Monday, June 10, 2013

Helene Wecker

Helene Wecker grew up in Libertyville, Illinois, a small town north of Chicago, and received her Bachelor’s in English from Carleton College in Minnesota. After graduating, she worked a number of marketing and communications jobs in Minneapolis and Seattle before deciding to return to her first love, fiction writing. Accordingly, she moved to New York to pursue a Master’s in fiction at Columbia University.

She now lives near San Francisco with her husband and daughter. Her first novel, The Golem and the Jinni, was published in April 2013 by HarperCollins.

Recently I asked Wecker about what she was reading. Her reply:
I just finished Bee Ridgway's The River of No Return, which I'd been hearing about for months. It's one of those gleefully fun books that refuses to fit neatly into a category: part heady romance, part immersive historical, part time-traveling scifi thriller. Ridgway is an English professor at Bryn Mawr, and her details of early eighteenth-century England are incredibly evocative. She makes you smell the sooty London air, and feel every restrictive layer of Georgian clothing - especially when her characters are in a frenzy to get out of them!

Before that, I read Kate Atkinson's Life After Life, which is just as brilliant as everyone says. Atkinson lays out the many lives of Ursula Todd like variations on a musical theme, but all heading toward a single, perhaps impossible purpose. I'm going to have to go back and pick it apart someday, just to see how she did it.

And before that, there was Brian McClellan's Promise of Blood, the first in his Powder Mage trilogy. It's been a while since I read a straight-up fantasy novel, and this one didn't disappoint. It's set in a roughly Napoleonic-era world where the fallout from a military coup pits magic-weaving wizards against "powder mages," who snort gunpowder and can bend the paths of bullets. McClellan's meticulous plotting keeps a half-dozen threads going at once, and he never slackens the pace. I'll be on the lookout for book two.
View the video trailer for The Golem and the Jinni and visit Helene Wecker's website.

--Marshal Zeringue