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Interviews

Jessica Long Author Photo

Jessica Long on Turning Obstacles into Opportunities

Jessica Long was born in Siberia with fibular hemimelia, a medical condition that required the amputation of both legs below the knee. She was adopted by a family in Maryland, and quickly developed her spectacular gift for swimming. At age twelve, she was the youngest member of the U.S. Paralympic team, winning three gold medals. Over the past four Paralympic games, she’s won twenty-three medals, and is currently training to compete in her fifth games in Tokyo in 2020. With her sister Hannah, Long has written a photo-illustrated memoir, Unsinkable, which details not only her triumphs in the pool, but also the more personal moments of her journey, such as reconnecting with her birth family in 2012. Booklist gave Unsinkable a starred review, calling it “inspirational on so many levels, . . .a great addition for middle school collections.”

Megan Flaherty Author Photo

Meghan Flaherty on Dancing Back and Writing Herself Back into Tango

Megan Flaherty’s heartfelt Tango Lessons details how a passing interest in tango turned into a full-fledged passion for the author when she was in her early twenties. With levity and grace, Flaherty guides the reader through the history of the dance, as well as the world of nightly prácticas and ballroom dance competitions. Flaherty also writes candidly about how the dance helped her confront face traumatic events from her childhood and issues in her relationships. Tango Lessons has been highly praised by the literary community, with Kirkus Reviews calling it “a vibrantly intelligent reading pleasure” and Pulitzer Prize-winner Margo Jefferson hailing Flaherty as “entertaining, thoughtful, and trustworthy because her self-examination—doubts, insecurities, grief—is never self-indulgent.”

Hannah Pittard Author Photo

Hannah Pittard on the Complexity and Messiness of Life

Hannah Pittard’s sweeping Visible Empire focuses on the aftermath of a real-life plane crash in 1961, which claimed the lives of over 100 Atlantans traveling home after an extended art tour of Paris. Pittard employs her formidable skills to focus on how the crash affects four Atlantans: Robert Tucker, a middle-aged newspaper editor whose mistress was on the plane; his wife, Lily, who is eight months pregnant with their first child; Piedmont Dobbs, a teenager who was recently denied the chance of being one of the first African-American students to integrate Atlanta’s Public Schools; and Anastasia Rivers, a calculating grifter who uses the crash as a springboard to a better life.

Kenneth Bonert Author Photo

Kenneth Bonert on Finding the Right Tone to Make the Story Come Alive

Kenneth Bonert’s The Mandela Plot is a propulsive literary thriller set in late 80’s Johannesburg, when eighteen year-old Martin Helger’s life is upended upon the arrival of Annie, an intriguing American college student. Annie quickly proves to have a bevy of  secrets, and Martin is soon exposed to a world far different than his sheltered working class […]

Jeff Bercovici Author Photo

Jeff Bercovici on Fitness, Freshness, and Redefining “Peak Age”

Jeff Bercovici’s Play On: The New Science of Elite Performance at Any Age is an in-depth exploration of how elite athletes have managed to prolong their careers in recent years, transforming how our culture views fitness in the process. Through interviews with numerous sports scientists and athletes, Bercovici guides the reader through the latest scientific breakthroughs and training strategies that enable older athletes to not only maintain their competitive edge, but in many instances tower over their competitors.

Caleb Roehrig Author Photo

Caleb Roehrig on Representation, Stealing Books From His Mom, and Writing Unlikeable Characters

Caleb Roehrig’s twisty White Rabbit centers around high school sophomore Rufus Holt, who’s thrust into the role of amateur detective when his hard-partying half-sister awakes next to the corpse of her boyfriend and enlists Rufus to clear her name. Complicating matters is that Rufus’ ex-boyfriend, Sebastien, has chosen the exact same night to try to reconcile after their tumultuous break-up a month earlier. For the next several hours, Rufus and Sebastien attempt to get to the bottom of the murder, bumping up against vicious classmates, tyrannous drug dealers, and an insidious new designer drug wrecking havoc on the community.

Barbara Lipska Author Photo

Barbara Lipska on Deciphering and Destigmatizing Mental Illness

In January 2015, doctors informed Barbara Lipska that her melanoma had spread to her brain. With her frontal lobe compromised by tumors, Lipska soon began exhibiting schizophrenia and dementia-like symptoms. The subsequent eight weeks were a harrowing ordeal for Lipska, who was unaware of the affects her illness had on her brain, and her family. Yet two months after she was diagnosed, the experimental immunotherapy doctors prescribed had successful results. With her mental health restored, Lipska applied her skills as a neuroscientist to dissect the physical affects on her brain. Her resulting memoir, The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery, co-written with Elaine McArdle, is a moving account of her illness plus an accessible exploration of the relationship between the brain and behavior.

Cris Beam Author Photo

Cris Beam on Empathy’s Ability to be Both Personal and Exemplary

In Cris Beam’s I Feel You: The Surprising Power of Extreme Empathy, Beam brings her formidable skills as a journalist to unpack how empathy is deployed in the 21st century, examine its origins in popular culture, and understand its fluid definitions. Along the way she shows the reader the role empathy has played from the […]

Mario Giordano Author Photo

Mario Giordano on Sicily, the Two Fs, and his Glamorous New Detective

Mario Giordano’s Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions introduces an indelible new detective to mystery lovers in the form of the hard-drinking, charismatic Poldi, a Bavarian transplant who has moved to Sicily to drink herself to death. Her end-of-life plans, however, get interrupted when her handsome handyman is discovered murdered. Poldi soon finds herself thrust […]

Diane Barth

Diane Barth on How Noticing the Small Details Enrich Friendships

Diane Barth’s I Know How You Feel: The Joy and Heartbreak of Friendship in Women’s Lives draws on Barth’s extensive experience as a psychotherapist to examine the complexities of female friendship. Barth interviewed a broad range of women about their relationships, discussing how their need for friendship transforms over time and common problems they encounter. The result […]

Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi

How Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi Walked Her Novel Before She Wrote It

Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi’s stunning Z is For Zebra introduces an unforgettable character with Zebra, a 22-year-old literary prodigy from Iran. When Zebra’s father dies, she decides to retrace her family’s journey from Iran to New York. She soon finds herself in Catalonia, where she becomes entangled with Ludo, a hapless philologist who challenges Zebra’s more intellectually insular existence. Steeped in literature, Zebra confidently holds forth on topics such as displacement, war, and sexuality in a manner that is sure to captivate readers. Van der Vliet Oloomi’s was named one of the National Book Award’s “35 Under 35,” and Z is for Zebra was named by a Most Anticipated Title of 2018 by the Boston Globe, Nylon, Book Riot, and The Millions.

Maurene Goo Author Photo

Maurene Goo on Writing Relatable Characters and her Enduring Love of K Dramas

Maurene Goo’s effervescent I Believe In A Thing Called Love centers around Desi, a phenomenally talented high school senior whose one weakness is her disastrous interactions with the opposite sex. Determined to have a romantic relationship before she graduates high school, Desi turns to her beloved K Dramas for inspiration. Armed with a list of K Drama tropes to serve as guidance, Desi sets her sights on Luca, the dreamy new transfer student with a mysterious past. What follows is both a hilarious romantic comedy but also a sweet tribute to the powerful bonds high school students have with their friends and parents. I Believe in a Thing Called Love earned starred reviews from both Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, and was named one of The Best Books for Teens 2017 by the New York Public Library.

Nadine Burke Harris Author Photo

Every Single One of Us has a Role to Play in Solving this Crisis: Dr. Nadine Burke Harris on Childhood Adversity

When Dr. Nadine Burke Harris opened her pediatric practice in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point, she soon noticed a correlation between patients who had experienced some sort of trauma early in life and their physical health. Her resulting research, which built upon the Adverse Childhood Experiences study performed in the 1990s, led to her groundbreaking The Deepest […]

A.J. Baime Author Photo

A.J. Baime on Truman’s “Completely Different Avenue of the American Dream”

A.J. Baime’s “The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months that Changed the World” dives deep into the tumultuous first four months of Truman’s presidency. Tracing Truman’s rise from failed farmer to leader of the free world, Baime constructs a compelling argument that no other President has ever faced such a fraught entrance into the office.

Jessica Yu Author Photo

Jessica Yu on Gladys Kalibbala and the Value of the Small Act

Jessica Yu’s “Garden of the Lost and Abandoned” tracks the work of Gladys Kalibbala, a Ugandan reporter whose weekly column on missing children works to reunite her subjects with their families. Equal parts detective, social worker, and child advocate, Kalibbala hunts down the origin of each child’s story, working tirelessly to find a solution for each child’s predicament. Yu brings her skills as a documentary filmmaker (she won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short for “Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien”) to bring Kalibballa’s story to life. While “Garden of Lost and Abandoned” is her first book, it has been met with rapturous praise. Kirkus Reviews called it “an eloquent affirmation of the vast capacity of the human heart,” while Amazon selected it as one of its Best Books of the Month: Nonfiction. Yu spoke to Brendan Dowling via telephone on November 6th, 2017.