Saturday, July 14, 2012

Kitty Pilgrim

Kitty Pilgrim worked as a CNN correspondent and news anchor for 24 years. As a New York-based reporter her normal beat included politics and economics but her assignments also have taken her around the world – Russia, China, Venezuela, Cuba, the Middle East, Korea and South Africa. Pilgrim anchored her own CNN morning show, Early Edition in 1998-1999 and was anchor for prime time broadcasts at CNN from 2001-2010. Pilgrim is the recipient of an Overseas Press Club Award, a Peabody Award, an Emmy, and New York Society of Black Journalists Award. She is a member of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations and the Explorer’s Club of New York.

The Stolen Chalice, Pilgrim's latest novel featuring archaeologist John Sinclair, is now available.

Last month I asked the author what she was reading.  Her reply:
I was recently asked to moderate a panel on writing for the Nantucket Book Festival and was privileged to meet four top-notch women writers. I was excited to do it, because they are all very accomplished writers of women’s fiction. I write international thrillers, which is a different genre, but I felt I could learn a lot about their character development from reading their books. In preparation for lovely June weekend in Nantucket, I read each of their brand new novels. The assignment was a delight to do. I’d love to tell you a little bit about each.

My first selection was Maine by Courtney Sullivan – a fascinating saga that covers three generations vacationing at their family summerhouse in Maine. I had the opportunity to meet Courtney at the book festival in Nantucket and we discussed how to write about intergenerational tensions that come into play in the novel. These kinds of conversations with other authors give me better insight to my own character development. I particularly liked the book because this is an Irish Catholic family and I come from a similar background. Many of the cultural references resonated with me.

Another contemporary author I met in Nantucket was Lisa Genova who wrote a brilliant book entitled Left Neglected – in which a successful young career woman had a serious accident that leaves her brain impaired. It is a fascinating look at one woman’s struggle with a terrible tragedy. Because the book is written in first person, it has a clarity and immediacy to it that is riveting. Lisa has a neuroscience background and brings a lot of medical accuracy to her descriptions. I have always enjoyed interacting with the scientific community. They think differently. To find a scientific and creative brain in the same person is a real delight.

Nancy Thayer is a light romance writer who has a successful run of more than 30 books which come out every summer about this time. I just finished Summer Breeze which is a nice romantic relaxing read – just the kind of thing you would like to throw in your beach bag. She spoke on the panel I was moderating about burrowing into a local community and being able to depict the color and feeling of the place. I learn a lot from Nancy in how she uses setting to establish the tone of her work. Many of her novels are set in Nantucket, which is always a joy. Because of Nancy, I have made several trips to Nantucket and plan on going there for a book signing in August.

Lastly I read a beautiful diary-type book by Nichole Bernier called The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. The novel is fascinating in that Elizabeth, the main character is dead, and we learn about her from her diary entries. Because of that slightly creepy twist, the saga of Elizabeth D has a gothic-novel kind of tension to it that makes it hard to put down. The development of the character through Nicole’s writing was masterful. The time frame of the book is after the 9-11 attacks which gives another layer of anxiety to this book, yet it is subtle. I was a reporter for CNN during 9-11, and remember the horrible anxiety we all went through while living in New York.

I love reading outside of my genre by picking up all kinds of book but all-told, I am an unabashed thriller aficionado - Clive Cussler, Stephen Berry, John Le Carre, Robert Ludlum.
Visit Kitty Pilgrim's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Stolen Chalice.

The Page 69 Test: The Stolen Chalice.

--Marshal Zeringue