Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sharon Fiffer

Sharon Fiffer is the author of eight Jane Wheel mysteries published by St. Martin’s Minotaur. Her most recent novel, Lucky Stuff, has just been released.

Recently I asked the author what she was reading.  Fiffer's reply:
I am a fast and greedy reader. Often, I don’t let myself start a book I think I’ll like until I know I can afford an all-nighter. In other words, I like to finish what I start—quickly. And since I took this summer off from writing because of teaching and editing commitments, I read and am currently reading a lot. Fast and greedily!

After devouring Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel, I decided that maybe I do like historical fiction after all. It was an absolute thrill to realize I could see that period through the eyes of Cromwell instead of Thomas More. After all, I’ve seen the movie, A Man For All Seasons, at least 8 times and I thought I knew what was what with Cromwell, but Mantel has offered such a different perspective. Pragmatic and modern and I couldn’t put either book down.

I taught middle-schoolers this summer in a 3-week special program for gifted students and loved introducing them (and myself) to Wonder by R. J. Palacio. This is a great first novel that makes teaching point of view to 12-year olds (or adults for that matter) a walk in the park.

Loved Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain. A well-deserved hit that makes watching veterans being honored at a pop culture event a deeper and much more complicated experience. A thoughtful book that remains with me.

When Ray Bradbury died and I saw writers posting everywhere about how much he had influenced them, once again I felt readerly guilt that here was another writer I had somehow missed, I went to the library and took out the audio of Dandelion Wine and have been listening every time I get into the car. What a wonderful book to make a reader pay attention to every living, buzzing humming living, breathing moment of summer!

I often help out at an estate sale company in the Chicago area as research for writing my Jane Wheel mysteries. At least I say that’s why I do it. I usually come home with an armload of books from the sales. This past weekend, I carried home Getting Over Getting Older by Letty Cottin Pogrebin, published in 1996; The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald, published in 1946; We Took To The Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich, published in 1942; and The Road To Miltown, stories by S. J. Perelman published in the mid 50’s. I’ve already started the Pogrebin since I’m not getting any younger—but re-reading The Egg and I, which may have been the first “adult” book I read when I was a child (and no, I’m not quite that old—it was already starting to seem vintage then) might make some of this aging conundrum easier to take. I still remember it made me laugh out loud—we’ll see how it holds up.

Since I write mysteries and often feel woefully behind in reading in my field, I decided this summer to read a whole series by an author that everyone else had already read—but I had somehow missed. So I am currently in the middle of the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. In fact, I stayed up long into last night finishing Among The Mad, the sixth in the series. I love the character, the time and the place in Winspear’s novels. And I am really enjoying reading them one by one in order. As a series writer myself, watching the arc as the character changes, grows older is especially interesting. There’s that pesky “getting older” theme again. Perhaps the Pogrebin book is going to become a different kind of research entirely!
Visit Sharon Fiffer's website.

The Page 69 Test: Scary Stuff.

Writers Read: Sharon Fiffer (January 2011).

--Marshal Zeringue