow in helping your father leave Europe?

A: I think about that a lot because of what’s going on now in terms of refugees. The whole story would have been 100 percent different had Edward R. Murrow not made that connection with my father. It was quite serendipitous.

In April 1945 the camps were quasi-liberated but there was still a lot of death. My father [who had gone to medical school] summoned the doctor in him and [separated] the prisoners with TB…

When Edward R. Murrow came in with the soldiers, he went to that building. My father was one of the strongest physically in that building, and he became one of Murrow’s guides. Murrow said, What can I do for you? [My father] said, Please, get my name on air. No one knows I survived.

In one of my research trips I met with [my parents’ friend] Eve Adler Road. She was with Erich and Eve’s husband [in England] the night of that broadcast. They heard it as live as it could have been at that time.

There was a postscript to the evening news—no one ever knew what it would be. That evening, they said, Let’s keep the radio on. And it was the Buchenwald broadcast. I was so blessed that Eve lived so long [and could describe it to me]—Erich never talked about it in that detail.

It’s very much as it shows up in the letters my father wrote to my mother. Murrow stayed in touch, and [my father] got his personal assistance in getting a visa…if you’re just a number, one of thousands of refugees who needs help, it can happen or not, unless someone is your advocate. That was Murrow for my father.

When we lived in Washington, they were pretty closely in touch. I knew my father visited Edward R. Murrow when...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Graham Moore

Graham Moore's new novel is The Last Days of Night. From his interview with NPR's Scott Simon:

SIMON: And what drew you to this story?

MOORE: You know, I think I got very excited about trying to conjure the feeling of this period when America was being lit at night for the first time. When you read the journals, the diaries of people alive in the 1880s, they talk about seeing electric light bulbs for the first time. And they describe it as if they're seeing a new color. They had literally never seen anything remotely like this before. The effect was shocking, sort of literally and figuratively.

SIMON: And what moved you to make a, I believe, 26-year-old lawyer, Paul Cravath, the narrative center?

MOORE: You know, as I started researching this book, there was a long period of going through biographies of Edison, Westinghouse, Nikola Tesla. And then, one day, I kind of stumbled on this single sentence in an Edison biography that made me sort of stand up and say, this is it. And I was reading about how, in 1888, Edison sued his archrival George Westinghouse for violating his patent on the lightbulb. Edison sues Westinghouse for what historians estimate to be - the value of the lawsuit was worth about a billion dollars in 1888, which, you can imagine, was...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 2, 2016

Lee Gjertsen Malone

Lee Gjertsen Malone is the author of The Last Boy at St. Edith's. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Last Boy at St. Edith's?

A: Oddly enough, I got the idea from a newsletter from my husband’s old high school. He went to a Catholic school that went coed a few years after he graduated, and we still get mail from them.

This newsletter was talking about all the positive changes that had happened since the school added girls – new sports teams, increased applications – but it got me thinking.

Why would a school go coed? And (because this is where my mind goes) what if it didn’t work out? What if instead of every year there were more and more kids of your gender, there were fewer and fewer, until you were the last one?

Q: What do you think the book says about gender dynamics, particularly among middle-school-aged kids?

A: This became one of the most intriguing aspects of the book as I was writing it. I started it with a simple premise – the only boy at an all girl’s school who wants to get expelled – and it brought up so many great ideas.

For me, the best part was being able to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Tsutomu Nihei

Tsutomu Nihei's latest manga is Knights of Sidonia. From his Q&A with Brigid Alverson for the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog:

Everything is so big in Knights of Sidonia. The spaceship is huge. How did you get that feeling?

Before I actually started drawing Knights of Sidonia I designed the spaceship and then I [scaled] it to the size of Manhattan. If you roll Manhattan into a round shape, [that’s] how large it is going to be. Based on that size [I determined] the population size of the spaceship.

How does their society reflect Japanese society of today? Or does it?

The answer is kind of no and a little yes. The Knights of Sidonia setting is the far, far future. It can be separate from the current Japanese society. But as you know, I was born and I am Japanese, so when I draw something maybe it’s based on the way past society works, it’s not...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue