Saturday, March 24, 2018

Jamey Bradbury

Jamey Bradbury's new novel is The Wild Inside.

From her Q&A at The Qwillery:

TQ: Describe The Wild Inside in 140 characters or less.

Jamey: Stubborn, feral Alaskan girl hunts animals, maybe stabs a guy, and hates being grounded. Finds people irritating, but likes dogs.

TQ: Tell us something about The Wild Inside that is not found in the book description.

Jamey: Since Tracy and her dad are mushers, they have about forty dogs they raise, train, and take care of. A lot of the dogs are named after dogs I know personally. For instance, Zip and Stella, in real life, are a Jack Russell terrier and a labradoodle I used to dog sit for. Homer and Canyon are actually two yellow labs that belong to some friends who took me sailing one time. The other dogs in the book have theme names, just like a lot of litters that belong to actual mushers—like the “words that convey movement” litter (Fly, Chug, Pogo).

TQ: What inspired you to write The Wild Inside? What appeals to you about writing a psychological thriller?

Jamey: The Wild Inside started as an attempt to write a horror novel because that’s what I love to read—especially horror that’s mashed up with what critics might deem “literary” fiction. I like books that seem steeped in...[read on]
Visit Jamey Bradbury's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 23, 2018

Alma Katsu

Alma Katsu's latest novel is The Hunger.

From her Entertainment Weekly Q&A with fellow novelist Jennifer McMahon:

JENNIFER MCMAHON: I’m so excited to be doing this with you, Alma! The Hunger scared the hell out me. It actually made me sleep with the hall light on. It was so well done — dark and creepy and terrifying in the best possible way.

ALMA KATSU: Well, thank you! I’m always ridiculously pleased when someone tells me I was able to terrify them with my writing. It’s like having a superpower.

MCMAHON: Isn’t it wonderful to know you’ve scared someone? I always get such a thrill when I hear that I made someone afraid to open their closet or go for a walk in the woods! There’s something incredible about being able to take my own fears, put them down on paper and share them with readers.
What inspired you to take on the Donner party in such a unique way? Was there one particular spark that started it for you?

KATSU: I think that while a lot of people have heard of the Donner Party, they don’t know the details. We’re told about it in elementary school and if we remember anything it’s that something terrible happened a long time ago and it involved cannibalism. But once you start digging into it, you see the real dimensions of the horror: after months of struggle in the wilderness, close to 100 people find themselves trapped in the mountains with no food and no chance of escape. These are all families, so it’s mothers and fathers forced to watch their children die of starvation. It’s completely horrific. You can absolutely understand why someone would contemplate cannibalism.

The more I learned, the more it seemed that the party was...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Alma Katsu's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Taker.

My Book, The Movie: The Hunger.

The Page 69 Test: The Hunger.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Alan Hollinghurst

Alan Hollinghurst's latest novel is The Sparsholt Affair. From the transcript of his NPR interview with Ari Shapiro:

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: Alan Hollinghurst is an English novelist who likes to explore private, secret lives. His characters are often gay men, sometimes living in an earlier era when they wouldn't use the word gay to describe themselves. Hollinghurst won the Man Booker Prize in 2004 for his novel "The Line Of Beauty." His new book is called "The Sparsholt Affair." It begins in Oxford in 1940 when a bunch of college friends spot a young man through a window. He is David Sparsholt.

ALAN HOLLINGHURST: When we first meet him he is notably handsome, muscular, with a very clear sense, unlike some of the students around him, of where he's headed.

SHAPIRO: He's headed off to fight in World War II. Over the five sections of this novel, the narrative jumps forward decades in time, eventually bringing us to London in 2012. Along the way, we watch British society change. We watch characters age and raise families. But there's a lot we don't see. Many of the most dramatic moments of the story happen between the sections off-screen.

HOLLINGHURST: Especially when you're selecting five episodes from a span of 70 years you have to be pretty careful in deciding early on what you're going to omit and what you're going to include. I mean, almost everything is left out of this kind of narrative. So the selection of what goes in has to be...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Rebecca Kauffman

Rebecca Kauffman's new novel is The Gunners.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

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

A: Early thoughts about the book were inspired by the question of whether or not people are capable of change. Most of us have probably had the experience of being very close to someone at one point in life, setting out in different directions and falling out of touch, and then eventually reconnecting.

I think the instinct at that point is to make a snap judgment as to the extent to which the other person has changed. (ie I can't believe how much you've changed! Or, Why, you haven't changed at all!)

I wonder how often what we identify as change - in others or ourselves - is not actually change at all, but simply an adaptation to changing circumstances, or the result of incremental adjustments made over time to suit the people around us. Or how often what we identify as change is not actually a person fleeing from their essence or true self, but drawing closer to it.

This curiosity was the basis for The Gunners, in which the main characters were very close friends as children, disbanded as high schoolers, and are...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Rania Abouzeid

Rania Abouzeid's new book is No Turning Back: Life, Loss, And Hope In Wartime Syria. From the transcript of her Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross:

TERRY GROSS: Rania Abouzeid, welcome to FRESH AIR. So this week marks the seventh anniversary of the uprising in Syria of the start of the Syrian revolution, which turned into a civil war. Why has the civil war gone on so long?

RANIA ABOUZEID: Because like most civil wars, it became a proxy war for international powers with the Russians and the Iranians, Lebanese Hezbollah, Iraqi Shiite militias and Afghan mercenaries on Assad's side and Qatar, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states, Turkey, the U.S. and the European states backing the Syrian opposition.

GROSS: So in addition to this being a proxy war, what is it about? Is it just about a fight for power? Is it still about overthrowing Assad?

ABOUZEID: The thing about the Syrian uprising is that it was existential from the beginning. The protesters knew that when they took to the streets. And the Assad regime knew that. This was a fight to the end for both sides. And it is one that is sadly continuing, as you say, seven years on.

GROSS: So you say in your book that Syria has ceased to be a unified state, except in memories and on maps. So what is it?

ABOUZEID: It's a ...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 19, 2018

Sarah McBride

Sarah McBride is a progressive activist and currently the National Press Secretary at the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization. Her new book is Tomorrow Will Be Different.

From her Q&A with Ashley Dejean for Mother Jones:

MJ: The selfie you took in a North Carolina bathroom when you were fighting against HB2, the state’s anti-trans law, went viral. You were dismayed that a lot of supporters were making comments about how it’s obvious you belong in the women’s bathroom because of the way you look. Why is that a problem?

SM: Transgender people should be treated with dignity and respect not because of how we look [but] who we are. Our access to a restroom, our access to public spaces, our access to daily life should not rest on whether we blend in.

MJ: What does your book illustrate about the state of trans storytelling?

SM: We are seeing a trend toward more multidimensional storytelling, where we’re not just talking about the coming out or the transition. We’re seeing stories of trans people in our full humanity...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Kevin Toolis

Kevin Toolis is the author of My Father's Wake: How the Irish Teach Us to Live, Love, and Die. From His Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: In your new book, you ask, “How can it be possible to never talk out loud about death in a world where everyone dies?” Why do you think that is?

A: The local radio station [in a community in Ireland] reads out the deaths, 10 or 12 people a day. If we did the same in New York, the announcer would have to read something out hundreds of times a day.

It’s a small example, but in Ireland, there is a much greater social space around death. It’s more normalized. There are more ceremonies around death. All of these are really social spaces and physical spaces. The intermingling between the living and the dead is greater than in America.

I was recently at an English funeral. There were 16 people there. It started at 10 to five [o’clock], and we were out at 20 past five, and there was no other event. No one came around to their house.

Q: The book’s subtitle is “How the Irish Teach Us to Live, Love, and Die.” Can you say more about what the Irish do differently, and what other people could learn?

A: It’s really simple. The wake is as old as the fall of Troy, if not older. At the gravesite where my father’s tomb is, there are Neolithic tombs. People were using stone tools and carrying slabs. We know often the tombs were used for 600 years. They had a mixture of bodies. The relationship between the dead and the living were important in those cultures.

In Western culture we’re embarrassed about death. How many people would go to the funeral of a colleague’s mother? We’re going in the office and walking over to the colleague and saying sorry about your loss. The courtesies of loss were more prevalent in the Victorian era in the UK and America. We’ve...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Michael Isikoff and David Corn

Michael Isikoff and David Corn are co-authors of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump. From their Q&A with Slate's Isaac Chotiner:

You write, “What could possibly explain Trump’s unwavering sympathy for the Russian strongman. His refusal to acknowledge Putin’s repressive tactics, his whitewashing of Putin’s abuses in Ukraine and Syria. His dismissal of the murders of Putin’s critics. His blind eye to Putin’s cyber-attacks and disinformation campaigns aimed at subverting Western democracy. Trump’s brief trip to Moscow held clues to this mystery.” Because of the Steele dossier and other things, there has been speculation that he’d sort of been compromised on that 2013 Miss Universe trip, which would explain his love for Putin. But one of the things that your book points out is that Trump was already a huge Putin admirer before he arrived in Moscow, perhaps because he wanted to do business deals there.

Isikoff: First of all, you’ve got to go back five months to Las Vegas where the plans for Miss Universe in Moscow are hatched. That’s the Miss USA pageant, the feeder for Miss Universe. That’s when he meets Aras Agalarov, the billionaire oligarch who’s known as “Putin’s Builder” because of all the construction projects he’s done for the Kremlin. That’s where you first meet Emin Agalarov, the pop-singer son of Aras, and Rob Goldstone, the British publicist. I have called Emin and Goldstone the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of this story because they are always there. They always keep popping up. It was at that moment when you see Trump’s eyes light up at the prospect of forming a business partnership with an oligarch who is close to Putin. This is how I can get my business deal, the Trump tower in Moscow that I’ve always wanted, actually built. I think that’s when you really start to see the fawning comments and tweets and public statements about Putin that Trump starts to make. It fits right in to the point we were trying to make in that passage about the Miss Universe pageant being the stepping stone for Trump to get...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 16, 2018

Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown's new novel is Gods of Howl Mountain.

From his LitReactor Q&A with Steph Post:

From the very first page of Gods of Howl Mountain I knew I would find a kinship in this book. One of your epigraphs is the ‘signs following’ passage from the Book of Mark, and that alone told me I was entering into a story I would find darkly comforting and familiar. As you know, I’ve written quite a bit about charismatic religion in my own books, as have other Southern writers, including Wiley Cash, of whom we both are fans. What do you think is this fascination writers have for religions on the fringe? And why was this an element you chose to explore in your novel?

Well, honestly, I first started on this book back in 2012, when I hadn’t read any novels that brought snake-handling to the fore. To be honest, I remember being a little crestfallen when I realized that Wiley Cash—who is now a great friend of mine—had written about serpent-handling and glossolalia in his incredible novel A Land More Kind than Home, which I waited for years to read, until I’d finished a couple drafts of Gods of Howl Mountain.

I grew up as a Catholic minority in South Georgia, where charismatic religion was quite prevalent. I knew of people holding multi-day prayer vigils over dead relatives, hoping to revive them before calling the authorities or coroner, and I had coworkers who spoke quite casually about their visions and visitations from Christ. Growing up Catholic, I was just enough of an outsider to find these stories fascinating.

But for me, the true fascination began with my great friend and editor Jason Frye, who grew up in Logan, West Virginia. His own grandfather had made a profit from capturing rattlesnakes to sell to local churches. Jason has a photograph of this one-armed snake-handling preacher on his office wall, and he directed me to Dennis Covington's incredible book Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia.

I think we find such religious practices so fascinating because...[read on]
Visit Taylor Brown's website.

My Book, The Movie: The River of Kings.

The Page 69 Test: The River of Kings.

Writers Read: Taylor Brown (April 2017).

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor is the author of Inglorious Empire: What the British did to India. From his Q&A with Sonali Campion for the British Politics and Policy blog at the LSE:

Are there any positive legacies in British rule?

Unwittingly yes, in other words things that were brought into India to further British interests, ensure British control or add to British profit have since independence been converted by the Indians to things that benefit India. But to give the British credit for something that was never intended to benefit India in the first place is a bit much. So, you see for example that the railways are so indispensable, the lifeblood in many ways of India today, but you forget that they were only intended to extract resources from the heartland to the ports in order to ship them off to England, and send troops out to keep the peace or British order. That’s what they were for.

The railways were also built at colossal expense to India, paid for entirely by the Indians while the British investors made huge profits. It was the single most profitable investment you can make in the London Stock Exchange from about 1850 to 1875 because they guaranteed returns of twice what the British government stocks was offering at that time. They did that because the Indian taxpayer was paying for it. What is more, one mile of Indian railway in India cost 9 times what the same mile would have cost in the US at that time. It was a rip off from start to finish.

When they finally added passenger carriages for Indians, wooden slats for benches deeply unpleasant conditions, they charged the Indian passengers the highest passenger rates in the world. At the same time they were charging British companies the lowest freight rates in the world. It was only after 1947 that the Free Indian Government reversed that set of priorities, made human traffic cheaper. Today it is one of the cheapest in the world railway travel, if not the cheapest, whereas freight got progressively more and more expensive. Of course now, Indian companies are bearing the brunt of these price rises so it may not be a good thing from their point of view. But the key thing is that turning the railways around to benefit the Indians was only something that happened after the independence.

One can go on...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue