Saturday, September 23, 2017

Sarah Shoemaker

Sarah Shoemaker is the author of the new novel Mr. Rochester, which recounts the story of Jane Eyre from Rochester's point of view.

From Shoemaker's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: What did you see as the right balance between Charlotte Bronte's original story and your own inventions?

A: My intent was to write Rochester’s full story, from his earliest memories to the approximate time that Jane Eyre ends. Since Rochester is nearly 20 years older than Jane, that means that the story of his life before Jane takes more space in the book than his life with Jane does.

I used everything I could find about him that Bronte tells us in Jane Eyre (which is more than a casual reader might think) and then filled in with my own inventions.

My intention, of course, was to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 22, 2017

William Drozdiak

William Drozdiak's new book is Fractured Continent: Europe’s Crisis and the Fate of the West. From his Q&A with Slate's Isaac Chotiner:

Isaac Chotiner: People tend to view [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel as the only thing standing between western democracy and the abyss, but how much do you think the different crises facing Europe are actually the result of her actions, and German actions more broadly?

William Drozdiak: The fact is that she was left alone, basically, to solve all these problems with the absence of leadership from other European countries and even from the Obama administration. She’s dealing with the debt crisis. She singlehandedly had to negotiate the Greek situation with her finance ministers, and then Obama outsourced to her dealing with Putin on Ukraine. She had no support from the feckless leadership in France. She was just overwhelmed and literally exhausted when I saw her.

But the Germans did make big mistakes. I think they pressed too hard on austerity and so now the income gap between North and South in Europe is worse than ever. They did not have a coherent policy on Ukraine because a lot of Europeans, even though they went along with sanctions, were grumbling about all the lost trade and, indeed, even within Germany that was the case. On Brexit, they could have had a deal in which they could have talked David Cameron back from doing his referendum, but not enough was done to let him off the hook. A lot of these problems, I think, resulted from basically Merkel just being overwhelmed.

On refugees, she showed great moral and humanitarian courage...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Claire Douglas

Claire Douglas's new novel is Local Girl Missing.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Local Girl Missing, and for your characters Frankie and Sophie?

A: When I was about 21 (in the mid-1990s) a girl from my street went missing after walking home from our local nightclub. It was a huge thing in our town - the police even came and interviewed me and the friends I was with that night as we would have arrived home around the time she went missing.

A few months later, in a different town not too far away, another young girl was murdered after leaving a club. Both these incidences really affected me and my friend and we promised each other that we would always make sure to leave a club together.

But it got me thinking about how I would have felt if it had been my friend who had gone missing. How would it have affected me all these years later? Would the guilt eat me up? Would I be desperate to know what had happened to her? The idea stemmed from there and ...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton is the first woman in US history to become the presidential nominee of a major political party. She served as the 67th Secretary of State—from January 21, 2009, until February 1, 2013—after nearly four decades in public service advocating on behalf of children and families as an attorney, First Lady, and Senator. Her new book is What Happened.

From the transcript of Clinton's conversation with Fresh Air's Terry Gross:

I think what some people are trying to figure out about your book and your tour, your book tour, is how much of it is about trying to defend our democracy — which you think is under attack, both by Russia but also by part of the right wing in America — and how much of it is just self-justification, like you lost, you're angry, you're specifically angry at some people, and Russia, and, like, where is the line? And I think a lot of people [are] more comfortable with the part where it feels like you're defending American democracy and less comfortable where you feel like you're just in it to justify yourself and to say, "I should've won, I did really win, and I'm really angry that I didn't."

But I think they go hand in hand. Because I don't think you could know the story without me also saying, "Look, I made mistakes", and I talk about...

You do.

All of the mistakes that I made, my campaign made, and I'm happy to acknowledge those, because that was part of the retrospective that I had to go through to write this book. I don't think you can understand what I am most worried about in defending democracy unless you follow along with what happened.

So yes, I do think sexism and misogyny played a role, and it's not just about me — I make that clear. I think voter suppression played a much bigger role than people are acknowledging. That is not going away. I think Comey cost me the election, but it was aided and abetted by Russia, WikiLeaks and all the other things we've now found out about Russia.

So take me out of the equation. I'm not running again. I'm not going to be on the ballot. So take me out of the equation and say, "OK, the mistake she made, maybe we can learn from that, etc., etc. But what do we have to worry about?" I think I do a very clear job of saying here are the things we need to worry about going forward. And I also try to say, "Hey this is something that we all have a stake in." I am fundamentally optimistic about our country, but...[read on]
Follow Hillary Clinton on Facebook and Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Denise Chanterelle DuBois

Denise Chanterelle DuBois is the author of the new memoir Self-Made Woman, which tells the story of her gender transition. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Why did you decide to write this book?

A: I never really did intend to ever write this book. In fact, I never intended to ever write a book. Why should I? By 2010 I had reached a point in my life where at age 56, I was just relaxing.

I was enjoying finally becoming Denise, after decades in the closet, experiencing and enjoying classical music for the first time in my life, running/swimming, snorkeling on the beaches and coves on the north shore of Kauai, eating healthy, sleeping well, enjoying a close knit circle of friends, and just reflecting on my life as I watched the yellow sun set into the blue Pacific on the north shore almost every evening.

But something was off and it slowly began to gnaw on me. How could I possibly just end things here? How could I just melt back into society as Denise, take the easy road, not tell my story, and turn my back on others who I knew were out there suffering right now as I once did?

I was in a unique position to write my life story and this was the right time for me. Even if my story ended up saving just one person from checking out for good wouldn’t it still be worth it? Without question worth it!

And then I thought of...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 18, 2017

Katy Tur

Katy Tur is a correspondent for NBC News and an anchor for MSNBC. Her new book is Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History.

From the transcript of her Q&A with Fresh Air's Terry Gross:

GROSS: ... When you - when he was saying insulting things to you at rallies, what got the biggest, angriest response - angry at you, not at him?

TUR: Definitely December 7, 2015. This was a rally in Mount Pleasant, S.C. It was the day that he announced that he wanted to ban all Muslims from coming into America, even Muslims - at that point during the day, Muslims who might've been serving overseas in our military, Muslims who might've been overseas visiting friends or family, Muslim athletes who might've been, you know, at a match or a meet overseas, anybody, where there were questions about all sorts of well-known people that might not be able to get back into the country.

And this was a real turning point in his campaign. It was a real test of whether or not his support would stick with him. We hadn't had any primaries yet. Nobody had voted. But he was getting these massive crowds. And he was being excused for anything that he said. And this was a test - will his supporters condone him going after an entire religion?

At the time, San Bernardino had just happened a week or two before. People were scared about terrorism. This couple had gone into an office party, and shot it up and killed a number of people. And Donald Trump was saying that the administration in power - the Obama administration - was doing nothing to protect Americans, that they weren't vetting people properly, that they were putting your life at risk. Your family and your sons, your daughters, your wives, your husband, your grandparents are at risk every day because the Obama administration is not protecting you, and the media is complicit in this. So they're not only angry at Washington, they're angry at us, the journalists.

And this was one of those rallies where I felt like it was good to keep a lower profile. So I sat down on the stage - not the stage, the press riser. I wasn't standing up in front of my camera. I wasn't easily seen. I was just sitting, taking notes as he was talking. And we're waiting for him to announce the Muslim ban. He doesn't get to it yet in the rally. And suddenly, just like the first rally, I hear my name - Katy Tur. She's back there. Little Katy, what a lie it was. What a lie she told. And he's pointing at me in the crowd. The entire place turns, and they roar...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ashley Shelby

Ashley Shelby is prize-winning writer whose fiction and essays have appeared in Slate, The Seattle Review, The Portland Review, Los Angeles Review, J Journal: New Writings on Social Justice, The Drouth (U.K.), Sonora Review, Post Road, Southeast Review, Third Coast, and other literary outlets. She's received the Red Hen Press Short Fiction Award, the Enizagam Short Story Award, the Third Coast Fiction Prize, and was recently named a Pushcart Prize nominee. Her newly released debut novel, South Pole Station, has received praise from Publishers Weekly, NPR, USA Today, Time, Library Journal, LitHub, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and Bookpage. It has also been named an Indie Next Pick for July.

From Shelby's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for South Pole Station, and for your main character, Cooper?

A: My sister, Lacy Shelby, spent a full year at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station during the 2002-2003 research season as a production cook. She’s one of a select group of women who has ever spent the entire winter season at the South Pole—she even received a Presidential medal and commendation for this achievement.

Anyway, she would send me letters from Antarctica at a time when I was working as a young editor in New York, and though she was never long on details (discretion is key to life at South Pole), the culture she described captured my imagination.

Climate scientists working alongside carpenters, meteorologists, astrophysicists, and research techs matching wits with janitorial staff, administrators, and dining assistants—what can’t happen in an environment like that?

As for Cooper, she started out sharing some qualities with me—an artist with early promise who felt she hadn’t lived up to those expectations. But, as characters are wont to do, she took on a life and a personality of her own, and transcended the flimsy scaffolding I’d constructed for her.

I am always interested in the artistic imperative, how we obey or ...[read on]
Visit Ashley Shelby's website.

Writers Read: Ashley Shelby.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Franklin Foer

Franklin Foer's latest book is World Without Mind: The Existential Threat Of Big Tech. From the transcript of his Q&A with NPR's Ari Shapiro:

SHAPIRO: (Laughter) In this book, you don't just argue that we should be clear-eyed about the costs of these free services [like Facebook and Google]. You argue that this is actually an existential threat. Explain what that threat is.

FOER: So if you're of a certain age, you have a good appreciation for the ways in which we've all become a little bit cyborg. I grew up using maps and having a sense of direction, and now I have a phone. I used to try to remember numbers, and now I have - I can just call them up instantly. And that's great. But what's happening right now is that we're in a phase of human evolution where we're merging with machines. And...

SHAPIRO: But why is that a bad thing? Like, so what?

FOER: So these companies - it's not necessarily a bad thing. But we're not just merging with machines. We've been merging with tools since the beginning of human evolution. And arguably, that's one of the things that makes us human beings. But what we're merging with are machines that are run by companies that act as filters for the way in which we interact and process the world. And so the values of those companies become our values.

We become dependent on these companies in a way in which...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 15, 2017

Kim Zarins

Kim Zarins is the author of the YA novel Sometimes We Tell the Truth.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea of a modern-day version of The Canterbury Tales, with high school students as the characters?

A: I'm a medievalist and have been teaching Chaucer for years, so when my agent and editors were discussing the possibility of me doing a retelling of Chaucer for teens, I was very keen on the idea. I took it and ran with it. It was such a delight to write.

Q: What did you see as the right balance between the original Chaucer and your own modern update?

A: I was willing to let go of Chaucer's Middle English and historical realities like the Black Death and so on, because I think sometimes if we see period dress, we forget how much we have in common with people from so long ago (think of seeing Shakespeare plays in modern dress—it can be very powerful!).

Modernizing the Tales meant the language and cultural contexts would become more relatable and accessible. (Some readers don't even know it's a retelling until I spill the beans in an Afterword at the end!).

I may not be faithful to Chaucer's Middle English or late-14th century life, but I sincerely hope I am faithful to the themes, issues, and layers within Chaucer's complex text. I wanted the novel to be enjoyable for someone new to Chaucer as well as readers looking for my modern play...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Ronlyn Domingue

Ronlyn Domingue is the internationally published author of The Mercy of Thin Air and the Keeper of Tales Trilogy—The Mapmaker’s War, The Chronicle of Secret Riven, and The Plague Diaries. Her essays and short stories have appeared in New England Review, Clackamas Literary Review, and Shambhala Sun as well as on mindful.org, The Nervous Breakdown, and Salon.com.

From Domingue's conversation at Border Crossing:

Border Crossing: The Plague Diaries begins with a prophecy. The narrator, Secret Riven, has been given a choice to bring darkness or light:
I thought I had a choice to accept neither. I wanted no part of a prophecy, though my blood and bones knew it to be true. Foolish, because I’d read enough myth, lore, and fairy tales to know when one receives a call–hold a candle to a sleeping monster lover, search the world for a lost daughter, take a basket to Grandmother’s house, spin straw into gold–one must heed it.
Secret Riven is a particular archetype of heroine: a reluctant one, easily distracted. Could you talk about Secret’s struggle to accept her fate, and your reasons for writing such a reluctant heroine in our current age?


Ronlyn Domingue: From the moment she comes into the world, Secret is not ordinary. Birds have a council in the room soon after she’s born. Her mother is from a kingdom far away; Secret resembles the people of that region—black hair and tawny skin—and she also has eyes the colors of night and day. She doesn’t speak until she’s seven years old, and before that, she realizes she has the ability to communicate with creatures and plants. She copes by trying to hide her abilities and, literally, herself.

As she gets older, she suspects there’s something ahead for her. She gets attention she doesn’t want for...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Ronlyn Domingue's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: The Mapmaker's War.

My Book, The Movie: The Mapmaker's War.

The Page 69 Test: The Chronicle of Secret Riven.

My Book, The Movie: The Plague Diaries.

The Page 69 Test: The Plague Diaries.

--Marshal Zeringue