Marissa Bell Toffoli

Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Interview With Writer Veronica Rossi

In art, author interview, books, editors, fiction, writing, young adult (YA) on June 14, 2014 at 11:17 am
Veronica Rossi. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2014).

Veronica Rossi. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2014).

An introduction to Veronica Rossi, author of the YA trilogy Under the Never Sky, Through the Ever Night, and Into the Still Blue (HarperCollins, 2014). This interview was done with the Rakestraw Books PG-14 Teen Advisory Board, whose thoughtful and fun questions spoke to the heart of Rossi’s work and delved into what life is like for a writer.

When asked about drawing from mythology or other stories and sources, Rossi made a great point about how things can be connected but still unique: “If you’re really writing something that your heart is in, and you’re working hard to be honest in your writing and not copying other ideas, then no one else can write that. It’s okay to borrow ideas, but borrow them and make them your own.” Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer & Artist Nick Bantock

In art, author interview, books, fiction, nonfiction, writing on February 3, 2014 at 4:24 pm
Nick Bantock. Photo by Yukiko Onley.

Nick Bantock. Photo by Yukiko Onley.

An introduction to Nick Bantock, author of the Griffin and Sabine books and a new book on creativity, The Trickster’s Hat (Perigree, 2014). In The Trickster’s Hat, Bantock shares exercises for writers and artists that explore elements of creativity such as where to begin, working from dreams and archetypes, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy, silence, the unexpected, the mysterious, and more. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer Lucille Lang Day

In author interview, books, editors, fiction, memoir, poetry, writing on January 24, 2014 at 3:52 pm
Lucille Lang Day

Lucille Lang Day. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2013).

An introduction to writer and editor Lucille Lang Day. She is the author of eight poetry collections, a number of short stories and creative nonfiction pieces, and the children’s book, Chain Letter. Her latest book, Married at Fourteen, won the 2013 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award in the category of memoir. Day holds an MA in English, an MFA in Creative Writing, an MA in Zoology, and a PhD in Science/Mathematics Education. She’s also the founder and director of a small press, Scarlet Tanager Books. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer Antoine Laurain

In author interview, books, fiction, journalism, writing on October 3, 2013 at 8:22 am
Antoine Laurain. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2013).

Antoine Laurain. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2013).

An introduction to Antoine Laurain, author of the novel The President’s Hat (Gallic, 2013; originally Le Chapeau de Mitterrand). A fifth-generation Parisian, Laurain is a journalist, screenwriter, director, antiques collector, and novelist. His previous books include Ailleurs si j’y suis, Fume et tue, and Carrefour des Nostalgies. Talking with Laurain after he arrived in the US to begin his book tour, there was an air of excitement to the uncommonly sunny San Francisco day. A certain light shown through his personality befitting of the afternoon and the thoughtful playfulness behind The President’s Hat. There was already a hint of the surreal in the atmosphere before Laurain shared a story about the cover for the French edition of the book. After, there was nothing to do but marvel at how fiction and reality mingle in unexpected ways:  Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer Duff Brenna

In author interview, books, fiction, memoir, nonfiction, short stories, writing on September 13, 2013 at 10:30 am
Duff Brenna

Duff Brenna. Photo courtesy of the author.

An introduction to Duff Brenna, author of nine books including The Book of Mamie, Minnesota Memoirs, and Murdering the Mom. He is a freelance writer and Professor Emeritus of English literature and creative writing at California State University, San Marcos. Brenna finds ideas for his own writing from reading, and also from talking to people: “I know how to listen when I’m with people. Stories often pop out of their mouths that I use to write my own version of what they were saying. I also use my own life.” Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer Deanne Stillman

In author interview, books, essays, fiction, journalism, nonfiction, writing on August 16, 2013 at 11:58 am
Deanne Stillman

Deanne Stillman. Photo courtesy of the author.

An introduction to Deanne Stillman, author of Desert Reckoning: A Town Sheriff, A Mojave Hermit, and the Biggest Manhunt in Modern California History. Her previous books include Mustang and Twentynine Palms. Stillman is a member of the core faculty at the UC Riverside-Palm Desert Low Residency MFA Creative Writing Program. When asked how she balances content with form, Stillman shared, “Place drives everything; in my stories, the desert or the land shapes the story and the characters, and often is a character itself.”

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Interview With Writer Jennifer Elise Foerster

In author interview, books, poetry, writing on July 12, 2013 at 3:36 pm
Jennifer Elise Foerster

Jennifer Elise Foerster. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2013).

An introduction to Jennifer Elise Foerster, author of the debut poetry book Leaving Tulsa (University of Arizona Press, 2013). In a discussion of how and why she writes, Foerster described the magic of writing: “The mind is a great labyrinth, and when I write I feel like I’m in the labyrinth.” Foerster holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has received numerous fellowships and was Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. Foerster’s poems have been anthologized in SingNew California Writing 2011, and Turtle Island to Abya Yala. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer Bruce Littlefield

In books, humor, journalism, memoir, nonfiction, writing on July 10, 2013 at 11:47 am
Bruce Littlefield (and Westminster). Photo courtesy of the author (and dog).

Bruce Littlefield (and Westminster). Photo courtesy of the author (and dog).

An introduction to Bruce Littlefield, author of Moving In: Tales of an Unlicensed Marriage, which chronicles the first year of home ownership with his partner of 20 years, Scott Stewart. Littlefield’s other books include Airstream LivingGarage Sale America, Merry Christmas AmericaThe Bedtime Book for Dogs and the best-selling My Two Moms (written with civil rights advocate Zach Wahls), and Use What You’ve Got (written with ABC Shark Tank star Barbara Corcoran). Originally from South Carolina, Bruce has designed and owned two award-winning restaurants, and Edgewater Farm, his 1940’s Catskills farmhouse, which he renovated and decorated himself, has been featured in numerous publications. Bruce’s number one tip for a happy life is, “Laugh. A lot!”

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Interview With Writer Richard James Bentley

In books, fiction, writing on June 7, 2013 at 10:04 am
Richard James Bentley

Richard James Bentley. Photo courtesy of the author.

An introduction to Richard James Bentley, author of the novel Greenbeard (Exterminating Angel Press, 2013). Before writing fiction, Bentley was a technical writer, so it isn’t a surprise that he collects mechanical adding machines and dictionaries. When asked how his experience writing technical manuals influenced the way he approaches storytelling, he answered:

The written word has always been part of my environment, and the narrative always part of my internal landscape, which is to say that my head has always been filled with stories. In the end, I suspect, everything is defined by narratives. When I worked as a technical author, trying to pick engineers’ brains for the information that I needed to do my job, one of the psychological tricks I used was to get the guys to reminisce about the history of the project. Then, instead of a grunted list of facts and a bundle of paperwork thrust at me, I would instead get a coherent account of how the project had come to be its current state. A narrative. A story.

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Interview With Writer Jennie Shortridge

In books, fiction, writing on May 22, 2013 at 12:47 pm
Jennie Shortridge

Jennie Shortridge. Photo by Natalia Dotto.

An introduction to Jennie Shortridge, the author of Love Water Memory (Gallery Books, 2013). Her previous novels include When She Flew and Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe. The story unfolds in Love Water Memory  as Lucie explores the mystery of her past, and gets to know herself as if for the first time while recovering from amnesia. When Erica Bauermeister interviewed her at Rakestraw Books, Shortridge explained that writing a mystery “became like a little dance—how much to reveal when.” Shortridge also shared the fun fact that “all of the characters were named for someone’s favorite grandparent.” That started with Grady, named for Shortridge’s grandfather, and as she talked with other friends about their grandparents, she started a quiet tribute by using their names for characters in the book. After Bauermeister and Shortridge discussed the writing process, and what it’s like to work with agents, editors, and publishing companies, Shortridge brought it all together with a simple point: “We write because we love stories.”
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