Sunday, February 28, 2010

Roger E. A. Farmer

From a Q & A with Roger E. A. Farmer, author of How the Economy Works: Confidence, Crashes and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies:

Q: Why does the stock market matter to every American?

Farmer: In the 1930s, stock market wealth was much more concentrated than it is today. Middle and low income Americans held their savings in banks and it is for that reason that the collapse of the banking system in the 1930s was so devastating. In the 21st century, most middle class Americans own pension plans that invest in the stock market.

US wealth is roughly two-fifths houses and three-fifths factories and machines that are indirectly owned by households through their ownership of financial intermediaries such as bank accounts and pension rights. When the stock market plummets but recovers quickly, as it did in 1987, the effect on private households is minimal. When the stock market falls, as it did in 2000, but house prices keep rising, the effect is again small since households can borrow against housing wealth to maintain consumption. When houses and stocks fall together as they did in 1929 and again in 2008, the effect can be devastating.

Q: From an early age, the American student learns the basics of math and science, but the fundamentals of economics are often not part of his or her core curriculum until college. Do you think economics should be a core component of a student’s primary education?

Farmer: Economic literacy is...[read on]
Visit Roger Farmer's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Howard Frank Mosher

From a Q & A with Howard Frank Mosher, author of the new novel, Walking to Gatlinburg:

Q: Walking to Gatlinburg has been described as a “Civil War thriller.” This is your tenth novel. Is it your first thriller?

A: Yes. My 1989 novel A Stranger in the Kingdom has some of the elements of a mystery, but Walking to Gatlinburg is the story of a young man whose life is in constant danger from the moment he decides to track down his older brother, who has gone missing in the Civil War. Morgan Kinneson, just 17 years old, walks from northern Vermont to the Great Smokies in search of his brother Pilgrim. At the same time, he is being pursued by a gang of psychopathic terrorists. To find Pilgrim, he has to eliminate them, one by one, while solving the mystery of a secret, runic stone in his possession. Most of my earlier books are high-action novels, but Walking to Gatlinburg is my first “non-stop thriller.” It was a great deal of fun to write.

Q: Is Morgan’s trek south to find his brother based on a true event?

A: It is, but ideas for novels come from strange and mysterious places, often deep in the writer’s imagination. Several years ago, a bookseller friend told me the story of her Confederate ancestor, a young soldier from North Carolina with the wonderful name of Jasper Memory. Jasper was captured and sent to the infamous Union prison at Elmira, N. Y. – known as the “Andersonville of the North.” While he was there, a fellow prisoner, a dentist in civilian life, made him, from a gold uniform button, a wedding ring for his fiancé. At the end of the war, Jasper walked home, all the way from Elmira to the mountains of North Carolina, to present the ring to his beloved. I couldn’t stop thinking about his journey. Eventually, in the very mysterious way that ideas for my novels have always come to me, I asked myself the “what if” question. What if...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 26, 2010

Melissa Febos

From a Q&A with Melissa Febos, author of the memoir Whip Smart:

Q: Tell us about your memoir.

A: On the surface, Whip Smart is a book about my four-year experience as a professional dominatrix in New York City, during which I managed to graduate college with honors and overcome a drug problem. Sensational as that all sounds, I tried hard not to glamorize, or otherwise dress-up the experience. I wanted to be faithful to the reality of that world, as well as to my own emotional and intellectual experience. While my goal was to create a literary portrait of a subculture, and of addiction, mostly I wanted to tell a story of personal transformation, of how a life lived in extremes led me to myself, and to a life of surprising normalcy and joy. I knew from the beginning that I wanted it to be a kind of love story.

Q: Why write a book about it?

I’d planned on being a writer since the age of seven, but I never planned on writing about being a dominatrix. I figured it would work its way into my fiction eventually, but that’s it. I was midway through a novel in graduate school when I figured out that this was the best story I had to tell, and the one most itching to be told. I resisted it at first, but most writers know how impossible that can be.

Before that, I never saw myself writing memoir, and considered young memoirists essentially narcissistic and unimaginative. Needless to say, I feel differently now. I have great admiration for many memoirists. Creating a literary work out of one’s own experience requires tremendous imagination, and humility.

Q: What are readers going to find most shocking about your experience?

No doubt...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Judith Warner

Judith Warner writes the “Domestic Disturbances” column for the New York Times and is the host of “The Judith Warner Show” on XM Satellite Radio. Her new book is We've Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication.

From her Q & A with Bill Tipper at the Barnes & Noble Review:

The Barnes & Noble Review: We've Got Issues reads at times like a kind of mystery story -- you’re the investigator, trying to track down where these ideas about medicated kids come from. But there prove to be many layers: the popular myth of the doped-up child, the real issues that parents of mentally ill children are facing, the questions of psychiatric ethics and pharmaceutical money. At points you convey the sense of a difficult problem that has no center --was that your experience as you researched and wrote this book?

Judith Warner: This was a very difficult book to write. The image that always came to mind, as I grappled with it, was of quicksand. I kept trying to get a handle on the book – what it was really about, what I did and didn’t know, and each time I thought I had a new formula for moving forward, it would collapse under and around me. My certainties were so solid at the very beginning. I sold the idea of a book on “affluent parents and neurotic kids,”and the way forward seemed clear: : we lived in an anxious time; parents were pushy and competitive; children were undisciplined and badly-behaved generally, all that bad behavior was being called sickness. It made sense to me that children’s purported “issues” were just side-effects of living in our anxious, competitive times. It suited my way of thinking – habits of mind developed back in college that were only semi-conscious – to “read” children’s symptoms as signs of cultural malaise. It suited my prejudices (again, only semi-conscious) to basically discount the beliefs of modern psychiatry; to see biological psychiatry as anti-humanist, to feel that our culture was pushing to fit children into a box and that those who didn’t fit into it were being diagnosed as sick.

The problem came, first, when I began speaking to (or more precisely, listening to) parents of children with mental health issues. There was an objective reality to the difficulties they were witnessing and experiencing that didn’t at all fit with my idea of children’s-mental-illness-as-mirage. There is a “center,” as you put it, to the topic of children’s mental health issues: there is the experience of children and their parents. When you get at the reality of this experience – that children...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lorraine Adams

Lorraine Adams was educated at Princeton University and was a graduate fellow at Columbia University, where she received a master’s degree in literature. A staff writer for the Washington Post for 11 years, she won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. Her new novel is The Room and the Chair.

From an interview with Adams at The Nervous Breakdown:

DH: In your novel, there's a classified report that gets leaked to the media. But it's the sensational parts of the report, really not that significant, that get all the attention. The most salient facts in the voluminous report don't get noticed, even though they are in plain sight. The public is always shocked when the dots are not connected. But it's the public themselves who are the worst at connecting the dots. Aren't the answers in plain sight sometimes but we are not seeing them? What role do you think literature can play in connecting the dots?

LA: Consider the Napoleonic wars. In the first decade afterwards, a reader will find state records, memoir and correspondence. Sometime after, historical accounts appear that try to synthesize those writings. Eventually historians take issue with those accounts, usually with conceptual narratives that make a story out of the claims and counterclaims of the histories themselves. But if you want to know what the Napoleonic wars felt like to the human beings caught up in them, you read War and Peace or The Charterhouse of Parma. Fiction gives us a grasp of seemingly vague or disparate phenomenon. It makes meaning. History and non-fiction, at least the intellectually honest practice of both, give us arguments about what is knowable. Somehow today it's gotten fashionable to call what I call meaning-making “connecting the dots.” But only fiction can do that. Intelligence is the collection of data and making arguments about what that data portend. Our expectations about what intelligence gatherers can extrapolate speedily from data is way too high. First, these gatherers of data are evaluating things which are definitely not dots. And they're not working with the traditional childhood numbered dots. The data is all around the globe and it sure doesn't have any numbers. So what the data gatherers must do is...[read on]
Visit Lorraine Adams' website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mark Greaney

From Karen Meyer's Q & A with Mark Greaney, author of The Gray Man:

Describe how the idea of The Gray Man was born.

I spent a few months in Central America a couple of years back. Now and then I’d run into American expatriates in bars and it gave me the idea for a character; an American expat assassin, living off the grid, trained by the CIA but now operating alone, forced to dodge elements of his own government due to reasons he does not fully understand. While on the run he works as a private hit man, but he only accepts contracts against targets he deems worthy of extrajudicial execution (assassination). As the idea progressed into a novel he became Court Gentry, the Gray Man.

The settings vary greatly throughout the novel. Have you visited all of the locations?

For the most part, yes. The meat of the novel describes the Gray Man’s race against time across Europe, and I essentially covered the same ground as in the book. I ventured down back alleys in Prague, took a bus from Budapest to the Austrian border, visited a remote hilltop village in Switzerland, walked through streets and train stations in Paris and Geneva and Zurich. My field research ended, just like in the novel, a...[read on]
Read an excerpt from The Gray Man, and learn more about the book and author at Mark Greaney's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Gray Man.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fred M. Frohock

From a Q & A with Fred M. Frohock, author of Lives of the Psychics: The Shared Worlds of Science and Mysticism:

Q. You're a professor of political science, yet you've written a book on alternative medicine (Healing Powers) and now one on Lives of the Psychics. How did you first become interested in studying psychic phenomena? Would you call yourself a skeptic or a believer?

A. I have always been interested in psychic phenomena. I grew up in Key West, Florida, and my mother's side of the family is Cuban. Latino culture in that time and place was dense with beliefs in mysticism, alternative realities, and psychic phenomena in general. (It still is to some degree.) I was raised with the paranormal as a part of ordinary life, so much taken for granted that psychic experiences were regarded as the normal state of affairs. So I was a believer, by birth and nurture, until the right critical thinking permanently insinuated itself into my intellect in college (to be joined later by a return to spiritual convictions).

It may be this background that blinds me now to any conflict between my work in political theory and the explorations I seem drawn to in the worlds of psychic phenomena. I am writing a book right now on religion and politics. Unless I am missing something, the research I did for Lives of the Psychics feeds into understandings of religious sensibilities, at least those that rely on transcendent or alternative realities.

Q. In Lives of the Psychics, you mention two "supernatural" experiences in your own life—your daughter's prophetic dream of a plane crash, and your remote sensing of your mother's death. Can you describe those experiences for us, and tell us how they have affected your life and work? Has personal experience with psychic phenomena reinforced your interest in studying the supernatural?

A. My younger daughter...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Michael Haag

Michael Haag is the author of The Templars: The History and the Myth. From his Q & A with Nick Owchar at The Siren's Call:

TSC: There are so many books now out there about the Templars, thanks in large part to the interest Dan Brown created with his "Code." Was there something that these books weren't saying about the Templars that you felt needed to be told?

MH: Books about the Templars fall into two categories. Some are strictly history and confine themselves to the two centuries of the Templars' existence. Others are speculative and deal in the many stories surrounding the Templars, in what you might call the afterlife of the Templars that continues in the popular imagination to this day. I wanted to take a serious look at both the history and the mythic afterlife and to show how they are intimately related and always have been -- how the Templars became the subject of popular imagination already at their inception, celebrities, you might say, the superstars of the Middle Ages.


Already during their heyday, the Templars attracted to themselves many associations, legends, rumors and romances. When the story of the Holy Grail first began circulating in medieval Europe, it was immediately associated with the Templars. This star quality of the Templars was due partly to their prominent role in the central movement of the times, the Crusades and the defense of the Crusader states in the East, where the Templars were surrounded by potent historical and sacred associations. After all, the Templars were founded on Christmas Day 1119, within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the spot which marks the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and they were headquartered on the Temple Mount, which indelibly associated them with stories surrounding the Temple of Solomon -- and nothing in medieval Christendom could beat that!

But being in the spotlight...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dorothy Koomson

Dorothy Koomson's books include Marshmallows for Breakfast, My Best Friend’s Girl, and The Ice Cream Girls.

From her Q & A with Arifa Akbar at the Independent:

Choose a favourite author, and say why you like her/him

JG Ballard. He had an incredible imagination – very few people can put the depth and passion into characterisation and plot that he did. He was also master of the twist-in-the-tale ending.

* * *
Which fictional character most resembles you?

A while back I would have said Miss Marple, now I'd probably say Little Bo Peep – substituting "time" for sheep.

* * *
Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

If you'd asked me years ago I would have said Oprah [Winfrey] because seeing her show one day when I was off sick inspired me to leave my job and work freelance. In that time I started the book that would become The Cupid Effect and started my career as a published author. I haven't seen Oprah's show in three years – since I left Australia. So, now, I genuinely...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 19, 2010

Gina Welch

Gina Welch is the author of In the Land of Believers: An Outsider's Extraordinary Journey into the Heart of the Evangelical Church.

From a Q & A at her publisher's website:

Q: Why were you initially drawn to write a book about Evangelicals?

When I was a kid religion barely touched my life, and when it did, it delivered a neat, repulsive shock. I clamped my lips shut during the under God bit of the Pledge of Allegiance, and wrote anxious letters to my father when I felt I was being pressured to pray at summer camp.

Eventually I matured enough to tolerate the religious practices of others, just as long as they were willing to tolerate my resistance to the God stuff. What I couldn’t accommodate was what I perceived as rampant arrogance on the part of people who felt entitled to badger others into adopting their faith. Proselytizing struck me as not only arrogant but dangerous, in that it suggested a fundamental unwillingness to coexist with people who don’t share your narrative of the universe. I couldn’t help but notice that for Evangelicals, the most determined and numerous proselytizers around, that unwillingness to coexist was manifesting as legislation of faith.

When I moved to Virginia for graduate school, it wasn’t long before I realized I was squatting in Christian country. Naturally, I felt alien there, but I began to realize—with the Christian conservative-fueled reelection of George W. Bush and the ensuing media coverage of the whopping third of our country self-identifying as Evangelical—that my whole perception of our country as a secular place had canted to favor my experience. Our country was much more Evangelical than I’d ever realized, and I felt it critical to grapple in person with what that meant: What were Evangelicals like when they weren’t speaking into a microphone? What was it like in their churches? What was their vision for our shared future?

Q: Why did you choose to join Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church?

Jerry Falwell was one of the only Evangelicals...[read on]
Visit Gina Welch's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 18, 2010

John Bowe

John Bowe is the editor of the new book Us: Americans Talk About Love. From his Q & A at

Did you find it challenging to talk to people about love? It's kind of a vulnerable topic.

Yeah, although you realize that everybody has the same basic component parts. Have you ever cheated on your spouse? Have you ever wanted to cheat on your spouse?

You just become like a doctor. Oh, those are your testicles? You develop a competent bedside manner: Does this feel uncomfortable for you? Have you been sitting too long? Do you need water? And by the way, in case you were confused, I, too, am a colossal fuck-up, and I'm not coming from a place of judgment or superiority.

There are so many bogus advice columns and books devoted to relationships. What are some of the things people say about love that make you bristle?

Honestly, what I have to say would not be that different than those bromides. Don't lie. Don't sleep with other people besides your mate unless your mate gives you permission. Listen to your mate. Accept your mate's faults and shortcomings. It's age-old stuff. What's different here is that it comes through a different channel, an experiential, non-expert-y format. If I'm listening to someone's experience, and I trust them as a narrator to honestly give me their story, even though it might not map exactly onto mine, I can borrow the parts that I can relate to.

By accident...[read on]
Read about the book Bowe calls "the best love poem ever written by a virgin."

John Bowe's six favorite books on love.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Paula Reed

Paula Reed is an English teacher at Columbine High School of Littleton, Colorado. After surviving the tragic shooting there, she, not unlike many students and teachers who were there that day, decided the time to pursue all of one’s true passions is now. Reed’s passions are teaching and writing.

From a Q & A with Reed about her new novel, Hester: The Missing Years of the The Scarlet Letter:

What inspired you to write a companion novel to The Scarlet Letter?

I think it goes back further than even I might have suspected when I started this project. It surely began with my odd fixation with all things Puritan. I was a Pilgrim for Halloween when I was in elementary school, which was not exactly a common costume. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. By the time I reached my senior year in high school, I had read about the Puritans so extensively that I was able to write a major term paper about them off the top of my head, using extensive facts in support of my thesis, but faking my bibliography because I didn't want to dig through books to get page numbers. (I still occasionally have nightmares that my high school diploma is revoked when my former English teacher discovers my perfidy. I am then forced to simultaneously teach and retake Composition for the College Bound). In college, I showed up at the annual Halloween Mall-Crawl in Boulder, Colorado attired as the world's toughest English major, wearing street gang attire. The back of my jacket proclaimed me a member of “The Scarlet Letters.” Nobody got it.

Hands-down, my favorite class to teach is American Literature. My favorite unit? The Puritans. My favorite lecture? Calvinism. (How pathetic is that? I have a favorite lecture. And it's on Calvinism.) My favorite book? Well, it's not a part of the Puritan unit; it's in the Romantics, but can you guess it? That's right. I hand out copies of Hawthorne's classic work and tell the kids that they must do their best to love it as much as I do. Barring that, they must pretend to. Recently I had student come up and tell me that I had taught her mother twenty years ago. She said that her mother would forever associate me with The Scarlet Letter, which had become one of her favorite books. A colleague once told me that whenever she thought of Hester, she pictured me, and my dark-haired, dark-eyed daughter as the mischievous Pearl. (For the record, my daughter was always much better behaved.)

My first published novel, Into His Arms, is a romance novel. The heroine, Faith, is a Puritan, and she falls in love with an atheist. An atheist pirate, actually. Hey, it's a romance novel.

You can see where this is all leading.

But why another novel about Hester? Wasn't The Scarlet Letter...[read on]
Visit Paula Reed's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jennifer K. Stuller

Jennifer K. Stuller is a writer and journalist, specializing in gender and sexuality in popular culture. She has been researching and speaking internationally on superwomen for over a decade. Her new book is Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology.

From her Q & A with Kjerstin Johnson at Bitch Magazine:

What is Modern Mythology? Who are ink-stained Amazons?

Mythology refers to a body of stories and to storytelling. Therefore our modern mythology can be found in comics, film, television, and novels. Modern myth serves a function similar to that of ancient myth, namely, telling and hearing stories helps us make sense of our lives. Narratives reflect the world and comment on it as they document events and also imagine them. Stories meditate on human behavior and interrogate the meaning of big ideas: Good and Evil, Morality, Spirituality, Justice, Relationships, Community, Power, and Love. (Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an example of a series that excelled at addressing these complex, yet universal, ideas.) The same basic themes our ancestors contemplated, crafted to be relevant to their particular and specific time, place, and cultures, are continually revisited through the ages, part of humanity’s endless search for meaning.

The phrase “ink-stained Amazons” was coined by Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter, who condemned women writers as “damned scribbling women” and “ink-stained Amazons.” So for me the term is a reclamation (much like the once derogatory, “bitch”). It celebrates women writers, our fingers stained with ink from our quills and our Amazonian strength when faced with those who might seek to silence us. I love the phrase so much that I named my website, Ink-Stained Amazon, and have utilized it as my personal brand.

I also find it evocative of women in comic books – Amazons have so often been used in modern mythology as shorthand for...[read on]
Read more about Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology.

Visit Jennifer K. Stuller's website and blog.

Read--Coffee with a canine: Jennifer K. Stuller & Giles and Wesley.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 15, 2010

Kelli Stanley

Kelli Stanley is the author of the critically acclaimed Nox Dormienda, which won the Bruce Alexander Award for best historical mystery and was nominated for a Macavity Award, and the newly released City of Dragons.

From a Q & A at her website:

Your first book was called the first “Roman Noir” … and CITY OF DRAGONS is set in the classic noir era and San Francisco, a city made noirishly famous by Dashiell Hammett. What draws you to this sort of style? Do you consider yourself a noir author?

No simple answer to that one. I was born with a noir gene, I guess—I’ve loved both the era of American culture (1920s-40s) and the style and genre since I was literally a kid. Part of the attraction is due to the fact that I’m a Romantic—and essentially, that’s what hardboiled and noir writing is … a Romantic distillation of and reaction to urban and cultural angst, distilled into a style that varied from Hammett’s terse declarative statements to more florid and lyrical styles.

And with film noir, of course, the idea of seeing poetry in a rainy, neon-drenched street … quintessentially Romantic. I adore film as a communication medium—it’s an enormous influence on both what I write and the visual style of my writing.

Also, some of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century wrote within the hardboiled/noir genres, and I think you are still accorded more room for both literary scope and social commentary if you write in these subgenres.

Noir has been a supreme creative influence on me … though my writing doesn’t fit the common paradigm of noir as being either hopeless or even fatalistic. Noir is both a content and a style—in literature as in film.

Who are your specific influences?

I read constantly growing up. Everything from comic books to...[read on]
Read an excerpt from City of Dragons, and learn more about the novel and author at Kelli Stanley's website and blog.

Read January Magazine's Author Snapshot: Kelli Stanley.

My Book, The Movie: Nox Dormienda.

The Page 69 Test: City of Dragons.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Craig McDonald

Craig McDonald is an award-winning journalist, editor and fiction writer. In 2008, his debut novel, Head Games, was nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, Gumshoe and Crimespree Magazine awards for best first novel.

His new book is Print the Legend.

From his Q & A with Rod Norman at Signs & Wonders:

If you could sit down to dinner with one person (living or deceased) to pick their brain. Who & Why?

(A) Joseph Campbell, I think. I was heavily influenced by his work, even before the Bill Moyer’s interviews made him a public guru. I feel I could still learn much from him about narrative form and symbolism…about the stuff the unconscious part of your brain somehow invests in a work of fiction.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer & what writers have had the most influence on your writing?

(A) I was trying to write fiction at the age of nine. I tried to write a crime novel while riding in the back of a car for a weekend trip to Lake Erie. As to fiction influences, I think the ones that matter most come earliest. So Lester Dent, Ian Fleming, Kris Kristofferson, Mickey Newbury and Ernest Hemingway. The only living, contemporary novelist I can say deeply influenced me as a mature fiction writer is...[read on]
Learn more about the author and his work at Craig McDonald's website, blog, and Crimespace page.

The Page 69 Test: Toros & Torsos.

The Page 69 Test: Head Games.

Read more about Print the Legend.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Joshua Ferris

Joshua Ferris’s first novel, Then We Came to the End, was a National Book Award finalist, Barnes & Noble Discover Award winner and New York Times bestseller.

His new novel is The Unnamed.

From his Q & A with Alexandra Alter at the Wall Street Journal:

Did you feel pressure to deliver a stellar second novel after your first book made such a splash?

I never expected much of a public response for the first one, so whatever negative associations one has with a second book just were sort of beside the point. I also take the long view. A writer is a writer for life, and if I live for whatever the actuarial tables tell me I'm going to live, then at some point in time I'll be beyond a sophomore novel. It certainly didn't come into the room with me as I was writing.… I hope it does well, for my editor's sake, because it's the first book of her new imprint, and I hope three million copies are sold because publishing is hurting.

Is it true that the screen rights sold to Miramax before you even finished the book?

Yeah, like 150 pages in or something. It was...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 12, 2010

Adam Haslett

About Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett, from the publisher:

At the heart of Union Atlantic lies a test of wills between a young banker, Doug Fanning, and a retired schoolteacher, Charlotte Graves, whose two dogs have begun to speak to her. When Doug builds an ostentatious mansion on land that Charlotte's grandfather donated to the town of Finden, Massachusetts, she determines to oust him in court. As a senior manager of Union Atlantic bank, a major financial conglomerate, Doug is embroiled in the company's struggle to remain afloat. It is Charlotte's brother, Henry Graves, the president of the New York Federal Reserve, who must keep a watchful eye on Union Atlantic and the entire financial system. Drawn into Doug and Charlotte's intensifying conflict is Nate Fuller, a troubled high-school senior who unwittingly stirs powerful emotions in each of them.

Irresistibly complex, imaginative, and witty, Union Atlantic is a singular work of fiction that is sure to be read and reread long after it causes a sensation this spring.
From the author's Q & A with Alexandra Alter at the Wall Street Journal:
The Wall Street Journal: How did you come up with the idea for this book?

Adam Haslett: About 10 years ago I read a book by William Greider called "Secrets of the Temple," which was a look at the Federal Reserve back in the late '70s and early '80s. So a totally different era, but it was a really wonderful, dramatic inside account of how the Fed worked. It was my first entry into that world, so the first character in the book I came up with was Henry Graves, the guy who's president of the New York Fed in the book. There's still a scene in the book that I wrote 10 years ago, when he's looking out the window of his office down at the people in the street.

WSJ: Did you always envision it as a novel or did it start out as separate stories?

Mr. Haslett: I felt like...[read on]
Visit Adam Haslett's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Connie Willis

Connie Willis has received six Nebula Awards and ten Hugo Awards for her fiction. Her books include Passage, Doomsday Book, Lincoln’s Dreams, Bellwether, Impossible Things, Remake, Uncharted Territory, To Say Nothing of the Dog, Fire Watch, Miracle and Other Christmas Stories, and the newly released Blackout, in which the German air attack on St. Paul's Cathedral in London on the 29th of December, 1940, plays a pivotal role.

From her Q & A with Cynthia Potts at Publishers Weekly:

What's the appeal of setting stories during the London Blitz?

I love the pluck and stamina of the British and the humor and courage with which they held out against Hitler. And I love the intensified nature of wartime existence, where a few minutes' delay can cost you your life and a mistake or a change in the weather can alter the entire course of the war. I think those things are always true in our lives, but they're ramped up during wartime, where every decision is life-or-death.

You've been writing science fiction for over 30 years. How has the genre changed during that time?

At my very first writer's conference, George...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Russel D. McLean

Russel D. McLean writes for Crime Spree Magazine, The Big Thrill, At Central Booking and Crime Scene Scotland. His short fiction has been published in crime magazines in both US and the UK. His debut novel is The Good Son.

From his Q & A with Sandra Ruttan at Spinetingler Magazine:

Sandra Ruttan: Describe the moment you fell in love with crime fiction.

Russel D. McLean: I don't know that I can point to a single moment. Like most things in life it happened almost by accident - - it’s in the same way I can't say when I stopped playing with GI Joes or reading The Beano.

I know that at some point in my later teens, my dad gave me Elmore Leonard novels (Mr Majestyk and Get Shorty stand out in my mind) and I read them and liked them. A lot. I sought out more books, got other recommendations and realised one day that I was picking up the crime stuff over and above my first love of science fiction.

So it wasn't a moment as much a series of discoveries that gradually resulted in a long standing love affair with the genre.

SR: In the UK the reign of Agatha Christie eventually gave way to the overwhelming popularity of police procedurals. There hasn't been a rich tradition of darker UK-based PI novels. What inspired you to write a PI novel that's set in Scotland?

RDM: I think I just loved PI novels. Matt Scudder, The Contintental Op, Nameless, Spade, Archer, Marlowe.... all these guys made a big impression on me. But I didn't think I could write a PI novel set in New York or LA or whatever because... because so many guys had done it better. To be honest, it wasn't until I...[read on]
Visit Russel McLean's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Good Son.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Carleen Brice

Carleen Brice was named 2008 “Breakout Author of the Year” by The African American Literary Awards Show for her debut novel Orange Mint and Honey, which was also a selection of the Essence Book Club. She is also the author of Walk Tall: Affirmations for People of Color, and Lead Me Home: An African American’s Guide Through the Grief Journey and edited the anthology Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife.

Her 2009 novel is Children of the Waters.

From her interview at Color Online:

BGBS: What prompted you to write a story not only on adoption, but also one that crosses color lines?

Brice: Children of the Waters is partially based on a true story. My former sister-in-law is biracial and was put up for adoption because her birth father was black. In real life she was adopted by a white family so when she met her white birth sister, race wasn't really an issue. I started thinking what if she had been adopted by a black family? What if she hadn't even known she was adopted?

Also, I am intrigued by stories that include people of different races because that's the life I know and lead. I know many people in this country rarely interact with people outside their same race and class lines. But there are plenty who do--plenty of interracial families (our president being a prime example) and it's the life I know and lead. I grew up playing with white kids, black kids, Native American kids. I have another sister-in-law who's Latina. My husband is white. I wanted to write about the world as I experience it, where things aren't so, pun intended, black and white.

BGBS: It's refreshing to read a novel featuring a pair of successful, educated, and cultured Black parents. Why do you think this image is often lacking in the literary landscape?

Brice: I...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: Children of the Waters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 8, 2010

Alastair Campbell

Alastair Campbell graduated from Cambridge University in modern languages and embarked on a career in journalism, principally with the Mirror Group. When Tony Blair became leader of the Labour Party, he asked Campbell to be his press secretary. He worked for Blair - first in that capacity, then as official spokesman and director of communications and strategy - from 1994 to 2003. His new novel is Maya.

Form his Q & A with the Independent:

Choose a favourite author, and say why you like her/him

Probably Flaubert, because he was the one that really turned me on to the beauty of the French language, which I have never lost and I still read quite a lot of books in French. I started reading Flaubert at school and ended up reading everything he ever wrote.

* * *
Which fictional character most resembles you?

Certainly not Monsieur Bovary! Someone who I don't necessarily identify with but whose values I would like to uphold is Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.

* * *
Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Nelson Mandela comes very close. I have met him and the hairs on your neck stand to attention every time.
Read the complete interview.

David Pilling's account of the diaries of Alastair Campbell: "[A] fascinating if somewhat self-serving account of the Blair Years, but it includes a lot of Clinton, Bush, Iraq and Ireland as well. A really interesting read."

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Geoffrey Becker

Geoffrey Becker’s book of stories Black Elvis won the 2008 Flannery O’Connor Prize for Fiction and was published by the University of Georgia Press in the fall of 2009. He is the author of Dangerous Men, a short story collection that won the Drue Heinz Prize, and Bluestown, a novel. His other awards and honors include an NEA fellowship, selection for The Best American Short Stories anthology, the Nelson Algren Award from the Chicago Tribune, and the Parthenon Prize. He teaches writing at Towson University in Maryland, where he also directs the graduate program in professional writing.

From a Q & A about his new novel, Hot Springs:

Three of the main characters in Hot Springs are two women and a little girl. How did you approach writing from a woman’s point of view, especially about potentially cliché issues such as motherhood and mother-daughter relationships?

There is also a male protagonist, Landis, but I guess it’s true that he’s outnumbered. I approached point of view in this story the way I always do, which is to try to imagine what it would be like to be a particular person and go from there. I’ve never worried a lot about who that person is—male, female, young, old. I just try to do my best, to believe in the material, to put as much of myself in there as I can. Yes, men and women are different, but I think we have more in common than we do separating us. I don’t believe in clichéd situations, only in clichéd writing.

You’ve described Hot Springs as “part road trip novel” and throughout the work place and setting feel almost as important as the plot and the characters. How do you choose the settings for your work?

It’s easier to write convincingly about a place if you have some firsthand knowledge of it. I’ve lived in Colorado and the Southwest. Elephant Butte is a volcanic rock formation, not far from Truth or Consequences. The first time I saw it from the highway, it seemed to me somehow...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Terry Castle

Terry Castle's books include The Apparitional Lesbian: Female Homosexuality and Modern Culture (1993) and Boss Ladies, Watch Out! Essays on Women and Sex (2002). Her anthology, The Literature of Lesbianism, won the Lambda Literary Editor's Choice Award in 2003. She lives in San Francisco and is Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University.

Her new book is The Professor and Other Writings.

From her interview with Jed Lipinski at Salon:

You’re known primarily as a literary critic and scholar. What triggered this shift toward memoir?

Maybe inside every English prof there’s a writer screaming to get out? Certainly there was in me, even when I was writing more conventionally academic books. But lately I’ve also felt increasingly estranged from the sort of jargon-ridden pseudo-writing that for the past 10 or 15 years has been emanating from so many college English departments. Much of what passes for advanced literary scholarship these days is dreadful twaddle -- incoherent, emotionally empty, deeply illiterate. A lot of ideological posturing goes along with it. I’d gotten sick of it -- all the p.c. preening and plumage display -- and wanted to write more frankly and personally, and if I could with a certain lyricism and emotional force.

In your essay on World War I, you confess that you covet male bravery, even though this strikes you as a somewhat non-feminist thing to say. How do you reconcile this admiration for men with your own feminism?

When the piece first appeared it’s true some female readers didn’t like it. The odd banshee squeal could be heard. But I do think men and women are socialized differently and that boys ...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 5, 2010

David W. Berner

David W. Berner is an award-winning journalist, writer, documentarian, and teacher. His most recent book, Accidental Lessons—A Memoir of a Rookie Teacher and a Life Renewed, was published in February, 2009.

From his Q & A at The Write City Magazine:

Q: Tell us about your background as a Chicago radio journalist and how that has helped or hindered your writing career.

I came to Chicago in 1988 to work as a reporter/anchor at WMAQ radio. It was an all news operation and that had been my background, after a couple years, believe it or not, of being a disc jockey on a country radio station in Pittsburgh. I got into the news business after simply being asked by a program director, “Can you do news?” I worked as an anchor, reporter, and eventually became a news director.

I then worked as a senior writer for 18Global, a web-based golf editorial site out of South Africa. It was a fascinating and fun job. But didn’t last. It crashed and burned with a lot of the other dot-com’s in the 1990s. I then moved into freelance work, then teaching, and continued work as a reporter at WBBM Radio. Still work there occasionally today.

How has it helped or hindered my writing? It’s helped because it’s made me work very hard at getting the facts of a story, getting to the truth, especially when I’m writing creative non-fiction. But it’s also hindered for the same reason. In daily broadcast work the writing is very much about the details and facts, and less about the nuances or back story. At first, flushing out a story for a book was hard. I had to really work at interior monologue, for instance. I had to find the places to expand on the story, giving it context and detail. It took some time.

Q: Tell us about the events that led to your writing “Accidental Lessons: A Memoir of a Rookie Teacher and a Life Renewed.”

I had gone through a number of life changes – divorce, death of my father, new jobs, no job, and a feeling of losing my place in the world. In desperation, really, I...[read on]
Writers Read: David W. Berner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Leighton Gage

Leighton Gage has been a copywriter, an advertising creative director, a magazine editor, and a writer/producer/director of documentary films and industrial videos. Dying Gasp is his third novel in the Chief Inspector Mario Silva series.

From his Q & A with author J. Sydney Jones:

Describe your connection to Brazil. How did you come to live there or become interested in it? And, if you do not live on site, do you make frequent trips there?

In 1973, I was offered a job in Brazil. I’d been working in The Netherlands for five years. I was ready for a change. I was thirty-one years old.

I arrived in São Paulo in the springtime. I fell in love with the country – and a girl. We’ve been married for thirty-two years. The language we use at home is Portuguese. The years have taken us, sometimes for extended periods, to many other places around the world, but Brazil is the place we always think of as home.

What things about Brazil make it unique and a good physical setting in your books?

Wouldn’t you agree that every place, when you come right down to it, is unique? Even small towns in America? On a larger scale, Brazil, like the United States, is a melting pot of many cultures. But there the similarity ends. The mix, for one thing, is entirely different. Six times as many slaves were imported into Brazil than were ever imported into North America. They’ve had a tremendous impact on culture and religion. Brazil, like the United States is immense. (Larger, in fact, than the continental 48.) But, again, the similarity ends there. Brazil is temperate in climate from north to south and from east to west. It hardly ever snows. There are few high mountains and only small deserts. Most people think of it as rural, but it isn’t. It’s highly urban. São Paulo is the largest city in the southern hemisphere. Brazil, like the United States is rich. But the distribution of wealth is an entirely different matter. Brazil is...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: Blood of the Wicked.

My Book, The Movie: Buried Strangers.

The Page 69 Test: Dying Gasp.

J. Sydney Jones is the author of twelve books, including the Viennese Mystery series--The Empty Mirror and Requiem in Vienna--the nonfiction Hitler in Vienna, 1907-1913, the guides Viennawalks and Vienna Inside-Out, and the Vienna-based suspense novel Time of the Wolf.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Joseph Stiglitz

Joseph Stiglitz is the winner of the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics. From his Q & A with Deborah Solomon in the New York Times Magazine:

As you make the rounds of television talk shows to promote your new book, “Freefall: America, Free Markets and the Sinking of the World Economy,” many of us are wondering why you aren’t talking to the members of the Obama administration instead. Were you offered a job by the president?

No. There was no natural position for me within the usual structure of government.

Why not? You’re a Nobel laureate in economics, a professor at Columbia and a leading critic of the deregulation that you say allowed the banks to wreck the economy.

At the time Obama appointed his economics team, he was focused on getting a team that he thought would have the confidence of the financial markets, a team that the bankers liked.

You refer to his team in your book as people “involved in the mistakes of the past” — like Larry Summers and Ben Bernanke, the head of the Federal Reserve.

As an example, back in the spring of 2008, people like Bernanke were saying we’re over the worst. Regulators didn’t...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Matt Beynon Rees

Matt Beynon Rees is the author of the acclaimed series of novels featuring Palestinian detective Omar Yussef: The Collaborator of Bethlehem, which won the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger award, A Grave in Gaza, The Samaritan's Secret, and the newly released The Fourth Assassin. From his Q & A with author J. Sydney Jones:

Describe your connection to Jerusalem and Palestine. How did you come to live there or become interested in it?

I arrived in Jerusalem for love. Then we divorced. But I stayed because I felt an instant liking for the openness of Palestinians (and Israelis). When I arrived I had just spent five years as a journalist covering Wall Street. Frankly that exposed me to a far more alien culture than I experienced when I became a foreign correspondent in the Middle East. People in the Middle East are always so eager to tell you how they FEEL; on Wall Street no one ever talked about feelings, just figures. Rotten material for a novel, figures are. I’ve lived now 14 years in Jerusalem.

What things about Palestine make it unique and a good physical setting in your books?

Palestine is a place we all THINK we know. It’s in the news every day. Yet the longer I’ve been there, the more I understand that the news shows us only the stereotypes of the place. Terrorism, refugees, the vague exoticism of the muezzin’s call to prayer. What better for a novelist than to take something with which people believe themselves to be familiar and to show them how little they really know. To turn their perceptions around. The advantage is that...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: The Collaborator of Bethlehem.

My Book, The Movie: The Collaborator of Bethlehem.

The Page 69 Test: A Grave in Gaza.

The Page 69 Test: The Samaritan's Secret.

The Page 69 Test: The Fourth Assassin.

Writers Read: Matt Beynon Rees.

J. Sydney Jones is the author of twelve books, including the Viennese Mystery series--The Empty Mirror and Requiem in Vienna--the nonfiction Hitler in Vienna, 1907-1913, the guides Viennawalks and Vienna Inside-Out, and the Vienna-based suspense novel Time of the Wolf.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 1, 2010

Julie Hyzy

Julie Hyzy's White House Chef mysteries include Eggsecutive Orders (January 2010), Hail to the Chef (December 2008), and State of the Onion (January 2008).

From her Q & A at the Mysteries & My Musings blog:

How much research goes into your work and do you complete that up front or "just enough" as you go?

For the White House Chef books, and for the upcoming Manor of Murder series, I do a lot of research. I'm constantly on the prowl for information, and I'm always gathering ideas and notes. I have books, DVDs, articles, etc. here that I refer to every day, but I prefer to research certain details as I write. For instance, in one of the WHChef books, Ollie walks through the Palm Room. There are a couple of great paintings in there. I knew where to find that information, so I waited until I was writing that scene to fully explore that room.

I particularly enjoy how you create a sense of place. Setting seems as important as the characters in your mysteries, any tips on conveying a sense of place well?

I think if you "see and smell and feel" a place in your mind as you write, it naturally comes out in the story. What I really enjoy reading and try to write myself - is how a character experiences a place. That is... seeing and feeling it through his/her particular filters. That not only gives you the setting, it helps the reader know the character better too.
Read the complete Q & A.

Learn more about the author and her work at Julie Hyzy's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: the White House Chef mysteries.

--Marshal Zeringue