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Cece Bell

I Was Lucky Because I Could Walk to Our Local Library: A Conversation with Cece Bell

Award winning author Cece Bell has been writing and illustrating children’s picture books for several years. This year, her book for older children, El Deafo, earned her a Newberry Honor. A graphic novel memoir, El Deafo tells her story of becoming almost completely deaf at a young age due to illness. Depicting the resulting challenges—and delights—are a cast of bunny characters that tell a very human story.

sharon draper

I Was That Little Girl Who Went to the Library Every Single Saturday: A Conversation with Sharon Draper

This past fall, author Sharon Draper’s novel, Out of My Mind, was Loudoun County Public Library’s pick for their 1 Book, 1 Community book. As part of the program, Draper visited the area and did an author chat at a local middle school.

Kathleen Hale Author Photo

Certain Experiences Carve Out Pieces of You: A Conversation with Kathleen Hale

In Kathleen Hale’s exceptional debut novel, No One Else Can Have You, sixteen year-old Kippy Bushman sets out to solve the gruesome murder of her best friend, Ruth Fried. As Kippy investigates those closest to Ruth, she realizes everyone in her seemingly cheerful hometown harbors dark secrets, from Kippy’s peppy guidance counselor father to Ruth’s […]

Ben Winters Author Photo

Bouncing Ideas Off the Wall of Reality: A Conversation with Ben Winters

Ben Winters’ The Last Policeman poses the daunting question, how do you maintain law and order in a world poised on the edge of disaster? Set in the near future, an asteroid is set to strike earth in six months, leveling most of the planet’s population. In Concord, New Hampshire, Detective Henry Palace finds himself thrust into his dream job with only a few remaining months to enjoy it. With the world around him falling apart, Palace lands a seemingly open-and-shut case: the suicide of a local actuary. As Palace digs deeper, he uncovers the dark secrets of citizens pushed to the edge and the unsettling truth of the true killer. Winters continues the exploits of Palace with Countdown City, where a quest for a missing husband leads Palace to the University of New Hampshire (now turned into a quasi-commune), among other places. In both books, Winters spins a deftly plotted mystery while vividly depicting a world on the brink of extinction. World of Trouble, the final book in the Last Policeman Trilogy, will be published this July. Winters spoke to Brendan Dowling via telephone January 31, 2014.

Jon Cohen

Librarians Enthrall: A Conversation with Jon Cohen

Jon Cohen’s The Man in the Window was first published in 1992, but is now enjoying a second life thanks to Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust Rediscoveries. Disfigured from a fire at his father’s hardware store, Louis Malone has spent the past sixteen years observing his neighborhood from the confines of his parents’ house. When he […]

Ruth Ozeki

The Shores of My Imagination: A Conversation with Ruth Ozeki

In Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth, a novelist living in an isolated island off the coast of British Columbia, finds a package washed up on the beach during a morning walk. Inside is a Hello Kitty Lunch box containing, among other objects, the diary of Nao, a suicidal American teenager living in Japan. Ruth believes the package washed up as a result of the 2011 Japanese earthquake, and is soon consumed by discovering Nao’s fate. Alternating between Ruth’s life on the island and excerpts from Nao’s diary, the reader learns how Nao ended up in Tokyo, as well as the stories of Nao’s great-grandmother, a 104 year-old Zen Buddhist nun, and Nao’s great-uncle Haruki #1, a World War II kamikaze pilot. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize and praised as a “a tantalizing narration that brandishes mysteries to be solved and ideas to be explored” by The Washington Post, A Tale for the Time Being was one of 2013’s most acclaimed novels. Ozeki spoke to Brendan Dowling via telephone on January 2nd and 6th.

Mary Schmich Author Photo

First Do No Harm: A Conversation with Mary Schmich

For over twenty years, Mary Schmich’s  perceptive columns  have been a staple of the Chicago Tribune. In 2012, she was awarded the Pulitzer for Commentary, yet she had achieved a broader audience even earlier. In 1997, her column “Wear Suncreen” (originally misattributed as a Kurt Vonnegaut commencement address) rose to prominence and was even eventually […]

Pic of Joshilyn Jackson and book

If You’re Funny You Can Get Away with A Lot – PL Talks to Author Joshilyn Jackson

Joshilyn Jackson’s new novel, Someone Else’s Love Story, is already accumulating accolades: it’s a #1 Indie Next Pick, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, an Okra Pick, a LibraryReads Selection, a Bloggers Recommend Pick, and it received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.

anthony marra

Hearing the Echoes the Book Had Created: A Conversation with Anthony Marra

Anthony Marra’s devastating debut novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, was recently longlisted for the National Book Award. The novel takes place over the course of five days in 2004 in a Chechen hospital and centers around six characters: Akhmed, a mediocre physician from a small Chechen village; Havaa, his eight-year-old neighbor whose father has just been kidnapped by the Russian Federal Secret Service (FSB); Ramzan, Akhmed’s best friend who has turned informer for the FSB; Khassan, Ramzan’s elderly father who has spent his life writing a massive tome dedicated to Chechen history; Sonja, the sole remaining surgeon at a nearby hospital; and Natasha, Sonja’s beautiful sister whose whereabouts are unknown when the novel begins. Deeply humane and profoundly moving, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a novel that resounds with the reader long after finishing it. Anthony Marra spoke with Brendan Dowling via telephone on November 6, 2013.

Edwidge Danticat

Maneuvering Myself Around a Scene: A Conversation with Edwidge Danticat

Edwidge Danticat’s extraordinary new novel, Claire of the Sea Light, introduces the reader to the fictional Haitian town of Ville Rose. Centered around the resilient Claire, the novel takes place over the course of her seventh birthday, when her widower father must decide whether to allow a local businesswoman to adopt Claire in the hopes of her having a more financially secure life. From that wrenching decision, the novel spins out to the other members of the community, from the local principal and his visiting son, to the host of a popular radio show, to the gang members on the outskirts of town. Danticat’s career has been incredibly prolific, ranging from her National Book Award nominated novel Krik! Krak! to her National Book Critic’s Circle award-winning memoir, Brother, I’m Dying. Danticat spoke to Brendan Dowling via email on October 14, 2013.

Meg Wolitzer Author Photo

Illicit and Thrilling and Magical: A Conversation with Meg Wolitzer

Meg Wolitzer’s acutely observed novels such as The Ten Year Nap, The Position, and The Uncoupling have earned her a loyal following during her thirty-year career. With the publication of The Interestings, however, Wolitzer enjoyed her best reviews to date. The New York Times Book Review said The Interestings‘  “inclusive vision and generous sweep place […]

Cover of The Dragonslayer's Sword

Face Down on Dry Land: An Interview with Resa Nelson

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Resa Nelson about her writing, how she became a writer, and what is coming up in her immediate future in terms of books. For those of you not familiar with her, you can read more about her here. The following is an excerpt from the interview, you can read the full interview here on my website.

Ivy Pochoda

I Love the Unexplained: A Conversation with Ivy Pochoda

Entertainment Weekly hailed Ivy Pochoda’s Visitation Street as “gravely tense and beautiful” and Barnes and Noble named Pochoda as one of their Fall 2013 Discover Great New Writers Selections. Visitation Street takes place in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn. One night, two bored high school girls, Val and June, try to escape the summer heat by rafting in the nearby bay. The next morning, only Val returns, unconscious in the weeds with no memory of what happened the night before.

cover of Elven Blood book

Andre Norton: Librarian, Writer, and Fantasy Grande Dame

Andre Norton (born Alice Mary Norton) is something of a legend in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. The first woman to be named Gandalf Grand Master of Fantasy; the first woman to be named to the SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) as Grand Master; and the first woman inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame among the likes of amazing writers like Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Anne McCaffrey; Norton is the author of over 300 published titles. Many modern fantasy and science fiction authors can trace their influence back to Norton, such as Mercedes Lackey, Charles de Lint, Tanya Huff, and even C.J. Cherryh. Not only was Norton a prolific writer, an inspiration and mentor, she was also a librarian.

The Mystery of Every Shelf: A Conversation with Lindsay Hunter

Lindsay Hunter’s short stories from her first collection, Daddy’s, were widely lauded, with St. Louis Magazine dubbing them “tiny gothic gems.” Her sophomore collection, Don’t Kiss Me, introduced her to a wider audience and more critical praise. The Chicago Tribune said her new stories “make you feel like your heart could kick the windows out” and New York Magazine placed the book on its summer reading list. Her evocative prose and unnerving characters has made her a favorite of readers who seek boundary-pushing fiction. Hunter spoke to Brendan Dowling via telephone July 31, 2013.