Friday, June 26, 2009
An index of over 50 Loaded Questions interviews with authors from a number of genres and literary backgrounds. Stay tuned for more updates.
Baker, Ellen - Keeping the House
Blixt, David - The Master of Verona
Brooks, Geraldine - People of the Books, Year of Wonders, March
Christopher, Nicholas - The Bestiary, A Trip to the Stars, Veronica
Delaney, Frank - Tipperary, Ireland, Shannon
Delors, Catherine - Mistress of the Revolution
Ebershoff, David - The 19th Wife, Pasadena, The Danish Girl
Emberley, Ed - Drawing Book of Animals, Make a World, Drawing Books of Faces
Epstein, Jennifer Cody - The Painter From Shanghai
Furnivall, Kate (Part One) - The Russian Concubine, The Red Scarf, The Girl From Junchow
Furnivall, Kate (Part Two)
Follett, Ken - World Without End, The Pillars of the Earth, Eye of the Needle
Galchen, Rivka - Atmospheric Disturbances
George, Margaret - Helen of Troy, The Memoirs of Cleopatra, Mary Queen of Scotland
Gortner, C.W. - The Last Queen, The Secret Lion
Groff, Lauren - The Monsters of Templeton, Delicate Edible Birds
Higginbotham, Susan - The Traitor's Wife, Hugh and Bess
Holdefer, Charles - The Contractor, Nice
Jecks, Michael - Dispensation of Death, A Moorland Hanging, No Law in the Land
Jordan, Hillary - Mudbound
Kent, Kathleen - The Heretic's Daughter
Kingman, Peg - Not Yet Drown'd
Kling, Kevin - The Dog Says How, Kevin Kling's Holiday Inn
Krasikov, Sana - One More Year: Stories
Lamb, Wally - The Hour I First Believed, She's Come Undone, I Know This Much Is True
Lasser, Scott - The Year that Follows, Battle Creek, All I Could Get
Leleux, Robert - The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy
Lewycka, Marina - The Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Strawberry Fields
Lipman, Elinor - Then She Found Me, The Family Man, The Pursuit of Alice Thrift
Mailman, Erika - The Witch's Trinity, Women of Ill Fame
Maloy, Kate - Every Last Cuckoo
Maxwell, Robin - Signora Da Vinci, The Queen's Bastard, The Wild Irish
Maltman, Thomas - The Night Birds
Mendelsen, Charlotte - When We Were Bad, Daughters of Jerusalem
Moore, Christopher - A Dirty Job, Lamb, Fool: A Novel
Moran, Michelle - Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, Cleopatra's Daughter
Murphy, Yannick - Signed, Mata Hari, Here They Come
Niffenegger, Audrey - The Time Traveler's Wife, Her Fearful Symphony
Penman, Sharon Kay (Part One) - Here Be Dragons, Sunne in Splendour
Penman, Sharon Kay (Part Two) - Devil's Brood
Picoult, Jodi - Handle With Care, My Sister's Keeper, The Pact
Robison, John Elder - Look Me in the Eye
Roach, Mary (Part One) Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Spook
Roach, Mary (Party Two) Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
Russell, Mary Doria - Dreamers of the Day, The Sparrow, Children of God
See, Lisa - Peony in Love, Shanghai Girls
Stoller, Ty - The Monkey Jungle
Tinti, Hannah - The Good Thief
Varlow, Sally - The Lady Penelope
Vantrease, Brenda Rickman - The Illuminator, The Mercy Seller
Willig, Lauren - The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, The Pink Carnation Series
Winfield, Jess - My Name is Will, What Would Shakespeare Do?
Worth, Sandra - The King's Daughter, The Rose of York, Lady of the Roses
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
The Family Man marks Elinor Lipman's tenth novel. Lipman has made a career out of writing lightly comedic novels full of characters that are engaging, heartfelt and yet entirely human. Lipman's latest novel focuses on Henry Archer, a single openly gay attorney who's a stand up guy. The fun of The Family Man begins when Henry's life is entered, once again, by his shallow and hard to handle ex-wife, Denise. Henry's former wife finds herself on hard times and does precisely what she frequently did during their marriage -- attempt to get Henry to solve her problems. The heart of the novel, however, has to do with the relationship between Henry and Thalia, Denise's grown daughter whom Henry had contact with when she was a child. Henry attempts to make up for lost time as he and Thalia forge an amusing relationship that allows our protagonist to fully cope with the past and look towards the future.
Kelly Hewitt: Your novel Then She Found Me was turned into a feature film in 2007 starring and directed by Helen Hunt. I have also read that both The Ladies' Man and The Pursuit of Alice Thrift are also in pre-production. I always wonder how authors feel after seeing their literary works translated onto the big screen. How did you feel about the adaptation of Then She Found Me? To what extent, if any, are you involved in the production aspect of your two latest novels turned motion pictures?
Elinor Lipman: Actually, the latter two are not in pre-production; by now barely in development. Screenplay rewrites are in the works and directors are attached, but I am never sanguine about movie prospects because everything is nothing until it's something (a Jack Nicholson quote.) Then She Found Me took 19 years from option to screen, which explains my Hollywood pessimism. I did love my movie, though, and did not mind the changes from the book. I hear from loyalists all the time who think that the novel should have been, essentially, the screenplay. I direct the crybabies to something I wrote for Huffington Post when the movie came out. (Click here to read the article.)
KH: A fan of your novels wrote in a review that the best part of your writing is that you develop your supporting characters just as fully as your primary characters. This is something that I noticed too, it certainly makes The Family Man and your other novels more compelling and complete. Is that something you focus on or that comes naturally, the dedication to providing the reader with fully fleshed out supporting and primary characters?
EL: It's not something I focus on. My goal is always good storytelling and verbal economy. I'd like to think that if a supporting character feels fully developed it's not because I described his childhood or the wind in the trees outside his bedroom window, but because I found the right combination of telling details.
KH: In a review of your novel The Inn at Lake Devine the Chicago Tribune wrote of your work “Think Jane Austin in the Catskills!” In reviewing your latest novel, The Family Man, the Washington post dubbed the novel a “screwball comedy from 'an Austen-like stylist'”. You have been dubbed a modern Jane Austin on more than one occasion. How does that sit with you?
EL: Hmmm. How would one feel about being compared to a beloved and timeless author? Maybe: It is a truth universally acknowledged that any novelist in possession of her right mind would be thrilled.
KH: After writing nine novels you've probably been compared to all sorts of literary figures. Can you think of one that was crazy or totally off base?
KH: I am struck, after having read several interviews and features on you over the last couple of years, by the fact that everyone says the same thing. You're nice, cheerful, positive, upbeat and comfortably so despite the occasional ribbing of your son and husband. Why do you think that, in interviews and features on you and your career, there is such a focus, maybe even a hint of disbelief, on your good nature?
EL: I noticed early on that the bar is set pretty low in publishing. I called my agent's office once and said politely to a temp, "This is Elinor Lipman calling for X. Is she there?" The temp reported back to my agent, "Who is Elinor Lipman? She's the nicest person I talked to all day." See? Low expectations.
KH: Have you ever had the urge to play against type by writing that is unlike the traditional Lipman novel?
KH: The Family Man marks your tenth published work since Into Love and Out Again in 1988. Looking back at twenty plus years of writing, has the process gotten any easier?
KH: I have not come across it used to describe any of your recent work but I wonder, how do you feel about the term “chick lit”?
EL: Hate it. I don't like it when reviewers use it and I especially don't like it when publishers market books that way.
KH: Your readers have expressed a great deal of admiration for the protagonist of The Family Man, the openly gay, stand up guy Henry Archer. As an author what draws you to a character like Henry?
KH: The Family Man has only been in bookstores a month or so but I am sure that some of your faithful readers are already wondering what's next for Elinor Lipman. Have you already begun work on your next project?
Sunday, June 21, 2009
The Best Intentions by Emily Listfield
Published by Atria - May 5, 2009
After tossing and turning all night, thirty-nine-year-old Lisa Barkley wakes up well before her alarm sounds. With two daughters about to start another year at their elite Upper East Side private school and her own career hitting a wall, the effort of trying to stay afloat in that privileged world of six-story town houses and European jaunts has become increasingly difficult, especially as Manhattan descends into an economic freefall.
As Lisa looks over at her sleeping husband, Sam, she can't help but feel that their fifteen-year marriage is in a funk that she isn't able to place. She tries to shake it off and tells herself that the strain must be due to their mounting financial pressures. But later that morning, as her family eats breakfast in the next room, Lisa finds herself checking Sam's voicemail and hears a whispered phone call from a woman he is to meet that night. Is he having an affair?
When Lisa shares her suspicions with her best friend, Deirdre, at their weekly breakfast, Deirdre claims it can't be true. But how can Lisa fully trust her opinion when Deirdre is still single and mired in an obsessive affair with a glamorous photographer even as it hovers on the edge of danger?When Deirdre's former college flame, Jack, comes to town and the two couples meet to celebrate his fortieth birthday, the stage is set for an explosive series of discoveries with devastating consequences.Filled with suspense and provocative questions about the relationships we value most, Best Intentions is a tightly woven drama of love, friendship and betrayal.
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
Published by Random House - June 23, 2009
In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people.
Let the Great World Spin is the critically acclaimed author’s most ambitious novel yet: a dazzlingly rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s.
Corrigan, a radical young Irish monk, struggles with his own demons as he lives among the prostitutes in the middle of the burning Bronx. A group of mothers gather in a Park Avenue apartment to mourn their sons who died in Vietnam, only to discover just how much divides them even in grief. A young artist finds herself at the scene of a hit-and-run that sends her own life careening sideways. Tillie, a thirty-eight-year-old grandmother, turns tricks alongside her teenage daughter, determined not only to take care of her family but to prove her own worth.
Elegantly weaving together these and other seemingly disparate lives, McCann’s powerful allegory comes alive in the unforgettable voices of the city’s people, unexpectedly drawn together by hope, beauty, and the “artistic crime of the century.” A sweeping and radical social novel, Let the Great World Spin captures the spirit of America in a time of transition, extraordinary promise, and, in hindsight, heartbreaking innocence. Hailed as a “fiercely original talent” (San Francisco Chronicle), award-winning novelist McCann has delivered a triumphantly American masterpiece that awakens in us a sense of what the novel can achieve, confront, and even heal.
April & Oliver by Tess Callahan
Grand Central Publishing - June 3, 2009
Best friends since childhood, the sexual tension between April and Oliver has always been palpable. Years after being completely inseparable, they become strangers, but the wildly different paths of their lives cross once again with the sudden death of April's brother. Oliver, the responsible, newly engaged law student finds himself drawn more than ever to the reckless, mystifying April - and cracks begin to appear in his carefully constructed life. Even as Oliver attempts to "save" his childhood friend from her grief, her menacing boyfriend and herself, it soon becomes apparent that Oliver has some secrets of his own--secrets he hasn't shared with anyone, even his fiancé. But April knows, and her reappearance in his life derails him. Is it really April's life that is unraveling, or is it his own? The answer awaits at the end of a downward spiral...towards salvation.
Lake Overturn by Vestal McIntyre
Published by Harper - April 21, 2009
Lina and Connie are single mothers, neighbors in Eula's trailer park. Lina, the daughter of migrant Mexican farm workers, is trying to cope with her angry teenage son Jesús, newly returned after living with wealthy white foster parents. Connie, long abandoned, struggles with her literal reading of Old Testament laws against remarriage, especially when a handsome missionary visits her congregation. The women's younger sons, Enrique and Gene, are misfits whose mutual love of science offers stability and respite from schoolyard cruelties.
Determined to win the statewide science fair, Enrique and Gene devise an experiment involving "lake overturn," a real scientific phenomenon in which deadly gases collect and eventually erupt from a lake's depths. In their quest to discover if Eula could suffer from such an event, the boys come into contact with an odd assortment of locals, including the frail-hearted school principal with grand ambitions, a rich but lonely lawyer who finds love outside his marriage just as his wife is succumbing to cancer, and a woman tortured by a past of abuse and addiction who decides to turn things around by offering herself as a surrogate mother.
Sunnyside by Glen David Gold
Published by Knopf - May 5, 2009
Glen David Gold, author of the best seller Carter Beats the Devil, now gives us a grand entertainment with the brilliantly realized figure of Charlie Chaplin at its center: a novel at once cinematic and intimate, heartrending and darkly comic, that captures the moment when American capitalism, a world at war, and the emerging mecca of Hollywood intersect to spawn an enduring culture of celebrity.
Sunnyside opens on a winter day in 1916 during which Charlie Chaplin is spotted in more than eight hundred places simultaneously, an extraordinary delusion that forever binds the overlapping fortunes of three men: Leland Wheeler, son of the world’s last (and worst) Wild West star, as he finds unexpected love on the battlefields of France; Hugo Black, drafted to fight under the towering General Edmund Ironside in America’s doomed expedition against the Bolsheviks; and Chaplin himself, as he faces a tightening vise of complications—studio moguls, questions about his patriotism, his unchecked heart, and, most menacing of all, his mother.
The narrative is as rich and expansive as the ground it covers, and it is cast with a dazzling roster of both real and fictional characters: Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Adolph Zukor, Chaplin’s (first) child bride, a thieving Girl Scout, the secretary of the treasury, a lovesick film theorist, three Russian princesses (gracious, nervous, and nihilist), a crew of fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants movie makers, legions of starstruck fans, and Rin Tin Tin.
An Honnorable German by Charles McCain
Grand Central Publishing - May 18, 2009
When World War II begins, Max Brekendorf, a proud young German naval officer, fights for his country with honor and courage. With the unstoppable German war machine overrunning Europe, Max looks ahead to a bright future with his fiancée, Mareth.
But as the war progresses, their future together becomes less and less certain. German victories begin to fade. In the North Atlantic, Max must face the increasing strength of the Allies on ever more harrowing missions. Berlin itself is savaged by bombing, making life for Mareth increasingly dangerous and desperate. And as the Third Reich steadily crumbles, Nazi loyalists begin to infiltrate Max's crew and turn their terror on Germany's own armed forces.
Recognizing what his nation has become, Max is forced to make a choice between his own sense of morality, and his duty to the Reich. With its stirring, rarely seen glimpse of the German home front during WWII, vivid characters, and evocation of the drama and terror of war at sea, An Honorable German is a suspense-filled story of adventure, of love and loss, and of honor and redemption.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
The Year That Follows by Scott Lasser is a novel that delves into the lives of two related and yet entirely different individuals. On one hand there's the struggling yet intelligent, fiercely independent Cat who is a single mother living in Detroit. Then there's Sam, a man who knows his life is coming to a close as well as the fact that he's not done all that good of a job at many things especially where is daughter Cat is concerned. The lives of both Cat and Sam are changed forever when Wall Street broker Kyle -- Cat's brother and Sam's son, is killed in the attack on the World Trade Center buildings on September 11th, 2001.
In this third novel author Scott Lasser deals delicatly and yet honestly with both the tragedy of 9/11 and the equally unsettling tragedy occurs when families grow apart. The Year that Follows focuses on the paths of Cat and her father Sam, both flawed individuals, with a frank honesty as their lives draw them back together. Front and center is the theme of lost children, Kyle's death, Cat's withdrawn relationship with her father and in what is perhaps the most compelling of the novel's storylines Cat's search for the infant child her brother had just learned was his days before his death. Lasser does a very admirable job of telling the story of real people with real flaws attempting a real reconciliation.
Kelly Hewitt: I read on your blog (Scott Lasser's Blog) that you have been working to publicize the release of The Year That Follows and are doing a book tour. In a different post you wrote: “writing is not performance, not really, but writers are sometimes called upon to perform, live, in person. I’m glad of it. Sure, it’s what’s on the page that matters, but a writer’s physical presence can bring added attention to the words.” I am curious, how have your book tour visits been
going? Do you still feel the same about the necessity of an author to perform from time to time?
Scott Lasser: How’s the tour going? My view is this: anytime you can find a bookstore that wants to have you visit it’s going well. I’ve enjoyed the events so far, about half of those scheduled. I don’t know that there is a necessity for writers to perform, but I do think that every little bit of promotion helps, and readings and talks are part of that.
Television still seems the most effective marketing machine ever invented, but writers hardly show up there anymore. (We’re talking lack of invitations more than lack of willingness. Even Cormac McCarthy went on Oprah, one of the last venues.) In fact, it seems likely that the publishing houses will start producing webcast interviews and the like, a relatively cheap way to reach readers. In fact, Kelly, you might consider this. One thing seems fairly clear to me: people buy stuff off screens.
KH: The events that make The Year That Follows such a great novel are centered around the death of Kyle during the 9/11 attacks. I have to admit that while reading the beginning chapters, I was very nervous about how you would deal with such a sensitive subject. My fears were unnecessary as you dealt with the events of 9/11 very respectfully and subtly by providing the reader with scenes before and after but not during. Did you ever consider writing the scenes in which Kyle died in the 9/11 attacks?
SL: No. Journalists did a great job of that, and had I added such a scene, with the inevitable cell phone call and the like, it would have felt gratuitous, which is to say not essential to this particular story.
KH: I thought it was great that Bryan Cranston (television's Breaking Bad and Malcolm in the Middle) recently plugged your book in Time magazine. Have there been other surprising endorsements of your novels?
SL: Well, it does seem that I owe Bryan Cranston a favor. And yes, I’ve had some surprising endorsements, mostly from other writers whom I respect greatly and who also blurbed my books: Christopher Tilghman, Richard Russo, Anita Shreve, and Wally Lamb, none of whom I’ve met, with the exception of Russo, five years after the fact. I’m grateful to each.
KH: Your website (click here to visit) notes that you have worked a wide variety of jobs: including ski instructor, English instructor, waiter, steel worker, government bond trader, and financial advisor and now author. Do any of your crazy work stories from so many professions find their way into your writing?
SL: Of course. I published a whole novel about Wall Street. A couple years ago I published a ski-instructor story. I’m currently working on a novel that will make some use of my time in the steel plant. I’m troubled by novels whose characters have no visible means of support. I don’t know about you, but I seem to spend a large amount of my time trying to make a living.
KH: Your first novel Battle Creek centers around a minor-league baseball team and America's relationship with its favorite sport. All I Could Get, your second novel, focuses on business and the world of bond trading. Each of these novels has a theme but also deal with issues of family and relationships. The Year that Follows seems less like your first two novels because it focuses much more on family not the world of baseball or the world of bond trading. Do you think that's a fair assessment? What would you tell your readers is the theme of The Year that Follows.
SL: Battle Creek and All I Could Get grew out of my experiences in very male milieus, whereas The Year That Follows did not; in fact, it has a heroine. I suppose that might explain the difference you feel. As for the theme, well, that’s always a tough one for the writer. I prefer that the reader makes that call. I guess I could say it’s a book about bloodlines and the meaning of family. Man, that sounds trite.
KH: In an interview I did with Wally Lamb not all that long ago he expressed a worry about how many stories he has left in him and noted that each novel seems to take him longerand longer. Now that you've written your third novel, have you ever had a similar feeling?
SL: Oh boy, there’s as question. Yes and no. I’m usually cutting things from novels. I suppose I figure if I can’t make it go away it will come back in the next book. As for length of time to write, well, I’d like to be faster. I’m actually working on that.
KH:There's one question I always have to ask. I realize that The Year That Follows has just been released but what can fans of you and your novels expect to see next from you? Have you already begun work on another project?
SL: I’m working on a new novel set in my hometown of Detroit. My goal is to have a first draft done by the end of this year, with something I could show my agent by the end of the following year, if not before that. I am certainly feeling more urgency now. Still, The Year That Follows came out about a year after it was accepted at Knopf, just to give you an idea of the lead time on these things.
You may have noticed that we initially were giving away just two copies of Lauren Willig's new book The Temptation of the Night Jasmine. However, the response from readers was so great that I decided to toss in my personal copy (brand new) to the giveaway. Thanks to everyone who entered and to Lauren Willig and publisher Dutton for donating the books for the giveaway.
Notice that things have been quiet here lately? That's because we have a ton of new interviews, reviews and giveaways coming up very soon. Stay tuned.