Saturday, August 31, 2019

Jennifer Gunter

Jennifer Gunter is the author of The Vagina Bible: The Vulva and the Vagina: Separating the Myth from the Medicine.

From her interview with NPR contributor and family physician Mara Gordon:

We doctors have had a strictly biomedical model for disease for a long time. It's a pretty recent development that we consider sex, relationships, stress and even sexism within our purview. Do you feel like your patients are eager for you to address those things?

I think that women appreciate knowing the forces that led us here. ... I want people to understand that the patriarchy has been everywhere. Medicine is part of everything. So of course medicine has patriarchy. ... I personally don't think that medicine is worse than anything else, but I do think that because medicine cares for people, we have the biggest duty to respond to it fast.

I think that a lot of women are really hungry for a woman physician to stand up and say, "Wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait. I know about women's bodies. That's not going to fly, because I know the physiology."

What is the most absurd vaginal product that you've come across in your research?

Ozone getting blown into your vagina. It's...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 30, 2019

Marcy Dermansky

Marcy Dermansky's new novel is Very Nice.

From her interview with Caroline Leavitt:

I was so knocked out by Bad Marie, and Very Nice knocked me out even more. (Not to say that I didn’t also love The Red Car and Twins. I did.) Did you find that when you were writing Very Nice you used lessons you had learned from Bad Marie—or do you, like me, have writers’ amnesia, where everything is brand new every time?

Thank you! I think anyone who had read all of my novels should collect bonus points and they should add up to something special. A new car. I could send you a poodle card. I made a painting of Princess the poodle and it now a beautiful thank you card. This is a serious offer.

Unfortunately, I don’t feel like I have learned anything from one novel to the next. I must have writers’ amnesia, just like you. Because beginning is always the most daunting part to me. And what you wrote in one book is meaningless in the next. I am also at my happiest when I am in the middle of a novel, typing typing typing.

I always want to know what was haunting a writer into writing a particular book. What was haunting you?

Very Nice started as a short story, what is now the first chapter of the novel. A student who seduces her professor. I have always been interested in this subject -- it’s icky and strange, the power dynamic and I think it happens all the time. Or used to. So...[read on]
Visit Marcy Dermansky's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Marjan Kamali

Marjan Kamali's new novel is The Stationery Shop.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Stationery Shop, and for your character Roya?

A: I’ve always loved poking around in stationery shops and looking at all the different pens, paper, and notebooks.

My dad told me about a stationery shop in Tehran that sold books from all over the world. He said high school kids would hide love notes in between the pages of books and have the stationery shop owner pass on their messages to their beloveds in this way. I was intrigued by this gesture and kept it at the back of my mind.

Then I did a book event for my first novel, Together Tea, at an assisted living center. After the reading, we all sat down to a wonderful Persian lunch organized by the center (there is a lot of food in both my books!).

An elderly man in a wheelchair at our table kept saying how he’d met the prince of Spain and traveled with Charles De Gaulle. Others weren’t interested in hearing his repetitions. But before I left, I asked what his name was and was surprised that it was an Iranian name.

Weeks later when I visited my parents, I told them about this elderly man. When I said his name, my father said, “He was one of our most decorated foreign dignitaries. He met the prince of Spain. He traveled with Charles de Gaulle.”

I was stunned. That night I...[read on]
Visit Marjan Kamali's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Tope Folarin

Tope Folarin is a Nigerian-American writer based in Washington, DC. He won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2013 and was shortlisted once again in 2016. He was also recently named to the Africa39 list of the most promising African writers under 40. He was educated at Morehouse College and the University of Oxford, where he earned two Masters degrees as a Rhodes Scholar. He is the author of A Particular Kind of Black Man.

From the transcript of his NPR interview with Michel Martin:

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: When we last heard from our next guest, Tope Folarin, he'd recently won the prestigious Caine Prize for African Writing for a short story the prize committee called exquisitely observed and utterly compelling. Now Folarin is out with his first novel. It's called "A Particular Kind Of Black Man." It's a unique coming-of-age story following the life of Tunde, a Nigerian American boy growing up in Utah who's trying to figure out who he is amid complicated family and racial dynamics. I started my conversation with Tope Folarin by asking him about the overlap between his story and the main characters.

TOPE FOLARIN: Part of it was initially, I started writing, and I thought, well, maybe I'll write a story about my life. And so that's actually how I started writing this. And as I continued to write, I discovered that - when writers used to talk about this, I thought it was mystical mumbo-jumbo when they talk about characters kind of doing their own thing. That began to happen to me. And so I said, well, this feels like a Tunde, and Tunde I started doing all kinds of things that I didn't do and I wouldn't do. And so it kind of developed as a novel.

MARTIN: So it has some elements that are autobiographical.

FOLARIN: Absolutely.

MARTIN: I mean, the fact is, you were...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

David Wallace-Wells

David Wallace-Wells is the author of The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming.

From his Q&A with Ian Tucker for the Guardian:

Millennials are expressing doubts about having children because of the environmental crisis – they are concerned that their grandchildren and possibly their own children will be living in an inhospitable and volatile world. You have recently had a child…

My intuition is that we need to fight to make the world the one we want to live in rather than giving up hope before the fight is really over. The world is going to get warmer. Almost inevitably, there will be a lot more pain and suffering in it than we have now. But how much is really up to us.

At what point should panic set in? It’s plausible there’ll be four degrees of warming by the end of the century, which would mean mass migration from areas such as the Middle East and Asia to newly temperate areas such as Siberia and Greenland. That’s not a very smooth transition for human civilisation.

It seems hard to imagine. Yet we’re already seeing some fair amount of panic. The significant amount of human migration we’re seeing in the US coming from Central America, for example.

I am personally horrified by the way our politics are beginning to adjust to them. We need to be much more open-hearted and attentive to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 26, 2019

Patrick Coleman

Patrick Coleman makes things from words, sounds, and occasional pictures. His debut collection of poems, Fire Season, was written after the birth of his first child by speaking aloud into a digital audio recorder on the long commute between the art museum where he worked and his home in a rural neighborhood that burned in the Witch Creek Fire of 2007. It won the 2015 Berkshire Prize and was released by Tupelo Press on December 1, 2018. His short-form prose has appeared in Hobart, ZYZZYVA, Zócalo Public Square, the Writer's Chronicle, the Black Warrior Review, Juked, and the Utne Reader, among others. The Art of Music, an exhibition catalogue on the relationship between visual arts and music that he edited and contributed to, was co-published by Yale University Press and the San Diego Museum of Art. Coleman earned an MFA from Indiana University and a BA from the University of California Irvine. He lives in Ramona, California, with his wife and two daughters, and is the Assistant Director of the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UC San Diego.

Coleman's first novel is The Churchgoer.

From his Q&A with Rachel Lyon at The Rumpus:

The Rumpus: There is something noir-like about this novel. Like other readers and reviewers, I was reminded while reading it of Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye. Of course you are writing about San Diego, and Chandler’s setting was Los Angeles, but it seems to me that, what with the eerie SoCal mystery, and the ugliness that lurks behind the blue skies and great weather, you are kind of his spiritual heir. And yet The Churchgoer does not fall neatly into any genre or category. To what extent were you toying with the tropes of the noir and/or mystery genres? Do you find it useful to consider genre—structurally, process-wise, or otherwise?

Patrick Coleman: Thank you! I was very much thinking about Chandler, particularly The Long Goodbye. He wrote that book in La Jolla, while his wife, Cissy, was slowly dying. It’s his most elegiac book, the one in which he bends the rules of pulp detective fiction the most. A reviewer at the time said, “Marlowe is less a detective than a disturbed man of forty-two on a quest for some evidence of truth and humanity.” And that’s one of the things I loved: that this thoroughly compelling detective story painted a surprising, sharp, almost George Grosz-ian portrait of so many aspects of Los Angeles at the time. I was angry about the California I’d grown up in, about the America I was living in. I wanted to tease some of that out and push and pull against that form.

I was especially frustrated with the usual way you don’t get to know much about the detective/protagonist, and thinking about the almost mythical place that figure occupies. Typically male, right about everything, quick to violence but with a handle on good-vs-bad in a way that most of us can’t manage in daily life. Everything else came out of that—the choices with...[read on]
Visit Patrick Coleman's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Churchgoer.

The Page 69 Test: The Churchgoer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Louisa Treger

Louisa Treger's new novel is The Dragon Lady.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: You note that the idea for this novel came from a question a friend asked you: "Have you seen Zimbabwe's secret Monet?" How did that question lead you to writing this book?

A: The “secret Monet” was allegedly hidden in the vaults of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe to keep it safe from Robert Mugabe, who was then president.

I have family in Southern Africa and on a trip to Harare, I managed to access a few of the “secret” paintings. There was no Monet, but I did see works by Renoir and Durer among others, donated to the Gallery by Sir Stephen Courtauld and his wife, Virginia.

My curiosity was piqued and I began to research Stephen and Virginia. The more...[read on]
Visit Louisa Treger's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Louisa Treger & Monty.

The Page 69 Test: The Lodger.

My Book, The Movie: The Lodger.

My Book, The Movie: The Dragon Lady.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Philipe Cullet

Philippe Cullet is Professor of International and Environmental Law at SOAS University of London and a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.

The Right to Sanitation in India: Critical Perspectives, edited by Cullet, Sujith Koonan, and Lovleen Bhullar, represents the first effort to conceptually engage with the right to sanitation and its multiple dimensions in India.

From Cullet's interview with Richa Bansal, Director of Communications at Centre for Policy Research, and in collaboration with Centre for Policy Research, one of India’s leading public policy think tanks since 1973. As shared at the OUP Blog:

Richa Bansal: Where would you situate this book in the socio-political landscape?

Philipe Cullet: Sanitation has evinced considerable interest from policy-makers, lawmakers, researchers, and even politicians in recent years. Its transformation from a social taboo into a topic of general conversation is evident from the central role of sanitation in recent Bollywood blockbusters, such as Piku (2015), Toilet Ek Prem Katha (2017), and Padman (2018). Toilet Ek Prem Katha is particularly interesting since it directly mirrors the policy framework of the central government that seeks to ensure open defecation free India by 2 October 2019.

In fact, insofar as policymaking and implementation is concerned, sanitation has emerged from the shadows in the past five years. The Swachh Bharat Mission has led to the construction of millions of toilets throughout the country. Several states have been declared “Open Defecation Free” (ODF) in the last couple of years. This is a positive development in terms of emphasising the urgency of addressing the sanitation crisis.

The new focus on policy and implementation also fits well with various judicial pronouncements since the 1990s, where sanitation has been recognised as a fundamental right derived from the constitutional right to life. Yet ongoing policy initiatives are not linked to a rights perspective, and a statutory framework to transform the promise of the judicially recognised right to sanitation into reality is absent. For the right to sanitation to be realised, its multiple dimensions must be...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 23, 2019

Karen Tongson

Karen Tongson's new book is Why Karen Carpenter Matters.

From her interview with Jeffrey Masters for the Advocate:

Jeffrey Masters: Why is Karen Carpenter still so beloved by LGBTQ people?

Karen Tongson: I think of her music as latter-day torch songs. They're expressions of longing and unrequited love in a way a lot of queer people can relate to because for the longest time, so many of us lived in a space where we never thought that anyone would ever love us. Or that we might be in this game alone.

That music provided a bit of a soundtrack to that, as well as with her own secrets, with her anorexia and the privacy of that pain, the kind of closetedness of that.

JM: You write about the code-switching that happened in terms of her gender, growing up but also with music producers. Were audiences as aware of that while she was alive?

KT: I actually don't think so. The Carpenters were a very tightly managed act. Karen was such a tomboy when she was growing up. She used to be a real rough-houser. She played drums before she was a singer. That was a huge part of her story, but what people ended up seeing eventually is the demure girl in a strangely frilly Victorian frock singing...[read on]
Visit Karen Tongson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Jo Baker

Jo Baker's latest novel is The Body Lies.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Body Lies?

A: I kept encountering dead female bodies, both in drama and fiction.

Alongside that, I became alert to the way that violence against women was being used as a cheap plot device – a means of getting a story rolling – while vital issues and real human experiences were being ignored. I kept seeing violence against women being eroticized, both in fiction and on screen.

And that, frankly, gives me hives; it makes me want to spit. Who exactly is that for? I wanted to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Caitlin Horrocks

Caitlin Horrocks's new novel is The Vexations.

From her NPR Q&A with Scott Simon:

SIMON: What makes someone from Grand Rapids want to write about Erik Satie?

HORROCKS: As a piano student, my teacher assigned me one of the "Gymnopedies." And as a kid, I just immediately loved it. I thought, I have a new favorite piece. I have a new favorite composer. I really loved that elegant melancholy that you just heard. But when I looked at more pieces, I - very quickly I was running into things like "Flabby Preludes (For A Dog)" or "Dried Embryos," one of which contains essentially lines of dialogue from the point of view of a sea cucumber. And as an aspiring pianist, I was annoyed. (Laughter) I was disappointed.

SIMON: Yeah.

HORROCKS: And it raised the question, though, of who was this person who had created this handful of very beautiful pieces and then this other more playful, more experimental work? And I just held onto...[read on]
Visit Caitlin Horrocks's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Abbi Waxman

Abbi Waxman's newest book is The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your character Nina Hill?

A: When I was touring for my last book, Other People’s Houses, I kept meeting all these cool young women who worked in the bookstores. They were cool, smart, dressed in funky clothes, and deeply, DEEPLY in love with books. I fell in love with all of them, and decided to write them a book where they were the hero.

Q: Nina is a bookworm who works in an independent bookstore. What do you think her experiences say about the world of bookselling these days?

A: I actually think independent bookstores are having A Moment, as the press like to say. I feel that although it’s still tough to run a bookstore, the internet has actually made it possible for booklovers to get enthusiastic and excited about books again. Who knew the internet would...[read on]
Visit Abbi Waxman's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Abbi Waxman & Daisy, Jasper, and Wilbur.

Writers Read: Abbi Waxman (November 2018).

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 19, 2019

Janet Fitch

Janet Fitch is an American author and teacher of fiction writing.

She is the author of the #1 national bestseller White Oleander, a novel translated into 24 languages, an Oprah Book Club book and the basis of a feature film, Paint It Black, also widely translated and made into a 2017 film, and an epic novel of the Russian Revolution, The Revolution of Marina M.

The journey that began with The Revolution of Marina M. concludes in Fitch's new novel, Chimes of a Lost Cathedral, in which passionate young poet, lover, and idealist Marina Makarova emerges as a woman in full during the transformative years of the Russian Revolution. Having undergone unimaginable hardship, she’s now at the height of her creative power and understanding, living the shared life of poetry--when the revolution finally reveals its true direction for the future.

From Fitch's Q&A with Rita Williams at Angels Flight • literary west:

Rita Williams: Was there a single event that planted the seed for The Revolution of Marina M. and Chimes of a Lost Cathedral?

Janet Fitch: No. Books evolve. You aren’t hit by lightning and say, “I’m going to write a book about that!” These books began, I’d say, in two places. In one reality, they began as a short story set in the 1920s, published in Black Clock—about a Russian émigré, Marina Makarova, working as a hotel maid at the Alexandria Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. I loved that story, and when I started exploring expanding it into a novel, I realized I didn’t know enough about her, about her experience during the Russian revolution, to write that book. Also, every time I inserted a backstory scene my writers’ group loved that and begged for more. When the backstory is better than the front story, I say–eject the front story and write the backstory.

But I’ve always loved Russian literature, Russian history … I took Russian in high school and college. The fact that I chose to write about this Russian woman, albeit in Los Angeles, wasn’t...[read on]
Visit Janet Fitch's website.

The Page 99 Test: Paint It Black.

The Page 69 Test: The Revolution of Marina M..

My Book, The Movie: Chimes of a Lost Cathedral.

The Page 69 Test: Chimes of a Lost Cathedral.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Karen Abbott

Karen Abbott's new book is The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you first learn about George Remus, the bootlegger who is the subject of your new book, and why did you decide to write this book?

A: I usually get my ideas from dusty old archives or libraries or out-of-print books, but the idea for The Ghosts of Eden Park actually came from television--specifically the show Boardwalk Empire, which aired on HBO for five seasons. It perfectly captured the early 1920s, when bootleggers were just figuring out how to circumvent Prohibition laws, and no one had yet heard of Al Capone.

There was a character named George Remus. He was bizarre and brilliant and spoke of himself in the third person. There was one exchange where Remus was speaking to Nucky Thompson, the character played by Steve Buscemi. They're wheeling and dealing, and things get a bit heated. The Remus character says, "Remus finds you petty and resentful." And Buscemi retorts, "Remus can go fuck himself."

Remus stole every scene he was in. I wondered if he was a real person, and indeed he was! Remus was America’s most successful bootlegger, and also a real-life inspiration for Jay Gatsby. After only one year in the business, Remus—a German immigrant who rose from poverty—owned 35 percent of...[read on]
Visit Karen Abbott's website.

The Page 69 Test: Sin in the Second City.

The Page 99 Test: American Rose.

The Page 99 Test: Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Alex Segura

Alex Segura's new novel is Miami Midnight.

From his Q&A with Steph Post at CrimeReads:

Steph Post: Alright, let’s just dive right on in the deep end. Miami Midnight is the fifth, and last, Pete Fernandez novel. Readers have been following your Miami PI for a few years now and with this final installment, the curtain falls on Pete, the lights dim and the show packs up and goes home. Is this knowledge bittersweet for you? Does a part of you find it hard to let go of Pete? Or do you feel confident that it’s time to put Pete to rest?

Alex Segura: You know, I’m torn, because on one hand, I’m excited to move on and do other things in terms of novels, but as I started to wind down the story of Miami Midnight I found my pace slowing, because I was starting to savor writing these characters, and I’d have moments where I’d think to myself, “this might be the last time you write Pete and Kathy together” or “this could be your last Dave scene,” and that’s when I realized how big a part of my life these characters have been over the last decade, almost. That said, when I set out to write Silent City, I wanted to write a story that felt unique and compelling to me—the origin story of the series PI. I was less interested in the “case of the week/evergreen” story, where it’s more about a given adventure and less about the person. And with Miami Midnight, I feel like I did that. Pete goes out in a meaningful way, and...[read on]
Visit Alex Segura's website.

The Page 69 Test: Blackout.

Writers Read: Alex Segura (May 2018).

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 16, 2019

Daniela Petrova

Daniela Petrova is the author of Her Daughter’s Mother.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: You've said that you drew on your own experiences with infertility while writing Her Daughter's Mother. How did you create your characters Lana and Katya?

A: I went through infertility years ago and, while it didn’t work out for me, I thought that having a child with the help of a donor can create and interesting parental triangle and can be a good premise for a mystery. I wondered what if a woman who is pregnant through a donor egg encounters her anonymous egg donor? And what if she starts stalking her and then the young woman goes missing and the pregnant woman finds herself a prime suspect in the investigation?

I wanted to give an opportunity to each of the three main characters--the mother, the father and their donor--to tell their own story, so I structured the book with three alternating narrators.

I was particularly interested in the relationship of the two women, Lana, who carries the baby and Katya, whose genes the baby will inherit. I wrote character sketches in the beginning, but Lana, Katya, and Tyler didn’t really take shape until I started writing. As narrators, they very much influenced the story. Especially Katya, whose powerful voice…[read on]
Visit Daniela Petrova's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Laura Lippman

Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working full-time and published seven books about “accidental PI” Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001.

Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards.

Lippman's new novel is Lady in the Lake.

From her Salon interview with Erin Keane:

As a novelist, are you always in some way writing about yourself?


In what way?

I'm everybody in my novel. I can't not be, no matter how different they are. No matter how much distance and perspective and sometimes flat out distaste I might have, I have to conceive on some level these are all my progeny, every single character I create. But Maddie [the protagonist of Lady in the Lake], probably more than most characters I've created, is definitely an iteration of me. In some ways, Maddie allowed me to work out my own feelings about the fact that when I use real crimes for inspiration, as I often do, as I did in this book, am I not appropriating somebody's story? Am I not using somebody else? And is that right? Is it wrong? Is there a right way to do it that makes it better?

I think of [Maddie] as a heat-seeking missile, and she just burns her way through this story, her life. And for all of her desire and ambition to become a reporter, it turns out that there's this city around her that's teeming with stories that she doesn't even glimpse, even though they're right there. There are people in the same room with her, there are people who talk to her, and she doesn't even think to be curious about them because she's only thinking about...[read on]
Visit Laura Lippman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Another Thing to Fall.

The Page 69 Test: What the Dead Know.

The Page 69 Test/Page 99 Test: Life Sentences.

The Page 69 Test: I'd Know You Anywhere.

The Page 69 Test: The Most Dangerous Thing.

The Page 69 Test: Hush Hush.

The Page 69 Test: Wilde Lake.

My Book, the Movie: Wilde Lake.

The Page 69 Test: Sunburn.

The Page 69 Test: Lady in the Lake.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Madeline Stevens

Madeline Stevens's new novel is Devotion.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: You spent seven years as a nanny--how did your experiences affect the creation of your character Ella?

A: It’s difficult to work in a wealthy family's home—to live the way they live during the day and then go back to being poor every night. For years, working as a nanny, I imagined how I would have decorated my employers’ houses, the choices I would have made differently raising their children. It’s difficult to not live that sort of double life in your head when you’re surrounded by wealth.

When I started to write Devotion, I decided to let Ella fully feel everything I was trying to repress, and often act on it. I didn’t know what else to do with my envy. I had to shape it into something useful; otherwise it would have eaten me alive.

Q: How was the novel's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?

A: The novel went through a number of working titles before we landed on Devotion. I sold it under Small Night, which was taken from a Pablo Neruda poem: “and let your head of hair be a small night for me,/ a darkness of wet perfume enveloping me.” I loved the image from that poem because it was both sexual and...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Kathleen Belew

Kathleen Belew is the author of Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America.

From her interview with Fareed Zakaria:

ZAKARIA: So in your work, what strikes me as the sort of most important point that we should understand is that these [white supremacist mass murders at El Paso, Oklahoma City and elsewhere] are not isolated attacks by loners who are motivated by a particular animus against a particular group. But there is something broader tying it all together.

BELEW: Absolutely. The movement that I study is called the white power movement. It's a group of Neo-Nazis, skinhead, Klansmen and other perpetrators that came together in the '70s and early 1980s, and beginning in the early '80s began to use a strategy called leaderless resistance. Now that strategy is essentially what we think of today as cell-style terror or the idea that people are working in small groups without communication with other small groups and without direct orders from movement leadership.

And while that strategy was implemented to sort of stymy prosecution, the larger legacy has been to stymy public understanding of this as a social movement, such that we don't connect these acts of violence into one common story.

ZAKARIA: And what is animating them? What is it that they are reacting to? What is it that they fear?

BELEW: So white power activists understand a whole nexus of issues, such as immigration, abortion, racial integration and other issues as being fundamentally about threats to white reproduction. And what I mean by that is in order to sort of continue a majority white nation, these activists believe they have to...[read on]
Visit Kathleen Belew's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 12, 2019

Reese Hogan

Reese Hogan's new novel is Shrouded Loyalties.

From her Q&A with Randee Green:

Question - Please describe what the book is about.

Reese Hogan - Naval officer Mila Blackwood receives dangerous powers when her submarine travels through an alternate realm of existence and is attacked by a monster. She must figure out how to use these powers to save her country from invasion, all the while unaware that her partner is a spy and her brother is an enemy collaborator.

Q - Where did you get the idea?

RH - I always have to have three ideas come together to really take off. This one’s root ideas were a fantasy with a WW2 feel, a soldier who returns home to find out her brother is an enemy collaborator, and people with magic tattoos who are being hunted by an occupying force (which became the marks with powers they receive in the second chapter). Everything else...[read on]
Visit Reese Hogan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Alison Gaylin

Alison Gaylin's latest novel is Never Look Back.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Why did you decide to base your new novel on the Charles Starkweather murders?

A: The Charles Starkweather murders of the 1950s have always fascinated me. Badlands, which was based on the murders, is one of my favorite movies.

But the more I've read about the real-life story, the more fascinated I've been with Caril Ann Fugate, who accompanied him on the spree and was just 14 at the time.

From the accounts I've seen, it seems pretty clear that she was a kidnapping victim. He'd murdered her entire family before taking Caril on the road with him, yet when Starkweather was captured, she was tried and convicted as an accomplice. I've long wanted to...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Alison Gaylin's website.

The Page 69 Test: Into the Dark.

The Page 69 Test: What Remains of Me.

The Page 69 Test: If I Die Tonight.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Tim Alberta

Tim Alberta is chief political correspondent for Politico. His new book is American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump.

From Alberta's Q&A with Isaac Choitiner at The New Yorker:

You also write, about Trump and birtherism, “This was America circa 2011, a nation seduced by celebrity and blissfully unaware of the cancerous effects.” I don’t disagree with various things you’re saying about the country. But there was a specific thing going on within the Republican Party, and I don’t know that it was also going on in the country at large. I think birtherism is a good example.

Yeah. Look, the addiction to celebrity is obviously a cultural phenomenon that bleeds into the political. I can still remember being at CPAC in 2011, and the reception he got from these people there was just astonishing. They had speakers come and talk about policy, and the whole house came down for Donald Trump. I don’t know if that was the first inclination I had that maybe something was happening in the Party at that nexus of politics and culture, but it was certainly one of those moments.

I don’t think that the takeaway of a party embracing someone who sells birtherism is that celebrity sells. Other things, even less palatable than celebrity, sell, too.

Oh, no question. Look, Donald Trump would not be President today without birtherism. I don’t think there’s any disputing that. His birtherism crusade was the inception of that Presidential campaign and, really, the spark of his Presidency. He would not have latched onto birtherism had he not understood the inherent appeal and the resonance that it had with certain elements of the electorate. It’s worth noting...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 9, 2019

Caitlin Horrocks

Caitlin Horrocks's new novel is The Vexations.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Why did you decide to write a novel based on the life of composer Erik Satie?

A: Years ago, as a piano student, I was assigned one of Satie’s most famous compositions, “Gymnopédie no. 3.” I can pretty much guarantee that anyone reading this has heard the piece, whether you think you have or not. I found it incredibly beautiful, and immediately went looking for more of Satie’s music; what I was really looking for was music exactly like the Gymopédies. Instead I discovered a lot of very playful, experimental pieces, and at the time, I was annoyed.

But I ended up with the question of who the person had been who created this surprising, diverse body of work. I didn’t tackle that question for a long time, but once I started researching, the material was fascinating—not just what I learned about Satie, but about his friends and family, who ended up being equally compelling to me in their own, very different, ways. The novel ended up being less of a Great Artist Biopic and more about...[read on]
Visit Caitlin Horrocks's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Laura Lippman

Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working full-time and published seven books about “accidental PI” Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001.

Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards.

Lippman's new novel is Lady in the Lake.

From her Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross:

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. And if you're just joining us, my guest is Laura Lippman, who was a reporter for many years at The Baltimore Sun, still lives in Baltimore most of the year. And now she has a new novel called "Lady In The Lake" that's a mystery crime novel. It's a stand-alone novel, separate from her award-winning Tess Monaghan detective series.

Your novel's set in the mid-'60s, in '65 and '66, at a time when it was hard for women and African Americans to get decent jobs. But it was especially hard, of course, for African American women (laughter), facing both of those, you know, quote, "deficits" to get good jobs. And there's also gay people in it, and it's before the gay rights movement. What made you think about setting it in the mid-'60s, at a time when some people had started demanding their rights and others were soon about to?

LIPPMAN: I started with the year 1966 because, in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, I couldn't figure out how to write about the present, and that's not even a partisan opinion. It just felt that it was a time that was at once extremely frenetic and extremely static. It felt as if everyone in my life, myself included, spent their time on almost this hamster wheel of social media, the news network of their choice, social media, the news network of their choice.

And they would run around and around and around, and they'd be very excited about the breaking story of the day, the hour. This will change everything. Things are - and then nothing would happen. And I thought, this is insane. I don't know how to write about contemporary times. I've since read some novels that I think do it really well, but they don't go straight at it.

And I had long planted in my Tess novels that her parents met against the backdrop of the governor's race of 1966. And the governor's race of 1966 in Maryland seemed similar in many ways to the 2016 presidential race. There was an insider candidate that no one really found that exciting but recognized had sort of checked all the boxes and had won his place on the ballot through showing up and or ascending through the ranks.

And there was this outsider who bested more experienced politicians, got the nomination and then ran on an overtly racist platform. Difference in Maryland in 1966 is the outsider was a Democrat. And the staid, conventional Republican candidate was Spiro Agnew. And Democrats abandoned their party, especially African American Democrats - and who can blame them? - to vote for Agnew. So I started there.

Almost none of this is in the book at this point (laughter); it's just way in the background. And then I began looking at '66 in Baltimore, and it was a fascinating time. It was the year, at the end of the year in which a police commissioner named Donald Pomerleau would arrive and start talking about more truly integrating the police department because, at the beginning of 1966, African American officers can either be patrolmen or they can be in vice, and that's it. They're not even allowed to drive patrol cars and have radios. That's how...[read on]
Visit Laura Lippman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Another Thing to Fall.

The Page 69 Test: What the Dead Know.

The Page 69 Test/Page 99 Test: Life Sentences.

The Page 69 Test: I'd Know You Anywhere.

The Page 69 Test: The Most Dangerous Thing.

The Page 69 Test: Hush Hush.

The Page 69 Test: Wilde Lake.

My Book, the Movie: Wilde Lake.

The Page 69 Test: Sunburn.

The Page 69 Test: Lady in the Lake.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Zara Raheem

Zara Raheem received her MFA from California State University, Long Beach. She is the recipient of the James I. Murashige Jr. Memorial award in fiction and was selected as one of 2019’s Harriet Williams Emerging Writers. She resides in Southern California where she teaches English and creative writing. The Marriage Clock is her first novel.

From Raheem's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Marriage Clock, and for your character Leila?

A: The idea came to me when I was going through the arranged process myself. Whenever I would share with friends details about the crazy, awkward, frustrating dates I was being set up on by my parents, they always seemed really entertained and fascinated by the whole process and encouraged me to start writing my experiences down. Gradually, those writings turned into the premise behind The Marriage Clock.

With Leila, I wanted a main character who not only felt familiar to me, but who also resembled the type of women I saw around me. Leila is outspoken, independent, unapologetic in her Americanness while also possessing a sense of pride in her South Asian roots.

I think oftentimes when you have a South Asian-American protagonist, they tend to fall on extreme ends of the spectrum—they are either too South Asian or too American. Leila, however, embraces her dual identities and...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Min Jin Lee

Min Jin Lee is a recipient of fellowships in Fiction from the Guggenheim Foundation (2018) and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard (2018-2019). Her novel Pachinko (2017) was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, a runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, winner of the Medici Book Club Prize, and one of the New York Times' "Ten Best Books of 2017." A New York Times bestseller, Pachinko was also one of the "Ten Best Books" of the year for BBC and the New York Public Library, and a "best international fiction" pick for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In total, it was on over seventy-five best books of the year lists, including NPR, PBS, and CNN, and it was a selection for Now Read This, the joint book club of PBS NewsHour and the New York Times. Pachinko will be translated into twenty-seven languages. Lee's debut novel Free Food for Millionaires (2007) was one of the best books of the year for the Times of London, NPR's Fresh Air, and USA Today, and it was a national bestseller.

From Lee's 2017 Q&A with Terry Hong for Bloom:

TH: Having left Korea at such a young age—your family immigrated when you were 7, yes?—in your daily life, how connected do you feel to Korea? Do you use your writing to ‘go back’?

MJL: I feel profoundly connected to Korea. My father was born in Wonsan, now in North Korea, and my mother was born in Busan, now in South Korea, and I add the word “now” because when they were young, there was only one Korea. I was born in Seoul, and I recall it very vividly. I admire Koreans and what Koreans have withstood as a people, and it is a culture of 5,000 years plus. I studied American history in college, and I love being an American, and I am proud to be an American, especially now, because I see the resistance in this country and the ability for dialogue, and it strengthens me. I think my connectedness to Korea is not just historical … it is necessary to feel a greater sense of strength when I feel lost in this country.

TH: Beyond the Korean/Japanese history, you also have multiple levels of immigration woven into Pachinko—from north to south, Korea to Japan, Japan to the US. Given the alarming changes happening since the presidential transition, your book is even more timely. What do you hope will linger with your readers once they finish?

MJL: I want my readers to see people like the people in my book as fully human, connected with history, persecution, and culture. I also want my readers to see that we were always here. What I found so moving was to know that it didn’t matter what the record said, because the record we have of history is incomplete. I think the record has to grow, and more voices have to witness. I do this in fiction, and it is a weird and odd thing, but I want the stories of very ordinary, unimportant people to reflect...[read on]
Visit Min Jin Lee's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 5, 2019

Fiona Davis

Fiona Davis began her career in New York City as an actress, where she worked on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After getting a master's degree at Columbia Journalism School, she fell in love with writing, leapfrogging from editor to freelance journalist before finally settling down as an author of historical fiction. She's a graduate of the College of William & Mary and is based in New York City.

Davis's new novel is The Chelsea Girls.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Why did you decide to focus this novel around the Chelsea Hotel in New York?

A: I watched a documentary about the hotel and fell in love with its rich history. Since its opening in the 1880s, the building has been a home for artists, musicians, designers, poets, playwrights. Folks like Arthur Miller, Bob Dylan, Dylan Thomas, and Janis Joplin have passed through its doors. There was just so much to play with, I couldn’t resist.

Q: The novel is set during the 1940s-1960s, and much of the activity centers around the search for Communist sympathizers in the early Cold War era. What intrigued you about that period, and how did you conduct your research?

A: I first learned about the blacklisting of New York actors (as opposed those in Hollywood, which is more widely known), during an interview with an actress in her 90s who spoke with vivid detail about the time, about how hard it was to get work if you were considered a communist back then. The more...[read on]
Visit Fiona Davis's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Address.

My Book, The Movie: The Masterpiece.

My Book, The Movie: The Chelsea Girls.

The Page 69 Test: The Chelsea Girls.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Nafissa Thompson-Spires's debut short-story collection is Heads of the Colored People.

From her Guardian interview with Anita Sethi:

The title of your collection comes from the 19th-century abolitionist James McCune Smith and his sketches Heads of the Colored People. What led you to engage with his work?

My husband is a professor of literature and he writes a lot about McCune Smith and other 19th-century writers who were publishing sketches in [abolitionist] Frederick Douglass’s newspapers – he would come downstairs excited and talk about this research. Much of it is dealing with the same issues we’re dealing with today – and now we have a president who is very vocal about his racism. I wanted to think about what it means to be a black person today but also respond to what James McCune Smith was theorising almost 200 years ago.

What else motivates your writing?

I want to read more about people who have had experiences similar to my own. I’d grown up feeling like I was the only black person like myself, though of course that wasn’t the case. I wanted to see more stories about awkward, nerdy black people, and black people who were the only ones in a particular space, and what it meant to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Sara Paretsky

Sara Paretsky's latest novel is Shell Game, the 19th V.I. Warshawski book.

From her CrimeReads interview with Lori Rader-Day:

Lori Rader-Day: The reviews of your latest book, Shell Game, are all referencing your ability to work current affairs into each of your books. In Shell Game we have the stolen antiquities, the Russian mob, ISIS, and rogue ICE agents. How does dealing in current world issues help keep your series fresh? Or is that the goal?

Sara Paretsky: I think that it actually comes out of a slightly different approach, if that’s the right word. I write what’s on my mind. There’s a wonderful Chicago writer, Carol Anshaw, whose books are very under-recognized, but she took up painting in middle age and she calls herself an autodidact, which always sounds to me like an extinct bird. But I am an autodidact as a writer. I sometimes think I would be a better writer if I actually had some training, more discipline, more focus. But I write what’s on my mind. And maybe it keeps the series fresh.

It’s sounds like it’s keeping you fresh.

Yeah. If I don’t care about it, I can’t write about it. …When I started 100 years ago, I was working full time for...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 2, 2019

Joshilyn Jackson

Joshilyn Jackson's new novel is Never Have I Ever.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Your new novel marks something of a departure from your past work. How did you come up with the idea for Never Have I Ever and for your characters Amy and Roux?

A: I didn’t realize I was departing. Not at first. I didn’t wake up one morning and proclaim, And now I shall write a thrillahhhh. I was just writing the book I wanted to write. It began in my head the way all my books do, with the characters. I was so interested in a clash between Amy and Roux, two strong-willed women who are more alike than either wants to admit.

Three chapters in, I knew Never Have I Ever felt different. Twistier. A little darker. More invested in narrative drive. I felt I had to show it to my editor and my agent–a thing I never do before a book is done.

Luckily they were excited about it and encouraged me to lean in. From that moment on, I got deliberate about it. I started thinking of it as a suspense book and structuring it as such.

It wasn’t a hard transition. First, because most of my up-market, book club fic titles are built over the engines of mysteries or suspense stories. I have always had plot twists, and dark secrets, and crime. This book...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Joshilyn Jackson's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming.

My Book, The Movie: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming.

The Page 69 Test: Backseat Saints.

The Page 69 Test: A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty.

The Page 69 Test: The Opposite of Everyone.

My Book, The Movie: The Opposite of Everyone.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Adrian McKinty

Adrian McKinty's latest novel is The Chain.

From his Q&A with Mark Rubinstein at CrimeReads:

Mark Rubinstein: Stephen King called The Chain “Nightmarish and propulsive,” while Don Winslow said “This book is Jaws for parents.” Describe to us the opening premise of The Chain.

Adrian McKinty: The Chain is the story of Rachel O’Neill, who gets a call from a stranger telling her that her 11-year-old daughter has been kidnapped. She also receives a photograph of her daughter. Rachel asks, “Why are you doing this?” The caller says, “Because my child has been kidnapped by a stranger. I must pay the ransom and replace my child on the chain with another child whom I’ve kidnapped. And you must do the same thing. You must pay the ransom and replace your child on the chain with someone else. If you break any of the rules or go to the police, I will kill your child and pick someone else.”

In this universe, Rachel is first a victim; becomes a co-conspirator; and then must become a kidnapper. So her entire moral universe collapses in a matter of days.

Mark Rubinstein: How did the idea of a chain kidnapping come to you?

Adrian McKinty: It brewed in my brain for years. When I was in Mexico City, I ...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue