Saturday, January 31, 2015

Patrick McCabe

Patrick McCabe is an Irish writer. Known for his mostly dark and violent novels set in contemporary—often small-town—Ireland, McCabe has been twice shortlisted for the Booker Prize, for The Butcher Boy and Breakfast on Pluto.

From his Q & A at the Picador blog:
Which other author would you most like to have for dinner and why?

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but I don't suppose there’s much chance of that now.

What’s your favourite fairytale or children’s book?

My favourite fairytale is The Little Match Girl because it's sad. Her getting burnt up and all.

What’s your favourite film?

Night Moves with Gene Hackman.
Read the complete Q & A.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 30, 2015

Elizabeth Heiter

Elizabeth Heiter likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists, and a little bit (or a lot!) of romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range.

Heiter's new novel is Vanished.

From her Q & A at the Harlequin blog:

What kind of research did you do to put you into the mind of FBI profiler Evelyn Baine?

In order to create a realistic FBI profiler, I read up on how to write a criminal personality profile (there are a lot of books out there written by former FBI profilers), studied real-life cases to create my own profiles in order to test my understanding and visited the FBI Academy at Quantico for a firsthand look at the process of becoming an agent. I also talked to a number of current and former FBI agents because I really wanted to get the details right. As I was doing the research, I realized what a difficult job profiling was, and wanted to give Evelyn a deeply personal motivation for why she picked this kind of work: her best friend was abducted when Evelyn was twelve and never found.

Did you find inspiration for the Nursery Rhyme Killer in the news or elsewhere?

The inspiration for the Nursery Rhyme Killer came from...[read on]
Visit Elizabeth Heiter's website and watch the book trailer for Vanished.

My Book, The Movie: Vanished.

The Page 69 Test: Vanished.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Patience Bloom

Patience Bloom is a senior editor at Harlequin Books and focuses specifically on Harlequin Romantic Suspense, which gives her full license to indulge in her love of the thriller genre and all things suspense.

Her 2014 book is Romance Is My Day Job: A Memoir of Finding Love at Last.

From Bloom's Q & A with Joanna Scutts at Biographile:

Biographile: Did you ever think about telling your own story as fiction, or did you always want it to be a memoir?

Patience Bloom: Before Romance Is My Day Job even came close to a publisher, it was my NaNoWriMo book for 2010 -- and accidentally nonfiction. I didn’t think I would ever show the story to anyone. Then I decided to fictionalize it, which took about a year. Suddenly, the opportunity to write it as a memoir came about and I wrote an entirely new draft, which is the one out now. So there are three different takes on this story -- two of which will remain buried on a flash drive.

BIOG: Writing your own romantic ending must have felt at times like tempting fate. Was there a particular point in your relationship with your husband when you felt that it would be safe to write about it in this way?

PB: Yes! Throughout the entire experience of writing this book and even some points afterwards, I thought...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Patience Bloom's website.

The Page 99 Test: Romance Is My Day Job.

Writers Read: Patience Bloom.

My Book, The Movie: Romance Is My Day Job.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places is Jennifer Niven’s first book for young adult readers, but she has written four novels for adults—American Blonde, Becoming Clementine, Velva Jean Learns to Fly, and Velva Jean Learns to Drive—as well as three nonfiction books—The Ice Master, Ada Blackjack, and The Aqua-Net Diaries, a memoir about her high school experiences.

From Niven's Q & A at the Guardian:

This one’s for all the aspiring writers on the Guardian children’s books website: what was the reason you became a writer in the first place?

I became a writer because writing has always been – for all my life – the thing I love to do most. I write because I can’t not write. I write books I want to read. I was lucky enough to grow up with a writer mom, who taught me that I could be or do anything I wanted to be or do. I’m an only child, and when I was a little girl, we used to have “writing time.” From her, I learned to find the story in everything, and I learned never to limit myself or my imagination. I also saw firsthand how difficult and stressful and unpredictable the business was. And I saw the commitment it took. I’m grateful for that because I think so many people go into the business of writing with unrealistic expectations – not realising that it is, in fact, a business, and that you have to be ready and willing to do it in spite of everything else.

As you are a new YA author, if you were on a desert island which three items would you take and why?

I’d like to take my fiancĂ© and three...[read on]
Visit Jennifer Niven's website.

Writers Read: Jennifer Niven.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

George Pelecanos

George Pelecanos's latest book is The Martini Shot: A Novella and Stories.

From his Q & A with Dave Davies for Fresh Air:

DAVIES: This is FRESH AIR. And if you're just joining us, our guest is writer George Pelecanos. He has a new collection of short stories and a novella called "The Martini Shot."

You know, in the novella that's in this collection - and I'm going to talk about this a bit more in a while - it's told in the first person from the point of view of a guy who's a writer and a TV producer, which you have done. But he says at a point that he grew up in a multiethnic neighborhood where they - he had an adversarial relationship with the police. You know, not that he was, you know, doing violent stuff, but that you just didn't deal with the police and wouldn't talk to the police. Was that you? I mean, did you have that kind of relationship with cops growing up?

PELECANOS: No, I didn't. I got chased by the police quite a bit, and it was almost like there was a respect there. Chase me - you know what I mean? - and see if you can. And then, you know, sometimes when I would be pulled over or whatever, you know, there were times when the police officer would say to me, you know, where do you live, son? Well, I live, you know, I live a few blocks down here. Instead of arresting me for, you know, he saw the beer cans in the back or he could smell the weed in the car, you know, with my friends, he would say all right get on home and be careful driving there. OK. So what would have happened if he had arrested me and I had gotten put into the system? My life would be completely different today. And it's why I'm so opposed to this sort of, you know, these stops for possession and this broken window policing because once you do that to a kid, once you put them into the system, it's very, very hard to...[read on]
Learn about George Pelecanos's five most important crime novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 26, 2015

Ann Mah

Ann Mah is the author of Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris.

From her Q & A with Meg Bortin:

Q. Your new book is subtitled, Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris. Could you please cite an example of one important lesson about food that you learned while writing your book, and one lesson about love that your year abroad taught you?

A. The most important lesson I learned from investigating 10 classic dishes is that patience is the great hallmark of French country cooking. The patience needed to slowly simmer a pot of cassoulet over several days, or to painstakingly strain the sauce of a boeuf bourguignon, or to visit several charcuteries in search of the perfect sausages and cured meats for your choucroute garnie. Patience is the reason Granny’s food always tastes best. And – patience is also...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Phil Klay

Phil Klay is a graduate of Dartmouth College and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in Iraq’s Anbar Province from January 2007 to February 2008 as a Public Affairs Officer. After being discharged he went to Hunter College and received an MFA. His story “Redeployment” was originally published in Granta and is included in Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, the New York Daily News, Tin House, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012.

Redeployment is his first story collection.

From his Buzzfeed Q & A with Jen Percy:

Jennifer Percy: Can you talk about any complications you came across while transforming autobiographical or overheard experiences into fiction? And why did you make the choice to write fiction, especially using multiple narrators?

Phil Klay: It’s the best way I knew how to think about certain issues. I came back with all these questions, questions that could only be answered by exploring the experiences of contractors, soldiers, chaplains, girlfriends, etc. Writing fiction was a way to take the ideas that troubled me or confused me and put them under pressure. When I returned to NYC I came from a place where there were horrific things happening — and not to me, I had a mild deployment — but nightmares were common in Iraq at that time. So you come back, and you go from walking through TQ Surgical where you have Marines, civilians, insurgents, all terribly injured, and then two days later you’re walking down Madison Avenue in New York City and there’s zero sense of war. And when you get out of the Marine Corps you’re no longer in a community where conflict is vital. It’s such an abstraction. And yet you know that there’s a continuing world of horror going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. Things of incredible importance overseas. And also here on the home front, as vets try to transition back. So the questions started coming up: How do we deal with veterans? What does the war mean to us?

I’m not the same person I was when started. I remember early on a friend of mine pointed out to me that...[read on]
Redeployment is on Jeff Somer's list of seven of the best recent books that give an honest account of war.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 23, 2015

Alafair Burke

Alafair Burke's latest novel is The Cinderella Murder, co-written with Mary Higgins Clark.

From Burke's Q & A with Rebecca James for The Edge:
What initially drew you to crime and law, as a career, and as subject matter?

Oh my gosh, that is so hard to answer. I always wonder if it had something to do with growing up in a town (Wichita, Kansas) where there was an active serial killer. Police did not catch him until I was already a law professor, 30 years after his first murder. Growing up with that kind of violence in the community, with no clear answers, might have made me interested in being part of law-enforcement.

How has your undergraduate degree influenced the way you approach crime and law?

I was a psychology major in college. What I learned there about memory and cognition always affects the way I see cases. People’s observations are inherently subjective, and their memories inherently...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Alafair Burke's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Megan Abbott

Megan Abbott is the Edgar®-winning author of the novels Queenpin, The Song Is You, Die a Little, Bury Me Deep, and The End of Everything. Her 2012 novel, Dare Me, was chosen by Entertainment Weekly and Amazon as one of the Best Books of 2012 and is soon to be a major motion picture.

Abbott's latest novel is The Fever:

From the author's Q & A with Greg Akers for the Memphis Flyer:

You had a normal upbringing, nothing too crazy?

It was alarmingly uncomplicated. [Laughs.] It was a book-loving household. My dad is a professor at Wayne State and a writer. My mom wrote on the side and now writes short stories. My brother is a compulsive reader. We passed around books constantly. That made its mark on me more than anything specifically in my childhood.

Were you allowed to read anything you wanted?

Yes. We used to go to used bookstores a lot. Because of the dramatic quality of the covers, I was drawn to true crime at an unhealthy age — not that it really had an unhealthy effect, because it didn’t do anything to me. But the books terrified me, and you love to be scared as a kid. I remember reading at an early age Helter Skelter and Hollywood Babylon. I liked looking at the pictures in the middle of the book and reading all those tales of women who marry men who are con artists who then kill them. I read mysteries like Agatha Christie as a kid, but I didn’t discover crime fiction until high school.

Like the actual hard-boiled classics?

I was working my way through the canon, and I knew of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett from the movies, but I...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Megan Abbott's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Fever.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Jan Jarboe Russell

Jan Jarboe Russell is the author of The Train to Crystal City: FDR's Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America's Only Family Internment Camp During World War II.

From her Q & A with Weekend Edition's Rachel Martin:

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: The internment camps where Japanese-Americans were sent during World War II are a well-documented part of American history. One lesser-known camp was called Crystal City in southern Texas. And there, thousands of Japanese immigrants were detained along with many people of German and Italian descent. Hundreds of these Americans were then sent back to their countries of origin in exchange for Americans who were caught behind enemy lines when the war broke out.

Jan Jarboe Russell writes about these secret trade arrangements in a new book called "The Train To Crystal City: FDR's Secret Prisoner Exchange Program And America's Only Family Interment Camp During World War II." Russell writes about the families who came to Crystal City to be with their loved ones who have been detained.

JAN JARBOE RUSSELL: You had wives and fathers and children living in tiny huts in this 290-acre internment camp. It had schools. It had a swimming pool. Of course, it was an internment camp. It had barbed wire fences. It was under constant armed guard. All of the mail in and out of the camp was censored. But most heartbreaking is that President Roosevelt set up a division within the Department of State called the Special War Problems Division.

MARTIN: And this is where we get to the subtitle of your book "The Secret Prisoner Exchange Program."

RUSSELL: In the run-up to the war, the president realized that Americans would be tracked behind enemy lines in Germany and in Japan, especially. And he charged the Special War Problems Division with creating pools of people that he could trade for important Americans - soldiers, diplomats, businessmen, journalists, missionaries.

MARTIN: As you say, these were all Americans who happened to be living abroad when World War II breaks out. And the Roosevelt administration is trying to figure a way to get them home. And they think they have leverage by repatriating German-Americans, Italian-Americans, Japanese-Americans. Many of these people were born in America.

RUSSELL: Well, that was the tragedy of Crystal City, not the way the internees were treated. In about the 50 children of the camp that I spent time with and interviewed, some of them say that as hard as it was, those were the best years of their life because they were with their parents and their siblings. And so they aren't resentful about...[read on]
Visit Jan Jarboe Russell's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Stephan Eirik Clark

Stephan Eirik Clark was born in West Germany and raised between England and the United States. He is the author of the short story collection Vladimir's Mustache. A former Fulbright Fellow to Ukraine, he teaches English at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. His recently released debut novel is Sweetness #9.

From Clark's Q & A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Sweetness #9?

A: I learned about flavor additives from my reading of Fast Food Nation. Before this, I'd certainly consumed them -- in great numbers, even -- but I'd never really considered the role they played in my life. Now I could think of little else.

I became obsessed, because this industry, capable of recreating any taste, was both so interesting and philosophically suspect. Was the microwave dinner I was eating as healthy as the roast chicken my grandmother had made me, or was the quality of the food far inferior and only covered up by the wonders of science? I was down the rabbit hole, and there I remained for many, many years.

Q: Why did you decide to set the novel primarily in the 1970s through 1990s?

A: In the 1970s, many Americans still firmly believed in the supermarket. It was an age of Tang and TV dinners, when new ideas were viewed as progressive. It was important for my novel to start here, because my main character, a flavor chemist, is very much a man of the times.

At first he believes there is great value in his work. But by the 1990s, when...[read on]
Visit Stephan Eirik Clark's website.

My Book, The Movie: Sweetness #9.

The Page 69 Test: Sweetness #9.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 19, 2015

Valerie Plame

Valerie Plame's second novel is Burned, a sequel to Blowback.

From her Q & A with Jonathan Peltz at Salon:

What made you want to start writing fiction?

Well it’s nothing that I had anticipated doing … that’s for sure. If the leak of my name didn’t happen. I would be overseas right now, working for the government, trying to make sure the bad guys don’t get nuclear weapons. Making my government salary. And really feeling … satisfaction. But obviously things didn’t turn out that way. After “Fair Game” came out, my publisher approached and asked me how I felt about fiction. I thought, “Alrighty, let’s see how this goes!” I wanted to develop a strong female CIA character. Because what’s out there is just insane. It’s just eye-rolling. They’re sexy. They’re eye candy. They’re good with guns. But it has nothing to do with how intelligence is realistically collected.

Do you think that’s still the general cultural perception? “Homeland” is a different story.

There is certainly persistent sexism toward what females can and can’t do. But in terms of the CIA, we’re fed a steady diet of James Bond for decades. There’s so many movies that show the CIA is omniscient and far more efficient than it really is. And yet, in most films I’ve seen depicting espionage, I always wait for the moment when it starts veering off into the crazy. I did recently see “A Most Wanted Man,” and it did capture the ambiguities and the waiting. It also showed how gray Hamburg is. It captured the essence of intelligence collection. Notice there was not one gun. It’s very hard to collect intelligence when...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 17, 2015

James Lee Burke

James Lee Burke's latest novel is Wayfaring Stranger.

From his Q & A with Sean Salai, S.J. at America:

Who are you writing for?

Well, I write for anyone who will read it. But I hope this book—it’s doing very well, actually—gives people a sense of traditional America. It’s my sense that my generation, born in the Great Depression, will be the last one to remember traditional America. People might say it’s nostalgic, but it’s not. There were a lot of downsides to that period—segregation, McCarthyism and other things—but there was a lot of excitement too. In the post-war era, people discovered two portals to acquiring enormous wealth. One was Hollywood and the other was the oil business. Some of these oilmen called “wildcatters” could hardly read or write, but became men of enormous wealth and power. My father was in that industry and I don’t think anyone has written about it from the inside. What people don’t understand is that the grunts on the ground who drill for the oil are the bravest people I’ve ever known—it’s really easy to get killed in that work. They’re like the cutting edge of an empire, the Roman legionaries of our age. But the guys at the top do business with baseball bats. If you call them ruthless, they’re the first ones to agree.

The hero of your book connects what you call “a fateful encounter with Bonnie and Clyde to heroic acts at the Battle of the Bulge and finally to the high-stakes gambles and cutthroat players who ushered in the dawn of the American oil industry.” How much of your personal experiences influenced the story?

This is the most biographical book I’ve written, undoubtedly, and I’ve dedicated it to my beloved first cousin Weldon Benbow "Buddy" Mallette, who is the main character. He walked all across Europe and liberated an extermination camp. He came home with two Bronze Stars, the Silver Star, and three Purple Hearts. Many other characters in the book were also influenced by real people. In fiction, characters tend to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 16, 2015

Lindsay Hunter

Lindsay Hunter is the author of the story collections Don’t Kiss Me and Daddy’s. Originally from Florida, she now lives in Chicago with her husband, son, and two pit bulls.

Hunter's first novel is Ugly Girls.

From her Q & A with Juliet Escoria for The Believer:

BLVR: Of all the mistakes you’ve made in life, what do you most hope your son Parker will grow up to repeat?

LH: All my life I wanted to be an actress. I wanted it so bad my teeth would ache. Like it was something I could bite into. I wanted to make people feel. When I was twenty I went to The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York to study the method. I had taken time off from college to do it. It was the first time in my life at that point that I dropped everything to focus on this thing I had inside of me saying I should be acting. But at the end of my time there I had come to face the realization that I did not like acting at all, nor was I any good at it. I did a lot of brow-beating, back-lashing, tortured thinking. Why had I come all this way; how could I have not known? What about acting drew me? I realized it was that I wanted to make people feel. I was writing a lot while I was there; I’d been writing all my life, in fact, and I finally decided I’d focus on writing, instead. I could make people feel through writing.

Going to NYC was a mistake in that it cost me a lot of money (and my parents, too), and by the end I was kind of mentally bereft, and I was mugged on the subway, and all in all I had to face that I’d been an idiot. But it was a passion I was pursuing, and I firmly believe that’s kind of what saved me in my teenage years. Believing in a future built around expressing these things inside me. My senior year English teacher wrote in my yearbook, “You’re going to be a great writer one day.” And I bitterly thought, “You mean actress.” The mistake of NYC made me face the truth: that I was...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: Ugly Girls.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tim Johnston

Tim Johnston's new novel is Descent.

From his Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:

I’m always interested in the origins of an idea. What sparked the book? How did the final story differ from your original idea?

For most of my adult life, I've made my living as a carpenter, and this book—or the characters—came to me at a time when I was actively not trying to write. I had all but completely cut myself off from all things writerly, publishy, agenty, by driving a truckload of tools up to the Rocky Mountains and throwing myself into completing all the finish work on a vacation house my father and stepmother had built up there. I'd been up in those mountains—way up there, on the far downslope of the Great Divide—for months, all by myself, working away, when this family of four began to make themselves known to me. Of course I did my best to ignore them, but they persisted, and grew more and more distinct in my mind, until one day I set down my paintbrush and said, OK, and opened up my laptop and began to write. All I knew about them then was that they, like me, had driven up to the Rockies from the Midwest, and that this common American undertaking was going to prove to be the worst kind of turning point in their lives.

I had in mind a story that dwelt in the aftermath of incredibly bad luck: how a family goes on with their lives once the headlines have faded and the world has moved on. I had not intended to have a concurrent story about the missing daughter—about her singular, personal struggle to survive. I also had an ending in mind that I thought I was writing toward until, after a long long period of paused writing, I realized I no longer wanted to reach—that that ending simply would not do for the characters I'd come to know so well. The concurrent story of the daughter contributed to this realization that I couldn't end the novel as I'd intended to, and when I finally understood another way to end it, I...[read on]
Visit Tim Johnston's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Yona Zeldis McDonough

Yona Zeldis McDonough's novels include 2014's You Were Meant For Me.

From her Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:
I always want to know, what sparked this particular book? (I actually know the answer, but I want readers to know it!) What surprised you in the writing?

I was inspired by a true story told to me by a friend. In the actual story, it was a man who found the baby--it was a boy--and he kept visiting the family court judge to see if anyone had claimed the child. The judge suggested that the man consider adoption--and he did. The boy is a teenager now and lives with his two adoring dads. The story remained with me and I realized I wanted to write it; or at least my own version of it. I changed a lot of the details--that's the prerogative, if not obligation, of the novelist. But the core of it was the same: sometimes, despite all odds, there is grace, redemption and a happy ending. Amen to that!

How do you think this book is a departure from your other novels?

Actually, I think of it a...[read on]
Visit Yona Zeldis McDonough's website.

The Page 69 Test: You Were Meant For Me.

Writers Read: Yona Zeldis McDonough.

My Book, The Movie: You Were Meant for Me.

Coffee with a Canine: Yona Zeldis McDonough & Willa and Holden.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Karen Harper

New York Times bestselling author Karen Harper is a former high-school and college English teacher. Winner of the 2005 Mary Higgins Clark Award for her outstanding novel, Dark Angel, Harper is the author of numerous romantic suspense novels, historical novels, and a series of historical mysteries.

Her new novel is Broken Bonds, book #3 in The Cold Creek Trilogy.

From Harper's Q & A at The Big Thrill:

Can you tell us what BROKEN BONDS is about and how it fits into The Cold Creek Trilogy?

Each of these romantic suspense novels is related, yet they could stand alone. BROKEN BONDS focuses on the return of the third Lockwood sister, Charlene, called Char, to the small town of Cold Creek, and the deadly danger she is soon embroiled in there. Char is a social worker, dedicated to helping poor Appalachian children who live so high up in the mountains that they have trouble getting to school. But when she helps rescue Matt Rowan from being shoved off the cliff in his car, she’s the one who takes a fall. Not only does she fall for Matt, a man she’s not sure she can trust, but she’s soon threatened by the same killer who is after him.

Was it difficult to make the three sisters, each heroine of her own book, different—yet similar enough to be sisters?

That’s a great question, because I worked hard at that. Tess, the youngest was traumatized by being kidnapped as a child, so she’s wary and needs to come a long way to help the Cold Creek sheriff find her abductor in Book One, Shattered Secrets. Kate, the heroine of Book 2, Forbidden Ground, is just the opposite: well-educated, well-traveled, an archeologist whose self-confidence almost proves her undoing when she and Grant Mason, the owner of an ancient Adena Indian mound, are threatened. Char is the one...[read on]
Visit Karen Harper's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Broken Bonds.

Writers Read: Karen Harper.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 12, 2015

Peter Mountford

Peter Mountford’s debut novel, A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism, won the 2012 Washington State Book Award and was a finalist in the 2012 VCU Cabell First Novelist Prize. In its full-page review, The Seattle Times wrote: “Debut novels don't come much savvier, punchier, or more entertaining...the work of an extraordinary talent.”

Mountford's latest novel is The Dismal Science.

From his Q & A with Lora Shinn for the Los Angeles Review of Books:

Lora Shinn: When did you get the idea for The Dismal Science?

Peter Mountford: When I was 17 or so, my father worked at the IMF, and he was part of this breakfast club of senior economists — they’d all sit around over bad coffee and Marriott cafeteria breakfast gossiping about global finance. Sometimes I’d tag along. Much to their amusement, I had blue hair and played in a punk band. One morning, a soft-spoken Japanese guy was troubled because Russia wasn’t collecting taxes on their rich, and they had a lot of debt; he was managing the largest loan that the IMF had ever given: $50 billion to Russia. So he said he was going to cut off their loan. Next morning, The Washington Post’s front page said “IMF Suspends Loan to Russia.” This guy, this friend of the family — who played in a Mariachi band for fun, and loved Scotch — he had just twisted the arm of a superpower. This mild-mannered economist with an innocuous office in a nondescript building. No one knew who he was. And that’s how the world works. That was the seed for this novel, truth be told — the story gets rolling in a breakfast conversation in that same cafeteria.

LS: You seem to have a good feel for the internal workings of the World Bank and Lehman. How did you gain the insights necessary?

PM: I knew the World Bank because of my dad’s work at the IMF, but I didn’t know much about Lehman and...[read on]
Visit Peter Mountford's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism.

My Book, The Movie: A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism.

Writers Read: Peter Mountford.

The Page 69 Test: The Dismal Science.

My Book, The Movie: The Dismal Science.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Gillian Flynn

From James Rocchi's Rolling Stone Q & A with author Gillian Flynn about her novel, Gone Girl:

You wrote a very gracious acknowledgment to your husband in the novel. When he read your draft, were you going, "Honey, it's all make-believe ..."? What inspired this examination of relationships in the first place?

Well, you know, I was a newlywed when I started writing it — because of the way my mind works, I am a worst-case scenario-ist. I spent a lot of time thinking about what marriage meant, and how marriage can go wrong. No one sets out to have a toxic marriage, yet you see them all the time, so what exactly happened? I had this basic underlying thought about how much of relationships are sort of a con game, in the early days, and we're all kind of con artists: We're trying to trick someone into loving us in a way, and we're not showing all our cards, we're not showing the real person you are going to get two or three years down the line when the mask starts slipping. I started thinking, what if I blow that up to a much bigger idea?

My husband is a very confident guy, and he didn't really blink. He just said "Don't censor yourself: write the book you need to write, and we'll worry about it later on." And then...[read on]
See six domestic chillers for "Gone Girl" fans and ten must-read books if you loved "Gone Girl".

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 9, 2015

Rebecca Makkai

Rebecca Makkai is a Chicago-based writer whose first novel, The Borrower, is a Booklist Top Ten Debut, an Indie Next pick, an O Magazine selection, and one of Chicago Magazine's choices for best fiction of 2011. Her short fiction has been chosen for The Best American Short Stories for four consecutive years (2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008), and appears regularly in journals like Harper's, Tin House, Ploughshares, and New England Review.

Makkai's new novel is The Hundred-Year House.

From her Q & A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Why did you decide to have the action in The Hundred-Year House go backward chronologically?

A: When I started writing this, it was all set in the present day (with the plot of what's now the 1999 section -- '99 still feels like the present to me, but wow, I guess that's historical fiction now).

I thought of leaving a lot of the mysteries of the past unexplored, a lot of questions unanswered. I was brushing my teeth one morning when I realized the narrative should actually go back into that past. And since I'd already written much of the first section, it seemed natural that this journey should happen in reverse.

I've always loved backwards narrations, from Martin Amis's Time’s Arrow to the backwards episode of Seinfeld -- and I was amazed at...[read on]
Learn more about the author and her work at Rebecca Makkai's website, Facebook page and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: The Borrower.

The Page 69 Test: The Hundred-Year House.

My Book, The Movie: The Hundred-Year House.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Gary Krist

Before turning to narrative nonfiction with The White Cascade and City of Scoundrels, Gary Krist wrote three novels--Bad Chemistry, Chaos Theory, and Extravagance--and two short-story collections--The Garden State and Bone by Bone.

Krist's new book is Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans. From his Q & A with Randy Dotinga at the Christian Science Monitor:

Q: How did New Orleans become New Orleans in the first place?

It started out as a French city in the early 1700s and for the first 100 years, it was a little piece of France on the North American continent. But it also had Latin and Caribbean influences and developed more permissive attitudes regarding sex, vice, and race.

It was fundamentally different than the other cities of America. It had a greater recognition of human nature: Sometimes you can’t really change human nature. You have to roll with it rather than confront it.

They had this permissive attitude for much of the 19th century. But when Anglo-American elites came down from the North, they wanted to clean up the town. They thought, "We can’t abide this, or we won’t attract Northern capital." They tried to normalize it compared to the rest of the South.

Q: How did the race conflict evolve after post-Civil War reconstruction?

The local white population realized that their federal overseers were gone and they could start asserting white supremacy.

There’s this cascading wave of legislation that took away whatever rights blacks had in New Orleans. Intermarriage was...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Gary Krist's website.

The Page 69 Test: The White Cascade.

Writers Read: Gary Krist (May 2012).

The Page 99 Test: City of Scoundrels.

The Page 99 Test: Empire of Sin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Steph Cha

Steph Cha is a graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School. She lives in her native city of Los Angeles, California. She is author of Follow Her Home and Beware Beware.

From her Q & A with Sabra Embury at The Rumpus:

Rumpus: Korean culture is well represented in Beware Beware without being too heavy-handed. Was balance an issue when it came to avoiding stereotypical characterizations—e.g., Korean males are chauvinistic or Korean parents are strict? Did you feel like a gatekeeper into a somewhat exclusive yet prolific community?

Cha: Yes! Oh man. This is a good question. I have nothing against identity novels (and am likely to write one some day), but I really wanted to write a book that was essentially Korean-American while being about something else. I wanted all the Korean stuff in the background, but I knew I had to get it pretty right since I wasn’t going to devote tons of space to contemplation on the culture, the stereotypes, etc. Some of my Korean characters do fit certain stereotypes (Lori is a bad driver; both Song’s and Lori’s mothers are strict in their own ways), but I feel like I have so many of them that I feel comfortable with that. I think that’s an easy way to avoid flat or lazy representations—to show a wide range of human traits and behaviors. And yes, I do feel a little like a gatekeeper, or at least like I have some responsibility to do things correctly. Korean-American Los Angeles doesn’t get much play in fiction.

Rumpus: You’re a graduate of Stanford and Yale Law School, is that right? What made you decide you wanted to flip off your Ivy League education in law to become a writer of crime fiction? Was it tough to make that shift overall?

Cha: Yes, I did go to those schools. I’ve always been decently book smart, as things go, but as I’ve grown older I’ve learned that...[read on]
Visit Steph Cha's website and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Steph Cha and Duke.

My Book, The Movie: Follow Her Home.

The Page 69 Test: Follow Her Home.

Writers Read: Steph Cha (April 2013).

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Brian Staveley

Brian Staveley's new book is The Providence of Fire: Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne (Volume 2).

From his Q & A with Amelia Rosch in The Dartmouth:

How were you involved in writing at Dartmouth?

BS: I spent most of my time divided between doing a lot of writing and doing a lot of rock climbing. Those were kind of the two main, main foci of my time there, and it was great. I mostly wrote and studied poetry, and, obviously, I’m now writing epic fantasy, which is kind of a different end of the literary spectrum. I went through pretty much the full slate of creative writing courses. Even the poetry classes were really good training for the kind of work that I’m doing now, not because I learned how to write fantasy or how to create epic plots and authentic worlds, but because I got really comfortable handling language. I spent a long time writing poetry before I shifted over into writing genre fiction. Poetry and epic fantasy are pretty different.

What caused the shift?

BS: It’s impossible or almost impossible to make a living just writing poetry. Even very well-respected, well-regarded poets teach at the same time, which is great. I taught high school for over ten years. I really enjoyed that job, but I wanted to try to make a career out of writing, and I thought I’m probably not going to do that publishing small books of poetry. So I went back to fantasy, which was a love of mine when I was a kid. I thought that’s a genre with more commercial possibility but it’s also one that I’m excited about and that I know really how, where I can contribute a little something and sort of take part in this long big tradition of fantasy and English....[read on]
Visit Brian Staveley's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 5, 2015

Tessa Harris

The Lazarus Curse is the fourth novel in Tessa Harris’s award-winning Dr Thomas Silkstone Mystery series. It deals with the theme of slavery in an increasingly liberal 18th century England.

From a Q & A at the author's website:

Tell us about Dr. Thomas Silkstone, your protagonist.

Thomas Silkstone is a Philadelphian in his twenties, who comes to London to study anatomy in 1774, just before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. He is the voice of enlightened reason in a world in turmoil. Young, good-looking and with a razor-sharp mind, he’s neither superstitious, nor overtly religious and he prides himself on behaving logically. That’s why, when he meets the first love of his life, Lady Lydia Farrell, he is thrown off balance for a while, experiencing emotions like love and jealousy which have been alien to him until now.

He’s also a polymath, a bit of a rarity in these days of specialisms. He’s an anatomist, a surgeon, a physician and a scientist, challenging old ideas and embracing new discoveries and techniques. But above all, he’s a philosopher at the dawn of a new age. As an American in England, he is treated as an outsider, and this enables him to see events and people with a cool and reasoned detachment, although he is deeply compassionate at heart and his main aim is to alleviate his patients’ suffering.

Can you tell us a bit about the real-life anatomist upon whom Silkstone is based?

Before the Revolution, there were several young men who came from New England to study anatomy in England and in Scotland. Some of them returned to found great medical schools, like John Morgan, founder of the first medical school in Colonial America , or Philip Syng Physick, the so-called ‘father of American surgery.’ Thomas Silkstone is perhaps most like William Shippen Jr, who came from a wealthy Philadelphian family. He was rather a ladies’ man and was considered extremely good-looking and very accomplished. He loved dancing and the theatre and cut a dashing figure on the London social scene. He was befriended by Benjamin Franklin who...[read on]
Visit Tessa Harris's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Devil's Breath.

The Page 69 Test: The Lazarus Curse.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Paula Hawkins

Paula Hawkins is the author of The Girl on the Train.

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

A real strength of The Girl On The Train is the realistic depiction of alcoholism. What kind of research did you do to create such a compelling portrait of the disease?

We live in a booze-soaked culture in the UK, so you don’t have to go far to experience the havoc that heavy drinking can wreak. Nor do you always find alcohol dependence in the most obvious of places: there are plenty of high-functioning, successful people who teeter on the brink of the abyss into which Rachel has slipped.

I did some reading on black outs induced by drinking – why they occur in some people and not others and what exactly is happening in the brain when they do occur is not fully understood. I know anecdotally that memory loss is often something which afflicts heavy drinkers, but the interesting thing is that it doesn’t necessarily happen in a uniform or predicable way. In some instances, a drinker’s recall of experience is recoverable, in others, it seems that no memory has been formed at all.

A lot of readers have described the book “as exciting as Gone Girl” – how do you feel about those comparisons?

I am a huge fan of Gone Girl. I thought it was an extraordinary book and in Amy I think Flynn created a character that people will be talking about for years, so to be mentioned in the same breath as that book is a huge compliment as far as I’m concerned. I can see why people draw comparisons, but...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Michel Houellebecq

Michel Houellebecq's new novel is Soumission (Submission). It is set in France in 2022, where with the help of the French Socialist party and the centrists, Mohammed Ben Abbes defeats the far-right Front National and becomes president.

From the author's Q & A with Sylvain Bourmeau at The Paris Review:

Where did you get the idea for a presidential election, in 2022, that came down to Marine Le Pen and the leader of a Muslim party?

Well, Marine Le Pen strikes me as a realistic candidate for 2022—even for 2017 … The Muslim party is more … That’s the heart of the matter, really. I tried to put myself in the place of a Muslim, and I realized that, in reality, they are in a totally schizophrenic situation. Because overall Muslims aren’t interested in economic issues, their big issues are what we nowadays call societal issues. On these issues, obviously, they are very far from the left and even further from the Green Party. Just think of gay marriage and you’ll see what I mean, but the same is true across the board. And one doesn’t really see why they’d vote for the right, much less for the extreme right, which utterly rejects them. So if a Muslim wants to vote, what’s he supposed to do? The truth is, he’s in an impossible situation. He has no representation whatsoever. It would be wrong to say that this religion has no political consequences—it does. So does Catholicism, for that matter, even if the Catholics have been more or less marginalized. For those reasons, it seems to me, a Muslim party...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 2, 2015

K. V. Johansen

K. V. Johansen is the author of The Leopard (Marakand, Volume One) and Blackdog and numerous works for children, teens, and adults.

Her latest novel is The Lady (Marakand, Volume Two).

From Johansen's Q & A at The Book Plank:

BP: Where did you come up with the idea for the story of The Leopard and The Lady?

KVJ: The fact that the gods of this world are so vulnerable and fallible opened up interesting possibilities to explore. I knew that the Voice of Marakand was killing wizards, but I had several different possible reasons for it, so exploring the Voice and the Lady and how they fit into the world gave me the central idea. The nature of the Lady and her history and paranoia, her motivations, together with the idea of a people rebelling against their goddess -- in contrast to the people in Blackdog who fight to defend theirs -- lie at the heart of the story. The assassin Ahjvar, damned to a living hell of possession, is equally a contrast with the very different two-souled nature of the Blackdog in much of the earlier book. There are two stories interwoven throughout The Leopard and The Lady, that of Ahjvar and Ghu, and that of the underground resistance movement in Marakand which is sparked into a bloody uprising by Ahjvar’s actions in the city, and which draws in Holla-Sayan and Ivah, characters from Blackdog. The uprising in Marakand was the plot that grew out of seeds in Blackdog; Ahjvar’s half of the story developed from his initial role as catalyst to that action, the murder he’s sent by his goddess to commit being the spark that...[read on]
Visit K. V. Johansen's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Leopard.

Coffee with a Canine: K.V. Johansen & Ivan.

The Page 69 Test: The Lady.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Anne Rice

Anne Rice's latest novel is Prince Lestat, her first new Vampire Chronicles novel in more than a decade. From the author's Q & A with Rosanna Greenstreet at the Guardian:

When were you happiest?

In some respects, I’m happier now than I’ve ever been.

What is your greatest fear?

Death, of ceasing to exist.

What is your earliest memory?

A birthday party for a cousin when I was about two and a half. I wanted to put a little metal Christmas tree on the cake as a decoration.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?

The writer George...[read on]
Interview With The Vampire, the first of the Vampire Chronicles, is among Jonathan Hatfull's ten best vampire novels ever, Ryan Menezes' top five movies that improved the book, Will Hill's top 10 vampires in fiction and popular culture, and Lynda Resnick's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue