Sunday, August 14, 2011

Beverly Swerling

Beverly Swerling is a writer, consultant, and amateur historian.

Her latest book is City of Promise: A Novel of New York's Gilded Age.

Last month I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
Reading fills my life.

In terms of feeding my incessant hunger for stories, I’ve recently finished three books I hated to see end: There was the literally incomparable Room by Emma Donoghue, a book entirely dependent on characterization that nonetheless achieves breathtaking suspense. And Sixkill by Robert B. Parker, a bittersweet pleasure because while it displays the mastery of the ensemble cast that was to my mind RBP’s particular genius, it left me feeling it was perhaps the book he’d been working on when he died; maybe not quite finished. I sensed a presence not entirely him. The grim reaper hovering over his shoulder, or other hands on the keyboard trying to be him and not quite managing? I don’t know. But something. Also, not long ago I finished the rollicking thriller, The Power Behind the Throne by Sally Nicoll. Perfect if you’re having London withdrawal symptoms now that “the wedding” is over. Or if you’re fed up with the whole thing and want to speculate on what those sorts of people get up to when their backs are to the wall…

As a consultant/mentor to other writers I am reading two as yet unpublished books I know will be in bookstores in the next couple of years: The Fire This Time by Stuart Liss and A Bad Run by Garreth Fennelly. Both mysteries of a sort – that’s happenstance so far as my involvement is concerned – both wrenching, both spectacularly wonderful; and yet entirely different from each other. Stu’s prose is dense and rich. I want to lick the page to taste more words. Garreth’s sentences skim the mountain tops but indicate the hidden valleys. Fire is about a flare up in the old Irish/Jewish feuds so much a part of the ethnically defined Boston in which I grew up; Brahmins to the right, everyone else to the left. Run is set in today’s Republic of Ireland, a cop story that’s really about kids and parents, made fresh and new by its delightful and free-of-clich├ęs setting.

Then there’s the fact that as a writer I believe the bedrock truth to be G. B. Shaw’s dictum, “All of writing is rewriting.” So I am constantly rereading my own work in order to rewrite it. This is true from the first word of the first sentence of a new novel until I hold the published book in hand – sometimes beyond. Which happens to be the case right now as I am preparing e-book editions of a few titles from my backlist. So I’m reading Women’s Rites and A Matter of Time by Beverly Byrne, and Juffie Kane and Mollie Pride by Beverly S. Martin. And finding, thank God, they’re still books I’m proud to have written.
View the City of Promise book trailer, and visit Beverly Swerling's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue