Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Ed Ruggero

Ed Ruggero is a West Point graduate and former Army officer who has studied, practiced, and taught leadership for more than twenty-five years. His client list includes the FBI, the New York City Police Department, CEO Conference Europe, the CIA, the Young Presidents Organization, Forbes, among many others. He has appeared on CNN, The History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and CNBC and has spoken to audiences around the world on leadership, leader development and ethics. He lives in Philadelphia.

Ruggero's new novel is Blame the Dead.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Ruggero's reply:
Ernie Pyle in England by Ernie Pyle

The down-home, just-us-folks style that made Pyle one of the most famous correspondents of World War Two is everywhere apparent in this collection of columns, all written before Pearl Harbor, when England stood alone against Hitler. Pyle had a talent for painting pictures of the common people on whose heads the war fell. What strikes me now, reading this alongside more recently written accounts of the period, is how much Pyle sanitized things. In all his months traveling throughout besieged England and especially bomb-smashed London, he seems to meet no one other than plucky, defiant civilians who are uniformly happy to do their part and offer nothing but praise for isolationist America. Yet subsequent studies show that some people took advantage of the chaos to commit crimes, and certainly there had to be some English man or woman, somewhere, who was miffed that America was letting England fight on alone against the Nazis. Pyle was too sophisticated an observer to miss the tawdry side of England during the Blitz, which makes me wonder if he was just delivering what he knew his newspaper audiences at home wanted to read, or maybe what the censors would allow through.

Long Bright River: A Novel by Liz Moore

Moore’s best-selling novel is set in Kensington, a section of Philadelphia hard-hit by the opioid crisis that also happens to be where both my parents and the protagonists of my book Blame the Dead grew up. I knew I was in the company of a great writer in the first few pages when she hits the reader with a couple of lists (I won’t spoil it for you). These are as simple, clever and wildly effective as the metaphor Tim O’Brien uses to construct his brilliant The Things They Carried. I cared about Moore’s protagonist, Mickey, a Philadelphia cop whose life is upended by the chaos around her. And while I’ve never been a cop and don’t claim to know any more about real police procedures than anyone else who watches TV, several times I found myself wanting to yell at Mickey, “Don’t do that!” like some crazy person in the back row at a scary movie.

Running with Sherman: The Donkey with the Heart of a Hero by Christopher McDougall

I picked up this book as an antidote to the bleakness of Moore’s Long, Bright River. Try to picture a city-savvy writer and his family adopting a rescue burro in rural Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania. Having trouble conjuring that image? So did I. Fortunately, McDougall’s writing is so vivid that you’re soon rooting for his success. When McDougall is told that the donkey, Sherman, needs a job, he settles on marathon-length races in the mountains of Colorado. McDougall is a runner, though not a marathoner (which is an entirely different religion), he has never been an animal trainer, has never driven a horse trailer, has never competed at altitude—the list of all the reasons he’s unqualified go on and on. All of which just makes the story both funny and compelling. My favorite parts were about the physiological benefits to humans of animal contact. I knew this instinctively, as evidenced by all the time I spend petting and walking our dogs, but it was nice to read about the science behind it.
Visit Ed Ruggero's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 30, 2020

Patricia Marcantonio

Patricia Marcantonio was born in Pueblo, Colorado. She has won awards for her journalism, short stories and screenplays. Her children's book Red Ridin’ in the Hood and Other Cuentos has earned an Anne Izard Storyteller’s Choice Award and was named an Americas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature Commended Title, and one of the Wilde Awards Best Collections to Share with recommendations from Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. She now lives in Idaho.

Marcantonio's first Felicity Carrol mystery is Felicity Carrol and the Murderous Menace.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

I'm a fan of Margaret Atwood and The Handmaid's Tale so I had to continue the story in The Testaments. Atwood's writing instantly takes you into this brutal world of Gilead. Her female characters are amazing and interesting--women of hope and courage and yes, even Aunts. Atwood is such a powerful storyteller. I can hardly wait to see how the book ends.
Visit Patricia Marcantonio's website.

The Page 69 Test: Felicity Carrol and the Murderous Menace.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Katy Simpson Smith

Katy Simpson Smith was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. She received a PhD in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She is the author of We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835, and the novels The Story of Land and Sea and Free Men. Her writing has also appeared in The Oxford American, Granta, Literary Hub, Garden & Gun, Catapult, and Lenny. She lives in New Orleans, and currently serves as the Eudora Welty Chair for Southern Literature at Millsaps College.

Smith's new novel is The Everlasting.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
I've been on Jean Giono kick recently -- I first read his strange environmental-mystery novel Hill in January, and was so struck by the voluptuous, uncanny sentences that I went on to read A King Alone, which also features unaccountable deaths and a larger-than-life landscape. The books, written eighteen years apart, share an experimentalism that is both bizarre and totally readable, and that moves nature to the foreground of human dramas. It's been almost a century since Hill was first published, but its message -- that the natural world has as many rights and moods, emotions and powers as humans -- feels perfectly suited to our own time of crisis.
Visit Katy Simpson Smith's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Daisy Pearce

Daisy Pearce was born in Cornwall and grew up on a smallholding surrounded by hippies. She read Stephen King’s Cujo and The Hamlyn Book of Horror far too young and has been fascinated with the macabre ever since.

Pearce's new novel is The Silence.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Pearce's reply:
I’ve just finished reading This House Is Haunted by Guy Lyon Playfair in it’s original hardback form with the sinister cover. It’s a record of his time investigating the Enfield poltergeist in the late seventies. I’ve always been fascinated by the Enfield poltergeist story, and remember getting chills hearing the young girl’s voice suddenly deepen and sink into that of a gruff, bitter old man. This book is methodical, not telling a tale but recounting events - and here and there the cracks are visible where the girls’ story starts to fall apart. It’s illuminating in that sense, as you start to see beyond the sensationalism and the author’s credulity and realise that sometimes a yarn can spin itself out of control.
Follow Daisy Pearce on Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: The Silence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown grew up on the Georgia coast. He has lived in Buenos Aires, San Francisco, and the mountains of western North Carolina. His books include the story collection In the Season of Blood and Gold and the novels Fallen Land and The River of Kings. All three books were finalists for the Southern Book Prize.

Brown's new novel is Pride of Eden.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Brown's reply:
Lately, I've been a small tear reading nonfiction work that seems relevant to my new book, Pride of Eden -- at least philosophically. I think it started with James William Gibson's Warrior Dreams: Paramilitary Culture in Post-Vietnam America, which was related to another project I'm currently working on. I found the book absolutely fascinating, even prophetic of our current times. I was hungry for more of his work, so I picked up his newest book, A Reenchanted World: The Quest for a New Kinship with Nature, which really resonated with me -- one of those books that makes you nod your again and again while you read it, as if to say: "Yes, yes, yes!" And seem to express and articulate a lot of the underlying currents in Pride of Eden. That book made mention of Rick Bass's The Lost Grizzlies and Janisse Ray's Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, so I tore through those next. Most recently, I finished Underland by Robert Macfarlane, and found myself transported into deep time and the deeps of the earth -- highly recommended!
Visit Taylor Brown's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 22, 2020

J. Albert Mann

J. Albert Mann is the author of six novels for children. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Her new work of historical fiction about the early life of Margaret Sanger is What Every Girl Should Know. Born in New Jersey, Mann now lives in Boston with her children, cat, and husband listed in order of affection.

Mann's latest novel published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers is The Degenerates.

Recently I asked Mann about what she was reading. Her reply:
Six Angry Girls by Adrienne Kisner

Millie, Veronica, Grace, Nakita, and Izzy are not living their best lives and the blame lies mostly with the Patriarchy. Dumped, cheated, overlooked, underestimated, ignored, and omitted these six girls fight back. The results are both heart-breaking and hilarious. This merry group of girls proves once again that winning isn't everything, it's nothing... without your integrity, your conscience, and your friends. Loved every minute of this read.
Visit J. Albert Mann's website.

The Page 69 Test: What Every Girl Should Know.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 19, 2020

David Hofmeyr

David Hofmeyr was born in South Africa and lives in London and Paris. In 2013 he graduated from Bath Spa University with an MA in Writing for Young People. The Between is Hofmeyr's second novel. His first book, Stone Rider, was published in 2015 and was shortlisted for the prestigious Branford Boase award for first-time novelists. He divides his time between writing and working as a strategist for Ogilvy & Mather.

Recently I asked Hofmeyr about what he was reading. His reply:
The Institute
Steven King

King is the master of storytelling. Accept no substitutes. I have long been a fan of his work. One of his most provocative early short stories, "The Long Walk" was inspiration for my first novel, Stone Rider. His writing is clever. Edgy. Familiar. And utterly compelling. The Institute is no exception. All his skills are on display here. King weaves friendship, resilience and terror into every sentence. Thrilling, chilling and fascinating in equal measure, The Institute tells the story of an unusual kidnapping. Twelve-year-old super smart Luke Ellis, who can move things with his mind, is abducted and taken to a facility deep in the woods of Maine. Here, alongside other kids with Telekinesis and Telepathic gifts, Luke is subjected to a host of weird experiments. This is a book I wish I’d written. It’s everything I love and King floors me with how blithely his prose reads. It’s vintage King, set in modern times – with echoes of Trump and caging children at borders and a world that can sometimes feel deranged. And it’s a blinder. Run to a bookstore and buy a copy today. It’s brilliant. Also, annoyingly, it makes me want to re-write vast swathes of my new book The Between, which shares many of the whacked out crazy themes of The Institute.
Visit David Hofmeyr's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Between.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Bridget Tyler

Bridget Tyler grew up in Berkeley, California. She went on to attend NYU, living in New York and London before completing her degree and moving to Los Angeles to work in the film and television industry as an executive and writer. She now lives in Oregon with her husband, who is a robotics professor at Oregon State University, and her daughter.

Tyler's new novel is The Survivor, a sequel to The Pioneer.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
Reading is part of honing your creative skills as a writer - it's almost as important a part of my day as writing is. I'm just lucky I have a kindle, my TBR stack might bury my alive otherwise. I'm just starting The Night Country by Melissa Albert, which I'm been waiting anxiously for since I blew through The Hazel Wood in two days. I love how audacious Albert is about just diving into her story and parsing out refresher details about book one when they make sense. Having just finished writing a sequel I have deep respect for how effortless she makes that look.

I'm finishing Strong Poison by Dorthy L Sayers, which is delicious and surprising in every way. Lord Peter Wimsey is a dry, witty character but the emotional depth and really heart wrenching emotion that Sayers manages to evoke in his ethical and emotional struggle with crime solving is really extraordinary. I addicted to this series and I've been reading them along side other stand alone choices for a while.

I'm also reading Hope Dies, which is a compilation of issues 50-55 of the Star Wars comic book series from author Kieron Gillen as well as Star Wars Annual 4 from Cullen Bunn. I stumbled on this series while at Disneyland with my daughter this past year, and I really excited to find such a cool new exploration of the Star Wars galaxy that I hadn't found before. I'm a born and raised Star Wars fan and I've read and watched most of what's out there, so it's really exciting to find new stories in the universe that I love.

Octavia E Butlers's Fledgling is next on my list. I can't wait to dive in!
Visit Bridget Tyler's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Survivor.

The Page 69 Test: The Survivor.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Susann Cokal

Susann Cokal is a moody historical novelist, a pop-culture essayist, book critic, magazine editor, and sometime professor of creative writing and modern literature. She lives in a creepy old farmhouse in Richmond, Virginia, with seven cats, a big dog, a spouse, and some peacocks that supposedly belong to a neighbor.

Cokal's first young adult novel, The Kingdom of Little Wounds, received several national awards, including a silver medal from the American Library Association's Michael L. Printz Award series. Her books for adults, Mirabilis and Breath and Bones, received some nice notice too.

Cokal's new novel is Mermaid Moon.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply: 
I tend to read several books at once, as I suppose we all do—for pleasure and for research, and for adults and teens. I keep different ones in different rooms so I always have something to pick up and read. The living room has mostly light reads, though I’ll read for research there too; there’s a lot of cultural history in my little study / writing room; and in the bedroom I have novels all over. It’s almost literally what’s called a memory palace, in that I compartmentalize genres and topics so they’re associated with specific points in space. It helps my brain click into the storylines or research lines (and a post-concussive brain needs all the help it can get to keep ideas organized).

By the way, I used literally in the correct sense above.

When I’m in a state of urgent, giddy amour fou with a particular book, I carry it everywhere. I can dip in when I get a chance, or I just have it with me so I can derive comfort like a child with a blanket, or a lover with a lock of hair. When I can, I’ll read it without a pause for breath or bathroom all in a rush. That happened to me most recently with Nick Hornby’s Juliet, Naked, which is a wonderfully funny, wistful, hopeful book about second chances and reasons to live. Loved it. Read and reread it and some of his others in that full flush of in-love-ness. Also watched the movie; Rose Byrne is so good as Annie.

Right now I’m enamored of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, which is wickedly clever and offers a few manifestos for women in and out of relationships—although they admittedly come through a problematic character, the Gone Girl herself. I flagged her sections on the trope of the Cool Girl in modern dating. Dead on. (I was single for many, many, many years, now miraculously happy in marriage.) She inspired me to eat a Moon Pie because it’s one of the things Cool Girls do to show they’re fun to hang around with—one of the things she says are actually pleasurable. And it was pretty good.

My next fiction reads, in their order in my bedside stack—all of them begun, all of them great for different reasons, just waiting for Gone Girl to go to her end—Lucky Broken Girl, by Ruth Behar (has a wonderful sense of how it feels to be incapacitated by injury); Downtown, a Betsy-Tacy story by Maud Hart Lovelace (a signed copy I bought myself for my birthday); I, Claudia, by Mary McCoy (interesting re-telling of I, Claudius in a gossipy high school). I’m also excited about Andrew Sean Greer’s Less and (Guilty pleasure? Not guilty!) Judith Krantz’s memoirs. Her novels were the ones we passed around secretly in high school, and I do love a good writerly memoir.

And for research, I’m reading for two projects. First I’ll mention Women in Frankish Society. It may be almost as dry as it sounds, but it’s also fascinating. I don’t know that much about the Dark Ages (yet), but I’ve long been intrigued by the legend of Saint Radegonde and the Grand’Goule, a dragon that terrorized Poitiers, France, and its nuns. I studied in Poitiers for a year in college, and I’m finally writing a novel about the place and the Goule.

For a different novel, I’m reading about Los Alamos and the Cold War. That’s the town and era in which I went to high school, and the terror I felt about living in the town that invented the Atomic Bomb and kept the arms race going was palpable, like my terror about climate change now. I can get the experience of going to high school there down because I have a good memory, but for some historical information I’m researching my own teen years. So, naturally, Trinity’s Children: Living Along America’s Nuclear Highway, by Ted Bartimus and Scott McCartney; Full Body Burden, by Kristen Iversen; and The Valley Girl’s Guide to Life, because in the midst of Cold War terrors there was that faddish embrace of vapidity. And every story needs some vapor.

So there’s almost half my stack and I’ve exceeded my space limit.
Visit Susann Cokal's website.

The Page 69 Test: Mermaid Moon.

My Book, The Movie: Mermaid Moon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 13, 2020

Phillip Margolin

Phillip Margolin has written over twenty novels, most of them New York Times bestsellers, including Gone But Not Forgotten, Lost Lake, and Violent Crimes. In addition to being a novelist, he was a long time criminal defense attorney with decades of trial experience, including a large number of capital cases.

Margolin's new novel is A Reasonable Doubt, his third book in the series featuring Robin Lockwood, ex-MMA fighter and Yale law school graduate.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Margolin's reply:
I just discovered the Dr. Siri Paiboun mysteries by Colin Cotterill. They are set in Communist Laos in the nineteen seventies and the detective is the seventy-year-old national coroner. I've read The Coroner's Lunch and Thirty-Three Teeth. The writing is brilliant, the mysteries are intriguing and the characters are unique, plus there are a lot of laughs.

I also re-read War and Peace, for the fourth time after a trip to Russia. This is one of my all-time favorites and it is still a fabulous read.

Finally, I am re-reading classic mysteries. The Dutch Shoe Mystery by Ellery Queen, my all-time favorite mystery writer, and It Walks by Night, by John Dickson Carr, the master of the Locked Room puzzle.
Visit Phillip Margolin's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue