Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sharon Fiffer

Sharon Fiffer collects buttons, Bakelite, pottery, vintage potholders, keys, locks, and other killer stuff. She is coeditor of the anthologies Home: American Writers Remember Rooms of Their Own, Body, and Family: American Writers Remember Their Own, and the author of the Jane Wheel mysteries as well as the nonfiction book Imagining America.

Backstage Stuff, the seventh Jane Wheel mystery, is out now from Minotaur Books.

At the start of the year I asked Fiffer what she was reading. Her reply:
My reading habits, always eclectic, have grown even more exotic and scattered over the past few years. And contrary to the topic of the day for most readers and writers, the change has nothing to do with e-readers vs. paper and board books. It has to do with multi-tasking.

I hate everything about that word—the multi and the tasking and the use of it as a verb. But, for better and worse (and no, that’s not a typo—it is better and sometimes, when I’m swamped, it is worse), it is what I have to do to balance my own version of the life of the mind. I teach writing workshops and so like to keep up with books recommended by my writing students; I chair author events and attend mystery conferences where I sit on panels and I like to read the books of those with whom I engage in discussion; I write books about an avid collector/junker, so read non-fiction about obsession and hoarding as well as price guides for depression glass; and I read for pleasure, pure pleasure.

So, in that order here is what I’ve read most recently.

One Day by David Nicholls --because Francie from the workshop asked me what I thought of the point-of-view shifts. (seamless—they worked beautifully and I laughed and cried. I didn’t read it to judge it—I just found myself totally enjoying it—thank you, Francie)

Other Eyes by Barb D’Amato and Negative Image by Vicki Delany --because I am moderating a discussion at Aunt Agatha’s Bookstore in Ann Arbor, MI in February where the three of us will be signing our newly released books together. Each one of our novels is so different that the closest I can come to a common thread might be the different roads women writers take to tell their stories—intelligently researched suspense, police procedural and humorous accidental detective. Fascinating to think about—women are writing with such strong voices and heading out in such interesting directions.

Second-hand Shabby by Diana Durkes. This is my first e-book purchase—a pdf I downloaded on my laptop (no e-reader yet) with great pictures and articles on upcycling. This is written by a master in the trash-to-treasure field--Diana is the author of the wonderful blog, Fine diving in Chicago, where she chronicles her make-overs of dumpster/alley finds. I would claim this reading is for my own Jane Wheel mystery series research but it definitely spills over into pure pleasure.

And in the purely pure pleasure category? My husband gave me Bill Bryson’s latest, At Home, for the holidays ; my daughter gave my Maira Kalman’s autobiography with pictures, The Principles of Uncertainty. (Kalman is one of my favorites both for pictures and prose) and I plan to buy myself The Sherlockian by Graham Moore. Pleasure, pleasure and pleasure.
Learn more about Backstage Stuff and the author at Sharon Fiffer's website.

The Page 69 Test: Scary Stuff.

--Marshal Zeringue