Thursday, April 19, 2018

Teresa Dovalpage

Teresa Dovalpage was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1966. She earned her BA in English literature and an MA in Spanish literature at the University of Havana, and her PhD in Latin American literature at the University of New Mexico. She is the author of twelve other works of fiction and three plays, and is the winner of the Rincón de la Victoria Award and a finalist for the Herralde Award.

Dovalpage's new book is Death Comes in through the Kitchen.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
I just finished reading Halsey Street by Naima Coster, released early this year. It deals with family issues, particularly-mother daughter relationships, and I am fascinated by the way they are portrayed. You won’t find the idealized, always self-sacrificing, long-suffering, tamale-making Latina mother there. Mirella, the main character’s mother, is everything but. Ay, que relief! The novel also tackles big issues like poverty, gentrification, and race, but (another big sigh of relief here) without preaching. The story is nuanced with flawed, vulnerable and true-to-life characters. Will there be a second part? I hope so…

I also read Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home by Rhoda Janzen. I chose it because Hobbs, where I am living now, is home to a strong Mennonite community and I was curious about them. The memoir is funny, well written and very informative about the Mennonite culture. I really enjoy the list of shame-based foods!

Rereading is my guilty pleasure, an act akin to coming home. I am currently back to one of my favorites, Los amantes clandestinos (The Secret Lovers) a novel by Ana Cabrera Vivanco that spans three generations and two continents. A wonderful saga that takes place in Cataluña, Havana and Miami, this literary jewel that deserves to be translated into English soon.
Visit Teresa Dovalpage's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mariah Fredericks

Mariah Fredericks was born and raised in New York City, where she still lives today with her family. She is a graduate of Vassar College with a BA in history. She has written several novels for young adults; her novel Crunch Time was nominated for an Edgar in 2007.

Fredericks's new book is A Death of No Importance, her first mystery for adults.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
Confession: I am a book slut. I flit from read to read, and it’s rare I read just one book all the way through. I read a lot for research, so I always have a fiction and non-fiction going. And usually one re-read.

My mystery series is set in 1910s New York, so when Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919, Mike Wallace’s follow up to his magisterial Gotham, came out, I went straight to the bookstore and told them to bring it up from the stockroom. I could say I’m reading this book, but it’s more like I’m married to it. This is what my copy looks like [image left].

You want to know which blocks Irish immigrants in the building trade lived on? Wallace will tell you. You want to know when Sophie Tucker gave up black face and why? The Italian experience of the ILGWU? Wallace will tell you. And he writes beautifully. If he ever felt less than enthralled by any aspect of the city’s history, I would never know.

For fiction, I’m reading The New York Stories of Edith Wharton. It’s easy to get distracted by the bustles and beaver hats with a turn-of-the-century author. But even after decades of reading Wharton, I’m amazed at her witty, compassionate take on the intersections of sentiment and commerce, especially in the lives of New Yorkers. In the first story, “Mrs. Manstey’s View,” a lonely woman faces a crisis when her neighbor’s extension threatens her beloved view. What does the fragile, genteel lady do? She burns down the damn extension. Now that’s a New Yorker.

My re-read for this month was Presumed Innocent—so good on the jagged edges of human nature and how we torment one another. It has aged less well in some of its stereotypes, which Turow acknowledges but doesn’t entirely fix with the sequel, Innocent.

Finally, at my 11 year old’s recommendation, I’m reading Marvel Comics’ Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Which is every bit as wonderful as the title would suggest.
Visit Mariah Fredericks's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Girl in the Park.

The Page 69 Test: A Death of No Importance.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Sam Wiebe

Cut You Down, the latest novel in Sam Wiebe's series featuring Vancouver PI Dave Wakeland, is garnering rave reviews, including a starred review from Publishers Weekly. He's also the author of Invisible Dead and Last of the Independents, and the editor of the forthcoming Vancouver Noir. Wiebe lives in Vancouver.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Wiebe's reply:
Sheena Kamal’s follow-up to her best-selling debut The Lost Ones is titled It All Falls Down. It takes flawed heroine Nora Watts from Vancouver to Detroit in search of clues to her father’s mysterious death, and to her own fractured family life. It builds on the strengths of the first book, while adding new dimensions to the character and delving into topics like North America’s treatment of refugees and soldiers. I really like Nora’s (and Kamal’s) sense of humour, which veers between acidic and absurd.

I’ve also been reading Joe R Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard series, trying to keep ahead of the TV series. Mucho Mojo finds Leonard, a gay black Vietnam vet, inheriting a house from his uncle, only to find the body of a child buried beneath the floorboards. Narrated by Hap, an ex-prisoner and conscientious objector, the story unfolds like a John D. MacDonald novel told by Mark Twain. Darker than the first book, but leavened by the terrific interplay between characters, Mucho Mojo led me to immediately pick up the third book, The Two-Bear Mambo, which has one of those great James Crumley-esque opening paragraphs. Pick it up and see for yourself.
Visit Sam Wiebe's website.

My Book, The Movie: Invisible Dead.

The Page 69 Test: Invisible Dead.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Spencer Kope

Spencer Kope is the Crime Analyst for the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office. Currently assigned to Detectives Division, he provides case support to detectives and deputies, and is particularly good at identifying possible suspects. In his spare time he developed a database-driven analytical process called Forensic Vehicle Analysis (FVA) used to identify the make, model and year range of vehicles from surveillance photos. It's a tool he's used repeatedly to solve crimes. One of his favorite pastimes is getting lost in a bookstore, and he lives in Washington State.

Kope's new novel is Whispers of the Dead.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
I recently finished Ready Player One, and what a cool ride. I loved the story, not just because it paints an accurate picture of what I believe our dystopic future might look like, but because it also looks back to the best decade of my life: the 1980s. It’s one of the best stories I’ve read in a while, so I also picked up a first printing to add to my collection of first editions. Now that the Spielberg movie is out, I’ll be lining up to see it at the theater in the next week or so.

I’m currently reading Suspect by Robert Crais, which is shaping up to be a great story, and before that it was Yesterday’s Echo by Matt Coyle, which I really enjoyed.

Much as I’d like to spend my life in novels, I also read a lot of non-fiction. Some of this is research for books I’m writing, other times it’s just because I’m curious by nature. I recently took a load of grief from family members who thought it was hilarious that I was reading a book about salt. They wanted to know if the sequel was called Pepper. The book was Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky, and it was fascinating—or at least I thought so.

Another non-fiction title I recently finished was Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. This one was research for my crime series, which features a recurring villain nicknamed Leonardo because of the subtle depiction of the Vitruvian Man that he leaves behind. Finally, one of my all-time favorite non-fiction titles remains Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. Pure gold.
Visit Spencer Kope's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Nell Hampton

An avid foodie and writer, Nell Hampton (AKA Nancy J. Parra) decided to finally combine her two loves. She lives in Richmond, VA.

Her new novel is Lord of the Pies.

Recently I asked Hampton/Parra about what she was reading. Her reply:
Oh, gosh so many wonderful things. I’m really into research right now for my next book and I’ve been reading British cook books. I have this great one called The Royal Touch by Caroline Robb. She was Princess Diana’s personal chef when the boys were young and the stories that she intersperses with her recipes are wonderful. I like the insight into how the Princes grew up.

I also am reading some great history books on London and Kensington palace. The workings of large households fascinate me.
Visit Nell Hampton / Nancy J. Parra's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Nancy J. Parra and Little Dog.

The Page 69 Test: Lord of the Pies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 13, 2018

Emma Berquist

Emma Berquist grew up in Austin, Texas and sunburns easily.

She currently lives in New Zealand and avoids the beach.

Her new novel is Devils Unto Dust.

Recently I asked Berquist about what she was reading; her reply:
I’ve recently been treating myself to some middle grade books and I just finished Merrill Wyatt’s Ernestine, Catastrophe Queen. Even if I didn’t know the author, I’d have to pick this one up because it’s about a precocious girl trying to start the zombie apocalypse, and I’m all about zombies. This book is so enjoyable, a fast-paced mystery with an irrepressible main character and a cast of farcical elderly patrons. Since I’ve been all kinds of anxious about my first book releasing, I really needed a laugh and a distraction, and this hit the spot exactly.
Visit Emma Berquist's website.

The Page 69 Test: Devils Unto Dust.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 12, 2018

David Drake

The Army took David Drake from Duke Law School and sent him on a motorized tour of Viet Nam and Cambodia with the 11th Cav, the Blackhorse. He learned new skills, saw interesting sights, and met exotic people who hadn’t run fast enough to get away.

Drake returned to become Chapel Hill’s Assistant Town Attorney and to try to put his life back together through fiction making sense of his Army experiences.

He describes war from where he saw it: the loader’s hatch of a tank in Cambodia. Drake's military experience, combined with his formal education in history and Latin, has made him one of the foremost writers of realistic action SF and fantasy. His bestselling Hammer’s Slammers series is credited with creating the genre of modern Military SF. He often wishes he had a less interesting background.

Drake's new novel is Though Hell Should Bar the Way.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Drake's reply:
At the moment, I'm actively reading two books:

Log-letters from "The Challenger" by Lord George Granville Campbell. I'm honestly not sure what Campbell's position during the Challenger Expedition of 1872 was--he may have been aboard simply because he was the (third) son of the Duke of Argyle. He certainly wasn't a scientist but he may not have had naval rank either.

Regardless, he has left a lively and informative account of this famous Royal Society scientific expedition--a 19th century predecessor of the International Geophysical Year of my youth.

Mosquito Pathfinder by Albert Smith, the memoir of an RAF navigator during WW II. This has many virtues, starting with the fact that it's clearly and entertainingly written. Smith was very much an oick, the son of a truckdriver from Salford--who happened to be very good at math. Most such memoirs are written by officers with at least a brushing acquaintance with the better classes.

Smith did his job in a variety of aircraft and theaters, describing the problems of living with scorpions and centipedes in North Africa as well as flak and night fighters over Essen in a Wellington.
Visit David Drake's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Susan Henderson

Susan Henderson is a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the recipient of an Academy of American Poets award. She is the author of the novels Up from the Blue (2010) and The Flicker of Old Dreams (2018).

Recently I asked Henderson about what she was reading. Her reply:
I'm currently reading Jennifer Haupt's In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills, inspired by her time spent as a journalist in Rwanda. It digs deep into trauma to find hope, grace, and a sense of resolution.

Two books I read recently and loved were Hala Alyan's Salt Houses -- a particularly poetic story of a Palestinian family in exile, and Max Porter's Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, that I've now read four times. It's not really a novel (though it says on the cover that it is) and it's not really poetry. It's just a weird and fantastic emotional ride of a family coming to terms with death, with one of the narrators being a crow.
Visit Susan Henderson's website.

The Page 69 Test: Up From the Blue.

The Page 69 Test: The Flicker of Old Dreams.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Alex Bledsoe

Alex Bledsoe grew up in west Tennessee an hour north of Graceland (home of Elvis) and twenty minutes from Nutbush (birthplace of Tina Turner). He has been a reporter, editor, photographer and door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. He now lives in a Wisconsin town famous for trolls.

Bledsoe's new novel is The Fairies of Sadieville, the sixth book in his Tufa series.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
In fiction, I’m currently reading an advance copy of The Darkest Time of Night by Jeremy Finley (out June 28 from St. Martin’s Press). I’m friends with his agent, who sent it to me because a) he correctly thought it would be right up my alley, and 2) Finley, like me, is a Tennesseean.

There are two things about it that immediately grabbed my attention. One is the topic: possible alien abduction of a child. Two is the first-person protagonist, a sharp, tenacious elderly grandmother. There are inevitably some X-Files moments, but for the most part the story stays focused on the emotional reality of the characters, rather than the intricacies of plot or conspiracy. I’ve just hit a point near the end where something totally unexpected has happened, that both clarifies some of the mystery and opens up many new ones.

In non-fiction, I’m reading an advance copy of collected film reviews by the late Jim Ridley, People Only Die of Love in the Movies (out June 21 from Vanderbilt University Press). Ridley was the award-winning film critic for the Nashville Scene, an independent weekly, and I was lucky enough to meet him a couple of times when I lived there. His reviews cover both then-current titles and older films featured at revival showings, and both his love of movies and his wit are on full display here (he refers to the Spartan War film 300 as “the movie equivalent of a Molly Hatchet album cover”).
Visit Alex Bledsoe's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Fairies of Sadieville.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 9, 2018

Harold Schechter

Harold Schechter is an American true-crime writer who specializes in serial killers. Twice nominated for the Edgar Award, his nonfiction books include Fatal, Fiend, Bestial, Deviant, Deranged, Depraved, The Serial Killer Files, The Mad Sculptor, Man-Eater, and Killer Colt.

Schechter's new book is Hell's Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Schechter's reply:
I’m currently working on a book about fictional movies inspired by true crimes. Since many of those movies are adaptations of novels, I’m mostly reading those novels, as well as any non-fiction books dealing with the actual cases. For example, I recently finished an entry on Richard Brooks’ film version of Looking for Mr. Goodbar, which necessitated my (re)reading Judith Rossner’s 1975 bestseller along with Lacey Fosburgh’s Closing Time: The True Story of the “Goodbar” Murder. Before that, in preparation for writing about the movie version of BUtterfield 8, I read John O’Hara’s original novel and several books about the mysterious death of Starr Faithfull, who served as the model for BUtterfield’s doomed protagonist, Gloria Wandrous.
Visit Harold Schechter's website.

The Page 99 Test: Killer Colt.

The Page 99 Test: Hell's Princess.

My Book, The Movie: Hell's Princess.

--Marshal Zeringue