Sunday, September 30, 2012

Jane Tesh

Jane Tesh lives and writes in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. A media specialist/librarian for grades K-6 for 30 years, she retired to write and exercise her creative side. A rehearsal pianist and sometime orchestra conductor for community theater, she also plays the violin, and is a certified kick-boxing instructor.

Tesh's latest novel is Mixed Signals.

A few weeks ago I asked the author what she was reading.  Her reply:
The Graveyard Game is one of a series of Company novels by the late Kage Baker.

The all-seeing, all-knowing Company, headed by the mysterious Dr. Zeus, has created cyborgs to go back in time to save treasures for future clients who’ll pay big bucks for a lost Van Gogh or a missing Hemingway manuscript. This concept allows Baker to set her stories in any time and on any historical subject. This story involves Facilitator Joseph’s search for his father, one of the first cyborgs, who is now a threat to the Company, and his search for his daughter, the Botanist Mendoza, whom Joseph “recruited” to the Company when she was a child, and who has been punished for killing mortals and sent way back in time.

But the true heart of the story involves Literature Preserver Lewis, a hopeless romantic, who loves Mendoza. However, Mendoza loves Edward, a man who keeps reappearing in her life throughout time. Lewis wants Mendoza and Edward to have a happy ending, but someone or something is trying to wipe out the cyborgs, a mysterious silence that will occur in the year 2355.

I gravitate toward authors who can mix drama and humor, which is something I strive for in my books, and Baker is one of the best. Known for her wildly inventive unpredictable plots and sardonic sense of humor, she creates characters the reader really cares about.

I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but I couldn’t pass up The Great Typo Hunt. Talk about wish fulfillment! As an English major and librarian, I’ve often dreamed of traveling the country, marker in hand, taking out all those wild unnecessary apostrophes. Here in a local sandwich shop, the sign offered, believe it or not, “grit’s”and “frie’s,” and the one sign that needed an apostrophe—you guessed it—didn’t have one: “Todays Special.”

Jeff Deck and his friend, Benjamin Herson, create TEAL, the Typo Eradication Advancement League, and he chronicles their adventures across the US, where they are often met with skepticism and downright hostility as they try to correct signs, menus, and posters.

Along the way, I’ve learned some useful history of punctuation and grammar, and Jeff raises some interesting questions. Who decides what is correct? Why is it important? And with texting and Twitter on the rise, what’s the future of orthography? (The art or study of correct spelling. I had to look it up, too.)

Also: If you love language, word play, and literature, Jasper Fforde is the most creative writer around. I had the opportunity to hear him speak, and he is just as entertaining as his books. In The Eyre Affair, investigator Thursday Next finds she is able to enter the Book World where every character from literature is real. Jane Erye has been kidnapped from her novel, and with the help of Miss Haversham from Great Expectations, Thursday solves the crime. I can’t wait to read the latest in the Thursday Next saga, The Woman Who Died a Lot.
Visit Jane Tesh's website.

The Page 69 Test: Mixed Signals.

--Marshal Zeringue