Monday, November 7, 2022

Debra Bokur

Debra Bokur is the author of The Dark Paradise Mysteries series from Kensington. She’s traveled the world as a writer, journalist and staff editor for various national media outlets, with more than 2,000 print pieces carrying her byline to date. Her work has garnered multiple awards, including a 2015 Lowell Thomas Award for Travel Journalism. For more than a decade, she served as the poetry editor at a national literary journal, and her poetry and short fiction have been widely published. Among her favorite writing credits are a series of original literary essays commissioned by the Celestial Seasonings tea company that appeared on the artfully illustrated boxes of ten separate tea flavors. She continues to travel in her capacity as the Global Researcher and Writer for the Association for Safe International Road Travel, and as a monthly columnist for Global Traveler magazine.

Bokur latest novel is The Lava Witch, the third Dark Paradise mystery.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

This slender volume of wisdom on writing and creative pursuits by author Steven Pressfield is never far out of reach on the desk in my writing room. Before embarking on any major writing project, I prepare by giving The War of Art a fresh read. In a series of short chapters — many no more than a paragraph long — Pressfield confronts the topic of creative block/procrastination as a malevolent force he names “Resistance.” Depending upon your own mental fortitude when faced by a blank piece of paper, flickering computer screen, or any project, it’s an unapologetic kick in the backside combined with hardcore practical advice and a lovely dose of inspiring observations that Yoda would likely approve of.

Tales from the Perilous Realm by J. R. R. Tolkien

Whenever I feel sad, unwell, exhausted, or lonely, a plunge into the work of J. R. R. Tolkien is my remedy of choice. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve set out on the journeys contained within the pages of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, or have deliberately become entangled and lost within the literary labyrinths of Children of Huron and The Silmarillion.

A few years ago, I made my way through the crowded exhibit at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City to view the collection of original Hobbit-related works on display, which featured many of Tolkien’s own sketches and drawings. I followed up this visit with a fresh read of the works, and found the journey more enriching for the experience.

I’d also been looking forward to re-entering the author’s assorted worlds via Tales from the Perilous Realm, a new compilation of short stories and poetry, but had been waiting for the right time. The moment arrived a few weeks ago, and I’m currently deep into my voyage. The collection, which includes an insightful Forward by scholar Tom Shippey, launches with this quote from Tolkien: “Faerie is a perilous land…” For lovers of Tolkien’s dense and complicated worlds, that’s an invitation that can’t easily be ignored. While I already have several of the included stories in separate volumes (including Farmer Giles of Ham), I love the idea of them being gathered under one roof. And the roof is gorgeous, with a jacket and story illustrations featuring the fantasy drawings of celebrated artist Alan Lee. For the full experience, be sure to read Lee’s Afterward, and the transcript of Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy-Stories” in the Appendix.

The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse

Recently, I went on a Nordic noir binge that included Icelandic novelist Ragnar Jónasson’s thriller series featuring Detective Ari Thor, followed by the nail-biting Prime streaming series Trapped (also set in Iceland), and both seasons of the Swedish television series The Truth Will Out, which I could only watch with the lights on. After all of this, including the final episode of brilliant writing and spellbinding performances showcased in The Truth Will Out, I needed a serious mood shift and mental reset. According to local sources (or as they like to be called, my family and friends), I was wearing too much black, muttering to myself while making tea, and had limited my shopping to smoked salmon and cucumbers.

I was forced to admit these observations were spot-on, and immediately turned to my extensive P. G. Wodehouse library. I reached for The Code of the Woosters knowing it would immerse me in witty language, birdsong, and the predictably outrageous antics of one of modern literature’s best comic duos—Bertie Wooster and his gentleman’s gentleman, Jeeves. At the center of The Code of the Woosters is a plot to acquire an antique cow creamer that’s overly complicated by demanding aunts, newt-obsessed friends, an egocentric chef, and the strident leader of a British organization that harbors some disturbing political goals.

My goal was to laugh away all images of fictional horrors taking place at Nordic latitudes and longitudes, and I’m pleased to report complete success. My Wodehouse obsession, incidentally, has paid off: Years ago, I was gifted with a Staffordshire cow creamer of my own, in commemoration of what someone very dear to me accurately termed a “frightening fixation on British literature.” It’s possible, I suppose, that I need to become less consumed by my reading choices.
Visit Debra Bokur's website.

Q&A with Debra Bokur.

My Book, The Movie: The Lava Witch.

--Marshal Zeringue