Marissa Bell Toffoli

Archive for the ‘books’ Category

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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Interview With Writer Charles McLeod

In books, fiction, short stories, uncategorized, writing on May 15, 2013 at 12:52 pm
Charles McLeod

Charles McLeod. Photo courtesy of the author.

An introduction to Charles McLeod, author of the novel American Weather and a collection of stories called National Treasures (Outpost19/Random House UK). His fiction has appeared in publications including ConjunctionsDOSSIEREleven ElevenThe Gettysburg ReviewHayden’s Ferry ReviewThe Iowa ReviewThe Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, and the Norton anthology Fakes. McLeod was born in Texas, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, and now lives in Colorado. Since 2000, he’s held eleven addresses in eight states. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer Peter Mehlman

In books, essays, film, humor, journalism, nonfiction, TV, writing on April 17, 2013 at 1:56 pm
Peter Mehlman. Photo courtesy of the author.

Peter Mehlman. Photo courtesy of the author.

An introduction to Peter Mehlman, author of Mandela Was Late: Odd things & essays from the Seinfeld writer who coined yada, yada, and made spongeworthy a compliment (The Sager Group, 2013). Mehlman is a multiple Primetime Emmy Award nominee, known for his work on the sitcom Seinfeld. He has won acclaim for his NPR commentaries and hilarious and poignant op-eds and personal essays in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Huffington Post, and Esquire. Host of the Webby-nominated YouTube series Narrow World of Sports, Mehlman grew up in Queens, New York, graduated from the University of Maryland, and now lives in Los Angeles. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer Aaron Shurin

In art, books, essays, poetry, writing on March 31, 2013 at 12:38 pm
Aaron Shurin. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2013).

Aaron Shurin. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2013).

An introduction to Aaron Shurin, whose latest poetry collection is Citizen (City Lights Books, 2012). Shurin is the author of over a dozen books, both poetry and essay collections. He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Gerbode Foundation, the San Francisco Arts Commission, and the California Arts Council. He cofounded the Boston-based writing collective Good Gay Poets and was the director of the MFA in Writing program at the University of San Francisco.

When asked if he has a philosophy for how and why he writes, Shurin answered, “Poetry is attention, and it is the means of attending experience. Attention is the key word both for what it requires and what its nature is.” And that sense of attention comes through when you read his work. One of the pleasures of Shurin’s poetry is the focus on sound and rhythm. It makes for a powerful experience to hear him read. He doesn’t rush the words—each phrase has its own breath, deliberately chosen to add meaning, and momentum builds throughout the poem. Shurin graciously read some poems exclusively for this interview. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer Erica Bauermeister

In books, cooking, fiction, food, writing on February 27, 2013 at 10:19 pm
Erica Bauermeister. Photo by Susan Doupe.

Erica Bauermeister. Photo by Susan Doupe.

An introduction to Erica Bauermeister, author of the novels The School of Essential Ingredients, Joy For Beginners, and The Lost Art of Mixing (Putnam Books, 2013). Bauermeister’s new book brings back a few familiar characters from her first book and introduces some fresh faces. At Rakestraw Books last month, Bauermeister talked about her writing process and how this novel came together in bursts and small sections, like fireworks building toward a finale. It pulls the reader in effortlessly, even if you haven’t read The School of Essential Ingredients. Each chapter explores a different character’s perspective, and readers gain insight into every side of the story. Add in the delectable descriptions and details that pepper Bauermeister’s prose and you’ve got an elegant and fulfilling read. You’re in for a treat with Erica Bauermeister.

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Interview With Writer Ron Currie, Jr

In books, fiction, writing on February 11, 2013 at 5:44 pm
Ron Currie, Jr

Ron Currie, Jr. Photo By Lisa Prosienski.

An introduction to Ron Currie, Jr, author of the novels Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles (Viking, 2013), Everything Matters!, and God is Dead. Currie has won the Young Lions Award from the New York Public Library, and the Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His latest novel is a wild ride, full of heart and heat. When asked where the idea came from for Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles, Currie said, “From my life, mostly.”

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Interview With Writer Mark L Arywitz

In art, books, fiction, film, plays, writing on October 20, 2012 at 10:39 am
Mark L Arywitz

Mark L Arywitz. Photo by Caitlin Sanders.

An introduction to Mark L Arywitz, author of the novel The Legend of Little Great Grandfather (TheWriteDeal, 2012). Arywitz’s background in writing for the screen instilled in him that “it’s not only about good prose, I’m also going for a story that has some narrative drive.” His screenwriting credits include the feature film “Just Before Dawn,” the TV drama “Mozart’s Requiem,” and many commissioned screenplays, among them “Holier Than Thou.” Arywitz teaches in the Department of Film & Television in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. The Legend of Little Great Grandfather is his debut novel, and the first in a trilogy in progress. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer David Budbill

In books, plays, poetry, spoken word, writing on October 7, 2012 at 4:08 pm
David Budbill

David Budbill. Photo by Joshi Radin (2011).

An introduction to David Budbill, author of the book Park Songs: a Poem/Play (Exterminating Angel Press, 2012). Happy Life, his most recent book of poems, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2011. Two other Budbill books have also been published by Copper Canyon Press, While We’ve Still Got Feet and Moment to Moment: Poems of a Mountain Recluse. His latest play, A Song for My Father, premiered at Lost Nation Theatre in Montpelier, Vermont, in the spring of 2010 and will be produced again in Salinas, California, at The Western Stage in 2013. Budbill’s prizes and honors include The Vermont Arts Council’s Walter Cerf Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, a National Endowment for the Arts Play Writing Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry, and The Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award for Fiction. When asked about the role of humor in Park Songs, Budbill said, “All I know is, I can’t live my life without humor and neither can my characters.” Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer Bill Hutchinson

In books, journalism, memoir, writing on September 14, 2012 at 11:03 am
Bill Hutchinson

Bill Hutchinson. Photo by Lisa Amand.

An introduction to journalist Bill Hutchinson, the author of the memoir Sushi and Black-Eyed Peas (TheWriteDeal e-leaf, 2012). A senior writer for the New York Daily News, Hutchinson has also worked as a reporter for the Boston Herald, the Fresno Bee, the Contra Costa Sun and the Daily Ledger-Post Dispatch in the California Delta. Hutchinson grew up in Central California, the youngest son of an Okinawan mother and a Black, Irish Cherokee father. He began to write his memoir because “too many kinfolk were dying and taking great stories to their graves.” Read the rest of this entry »

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