Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Meredith Zeitlin

Meredith Zeitlin has written two books for young people (so far) and lots of articles for Ladygunn Magazine. She’s also a voiceover artist who can be heard on commercials, cartoons, and TV shows.

Zeitlin's new novel is Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me.

Last month I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
I'm usually reading a few books at a time. I just finished Rachel Joyce's The Lovesong of Miss Queenie Hennesey, which is an absolutely gorgeous novel and the sequel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, which is also terrific. Joyce's prose is so beautifully crafted, her characters so complex with such distinct voices, and - despite the rather gloomy plot (it's about a woman writing a letter to her lost love on her deathbed) - there are moments that are incredibly funny. The end gutted me; I am still thinking about it! I can't recommend this book highly enough.

I'm about halfway through Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar, which is a fictional diary written by Vanessa Stephen Bell, Virginia Woolf's sister. It's prettily written and quite interesting, especially because I have to keep pausing to look things up (to see how historically accurate the author is being)!

I'm also almost finished with Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, which is twisty and exciting and dark and terrific. These are all pretty serious choices, I realize. I'll have to grab something light and funny next!
Visit Meredith Zeitlin's website.

The Page 69 Test: Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me.

My Book, The Movie: Sophomore Year is Greek to Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 4, 2015

Tina Connolly

Tina Connolly is the author of the Ironskin trilogy from Tor Books, and the Seriously Wicked series, from Tor Teen. Ironskin, her first fantasy novel, was a Nebula finalist.

Her new book is Seriously Wicked.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Connolly's reply:
I'm in the middle of working on the second book in the Seriously series, and I have a hard time reading novels when I'm in first draft mode. However, I recently went to two book readings at Powell's and so I have two novels on my nightstand I'm really looking forward to – Randy Henderson's funny Finn Fancy Necromancy, and Brenda Cooper's nearish space opera Edge of Dark.

I did manage to finish a couple novels last month – a friend lent me Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl and yeah, it was great twisty fun. And then I read Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, which was on the Booker shortlist last year, and it was amazing. I don't want to say too much about it, because it's got its own twists, but it's all about family and animal rights and old lies and my friends and I all agreed that we loved it. Highly recommended.
Visit Tina Connolly's website, blog, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Copperhead.

The Page 69 Test: Copperhead.

The Page 69 Test: Silverblind.

My Book, The Movie: Silverblind.

My Book, The Movie: Seriously Wicked.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Hannah Dennison

British born, Hannah Dennison originally moved to Los Angeles to pursue screenwriting. She has been an obituary reporter, antique dealer, private jet flight attendant and Hollywood story analyst. Now living in Portland, Oregon, Dennison continues to teach mystery writing at UCLA Extension and still works for a west coast advertising agency. She writes the Honeychurch Hall Mysteries (Minotaur) and the Vicky Hill Mysteries (Constable Crime) both set in the wilds of the English countryside.

Dennison's new novel is Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
Like most writers, I started off as an avid reader. I still read a lot—not as much as I’d like to but I do get a chance on my bi-weekly commute from Portland, Oregon to Los Angeles, California.

Usually I have two or three books I’m reading all at the same time. I read mysteries and thrillers for plane journeys and commuting and non-fiction at bedtime (because I can just about manage a half-dozen pages before I fall asleep).

I’ve just finished Catherine Aird’s “forgotten novel” called A Most Contagious Game. Catherine Aird is better known as the author of the Inspector Sloan series so discovering this stand-alone—first published in 1967 and re-printed by Rue Morgue Press—was a real treat. It’s right up my alley since the plot focuses on the secrets of a Tudor manor house and it’s occupants throughout the centuries in rural England.

On my night table I have Todd Gray’s Remarkable Women of Devon, bought for me by my eighty-five year old mother who attended Todd Gray’s lecture at her monthly Women’s Institute meeting in Diptford, England. Since both my series—the Honeychurch Hall Mysteries and the Vicky Hill Mysteries—are set in Devon, the stories of these little known women fascinate me. From Dr. Mabel Ramsay “Medical Doctor, Suffragette and Soroptimist,” to the Misses Skinners and their “Hotel of Rest for Women in Business, 1878 to 1971.” Of course Agatha Christie does get a mention! One of the things I love most about delving into history is that it tends to put the present in perspective.
Visit Hannah Dennison's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Murder at Honeychurch Hall.

My Book, The Movie: Murder at Honeychurch Hall.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Erika Robuck

Erika Robuck is the author of Receive Me Falling, Hemingway’s Girl, Call Me Zelda, Fallen Beauty, and the newly released The House of Hawthorne.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Robuck's reply:
Currently, I am reading three books, and all have to do with history in some capacity. First, I’m dipping in and out of a gorgeous photo journal called Hemingway's Paris, by Robert Wheeler. Wheeler took the photographs in black and white from Hemingway’s perspective, and wrote a short reflection on each image tying it to Hemingway's fiction and life. I highly recommend the book to anyone who enjoys photography, Paris, or Hemingway.

I’m also reading The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor. I have long admired O’Connor’s southern gothic style, and the way she writes about the grit of humanity while always offering a glimmer of redemption. I have read some of her longer works, but not all of her short fiction. It is a pleasure.

Finally, I just finished Vanessa and Her Sister, a work of historical fiction by Priya Parmar, that to me represents the very best of the genre. The writing is exquisite, the exploration of the intense relationship between Virginia Woolf and her siblings is captivating, and the telling of the story is unique. It is now one of my all-time favorite books.
Learn more about the book and author at Erika Robuck's website and blog.

My Book, the Movie: Hemingway’s Girl.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 1, 2015

Suzanne Johnson

Suzanne Johnson is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series from Tor Books: Royal Street, River Road, Elysian Fields, and the newly released Pirate's Alley.

Recently I asked the author what she was reading. Johnson's reply:
As is usual, I’m reading two books at once, one fiction and one nonfiction.

Game Warden: On Patrol in Louisiana, by Jerald Horst. Sure, this is research for a new series I’m writing but it’s also fascinating. Most people don’t realize the training required for Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents, in a state where so much of the terrain is swamp, mud, wetlands, and water. It’s not all issuing tickets for gator-hunting violations. I can’t wait to write about them.

The Exile, by C.T. Adams. First in a new urban fantasy series, this is the first solo outing for half of the writing team behind “Cat Adams.” Although I thought the ending felt a little rushed, the world building was fascinating, the characters well-drawn, and I got sucked in from the beginning. It has a bare hint of romantic possibility without losing its focus on the political machinations of the Faerie court. A great read!
Visit Suzanne Johnson's website.

The Page 69 Test: Elysian Fields.

Coffee with a Canine: Suzanne Johnson & Tank and Shane.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Carol Berkin

Carol Berkin, Presidential Professor of History, Emerita at Baruch College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, is the author of A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the American Constitution, First Generations, Jonathan Sewall, and Wondrous Beauty: The Life and Adventures of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte.

Her new book is The Bill of Rights: The Fight to Secure America's Liberties.

Recently I asked Berkin about what she was reading. Her reply:
After a long day reading Congressional debates from the 1790s for my next book, I like to turn to a good mystery novel or some science fiction. Having just finished all of Louise Penny’s beautiful, lyrical Inspector Gamache mysteries, I have now turned to an eerie tale, The Devil’s Detective, about murder in the bowels of Hell. I have to confess, however, that I am eagerly awaiting the next and final episode in James Patterson’s Maximum Ride series— who doesn’t love these stories of a group of young people who have been experimented on my evil scientists and given wings?-- and Lincoln Child’s new book. My one requirement for all my “break from research” reading is that the books are well written; no plot line, no matter how complex, can make up for dull or cliche writing!
Learn more about The Bill of Rights: The Fight to Secure America's Liberties.

My Book, The Movie: Wondrous Beauty.

My Book, The Movie: The Bill of Rights.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Jan Elizabeth Watson

Jan Elizabeth Watson was raised in Maine, where she currently lives, writes, and teaches and which also serves as the backdrop for her novels Asta in the Wings (Tin House Books) and What Has Become of You (Dutton). Her third novel-in-progress is set partly in Maine and partly in Ireland.

Recently I asked Watson about what she was reading. Her reply:
I never read fewer than three books at a time because I like having different kinds of irons in any given fire. Currently on my nightstand is Outline, by Rachel Cusk. With this novel I believe Cusk is putting herself in the company of such writers as Calvino and Nabokov and Kundera, whom I envy and adore.

I am also reading Ballerina, Ballerina, which is an adolescent stream-of-consciousness novel by Slovenian writer Marko Sosič, and Martin Chuzzlewit, by Charles Dickens. I have made it my personal goal to read every novel Dickens wrote within the next two years. Some literary highbrow types dismiss him as a populist, but for my money, any writer could learn something from the way he develops scenes and characters.
Learn more about the book and author at Jan Elizabeth Watson's website.

The Page 69 Test: What Has Become of You.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Jan-Philipp Sendker

Jan-Philipp Sendker, born in Hamburg in 1960, was the American correspondent for Stern from 1990 to 1995, and its Asian correspondent from 1995 to 1999. In 2000 he published Cracks in the Wall, a nonfiction book about China. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, his first novel, was an international bestseller. He lives in Berlin with his family.

Sendker's new novel is Whispering Shadows.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
I am currently reading, actually just finished two books, a novel and a non fiction book.

Ghana Must Go is a novel set in the USA and Africa. It was recommended to me by a friend whose taste in books I actually respect a lot. However, I was reluctant to pick up the book first and I don’t know why. The title? The cover? The story line? When I started I fell in love with it right away. The writing is simply fantastic, the rhythm, the style, the intensity. Chapeau! Same with the characters, a family searching for its roots and secrets between Africa and the USA. Highly recommended.

The other is Ten Billion a non fiction book by a British scientist about climate change. It was an eye opener for me. Recommended by my 18-year-old son I started reading in the evening and did not put it down before I had finished it in the early morning. It is a short book, it explains in plain sentences, with a few numbers and examples what we have been doing to this planet and what the consequences will be for us and our children and grand children. A must read for everybody.
Visit Jan-Philipp Sendker's website.

The Page 69 Test: Whispering Shadows.

My Book, The Movie: Whispering Shadows.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 27, 2015

Shelley Stamp

Shelley Stamp is Professor of Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz. A leading expert on women and early film culture, she is author of Movie Struck Girls: Women and Motion Picture Culture after the Nickelodeon and founding editor of Feminist Media Histories: An International Journal. Stamp also provides audio commentary for DVDs, curates film programs, and consults on film preservation projects.

Stamp's new book is Lois Weber in Early Hollywood.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
I’ve just started reading two books that I’ve been excited about for a long time: Tami Williams’ study of early French filmmaker Germaine Dulac, Germaine Dulac: A Cinema of Sensations, and Mary R. Desjardins’ book Recycled Stars: Female Stardom in the Age of Television and Video. Dulac is an incredibly interesting figure, a pioneering surrealist, film theorist, and feminist activist, whose legacy has been unjustly neglected in histories of French filmmaking. Williams spent years combing French archives for lost film prints and details about Dulac’s life and career and she provides a stunning re-reading of Dulac’s accomplishments. I’ll be teaching Dulac’s work in few weeks and can’t wait to update my lecture with all of this new information. Desjardins’ work is a model of feminist media history, for she places her deeply historicized readings of how women’s images circulate in popular culture within detailed accounts of movie fan culture, industry business, lawsuits, scandals, and histories of then-new technologies like television and video. She has found an amazing array of material – everything from Gloria Swanson’s 1948 TV talk show to Lucille Ball’s family scrapbooks circulated on CD-ROM.

In the fiction department I just finished Sarah Waters’ novel The Paying Guests, a psychological thriller set in London after the first World War. Waters is always phenomenal. I have read every one of her books as they have come out. What astounds me is her ability to bring to life everyday subtleties in women’s lives during quite distinct historical periods – Victorian England, the Edwardian period, the Blitz – while spinning slow-burning tales of violence and intrigue. The Paying Guests manages to paint a vivid picture of class and gender inequality in post WW I England while winding up to an unbearably tense finale. I spent a recent Sunday afternoon happily engrossed in the final chapters, oblivious to family life around me.

With my 9-year-old daughter I am reading I Am Malala. I keep expecting that she will be terrified, as I am, by the events described in the book, but she remains resolutely focused on Malala Yousafzai’s extraordinary courage, never wanting to skip passages or look away, while my voice cracks as I struggle to read the passages aloud. How lucky she is to have such a feminist role model so close to her own age. And I’m re-reading Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting with my 11-year-old boys after having already gobbled it up with my daughter. It’s an exquisitely written story that combines many of my favorite ingredients: striking historical detail, a strong heroine, psychological nuance, and a central mystery slowly unraveled. It’s something of a cross between Anne of Green Gables and The Hunger Games, if that makes any sense. The book came as a gift. We have all loved it so much that we now plan to go back and read every one of Babbitt’s books together. It’s rare that we are all so passionate about the same book, so we won’t waste this opportunity.
Learn more about Lois Weber in Early Hollywood at Shelley Stamp's webpage and the University of California Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Lois Weber in Early Hollywood.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cynthia Riggs

Cynthia Riggs is the author of Poison Ivy, the 11th volume in the Martha's Vineyard mystery series. She was born on Martha's Vineyard and is the eighth generation to live in her family homestead which she runs as a bed and breakfast catering to poets, writers, and other creative people.

Recently I asked Riggs about what she was reading. Her reply:
At the moment, I, Cynthia Riggs, am re-reading Donald Westlake’s What's So Funny? featuring John Dortmunder, a burglar who manages to bungle most of his jobs in highly creative ways. I’ve read most of the Dortmunder books, and catch myself laughing out loud at times at the complicated capers that Dortmunder undertakes. In this book, an ex-cop blackmails Dortmunder with a photo of Dortmunder heisting a computer. The ex-cop wants Dortmunder to steal a valuable chess set stored in an underground bank vault several floors beneath a high-rise office building. Where I am now, Dortmunder and the ex-cop are casing the secluded and abandoned country house where the chess set, if Dortmunder is successful, will be stashed. However, a teenage wanna-be crook and his moll have broken into and are living in the house and overhear enough about this valuable chess set for the reader to see complications coming. Further complicated by the fact that Dortmunder and his ally, Andy, plan to substitute a fake chess set, assuming they succeed in stealing the original. And this is only a third of the way through the book.
Visit Cynthia Riggs's website.

--Marshal Zeringue