Sally Whitney

SALLY WHITNEY

Author of the novel Surface and Shadowplus short stories appearing in journals and anthologies, including Best Short Stories from The Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest 2017.

 

11/10/13  BOOK REVIEW: THE YONAHLOSSEE RIDING CAMP FOR GIRLS BY ANTON DiSCLAFANI

I like a good mystery, especially a mystery embedded in a mainstream novel. So I was hooked when Anton DiSclafani started dropping hints of an unnamed “trouble” at home in the first chapter of her debut novel, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. The “trouble” is the reason fifteen-year-old Thea Atwell’s parents have sent her away from home in Florida to a boarding school where wealthy young women learn to be accomplished equestriennes in the mountains of North Carolina. (Continue reading)

Terra Ziporyn

TERRA ZIPORYN

Author of The Bliss of SolitudeTime’s Fool, Do Not Go Gentle, and the new novel Permanent Makeup as well as many nonfiction works including The New Harvard Guide to Women’s HealthAlternative Medicine for Dummies, and Nameless Diseases.

11/4/13 – INTERVIEW WITH MARIAN SZCZEPANSKI, AUTHOR OF PLAYING ST. BARBARA 

Marian Szczepanski

Playing St. Barbara 2Novelist Marian Szczepanski and I met at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference in the summer of 1993. We recently reconnected through a mutual Facebook friend who had just reviewed Marian’s new (and first!) novelPlaying St. Barbara. Marian was gracious enough to catch me up on the missing twenty years, including how she came to write this historical novel chronicling the brutal lives and enduring spirit of Depression-era immigrant coal-mining families in southwestern Pennsylvania. (Continue reading)

Ron Cooper

RON COOPER

AUTHOR OF THE GOSPEL OF THE TWIN,  PURPLE JESUS AND HUME’S FORK.

I fell in love with literature when I read Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. The backwoods Bundren family—some hard-working and honorable, some shiftless and depraved, and all dirt poor—were my people. I had never imagined that penniless and often clueless clodhoppers could be proper subjects for respectable art. I found that such characters surfaced in the work of other, usually Southern, authors, like Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, and Erskine Caldwell. The fictive world occupied by O’Connor’s and Welty’s characters were familiar to me, but they were not the destitute and often violent milieu of Faulkner and especially Caldwell. These authors all understood something about poor people, although only Caldwell seemed especially to care for them. In the years after being awakened to literature by Faulkner, I discovered many writers I admired, but I wondered why nearly all of them wrote only about socio-economically privileged characters. (Continue reading)

Gary Garth McCann

GARY GARTH MCCANN

Author of the novel The Man Who Asked To Be Killed and five stories, most recently “Incorrigible,” Erotic Review and “The Yearbook,” Mobius

10/29/13, INTRODUCING 11/1/13 GUEST BLOGGER, RON COOPER, AUTHOR OF PURPLE JESUS, PROCLAIMED “SO PERFECTLY WRITTEN, IT’S EXHILARATING TO READ” IN A WASHINGTON POST REVIEW

“You just don’t know. She’s just that. Everything about her. She looks at me—a look that could worm a dog. And her mouth. Lips like corn.”–from Purple Jesus

A look that could worm a dog? Lips like corn? Did I read that right?roncooper

Who puts words like these in their characters’ minds and mouths? A philosophy professor and novelist named Ron Cooper, raised in South Carolina and noted in the French magazine Transfuge as one of a group of writers who focus on poor people living desperate lives. B.A., College of Charleston, M.A., University of South Carolina, Ph.D. Rutgers, Cooper teaches at the College of Central Florida. His fiction has appeared in Yalobusha Review, Apostrophe, Timber Creek Review, and The Blotter, and his first novel Hume’s Fork earned him recognition as a finalist for the Bread Loaf Conference’s Bakeless Literary Prize. He will be our guest blogger on November 1 and will be interviewed here on November 20. See, below, for my October 20 review of Purple Jesus, a tragicomic gem of a novel.

M L DOYLE

Author of mystery and memoir with a military theme

10/26/2013 – Along the Watchtower by David Litwack – a review

David Litwack says, “Nothing inspires his writing like the beautiful scenery of Cape Cod.”  The chilled crash of the shore and theAlong-the-Watchtower-eBook-189x300 craggy trees of the Cape are starkly evident in the pages of Litwack’s Along the Watchtower. The atmosphere he creates by means of the Cape is just one of the many successful  aspects of this novel.

Fredrick Williams is an Army Lieutenant leading his squad on a patrol in Iraq when he is gravely wounded. A man obsessed with the video game, World of Warcraft, Fredrick believes his distraction with the game is what diverted his attention and led to his injuries and the death of his closest friend, the man he calls archangel.

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Sonia Linebaugh

SONIA LINEBAUGH

Author of At the Feet of Mother Meera: The Lessons of Silence, and the (unpublished) novels The Wisdom Project, The American Year, and the Hardest Thing.

10/23/13, Review of The Preservationist by Justin Kramon.

Justin Kramon’s book is just out. He says it’s “a psychological thriller, written as a tribute to some of the classic thrillers I love, from Hitchcock to Ruth Rendell to Stephen King to Patricia Highsmith to Henning Mankell.”

I don’t know the last time a had so much to say to a character while I was reading a book. Most often I was saying aloud: No! Don’t do it! Don’t go there! (Continue reading)

Gary Garth McCann

GARY GARTH MCCANN

Author of the novel The Man Who Asked To Be Killed and five stories, most recently “Incorrigible,” Erotic Review and “The Yearbook,” Mobius

10/20/13 “Purple Jesus is so perfectly written, it’s exhilarating to read,” wrote Eric Miles Williamson in The Washington Post. “The publication of Purple Jesus is a literary event of the first magnitude.”

Ron Cooper’s Purple Jesus is the heartbreaking tale of a hapless, not always well-intentioned young man—Purvis—being led around by his penis and his penchant for fantasy by a young woman determined to escape the backwoods rural poverty that asthmatic Purvis lacks the self-esteem to ever really imagine himself escaping. The book is also the best explanation—illumination—I’ve seen of how some modern-life tragedies come into being, the kinds of fatal tragedies that leave all of us gawking at the TV news and saying, “Why would anyone do that? What was he thinking?” (Continue reading)

Eileen Haavik McIntire

EILEEN HAAVIK MCINTIRE

Author of Shadow and the Rock, The 90s Club and the Hidden Staircase, and The 90s Club and the Whispering Statue

My first encounter with an unreliable narrator—that I recognized, that is—was years ago when I first read Agatha Christie’s notorious The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, first published in 1926. The ending stunned me as it has many other readers through the years. It also gave rise to a list of rules for writing mysteries formulated by mystery author John Dickson Carr, rebuttals to that list from other authors, and an essay by the well-known literary critic Edmund Wilson entitled “Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?” (Continue reading)

Jill Morrow

JILL MORROW

Angel Cafe (Simon & Schuster 2003); The Open Channel (Simon & Schuster 2005); Newport (HarperCollins/William Morrow 2015)

10/13/13 – THORNE SMITH AND THE AMERICAN GHOST

With Halloween creeping upon us, this seems the perfect time to ask a personal question: how do you like your American ghosts? Do you prefer them spooky? Atmospheric? Maybe you savor a gothic entity laced with fear and darkness, or a tale where the supernatural explores the human psyche. If so, I’ll direct you to Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, or Nathaniel Hawthorne. But if (like me) you prefer the sorts of ghosts who eagerly urge you to hoist a drink or two (or twenty), then you’ll want to spend an evening with Thorne Smith. (Continue reading)

Sally Whitney

SALLY WHITNEY

Author of the novel Surface and Shadowplus short stories appearing in journals and anthologies, including Best Short Stories from The Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest 2017.

 

10/10/13 – WHAT MAKES FICTION TRULY SCARY?

’Tis the season for “goulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night.” And from all such creatures, the Cornish Litany implores, “Good Lord, deliver us!”

We may indeed need to be delivered from ghosts, vampires, aliens from other planets, monsters, zombies, and other strange beings. Such fiends have long been the staple of horror stories, tales told ’round a campfire, and movies that send people screaming from the theater. But I believe the scariest stories hit much closer to home. Although I never read books classified as “horror,” I’ve been plenty scared by some of the novels and stories I do read. (Continue reading)

Mark Willen

MARK WILLEN

Author of Hawke’s Point

10/7/13 — THE ENDURING APPEAL OF LEE CHILD’S JACK REACHER

It takes a special kind of a protagonist to carry a long series of books.

Lee Child

Lee Child

Our heroes have to be characters we can root for and identify with.  We don’t expect to ever do what they can do, but we have to share their values and dreams and appreciate their finer qualities. (Think Robert Parker’s Spenser, whose sense of right and wrong comes along with his devotion to the woman he loves, a friend who’d die for him, and gourmet cooking skills).

They have to be unique, with special talents and characteristics that make them stand out in a crowd, as well as a weakness or two to make them human. (Think Sherlock Holmes, with his unmatched brain power and his almost fatal addiction).

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Terra Ziporyn

TERRA ZIPORYN

Author of The Bliss of SolitudeTime’s Fool, Do Not Go Gentle, and the new novel Permanent Makeup as well as many nonfiction works including The New Harvard Guide to Women’s HealthAlternative Medicine for Dummies, and Nameless Diseases.

 10/4/13 — INTERVIEW WITH LINDA MARIANIELLO, LITERARY TRANSLATOR 73627_100398236696948_340397_n

Life takes us funny places. Decades ago I played in the Yale Symphony Orchestra with Linda Marianiello, who had transferred to Yale and had the reputation – more than well-deserved – as a phenomenal flautist. I recently learned that Linda has turned her musical training, liberal arts education, and other considerable skills to literary and book translation, a field that constitutes 3% of all book publishing in the US today. I grabbed the chance to catch up with Linda to find out not only how her life took this turn but also learn something about what exactly literary translation requires of a writer. (Continue reading)

Carolyn Sienkiewicz

CAROLYN SIENKIEWICZ

 Our 10/1/13 Guest Blogger from the Washington Independent Review of Books

First, let’s get this out the way: Stieg Larsson, Stieg Larsson, Stieg Larsson. There, I have evoked his name so no one can say I overlooked him.

Mr. Larsson’s successful works notwithstanding, everyone loves a good mystery and I’m no exception. Humans are hard-wired to try to solve puzzles and problems, a survival skill basic to understanding one another and trying to get along so we don’t kill each other. (Continue reading)

Gary Garth McCann

GARY GARTH MCCANN

Author of the novel The Man Who Asked To Be Killed and five stories, most recently “Incorrigible,” Erotic Review and “The Yearbook,” Mobius

Carolyn Sienkiewicz does the extraordinary. Last night I heard the Peabody-trained oboist play with the American Balalaika Symphony.CarolynSienkiewicz I’ve read her articles in Cruising World, Living Aboard, Chesapeake Bay Magazine and SpinSheet about living with her husband, Mark, aboard a sailboat for eight years—although from talking with her I know that she and Mark both got seasick the first time they sailed. When you next visit the “Charm City” of Baltimore, if you treat yourself to a visit aboard the sailing ambassador, the Pride of Baltimore II, know that Carolyn was among the volunteers who worked over a recent winter to keep the swift clipper shipshape. And she is a reviewer, editor, and member of the editorial board of the Washington Independent Review of Books. (Continue reading)

M L DOYLE

Author of mystery and memoir with a military theme

D. J. Molles

D. J. Molles

An interview with the author of The Remaining, D. J. Molles – and a big announcement

After reading and frankly, becoming obsessed with the four-book series of The Remaining, I had to talk to the author and find out more about…well, everything. I reviewed the series a few weeks ago, but couldn’t resist the urge to toss a few questions at D. J. Molles.

First, if you’ve not heard about The Remaining, I strongly believe that soon, you will. It’s a captivating look at a post-apocalyptic world, with a strong military protagonist and a realistic look at what could happen to survivors as they attempt to eke out a life amongst all hell breaking loose, government collapse and fight-to-the-death power plays.

The success of the series is another example of how self published—what we now like to call indie authors—are creating amazing stories and going around the big publishing house obstacles to bring their stories to readers.

I sent a message to the indie author and was thrilled when he agreed to the interview.

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Sonia Linebaugh

SONIA LINEBAUGH

Author of At the Feet of Mother Meera: The Lessons of Silence, and the (unpublished) novels The Wisdom Project, The American Year, and the Hardest Thing.

TAuthor Austin Camachohe Ice Woman Assignment by Austin S. Camacho has all the excitement and tension a reader of thrillers could want. Morgan Stark, a black, well-muscled former mercenary, is a partner in a security business with red-haired former jewel thief Felicity O’Brien. Their cunning opponent is Anaconda, (Continue reading)

Gary Garth McCann

GARY GARTH MCCANN

Author of the novel The Man Who Asked To Be Killed and five stories, most recently “Incorrigible,” Erotic Review and “The Yearbook,” Mobius

9/20/13 – BOOK REVIEW OF ROB ROSS’s FANTASY NOVEL, JUGGLER’S BLADE

I usually don’t read fantasy but watched for Juggler’s Blade to be published because I knew it had won the fantasy silver prize in the Maryland Writers’ Association novel contest. Not only does the book jump off fast, but the beginning is worthy of literary fiction. The plight of Ian, the young protagonist, brings to mind Oliver Twist, Dickens’ lad born into a life of crime. (Continue reading)

Mark Willen

MARK WILLEN

Author of Hawke’s Point

9/17/13 — INTERVIEW WITH NANCY HARTNEY, AUTHOR OF WASHED IN THE WATER library close head shot

In my review of Washed in the Water earlier this month, I suggested this debut collection of short stories made Nancy Hartney an important new voice of the South. That was very much on my mind when I got a chance to talk to Hartney about her roots, how her upbringing influenced her writing, and how she feels about the region she grew up in.  Here is our interview, slightly edited and condensed:

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Jill Morrow

JILL MORROW

Angel Cafe (Simon & Schuster 2003); The Open Channel (Simon & Schuster 2005); Newport (HarperCollins/William Morrow 2015)

9/13/13 – SUSPENDING SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF

In 1817, Samuel Taylor Coleridge coined the expression “willing suspension of disbelief.” Suspension of disbelief is a wonderful thing. It allows us to enjoy and accept premises in our reading that we might never believe otherwise. As originally conceived, it was the author’s job to inject enough impression of truth into an unrealistic tale that a reader could suspend judgment of the improbability of the story. But over time the responsibility has shifted from how well an author creates a fictional world to how willing a reader is to lose herself in it. In short, the onus falls on readers to believe. (Continue reading)

Sally Whitney

SALLY WHITNEY

Author of the novel Surface and Shadowplus short stories appearing in journals and anthologies, including Best Short Stories from The Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest 2017.

 

9/10/13 – INTERVIEW WITH AMY FRANKLIN-WILLIS, AUTHOR OF THE LOST SAINTS OF TENNESSEE

When Amy Franklin-Willis’s debut novel, The Lost Saints of Tennessee, wAmy Franklin-Willisas released, The New York Times Book Review noted “the main characters are agreeably imperfect, their stories sensitively told.” The Christian Science Monitor said, “…she excels at making readers care about her characters, especially the ones who have made the biggest mistakes.”

I couldn’t agree more that characters are the soul of The Lost Saints of Tennessee, although the sense of place is powerful, too. (Continue reading)

Mark Willen

MARK WILLEN

Author of Hawke’s Point

9/7/13 – BOOK REVIEW: WASHED IN THE WATER BY NANCY HARTNEY

Nancy Hartney doesn’t just create a sense of place in her stories; she actually takes you there, lifting you out of your reading chair and virtually transporting you to the South as it was fifty years ago. In Washed in the Water, her debut collection of short stories, Hartney writes with such authority and realism about the white underbelly of the region during that era that she immediately establishes herself as an important new voice of the South, with a style and tone reminiscent of Carson McCullers, Erskine Caldwell, or Flannery O’Connor. You certainly don’t need to read the book jacket to know where Hartney comes from. (Continue reading)

Terra Ziporyn

TERRA ZIPORYN

Author of The Bliss of SolitudeTime’s Fool, Do Not Go Gentle, and the new novel Permanent Makeup as well as many nonfiction works including The New Harvard Guide to Women’s HealthAlternative Medicine for Dummies, and Nameless Diseases.

9/4/13 – DISCUSSABILITY: THE KEY TO A GOOD BOOK CLUB BOOK

Book clubs are often maligned as places where people do just about everything except discuss books. But when I asked members of my own book club for reading recommendations, they confirmed what I had always suspected: book clubs not only discuss books, but “discussability” trumps literary merit.

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Sonia Linebaugh

SONIA LINEBAUGH

Author of At the Feet of Mother Meera: The Lessons of Silence, and the (unpublished) novels The Wisdom Project, The American Year, and the Hardest Thing.

Austin Camacho9/1/13 Austin Camacho interviewed by Sonia Linebaugh. What does the writer experience as the words flow onto the page? That’s what I wanted to find out when I interviewed  Austin Camacho, author of five detective novels and four thrillers.

Q. Austin, what are your moments of ecstasy in writing?

A. There’s a kind of ecstatic moment when I find just the right line of dialog to express what a character needs to say, or write a bit of description that tugs at my heart when I read it the next day. In Damaged Goods [page 81], Hannibal asks the slave girl where her collar is: “For a frozen moment, (Continue reading)

Terra Ziporyn

TERRA ZIPORYN

Author of The Bliss of SolitudeTime’s Fool, Do Not Go Gentle, and the new novel Permanent Makeup as well as many nonfiction works including The New Harvard Guide to Women’s HealthAlternative Medicine for Dummies, and Nameless Diseases.

9/1/13 – THE BOOKS I MISSED READING LAST YEAR

I’ve been so submerged in the process of writing a new novel that I’ve missed pretty much every one of my monthly book club meetings over the past year—and, alas, many of the books that went with them. When I finally came up for air, I found myself gasping for fresh reading material, and I figured the ladies of my longstanding book club could rescue me.

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M L DOYLE

Author of mystery and memoir with a military theme

9/1/13 – THE REMAINING – A REVIEW

I don’t wear combat boots anymore, but in my heart, I’m still a soldier. Perhaps that’s why I’m forever drawn to stories about ordinary people who, through heroic efforts, overcome impossible odds.

That’s exactly the kind of story I found in D. J. Molles’ series, The Remaining. I haven’t been this enthralled, this transported by a series of books since…EVER. I dare anyone, especially anyone who ever served in uniform, to read these books and not be affected by them. (Continue reading)