Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Paula Munier

Paula Munier is the author of the bestselling Plot Perfect, The Writer’s Guide to Beginnings, Writing with Quiet Hands, and Fixing Freddie: A True Story of a Boy, a Mom, and a Very, Very Bad Beagle. She was inspired to write A Borrowing of Bones, the first Mercy and Elvis mystery, by the hero working dogs she met through MissionK9Rescue, her own Newfoundland retriever mix rescue Bear, and a lifelong passion for crime fiction.

Munier lives in New England with her family, Bear, and a torbie tabby named Ursula.

Her new Mercy and Elvis mystery is Blind Search.

Recently I asked Munier about what she was reading. Her reply:
As an agent and an author, I read for a living, so when I read for fun, I read whatever strikes my fancy. Here are just some of the books cluttering my bedside table at the moment.

The novel I’m reading now

The Far Empty, by J. Todd Scott. I had just started what Craig Johnson calls “a powerful new voice in contemporary western crime fiction” when I found out that the author would be my tablemate at the Speed Dating at Bouchercon. Serendipity! And, happily, I can tell everyone participating what a great writer he is. He knows his bleak Texas borderlands, and it shows. This book is one of those gritty stories that will haunt me….

The nonfiction book I’m reading now

Drinking from the River of Light: The Life of Expression, by Mark Nepo. This is a wonderful book on the spiritual path of the artist, by the New York Times bestselling poet and philosopher. I have all of his beautifully written books, which are mostly about mindfulness and living an authentic life, but this one is about living an authentic life of expression. I feel like I’ve been waiting all my life for Mark Nepo to write a book on the creative process. And here it is.

The novel I just finished reading

The Cutting Season, by Attica Locke. My bad for taking so long to read Locke’s work. I loved everything about this book: the characters, the plot, the setting, the bitter ironies of life in the South. I’ll have to read everything she ever wrote now.

The nonfiction book I just finished reading

Educated, by Tara Westover. I thought I was over memoirs about people’s terrible childhoods and then I read this astonishing real-life story and wow. Just wow. This is the book I’ve recommended most this year. If you haven’t read it yet, just read it already.

The novel I just finished rereading

The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman. I’ve read most of her work at least once; I’ve read Practical Magic a dozen times. The Rules of Magic is a prequel to Practical Magic, and it does not disappoint.

The nonfiction book I just finished rereading

The Ultimate Cartoon Book of Book Cartoons, edited by Bob Eckstein. Whenever the vagaries of the publishing business make me feel like tearing my hair out—I am an agent and an author, remember—I open this book to any page. And laugh out loud.
Visit Paula Munier's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Paula Munier & Bear.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 28, 2019

S.C. Gwynne

S.C. Gwynne is the author of Hymns of the Republic: The Story of the Final Year of the American Civil War and the New York Times bestsellers Rebel Yell and Empire of the Summer Moon, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He spent most of his career as a journalist, including stints with Time as bureau chief, national correspondent, and senior editor, and with Texas Monthly as executive editor. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife.

Recently I asked Gwynne about what he was reading. His reply:
My recent reading tends away from the Civil War and the research required for my new book about the Civil War, Hymns of the Republic. If you had asked this question a year ago, I would have had to choose which of the 275 volumes in my office at that moment (all from the University of Texas Library), all about the Civil War and its era, that I would write about.

Here are some things I have been looking at:

The Slough House books by Mick Herron. I am currently reading Dead Lions, having just finished Slow Horses. I have been looking for a replacement for John Le Carre—one of my favorite writers—for a long time. Most spy fiction is cliche-ridden drivel. The good news is I have finally discovered someone who can really write in that genre. Herron does not try to copy Le Carre, exactly, but he exists very much within the world Le Carre created. He’s a terrific writer. His characters are entirely original and jump off the page.

Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. The Henry VIII story, roughly, seen through the eyes of his fixer, Thomas Cromwell. This is the best fiction I have read in a very long time and some of the best writing I have ever experienced. I wish she would hurry up and finish the third volume!

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I first read this book in my late teens then again as a young adult. I loved it. I read it again recently and found that I could not even get through it. It seemed silly and trite and phony and plotless. So much for being able to go home again.

Farewell the Trumpets, by Jan Morris. This is Morris’s masterpiece about the British Empire. Some of the best history you will ever read.
Visit S.C. Gwynne's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 11, 2019

Nancy Richardson Fischer

Nancy Richardson Fischer is a graduate of Cornell University, a published author with children’s, teen and adult titles to her credit, including Star Wars titles for Lucas Film and numerous autobiographies for athletes such as Julie Krone, Bela Karolyi and Monica Seles. She lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Fischer's new novel is The Speed of Falling Objects.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
This is my pub month so I thought I’d treat myself to a book outside my normal genre. I’m reading Stephen King’s The Institute. I’m a huge SK fan - his imagination blows my mind, and the way he builds characters is a lesson in how to make the reader care. The Institute centers around extracting children with extra normal gifts from their families/homes, depositing them in an “Institute" and then torturing them with “tests” and using their skills for evil. I’m not done yet… I’m savoring it, but I may love this story even more than The Stand or Salem’s Lot, which is saying something!

I’m also reading Akilah Hughes’ debut coming-of-age memoir, Obviously. This collection of essays takes readers from her small Kentucky town to her arrival in NYC. Along the way Akilah shares stories about family, spelling bees, racism, the challenges of adolescence, and each one is complicated, funny, bittersweet, sad, and filled with hope.

Once I’m finished with Obviously, I plan to reread All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. JN is one of the authors who inspired me to write young adult novels (Robin Roe is another) and rereading the story of Theodore Finch and Violet Markey reminds me how powerful characters can be when fully realized and gives me a star to shoot for in my next novel.
Visit Nancy Richardson Fischer's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Tim Pratt

Tim Pratt is a Hugo Award-winning SF and fantasy author, and has been a finalist for World Fantasy, Sturgeon, Stoker, Mythopoeic, and Nebula Awards, among others. He is the author of over twenty novels, including the newly released The Forbidden Stars: Book III of the Axiom.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Pratt's reply:
I'm reading a lot this year, because I'm judging a couple of awards, and my Table of Judgment is heaped high with copies of things to consider (and my Tablet of Judgment is likewise full of digital books). Just at the moment I'm finishing up Paul Tremblay's collection Growing Things, a very strong book of horror (or at least dark and weird) stories by one of my favorite writers of scary things. The stories are pleasantly varied, from the surreal and creepy to the grounded and poignant to the tongue-and-cheek and self-aware. I just finished G. Willow Wilson's The Bird King, which I enjoyed a lot too: magic maps, magic doors, courageous outsiders fleeing an impossible situation for a mysterious island... these are all things I like. Alongside that I also read one of Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad novels, The Trespasser, which is excellent police procedural/crime stuff with great characters and compelling writing. (I didn't read that one for award consideration, but hey, my hold at the library came through, and I wasn't going to not read it.) I'm in the midst of Leigh Bardugo's Ninth House now, but am in deep enough in to say it's excellent, a dark contemporary fantasy set among secret societies at an elite university.
Visit Tim Pratt's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 4, 2019

Kerry Anne King

Kerry Anne King is the author of the international bestselling novels Closer Home, I Wish You Happy, and Whisper Me This.

Her new novel is Everything You Are.

Recently I asked King about what she was reading. Her reply:
I am currently luxuriating in the creepy awesomeness of Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo.

I read widely across all genres, but I particularly adore character driven fantasy. I discovered Leigh Bardugo a few months ago and devoured the entire Grishaverse in a matter of weeks. So when I was able to get my hands on an ARC of Ninth House before the release date I was as excited as – well – as a reader with an early copy of a brand new book from a favorite author can be!

Like most of my favorite books, Ninth House blurs genre lines. Elements of fantasy, mystery, paranormal and thriller are all present and accounted for. The world is one of dark magic set within the real life bounds of Yale and it is entirely and terrifyingly believable. As for Alex, the main character, Joe Hill wrote this in an endorsement and I believe it’s spot on: “With a bruised heart and bleeding knuckles, she risks death and damnation – again and again – for the people she cares about.”

I haven’t finished it yet. It’s one of those books I want to linger in while simultaneously needing to know how it ends.
Visit Kerry Anne King's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Sibel Hodge

Sibel Hodge is the bestselling author of Look Behind You, Untouchable, Duplicity, and Into the Darkness. Her books have sold over a million copies in the UK, USA, Australia, France, Canada and Germany.

Her new novel is Their Last Breath.

Recently I asked Hodge about what she was reading. Her reply:
I've just finished Permanent Record by Edward Snowden.

A conspiracy, a whistleblower who knows too much, and a corrupt government system who wants to take him down. It sounds exactly like the kind of novel I write, but unfortunately for Edward Snowden, this is his real life.

It’s an excellent memoir, one that I feel is essential for the world we live in today to get an understanding of how the internet, that provider of knowledge and freedom, has become a huge tool for mass surveillance on the unsuspecting public. An Orwellian eye able and willing to pry into the lives of every private citizen, while the crimes exposed are unpunished and able to continue without impunity. It’s a compelling read—the writing style is conversational and draws you in from the first page with no confusing techie jargon.

Much respect and kudos to Snowden for his courage and integrity, and for sacrificing his own life to bring this into the public domain. It’s a book that will stay with you long after reading. One that should stay with you if we have a hope of maintaining our freedoms.
Visit Sibel Hodge's website.

My Book, The Movie: Their Last Breath.

--Marshal Zeringue