Thursday, April 14, 2005

Sarah Strohmeyer writes Mysteries from a Lighter Side
As a reporter at three newspapers, Sarah Strohmeyer, author of the Bubbles Yablonsky mysteries, has surely seen the darker side of human nature, but her approach to crime writing is anything but. "Enough kidnapped children and mutilated women already! It's sick," she tells the Valley News Dispatch (PA). Strohmeyer's Bubbles is a reporter ("because reporting is gossip") and a part-time hairdresser (!) with an additiction to the 80's hair band Journey. As the fifth book in the series, Bubbles Betrothed debuts, Strohmeyer is making the rounds at book signings and fairs. She likes to connect with her fans because "they energize me and motivate me to write better books," she says. "It's like going to a revival or one of those retreats where you revitalize yourself. After a tour I want to sit down and write!" Read more
Colin Bateman on Everything
In this Q & A with the Belfast Telegraph, the author of the acclaimed Divorcing Jack (and the ensuing Dan Starkey novels) and of the Murphy's Law novels and BBC series talks about writing, getting published for the first time, and the brand of testostorone-driven raunchy humor that is his trademark. Bateman's latest, Murphy's Revenge is about to hit the stores in the U.K. Read more
Cuba's Hammett Finally in English
Leonardo Padura Fuentes' mysteries set in present-day Havana get him compared to the hardest of the hard boiled writers, Dashiell Hammett. Until recently, his books werent available in English. Thankfully, Canongate books in the UK has translated two of his mysteries: Adios, Hemingway will soon release Masks. In the wake of his English debut, the marxist Political Affiars magazine talks to Fuentes about his writing, his politics and the future. "I would prefer it if the novel (Mask) is not read solely as the story of a dead transvestite and an old homosexual who helps a policeman uncover the truth, but as a metaphor for life in Cuba, a life in which the masks worn by people hide not only sexual differences but religious and social ideologies, considered sometimes inappropriate by the official orthodoxy." Read more
PEN America Inaugurates Festival
The American wing of the prestigious writer's organization launches PEN World Voices: the New York Festival of International Literature from April 16 to April 22. Writers from 45 countries will participate in a weeklong series of readings, discussions and tributes. The festival aims to celebrate and promote writers from other countries, and discuss issues faced by writers outside the U.S. "PEN World Voices hopes to open a global conversation in which the shared human concerns that are central to literature take precedence over issues of ideology or nationality," say the organizers. Events include discussions on the continuing impact of Don Quixote after 400 years, a panel on "international noir" writing, a reading of works by authors whose works have been banned, and a readings from Strange Times, My Dear: The PEN Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature, which was banned from publication in the U.S. until a court decision allowed it. Several authors will hold online forums throughout the week, and some events include lunch. Most events are free.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

L.A.'s "One Book" is by Walter Mosley
The prolific Walter Mosley rose to fame when President Clinton named him as one of his favorite writers. Now, with his Easy Rawlins crime novels set in 50's and 60's L.A. firmly established (Devil in a Blue Dress was made into a film) and his non-crime fiction like The Man in My Basement gaining respect, the city of Los Angeles has chosen Mosley's Little Scarlet for the fourth annual One Book, One City reading program. Not only are Angelenos encouraged to read the book, the city is holding a month-long series of events including tours of locations in the book, discussion groups at libraries, panel discussions and appearances by the author at several events. "The goal of the program is to strengthen civic pride, foster discussion among diverse residents of Los Angeles and bring communities together through the common bond of reading," reports the website.Read more

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Ruth Rendell Unplugged
The famously reclusive British author talks to the UK Telegraph to promote her latest novel, The Minotaur (by Barbara Vine). For Rendell this is one of the most revealing interviews she has ever given (phobias, infidelity, dating) but that's not saying much. As usual, Rendell conceals more than she reveals about her life and her work. What is known is that both her mystery novels featuring Inspector Wexford and her intense psychological suspense novels under the name Barbara Vine have made her a household name around the world. At age 75, after writing over 50 novels and becoming the most respected mystery/suspense novelist in the world (many say the best novelist, period), Rendell's talent in piquing curiosity and obscuring facts remain intact. "I do empathise with people who are driven by dreadful impulses," she says. hmmm. Read more.

Friday, April 08, 2005

In Cold Blood's 45th Anniversary: An online Retrospective
When Truman Capote read about a Kansas family of four being killed in their remote Kansas farmhouse one November night in 1959, he decided the story would be his new book. Capote headed out to Holcomb, Kansas, population 270, and did months of research and interviews fro what would turn out to be the first nonfiction novel. In Cold Blood, released in 1965, is considered one of the finest books of the 20th century. The story of the ill-fated all-American Clutter family and that of their killers, two ex-cons who were looking for a non-existent safe full of cash, was filmed twice and made Capote world-famous. On the 45th anniversary of the book's publication, the University of Kansas has unleashed a team of journalism students on Holcolmb and nearby Garden City, Kansas to write a series of stories about the impact of the crime and the book on this quiet farm community. Their work has been posted on the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World website. In Cold Blood: A Legacy, includes interviews with friends of the family, police investigators, neighbors and relatives. The retrospective also includes a slide show, links to the paper's original stories of the crime, maps of the area, a timeline of events and a link to a student-produced documentary. And just because,read this 1966 New York Times interview with Capote on the process of writing this book.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Papal Book Bonanza
The new Pope will have at least three books about him hit the shelves within days of his election, reports the New York Daily News. Three writers including the mystery-writing priest Andrew M. Greeley are under contract to write books about the new Pope, ignoring the fact that no one knows who it will be.
Books by and about Pope John Paul II have spent the week on the bestseller lists, reports the News. Read more
Novelist and Teacher Frank Conroy Dies at 69
As the leader of the prestigious Iowa Writer's Workshop for 18 years, Frank Conroy shaped and encouraged many of today's novelists; as a writer he touched millions more. Conroy acheived literary fame with his first book, the memoir Stop-Time and wrote just four more novels in his lifetime. It would be eighteen years before his second book, Midair, was published, with good reason. "People thought I knew what I was doing when I wrote 'Stop-Time,' but I didn't," Mr. Conroy said last year. "I knew I was a very good writer, but it had all been an act of faith." While honing his formidable craft, Conroy worked as a magazine writer, a scallop fisherman, and a jazz pianist. Read more

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Saul Bellow Dies at 89
Nobel laureate and Pulitzer-prize winning novelist Saul Bellow died yesterday at his home in Brookline, Massachusetts.
The author of The Adventures of Augie March, Humboldt's Gift and Seize the Day was considered one of America's most important post-war novelists. "He dealt with ideas, where most American authors are afraid of ideas," said author Cynthia Ozick. His last book, Ravelstein, was published in 2000. Read more.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Pulitzer Prize (Book)Winners Announced

The 2005 Pulitzer Prize for fiction was awarded to Iowan Marilynne Robinson for Gilead, her story of a preacher's life; the poetry prize went to retired insurance executive Ted Kooser for his collection Delights and Shadows; the prize for drama went to John Patrick Shanley for his Broadway hit Doubt, about a nun who suspects a priest of impropriety; the prize for biography was awarded to Mark Stevens and Analyn Swan for de Kooning: An American Master; the prize for history went to David Hackett Fischer for Washington's Crossing; the prize for general non-fiction went to Steve Coll for Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001.
Pope John Paul II in His Own Words
We join the world in expressing our deepest condolences on the passing of the Holy Father, John Paul II this past Saturday. His was an evangelical papacy during which he brought the office and the institution out from musty shrouded back corridors of the Vatican, screaming into the high-tech 21st century. While his unbending adherence to conservative doctrine alienated many Catholics (including this one), his deep spirituality and commitment to human rights, his practice of reaching out to other faiths, to honoring the faithful on every continent, and courageously calling political leaders to task elicits nothing but admiration. Who was he? John Paul II published more work for public consumption than any other Pope in history. Take a look.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Ya-Ya Author Enjoys the Success While Dealing With Illness
Rebecca Wells became a household word with the sucess of her Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, about the lives and friendship of four Louisianna women. It's follow-up "Little Altars Everywhere" cemented her success. As the third book about the life-long friends is released, "Ya-Yas in Bloom" Wells talks for the first time about an illness she has been battling for seven years, as her books began climbing the bestseller lists. After mysterious bouts of dizzyness, hypersensitivity to sound and respiratory infections, Wells was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease and babesiosis, both spread by tick bites. Wells' treatment includes antibiotics and antimalarial drugs, but the climb back to normalcy is slow, she says. The most she can write is four or five hour a day, half her normal time. At her worst she could only work for twenty minutes. She finds strength through her friendship with author Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club) who also suffers from the disease.