Marissa Bell Toffoli

Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Interview With Writer Lissa Evans

In books, fiction, writing, young adult (YA) on September 4, 2012 at 7:38 am
Lissa Evans

Lissa Evans. Photo courtesy of the author.

An introduction to Lissa Evans, author of the new novel Horten’s Incredible Illusions (Sterling, 2012). This book is the sequel to Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms, Evans’s first novel featuring young Stuart, and written with a middle-grade or junior high school audience in mind. Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms was short-listed for the Carnegie Medal, the Costa Book Awards, and UK Literacy Association’s Children’s Book Award, and long-listed for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and the Branford Boase Award. Her adult fiction includes the novels Spencer’s List and Odd One Out. As the cover blurb reveals, “Lissa Evans’s route to children’s fiction author is perhaps as roundabout as Stuart’s adventures in Beeton.” Evans embarked on a career in medicine, then moved briefly to stand-up comedy, and became a comedy producer in radio and television before finding her voice as an author.

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Interview With Writer Jim Lynch

In books, fiction, journalism, writing on August 24, 2012 at 1:29 pm
Jim Lynch

Jim Lynch. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2012).

An introduction to Jim Lynch, author of Truth Like the Sun (Knopf, 2012), Border Songs, and The Highest Tide. Lynch’s history as a journalist shines through in his new novel, and in the delightful, conversational, and inquisitive way he manages to draw you out while you’re interviewing him. Lynch shared that his latest book “started with my desire to write a very urban novel . . . I also wanted to write a book about power and ambition, and journalists and politicians—all the gray morality involved in all that.” So yes, it would be easy to say this book is about politics, journalism, and cities, and leave it at that. What has stayed with me after reading it is that in its heart Truth Like the Sun is about people and growing up. Nobody’s perfect, and you can’t escape who you are; you can’t escape the past. Part of growing up, no matter how long it takes, is recognizing those things, and that goes for people and cities.  As Lynch explained, and his characters illustrate, it is not easy “to size people up and try to boil down their integrity into a nice, neat newspaper article.” There’s always more than one side to a story. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s New With Writer Deborah Harkness

In books, fiction, history, writing on August 21, 2012 at 9:32 pm
Deborah Harkness. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2011).

Deborah Harkness. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2011).

Since it came out in 2011, the Words With Writers interview with Deborah Harkness has  been one of the most popular reads on the blog. In July 2012, Harkness published Shadow of Night, the sequel to her bestseller A Discovery of Witches. During her book tour, she came through Danville, California for a reading and signing event at Rakestraw Books. It was a pleasure to catch up with Harkness, learn about the new book and its place in the All Souls trilogy, and to hear more of her thoughts on the writing life.

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Interview With Writer Jim Boots

In books, business, consulting, nonfiction, writing on August 17, 2012 at 6:41 pm
Jim Boots

Jim Boots. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2012).

An introduction to Jim Boots, founder of the consulting group Global Process Innovation and author of BPM Boots on the Ground (Meghan-Kiffer Press, 2012), a book about how to implement strategic business process management (BPM). Boots shares what he learned from working for one of the world’s largest organizations, and gives readers an idea of how to create change within any company. When Boots recently retired after thirty years at Chevron, he pursued a new adventure as a BPM consultant that began with writing this book. As Boots explains it, BPM is about representing processes graphically “to get people to think very deeply about what they do together and how to improve on it.” Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer Mick Stern

In art, books, fiction, poetry, short stories on July 21, 2012 at 1:07 pm
Mick Stern

Mick Stern. Photo by Lucy Kehati.

An introduction to writer and artist Mick Stern, whose most recent books include The Chicken’s Guide to Crossing the Road, Fifty Thousand, and Get Out of Town. Stern received a PhD in English Renaissance Literature from New York University (NYU). He has taught English at Rutgers (New Brunswick) and other colleges. For more than twenty years, he taught screenwriting at NYU’s film school. 
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Interview With Writer Katherine Chiljan

In books, history, nonfiction, plays, poetry, writing on June 30, 2012 at 12:39 pm
Katherine Chiljan

Katherine Chiljan. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2012).

An introduction to Katherine Chiljan, author of Shakespeare Suppressed: The Uncensored Truth About Shakespeare and his Works (Faire Editions, 2011), and two anthologies: Dedication Letters to the Earl of Oxford, and Letters and Poems of Edward, Earl of Oxford. In 2012, Chiljan received the Vero Nihil Verius Award for Distinguished Scholarship from Concordia University in Oregon. Chiljan has studied the Shakespeare authorship question for over 26 years, has debated the topic with English professors at the Smithsonian Institution and at the Mechanics’ Institute in San Francisco. She has written several articles for the newsletter of the Shakespeare-Oxford Society, was its editor, and is a former Society trustee.

In Shakespeare Suppressed, Chiljan examines the identity of the great author, presenting evidence that supports a somewhat unpopular but convincing argument that he was not the man who hailed from Stratford-upon-Avon, not the man commonly credited as the writer of masterpieces like Romeo and Juliet. Freed of the Stratford Man model, problems of dating plays, piracy, and more can begin to be solved, and a new exciting figure of the author emerges. The book explores why the man from Stratford was falsely credited as Shakespeare after his death, but the implications of Chiljan’s research extend much further and offer Shakespeare fans, students, and scholars fresh perspective on the most celebrated poet and dramatist in history. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer Brian Griffith

In books, history, nonfiction, writing on April 4, 2012 at 2:42 pm
Brian Griffith

Brian Griffith. Photo courtesy of Brian Griffith.

An introduction to author and independent historian Brian Griffith, whose new book titled A Galaxy of Immortal Women (Exterminating Angel Press, 2012) ties mythology, archaeology, history, religion, folklore, literature, and journalism into a millennia-spanning story about how Chinese women—and their goddess traditions—fostered a counterculture that flourishes and grows stronger every day. Griffith’s previous books are The Gardens of Their Dreams: Desertification and Culture in World History, Different Visions of Love: Partnership and Dominator Values in Christian History, and Correcting Jesus: 2000 Years of Changing the Story. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer Lowry Pei

In books, fiction, writing on January 25, 2012 at 10:22 am
Lowry Pei

Lowry Pei. Photo by Vaughn Sills.

An introduction to Lowry Pei, author of the novel Over the Fence (TheWriteDeal.org). Pei’s first book, Family Resemblances, was published by Random House in 1986. His stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories 1984, The American Story: The Best of StoryQuarterly, and his book reviews have been published in the New York Times Book Review. Pei’s unique point of view owes much to his unlikely origins as the son of an engineer from Suzhou, China, and a schoolteacher from a small town in Kansas. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, and teaches writing at Simmons College.

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Interview With Writer Sarah Schulman

In art, books, fiction, nonfiction, writing on December 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm
Sarah Schulman

Sarah Schulman. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2011).

An introduction to Sarah Schulman, author of The Mere Future (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2009). Schulman’s numerous books include the novels Rat Bohemia, Empathy, and The Child, and the nonfiction book The Ties That Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences. She is co-director of the ACT UP Oral History Project, and she is currently organizing the first US LGBT delegation to Palestine for Winter 2012. Sarah is a Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at CUNY, College of Staten Island, and was awarded a Brown Foundation Fellowship from The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Her other awards include a Guggenheim, Fulbright, and the 2009 Kessler Award for her “Sustained Contribution to LGBT Studies.” Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer Mehrdad Balali

In books, censorship, fiction, journalism, writing on December 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm
Mehrdad Balali

Mehrdad Balali. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2011).

An introduction to Mehrdad Balali, author of the debut novel Houri (The Permanent Press). Originally from Iran, Balali spent 17 years living in the US before returning to his homeland to work as a journalist in 1991. A decade later, Balali’s press pass was revoked and he was banned from working as a journalist in Iran. He continued to cover events in the Middle East for international news agencies, including writing about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and ultimately returned to the US in 2005 to write fiction.

In Houri, Balali relays a coming of age story about Shahed, an Iranian boy raised in poverty, who finds himself constantly torn between his devoted mother and his larger-than-life, exciting, but often thoughtless, father. Despite all odds, Shahed is able to move to the US for college, where he struggles to make his way as a young man. When Shahed returns to Iran for his father’s funeral, the story unfolds as Shahed confronts childhood memories and a drastically changed Iran. Stark scenes informed by the journalist’s experiences underpin Balali’s engaging and moving novel. Shahed’s tale is rooted in Iran’s history, full of life and heartache.

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