Monday, October 31, 2016

David O. Stewart

David O. Stewart is the author of several works of history, including Madison’s Gift: Five Partnerships That Built America, which have been awarded the Washington Writing Award and the Society of the Cincinnati History Prize. His Fraser and Cook mystery novels are The Lincoln Deception, The Wilson Deception, and the newly released The Babe Ruth Deception.

From Stewart's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Why did you choose to focus on Babe Ruth for your third "Deception" novel rather than on another president?

A: Because Babe Ruth was Babe Ruth! He was an athletic god, funny and high-spirited, a man of the people with common – even crude – habits, a heavy drinker, a relentless womanizer, and such a legend that everyone in America STILL knows his name, nearly 70 years after his death.

By writing about the Babe’s first two years with the Yankees, 1920 and 1921, I could capture the moments when the young prodigy remade the game of baseball, when the nation plunged into Prohibition and bootlegging, and when the Black Sox Scandal threatened to destroy organized baseball forever.

The real question is...[read on]
Visit David O. Stewart's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: The Wilson Deception.

The Page 69 Test: The Wilson Deception.

My Book, The Movie: The Babe Ruth Deception.

Writers Read: David O. Stewart.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Duane Swierczynski

Duane Swierczynski was nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Novel for his book, Canary, and won the Shamus Award for his PI novel, Fun and Games. He is the author of nine novels, including 2016's  Revolver.

From Swierczynski 's Q&A with Stay Thirsty Magazine:

STAY THIRSTY: Your latest novel, Revolver, covers three generations of a law enforcement family in Philadelphia. You dedicated this book to your relative Joseph T. Swierczynski who was a Philadelphia beat cop gunned down by a gangster in 1919. Did you ever dream of a career in law enforcement or is writing about crime as close as you want to get?

DUANE SWIERCZYNSKI: When I was younger I did think about it—but then again, I also wanted to be Spider-Man. It doesn't mean I'd make a good cop (or webslinger). And I can't imagine a more challenging job, especially these days. I guess the fantasy about being a cop was the idea that they really know what's going on in the world, as opposed to us civilians. But as I get older, I don't think that's the case. We're all...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 28, 2016

Lauren Belfer

Lauren Belfer's debut novel, City of Light, was a New York Times bestseller, as well as a number one Book Sense pick, a Barnes & Noble Discover Award nominee, a New York Times Notable Book, a Library Journal Best Book, and a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. City of Light was a bestseller in Great Britain and has been translated into six languages. Her second novel, A Fierce Radiance, was named a Washington Post Best Novel of 2010 and an NPR Best Mystery of 2010.

Belfer's latest novel is And After the Fire.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your new novel, and why did you decide to focus on Bach’s work in particular?

A: I got the idea for the book about 10 years ago. I received in the mail an announcement for an adult ed class about the work of Johann Sebastian Bach.

At that point I didn’t know much about Bach’s work except for the piano lessons I was forced to go to as a girl, yet I had a hunch that I should take the class.

It turned out to be very important—I met my husband in that class! What I learned in the class surprised me. Bach’s music was more glorious that I imagined, but when we studied the sacred music I learned that some [of it] does lash out at Catholics, Jews, Muslims, even Protestants of different denominations.

Bach was ordained as a minister of music in the Lutheran Church, and it was not a time of religious tolerance. To learn of the problematic pieces did not altogether surprise me given his era, but it was disturbing to me, [having] Jewish members of my family murdered during the war.

It was hard to come to terms with…It was hard to find a peaceful place to consider these issues and elements.

At the same time there were news stories about...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Lauren Belfer's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Fierce Radiance.

My Book, The Movie: A Fierce Radiance.

The Page 69 Test: And After the Fire.

Writers Read: Lauren Belfer (May 2016).

My Book, The Movie: And After the Fire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Caroline Leavitt

Caroline Leavitt is the author of Cruel Beautiful World, and the New York Times bestsellers Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You, as well as eight other novels.

A book critic for the San Francisco Chronicle and People, she’s the recipient of a New York Foundation of the Arts Grant in Fiction, and was a finalist in both the Sundance Screenwriters’ Lab and the Nickelodeon Screenwriters’ Fellowships.

From Leavitt's interview with NPR's Scott Simon:

SIMON: And I gather this book started with something that really happened to you.

LEAVITT: It did. I've been obsessed with this book since I was 17. I sat beside this girl in study hall, and she was telling me how she was engaged to a much older guy who was a little controlling. And I didn't really understand that.

A year after I got out of high school, I heard the news. She'd broken up with him, and he had stabbed her to death. And it just haunted me. I couldn't figure out if she had been with him for so long, why didn't she see signs that he might be violent? How did somebody stay with somebody like that who was controlling?

And it wasn't until four years ago, when I was looking at click-bait (laughter) on the internet about, you know, 10 celebrities who aren't very nice people, that I happened to...

SIMON: (Laughter) I think I've seen that one, yeah.

LEAVITT: (Laughter) ...That I happened to see a posting from my high school friend's sister who was still obsessed with the crime and what had happened. And there were all these unanswered questions. And...[read on]
Visit 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.

Writers Read: Caroline Leavitt.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Miriam Horn

Miriam Horn is the author of Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman: Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: Your new book focuses on five different people. How did you pick them, and what do they have in common?

A: I had an idea for a book that would look at unsung heroes who are producing food at industrial scale, living in conservative regions of the country. I threw out a wide net, and got to know the candidates.

I spent time as a kid on a farm in California. In my 20s I worked for the Forest Service, and met people in logging and ranching. I work at the Environmental Defense Fund and have for 12 years. It’s unusual in seeking out partners in worlds a lot of environmentalists don’t see potential partners in.

My most important search engine was my colleagues at EDF. I ended up with dozens of possible stories. I was thinking about a coherent [story].

Many of them lived in the middle of the country, and it could be a journey of sorts, an opportunity to look at different ecosystems, the challenges the mountain ecosystems and high plains were facing, large-scale crop producers.

Then there was the storyteller’s instinct—who had the richest story, voice, and face—it’s also being made into a movie. They are people who bring different dimensions to it.

Once I settled on a journey down the Mississippi, then it pretty much zoomed me in on who the five should be.

What they have in common—they are all quite traditional in their values. They’re...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Peter Singer

Peter Singer's latest book is Ethics in the Real World: 82 Brief Essays on Things That Matter.

From his Q & A with Debra Liese for the Princeton University Press blog:

You’ve written essays on climate change, extreme poverty, animal rights, abortion, and the ethics of high-priced art, to name just a few. Is there a certain topic that has attracted the most attention?

PS: From that list, the two issues on which my views have been most widely discussed are our treatment of animals, and what we ought to be doing about extreme poverty. These are also the issues on which my writings have had the biggest impact. In the case of animals, they have contributed to new laws that have improved the lives of billions of animals, and in the case of extreme poverty, my work has spurred the development of the effective altruism movement, which has caused hundreds of millions of dollars to flow to the non-profit organizations that are most effective in helping people in extreme poverty.

You address a wide range of ethical questions with arguments that challenge people’s deeply held beliefs. In your experience, do people change their beliefs based on others’ arguments?

PS: There is no doubt that some of them do. Almost every time I give a public lecture, people come up to me afterwards and tell me how reading my work led them to become vegan, or start donating a share of their income to organizations that are aiding people in need. I know someone who donated a kidney to a stranger as a result of...[read on]
Peter Singer is Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. He is the author, co-author, or editor of more than thirty books, including Animal Liberation, widely considered to be the founding statement of the animal rights movement, Practical Ethics, and One World: Ethics and Globalization.

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

The Page 99 Test: The Life You Can Save.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 24, 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 Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Leave Me, and for your main character, Maribeth?

A: Several years ago I was on a family vacation when I started having chest pains. This was frightening for a number of reasons—my mother had her first bypass surgery at 48 in spite of having no visible risk factors or symptoms—but also because I had two young children.

If I needed this intense surgery, who would take care of my children? Who would take care of me? I was the default mom who worked from home. I did everything. The book began almost as a revenge fantasy, but when it turned out my heart was fine, it went into the drawer.

It came out years later, this time with Maribeth. I had some things to say about parenthood and the assumption we still have that mothers are the default parent and should martyr themselves for their families and sacrifice themselves. I wanted to look at what happens when...[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

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tim Harford

Tim Harford's new book is Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives.

From the transcript of his interview with NPR's Michel Martin:

MARTIN: So your book opens with a story that I had not heard before about the jazz pianist Keith Jarrett and the concert that almost didn't happen but gave us his most popular work, one of the most popular pieces in piano jazz. Actually, let me just play a little bit of it.


MARTIN: So the story - as I said, it's really fascinating. I had never heard this before, that he - could you just give me the short version? He shows up to play a late-night concert and the instrument is terrible, and you take it from there.

HARFORD: It's unplayable. There's been a mix-up. It's too quiet. It's out of tune. The pedals are sticking. And initially, he just refuses to play. But in the end, he's guilt-tripped into it. And because of all the adjustments he has to make in playing this piano, he finds a new way to play. And it is the most popular solo piano work, the most popular solo jazz work in history. But it was only recorded because Keith Jarrett thought it would be a disaster and he wanted documentary evidence of what a musical catastrophe sounds like. So it's a brilliant example that having to cope with all kinds of problems and imperfections can make us more creative.

MARTIN: What does messiness do for you that tidiness does not?

HARFORD: So one of the things is it is just helping you...[read on]
Visit Tim Harford's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Tim Harford: top 10 undercover economics books.

The Page 69 Test: The Undercover Economist.

The Page 69 Test: The Logic of Life.

The Page 99 Test: Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure.

The Page 99 Test: The Undercover Economist Strikes Back.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Andrew Nagorski

Andrew Nagorski's latest book is The Nazi Hunters.

From his Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Why did you decide to focus on the Nazi hunters, and how did you research the book?

A: As a foreign correspondent, I often found myself examining the legacy of the war and the Holocaust. After the Nuremberg and Dachau trials, the victors in World War II were quick to turn their attention to the Cold War and largely lost interest in bringing Nazi criminals to justice.

Defying that trend, a relatively small group of men and women known as Nazi hunters dedicated their lives to making sure that there was some measure of justice—and fought against forgetting.

The hunted, those who participated in mass murder, are always a subject of morbid fascination. But I feel strongly that the hunters also deserve our attention. They are the ones who made Germans and so many others acknowledge and deal with their recent past, which is the first step towards learning the lessons of history.

Of course the era of Nazi hunting is coming to a natural end soon because there will no more Nazi war criminals still living. As a result, the story of the hunters and the hunted can now be told almost in its entirety. As a writer, I saw this as an opportunity to weave a narrative spanning the whole postwar era.

To do so, I needed to meet the surviving Nazi hunters in Europe, Israel and the United States and get their first-hand stories...[read on]
Visit Andrew Nagorski's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 21, 2016

Beth Macy

Beth Macy is the author of Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South.

From the transcript of her Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross:

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. And if you're just joining us, my guest is Beth Macy, author of the new book "Truevine." And it's the true story of two albino African-American brothers, George and Willie Muse, who spent much of their lives in freak shows in the first half of the 20th century. And the larger story she's telling here is about race, class and entertainment in the first half of the 20th century. So at some point they're reunited with their mother by accident. They're performing in a - was it a carnival or a circus? - in Roanoke, where their mother now lived.

MACY: Right. It's 1927. Roanoke is this - was once a really booming city, and it's now big enough that it can play host to the big one or the Greatest Show on Earth, which was Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. And somehow it came to her attention that the circus was in town. Remember, she couldn't read. She told relatives that it came to her in a dream that the circus was in town and her boys were on it. And she was going to go get them.

GROSS: And she did. How did she do it?

MACY: So she found her way to the fairgrounds in Roanoke, Va., which was just in the southern part of downtown. It was also the site of a roaring KKK rally soon before. And during that era when a carnival would come and play a show for a week, there would be one day that African-Americans would be allowed to attend. But on circus day, a big circus like Ringling would only stay one day and they'd go to the next location. And so there was seating in the back of the big top for African-Americans to sit.

And the side sideshow was the one place I was told where segregation codes would sort of break down because...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Abby Geni

Abby Geni is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the recipient of an Iowa Fellowship. “Captivity” won first place in the Glimmer Train Fiction Open and was included in The Best American Short Stories 2010; it was also selected for inclusion in New Stories from the Midwest.

She is the author of the novel The Lightkeepers and the story collection The Last Animal.

From Geni's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Lightkeepers, and for your main character, Miranda?

A: The whole thing began with my love of mysteries. A few years ago, I read everything by Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer and Dorothy Sayers, and I became enamored with the perfect architecture of a mystery plot, in which everything that happens has to happen. Even the red herrings and tangents of the story must be there to enhance the tension and keep up the suspense.

I knew that I wanted to write my favorite kind of mystery, which takes place in an enclosed setting with a limited array of suspects. That idea simmered on a back burner of my brain for a long while before I began writing The Lightkeepers.

As far as my discovery of Miranda, I came to know her through her letters. The novel is epistolary - written in the form of letters Miranda is penning to her dead mother - which gave me a unique window into her mind. I loved getting to know her through what she chose to write to her mother and how she chose to describe her daily life.

It's not the easiest way to create a book, and I don't know that I'd tackle an epistolary novel again, but...[read on]
Visit Abby Geni's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Lightkeepers.

Writers Read: Abby Geni.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen's new memoir is Born to Run.

From his Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross:

GROSS: So do you think that your stage persona draws both from, like, the angry and uninhibited side of you and the more inhibited, timid side of you?

SPRINGSTEEN: I think it's both there. I think if you just - you know, I think plenty of folks if you just looked at the outside, it can read - you know, it's pretty alpha male - you know? which is - is a little ironic because, you know, it's - that was personally never exactly really me. I think I created my particular stage persona out of my dad's life. And perhaps I even built it to suit him to some degree. I was looking for - when I was looking for a voice to mix with my voice, I put on my father's work clothes, as I say in the book, and I went to work. Whether it was the result of wanting to emulate him so I felt closer or whether it was - I wanted - as I say in the book, I wanted to be the reasonable voice of revenge for what I'd seen his life come to. It was all of these things. And it was an unusual creation, but most of these - most people's stage personas are created out of the flotsam and jetsam of their internal geography. And they're trying to - they're trying to create something that solves a series of very complex problems inside of them or in their history. And I think when I unknowingly - when I went to do that, that's what I was - I was trying to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tina Connolly

Tina Connolly's new novel is Seriously Shifted,a sequel to Seriously Wicked.

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

Q: The books combine magic with the everyday activities of a high school girl. What do you see as the right balance between the two?

A: When I studied at Clarion West a decade ago, Maureen McHugh mentioned that it was important to remember that everyone should have to deal with their real life, even if they get to go on magical adventures.

We all have to pay the rent and go to the dentist and so on. Or, in the case of Cam, go to a tedious American History class and make sure she’s passing Algebra. It was important to me to not give her a ...[read on]
Visit Tina Connolly's website and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Tina Connolly (May 2015).

My Book, The Movie: Seriously Wicked.

The Page 69 Test: Seriously Wicked.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 17, 2016

Emily Ross

Emily Ross received a 2014 Massachusetts Cultural Council finalist award in fiction for her novel Half in Love with Death. Her fiction and nonfiction have been published in Boston Magazine, Menda City Review, and The Smoking Poet. She is an editor and contributor at Dead Darlings, a website dedicated to discussing the craft of novel writing. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Massachusetts Boston, and is a 2012 graduate of Grub Street’s Novel Incubator program.

From her Q & A with Christina Casano at Girls in Capes:

Girls in Capes: I wanted to ask you about how you came across this story. It’s based on a real person, right?

Emily Ross: It is, actually. It’s kind of an interesting story. I had written two novels that were sort of similar to this one, but they were just failures – I couldn’t figure out how to plot them. So I was talking to my sister, kind of complaining, and she said, “You should take a true crime and use that for your plot, then you would have a plot.” And she said, “Not only that, but I know one you should use.”

And she told me that when she was twelve years old she had been obsessed with this sensational murder that was in the news about this guy, this serial killer that they called The Pied Piper of Tuscon. She said she had read the article over and over and it absolutely terrified her and I was fascinated because for one, I had never heard of this and my sister and I were fairly close, and I had no idea she had this obsession.

So that set off, okay I’m going to find out more about this. It’s about this man named Charles Schmid. He was 23 and in 1964 – and this is pretty creepy – but he killed a fifteen-year-old girl named Aileen Rowe and buried her in the desert, and he actually did it with two friends, and it was just a totally cold crime to see what it felt like to kill someone. And then a year later he killed his seventeen-year-old girlfriend, Gretchen Fritz, and her younger sister Wendy, who was thirteen.

The thing that really fascinated me was that...[read on]
Visit the official Emily Ross website.

The Page 69 Test: Half In Love With Death.

Writers Read: Emily Ross.

My Book, The Movie: Half In Love With Death.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Leslie Connor

Leslie Connor is the author of All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your new book, and for the idea of a boy growing up in a prison?

A: The little seed of an idea started with an article in The New York Times about a long-time inmate at Bedford Hills, which is a prison for women in New York state. It was a story of radicalism, violence, defiance, redemption, and surprisingly, excellence.

One very poignant part of the story was about how this woman had a young daughter on the outside and how she managed to be a good parent to her child from behind bars. That struggle gave me the child-centered part of the story.

Q: The book focuses on the idea of a home, and what a home can mean. What do you think readers might take away from the book?

A: I think it’s possible they will go away from this read with an expanded viewpoint on what...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Rogers Brubaker

Rogers Brubaker's latest book is Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities. From his Q&A with Debra Liese at the Princeton University Press blog:

This book has taken you into new territory. What drew you to the subject?

RB: In the summer of 2015 I became fascinated by the intertwined debates about whether Caitlyn Jenner could legitimately identify as a woman and Rachel Dolezal as black. The debates were dominated by efforts to validate or invalidate the identities claimed by Jenner and Dolezal. But at the same time they raised deeper questions about the similarities and differences between gender and race in an age of massively unsettled identities. I had planned to spend the summer months working on a completely different project, but this “trans moment” afforded a unique opportunity to think systematically about sex and gender in relation to race and ethnicity as embodied identities that are increasingly – yet in differing ways and to differing degrees – understood as open to choice and change.

You begin with the pairing of “transgender” and “transracial” in the debates about Jenner and Dolezal. One common trope in the debates was that transracial is “not a thing.” Do you disagree?

RB: Of course transracial is not a “thing” in the same sense as transgender: there’s...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 14, 2016

Phaedra Patrick

Phaedra Patrick is the author of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your character Arthur Pepper, and why did you decide on a charm bracelet as the method by which he discovers new things about his late wife?

A: I showed my own charm bracelet to my son and told him the stories behind each of the charms. He’s 10 now, so this was when he was younger - around 5 or 6 years old.

The idea came to me about an elderly man who discovers a mysterious bracelet in his late wife’s wardrobe. I once holidayed in India and bought a small brass elephant pendant, and this was the inspiration behind the first charm (an elephant with an emerald in a howdah on his back) that sets Arthur off on his epic journey of discovery.

I wanted to write a story straight from my heart, and create a character that people would want to cheer, laugh and cry with. I love to collect ideas in my head, so each scene and character in the book was influenced by someone I know, something I’d seen, or personally experienced.

Q: One of the themes the book explores is how well people really know their spouses. Why was that something you wanted to look at?

A: This kind of came about organically. I actually discovered...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Gerald Elias

A graduate of Yale, Gerald Elias has been a Boston Symphony violinist, Associate Concertmaster of the Utah Symphony since 1988, Adjunct Professor of Music at the University of Utah, first violinist of the Abramyan String Quartet, and Music Director of the Vivaldi Candlelight concert series.

His novels include Devil's Trill, Danse Macabre, Death and the Maiden, and the recently released Playing With Fire.

From the author's Q&A with Lance Gudmundsen for the Salt Lake City Weekly:

Describe Daniel Jacobus, the novel's protagonist.

Jacobus is crusty. He's an old, blind, cantankerous violin teacher who yearns for seclusion. Deep down—way deep down at times—he has a heart of gold and an uncanny Holmesian knack for ferreting out nefarious criminals of the classical music world.

What's the mystery Jacobus tackles in Playing With Fire?

In the high-stakes world of multi-million-dollar violin dealing, buyers and sellers are occasionally led down the path of temptation. In the novel, a small-time violin repairman goes missing—and his shop is burned to the ground. It's up to Jacobus and his pals to figure out what happened. Without giving anything away, it ain't good.

Is Jacobus patterned after anyone you've known?

The visual image is based partly upon...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Gerald Elias's website.

The Page 69 Test: Devil's Trill.

The Page 69 Test: Danse Macabre.

My Book, The Movie: Devil's Trill and Danse Macabre.

The Page 69 Test: Death and the Maiden.

My Book, The Movie: Playing With Fire.

The Page 69 Test: Playing With Fire.

Writers Read: Gerald Elias.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Emily Witt

Emily Witt's new book is Future Sex: A New Kind of Free Love. From her Q&A with Isaac Chotiner at Slate:

You write a bit about porn, and in one passage you say, “Watching porn left me more confident about my body.” That feels very different from what many people feel about porn.

Spending a lot of time at watching people make porn made me realize they were beautiful people, but they weren’t models. They weren’t Cindy Crawford or something. They were normal people with attractive bodies, and their bodies have imperfections and asymmetries, and they were really comfortable being naked, and joking about the noises their bodies made or the weird things that they might do during sex.

And then, watching porn, when you go on these tube sites, you just realize it’s so much less oppressive than it is to look at a fashion magazine. For me, as a woman, I guess the range of fetishes is vast. The things that I had always thought of as shameful or gross parts of my body are just really celebrated in porn. I don’t know. There’s just a lot of assholes. There’s a lot of hair. There’s a lot of things that, for me, compared to fashion and the world of fashion or reading Vogue where you have this vision of beauty that is...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Del Quentin Wilber

Del Quentin Wilber is the author of A Good Month for Murder: The Inside Story of a Homicide Squad. From the author's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you get the Prince George’s County [MD] police to grant you so much access?

A: The police chief, Mark Magaw, is the son of a Secret Service agent in my first book, Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan. I sent it to him and asked if I could shadow his detectives. He was very open and transparent, giving me complete access to his squad. I was quite lucky.

Q: You describe Prince George’s County as “a microcosm of the new America.” How typical is the county, and how does its crime rate reflect that of other communities?

A: PG County is one of the most diverse and fascinating places I have ever visited. It's diverse in terms of geography -- spanning everything from farmland to gritty, inner-city-like neighborhoods. It's also diverse demographically -- it's a majority minority community. It also neighbors the nation's capital. It's a fascinating place.

It is more violent than the typical suburb, in part, because it has high levels of poverty and other social problems more often associated with cities than suburbs. It has your more typical gang- or drug-related homicides. But...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 10, 2016

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 twenty questions with the author at The Times Literary Supplement:

What author or book do you think is most underrated? And why?

Among contemporaries, Ann Wroe (Pilate, Perkin, Orpheus, Six Facets of Light and others.) She is a stylist with a wide-ranging and subtle mind. She’s a genius, I believe, because she lights up every subject she touches. Why underrated? She is personally modest, and her work doesn’t fit into a category. She is too original for the market.

What author or book do you think is most overrated? And why?

Dickens. The sentimentality, the self-indulgence, the vast oozing self-satisfaction, the...[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

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Nancy Malkiel

Nancy Weiss Malkiel is the author of "Keep the Damned Women Out": The Struggle for Coeducation.

From her Q&A with Jessica Ganga at the Princeton University Press blog:

What led you to write a book about coeducation?

NM: It’s partly autobiographical. I had been a graduate student at Harvard in the mid-/late 1960s, when the relationship between Harvard and Radcliffe was beginning to be addressed. I joined the Princeton faculty in 1969 as one of the first three women in the professorial ranks; 1969 also happened to be the year when the first women undergraduates arrived. I served as dean of the college, with responsibility for undergraduate education at Princeton, for 24 years. At the same time, I graduated from and served as a trustee of Smith, a women’s college that decided not to go coed. I was very interested in how coeducation came to be embraced at Princeton and so many other elite men’s schools, in why Smith decided against coeducation, and in how women’s education worked in the institutions I knew best.

I was also very interested in processes of institutional change. How did very old, very traditional, very elite institutions decide to go coed? What factors influenced their decision-making? Who provided leadership? Who supported change? Who resisted change? How were...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Robert Wilder

Robert Wilder is the author of a novel, Nickel, and two critically acclaimed essay collections, Tales From The Teachers’ Lounge and Daddy Needs A Drink, both optioned for television and film.

A teacher for twenty-five years, Wilder has earned numerous awards and fellowships, including the inaugural Innovations in Reading Prize by the National Book Foundation. He has published essays in Newsweek, Details, Salon, Parenting, Creative Nonfiction, plus numerous anthologies and has been a commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition.

From the author's Q&A with Claire Zulkey:

Your prior books are nonfiction/humor. Nickel is your first foray into YA. What was easier and harder about this new genre?

I don't know if writing is ever easy. With nonfiction, you already have a world that you can furnish and lean on. With a novel, you need to create a world and everything in it from the ground up. Having a novel floating around your head is a huge undertaking and quite the commitment. Living in the world of NICKEL for years was all-consuming and wonderful and difficult. I always thought it sounded precious when I heard novelists say, "It was hard to leave the characters," but now I get it.

How did you decide what slang to include and how to employ it?

I've been teaching teenagers for half my life and all the interesting ones speak in some sort code or slang. I study my students' language and take notes daily. When it came to Coy (the narrator in NICKEL), I tried to create a vernacular that was specific to him and his close friendship with Monroe, and where he was at that time in his life. My early drafts were written almost completely in code, slang, and sound effects. They were pretty much...[read on]
Visit Robert Wilder's website and Facebook page.

The Page 99 Test: Daddy Needs A Drink.

My Book, The Movie: Nickel.

Writers Read: Robert Wilder.

The Page 69 Test: Nickel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 7, 2016

Hannah Pittard

Hannah Pittard's new novel is Listen to Me.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Your new novel, Listen to Me, takes place over the course of 24 hours. Were there particular challenges involved in writing a novel that takes place over a condensed time frame?

A: I wouldn’t call them challenges so much as choices. When you’re working with a deliberately distilled moment in time, the decision between what should be scene and what should be summary becomes an incredibly important one. I wanted this to be a tight, fast novel in which every word and every moment mattered.

Q: You write that the inspiration for the book came from a road trip you and your husband took. What made you decide to write a novel based on that trip, and what role did the ongoing storm play for you?

A: I started the book while waiting for edits on my second novel. It was a way for me to keep my mind occupied so I couldn’t obsess over the project, which at the time was out of my control.

The night we drove through a storm, we stayed at a hotel without power. I didn’t sleep, if at all. In the morning I thought, This would be a pretty good set of circumstances for a novel… My bad luck (storm, hotel without power) turned out to be...[read on]
Visit Hannah Pittard's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Alexandra Horowitz

Alexandra Horowitz's new book is Being a Dog: Following the Dog Into a World of Smell.

From the transcript of her interview with Fresh Air's Terry Gross:

GROSS: We've all had the experience of going to visit the home of a friend where we haven't been before. The friend has a dog. The first thing they do when you arrive is greet you by smelling your crotch, which is embarrassing for everybody. So why do dogs do that?

HOROWITZ: It's a really smelly place. I mean, dogs are extremely good at honing in on the parts of us that happen to smell. And we secrete a lot of smells from a couple of parts of our body - the crotch, the armpits, the mouth.

You know, one of the things you can do when you don't like that, which most people don't, is give them something else to smell. You know, they might be preoccupied with the smell of your ear, for instance. We have lots of glands that give off odors around our face, and that might suffice to be information about you. That's all the dog is trying to get, information. I love that we often feel like the dog is being impolite in that case. And many people will not unreasonably train their dogs not to do that. But I also see it as just the dog's way of...[read on]
The Page 99 Test: Inside of a Dog.

Visit Alexandra Horowitz's dog cognition website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Jade Chang

Jade Chang's new novel is The Wangs vs. the World.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: You’ve said that you wanted to “write an immigrant novel that was kind of a rebellion against immigrant novels.” Can you say more about that, and about how you came up with the idea for the Wang family?

A: Sure! I think that traditionally, in America, stories of immigrant and people of color that get a platform are generally stories of pain.

Sometimes it’s small-scale pain, like the problem of not fitting in to mainstream society, and sometimes it’s far more large-scale, like the giant pain of slavery. When those are the only stories that get told, everyone loses.

And that’s not to say that I don’t love many of the immigrant novels that have come before mine, it’s just that I think it’s time that we heard another kind of story. And I think many people agree—in 2016 we’ve seen an increasingly broader range of narratives.

With the Wangs, I knew that I wanted to write about a family that was larger-than-life and genuinely fun to read about, who do not see themselves as outsiders. That thought doesn’t even enter their minds! They are absolutely central to their own stories, and to the story of America.

Q: Money is a big issue throughout the novel. Why did you decide to focus on that as one of the novel’s themes?

A: Money is endlessly interesting because, of course, money isn’t just money! It’s a symbol of how we place value on something, and it can buy freedom just as easily as it can buy a material good, if you know how to use it.

Also, I really wanted to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

D. Nolan Clark

D. Nolan Clark is the pseudonym bestselling horror writer David Wellington uses for his science fiction books.

His new novel is Forsaken Skies.

From the author's Q&A with DJ at MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape:

DJ: What is Forsaken Skies about?

D. Nolan Clark: It’s about the Great Silence, the Great Filter, the Fermi Paradox. The question of why, in a universe full of planets capable of harboring life, we’ve never detected any. The book suggests one answer for that question. It’s also about a future where runaway capitalism and runaway militarism have left us in a very bad position to find out what happened to all the aliens.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Forsaken Skies?

D. Nolan Clark: This is one of those questions every author has trouble answering. You want to say “I have no influences, I have created this work entirely from my own imagination”. But of course that’s never true. We are all the sum of our influences. I’ve been reading sf since the 80s, so my influences go way back—there’s a little Heinlein in here, a little Frank Herbert. An awful lot of Larry Niven and especially...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at David Wellington's website.

The Page 69 Test: Forsaken Skies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 3, 2016

Hugo Drochon

Hugo Drochon is a historian of nineteenth- and twentieth-century political thought and a postdoctoral research fellow at CRASSH, the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities, at the University of Cambridge.

His new book is Nietzsche's Great Politics.

From Drochon's Q&A at the Princeton University Press blog:

When did you first encounter Nietzsche?

I first encountered Nietzsche during the second year of my undergraduate degree. I took two different courses that year that were to be quite significant for me: ‘History of Political Thought’ and ‘Theories of International Relations’. The latter focused on different theories of IR, from classic realism, liberalism, neo-realism and neo-liberalism, to more critical approaches including critical theory, green theory, feminism and postmodernism. Theory was new to me, but I was an instant convert. I think I bombarded the lecturer with questions until she finally said to me: ‘go read Nietzsche’. Happily we had an anthology for the History of Political Thought course – one I also really enjoyed, and which set me upon my future career path – which had as its final text Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. I read it over the summer.


It was an epiphany. Nietzsche just spoke to so many themes that resonated with me, and he opened up my eyes to the fact that...[read on]
The Page 99 Test: Nietzsche's Great Politics.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Kay Honeyman

Kay Honeyman's new book is Interference.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: You've said that Interference is a cross between Jane Austen's Emma and Friday Night Lights. How did you come up with the idea of Emma at a modern-day West Texas high school?

A: I’m not sure I can take credit for starting with such a fully fleshed out idea, but it did evolve into that.

I started with the idea of a character like Emma. I know she’s not everyone’s favorite because she can come across as a little self-involved, maybe even spoiled. But what I have always liked about Emma was her earnestness and sincerity. She has the best intentions even when they go awry, and I can relate to that.

Another thing that has always struck me about Emma is how much of an outsider she is. Even though she’s spent her entire life in the same town, she can only interact with a tiny group of people according to her society’s norms. The story begins by isolating her even more when now married Mrs. Weston leaves. I think that isolation is where a lot of the conflict and story comes from.

And if you want to talk isolation, West Texas is a great setting. It is unique even with in Texas. If you have ever driven there, the land flattens and turns these beautiful earthy tones. It always felt a little like going to an island. It has its own flavor and norms. I love places with personality. It makes the setting interact with the characters. These are also great places for fish-out-of-water stories.

The beauty of [my character] Kate and Emma is that...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Colleen Thompson

RITA-nominated, bestselling author Colleen Thompson writes stories that explore how love can kill, and how it can also empower us to seek healing and justice.

Her new novel is The Off Season.

From Thompson's Q&A with Renee James for The Big Thrill:

You set THE OFF SEASON on the New Jersey shore in winter, rather than your usual Texas setting. Why?

After moving to Texas years ago, I fell in love with my oversized adopted state, with its varied landscapes, its rich history, and its fascinating people. But more recently, my thoughts have turned to the things I loved growing up in small-town southern New Jersey, especially the tiny shore communities, which take on an eerie, almost haunted beauty when all the visitors leave during the winter months. I wanted to capture how it feels, walking on a deserted beach with the cold wind blowing off the Atlantic, or catching a glimpse of a fog-shrouded deserted lighthouse in the distance.

Your heroine, Dr. Christina Paxton, is emotionally vulnerable at the start of THE OFF SEASON. Is her mindset different than in your previous books?

As with the characters in all of my other stand-alone romantic thrillers, Christina begins the book at a point of transition, shortly after returning with a two-year-old to her tiny hometown following the sudden death of her much older husband. Housesitting one of the huge beachfront Victorians her real estate agent mother manages during the off season to keep it looking lived in, Christina is...[read on]
Visit Colleen Thompson's website and follow her on Twiiter.

Writers Read: Colleen Thompson.

--Marshal Zeringue