Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Joanna Schaffhausen

Joanna Schaffhausen wields a mean scalpel, sharp skills she developed in her years studying neuroscience. She has a doctorate in psychology, which reflects her long-standing interest in the brain―how it develops and the many ways it can go wrong. Previously, she worked as a scientific editor in the field of drug development. Prior to that, she was an editorial producer for ABC News, writing for programs such as World News Tonight, Good Morning America, and 20/20. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and daughter.

Schaffhausen's new novel is All the Best Lies.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
One book I read recently was The 7 and ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton. This was a breakout book and a debut, a rare feat, so it’s interesting to read with an eye to how Turton fashioned a bestseller. First off, the title is so intriguing, right? What’s half a death? Who dies more than once? Second, the plot is fun and easy to describe: it’s “Quantum Leap” meets Agatha Christie as our narrator jumps from one body to another, doomed to repeat a single day until he can solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. Finally, the puzzle aspect of the story is brilliant, rewarding readers for sticking with a tale that can be difficult to track at times, what with all the body-jumping. I can see why this became a runaway hit.

I’m partway through Heaven, My Home, by Attica Locke. It’s the sequel to her Edgar-winning book Bluebird, Bluebird, which introduced us to Texas Ranger Darren Matthews. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book and the second affirms Locke as a great storyteller with a knack for creating characters that leap off the page. The setting for this one is tough—it’s small-town Texas in the aftermath of Trump’s election, and there are rising incidents of homegrown terrorists, racial violence, intimidation, etc. Among this, Matthews has to contend with a missing nine-year-old boy, the son of a local white supremacist. It’s harrowing, compelling and completely thrilling.

I’m also reading Can you Ever Forgive Me? by Lee Israel. It’s a memoir that focuses on her role as a literary forger. Israel faked letters by literary greats such as Dorothy Parker and Noël Coward and sold them as collectibles to support herself until she was eventually busted by the FBI. It’s short, wry, and an intriguing peek into the mind of a frustrated writer who turned to the dark side. I’m partly reading this as research into that sort of mindset—pretending to be something or someone you’re not.
Visit Joanna Schaffhausen's website.

The Page 69 Test: All the Best Lies.

--Marshal Zeringue