Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hockey, journalism & all that rubbish!

This week on Realgoodwords Bryan Gruley is back with his sequel to "Starvation Lake"'s called "The Hanging Tree". Gus Carpenter is at the center - and this time he is trying to figure out why exactly his cousin Gracie was found hanging in a shoe tree.

I've never SEEN a shoe tree in real life, but I've heard about them. Roadside America calls them the greatest embodiment of the American Spirit you can find on the highway. Hmm. Really?

Gruley's "The Hanging Tree" just begins with this bit of great American spirit.... but what follows is a fascinating look at the passion of a Michigan hockey town and the complexities of journalism in a small town. Bruce DeSilva of the Associated Press says it’s “an exceptionally well-written novel by an author who has mastered the conventions of his genre.”

Also this week I talk with the British bestselling author Harriet Evans. Her new novel is called "I Remember You" and it's what some people might call "chick-lit" but what I call a mini-vacation. In our conversation this week, Harriet and I talked about how books in this genre can be overlooked because of quaint covers or because they aren't written by men. "I Remember You" has been called "A fabulous feel-good love story of friendship lost and love regained’ by Woman and Home.

Speaking of Realgoodwords, a couple of times during our conversation Harriet used the word "rubbish". I think I may have found my new favorite word! It's useful in so many ways!

Don't have time to read? RUBBISH?

What do you have to take out when you get home? RUBBISH!

Can't remember if you renewed your membership to KAXE? RUBBISH!

There's no rubbish this week on Realgoodwords.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Thoughts on writing from James Lee Burke

I got a chance to talk with James Lee Burke this week. Yes! THAT James Lee Burke. I was a bit intimidated, but it turned out to be one of my favorite interviews, ever. He covered the gamut in his conversation with me - from living on a dirt road, oil companies, Louisiana, writing and the movie "Slap Shot". One of my favorite moments of the interview is where he can't stop laughing at himself. That uncontrollable laughing in church kind of laughing. If you don't get a chance to hear it tonight from 6-7pm on Realgoodwords, it'll be archived tomorrow here.

Here are some comments James Lee Burke had about his writing process:
I've always been fortunate - the story has always been with me. I never know where its going! I write sometimes in the middle of the night... I keep a notepad by my bed. Sometimes I get up about 4am and write.

Shakespeare said something I never forgot, he said, "All power lies in the world of dreams" and in one sonnet he said that illumination came to him not during his sleep. He said that at dawn he woke to darkness, but illuminosity waited for him the next night. And it was out of his dreams that he fashioned his greatest poetry.

I believe that's true of every artist. That a hand other than one's own has already fashioned a story. It's in the unconscious. And it's a matter of incrementally discovering it. Leonardo said that of his sculpture - he said he never carved the figure he released it from the stone.
James Lee Burke's latest Dave Robicheaux novel is "The Glass Rainbow".

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Maddi Frick's summer reading and interview on Realgoodwords this week!

What I read on my summer vacation
by Maddi Frick

The books I have most enjoyed this summer, after The Picture of Dorian Gray, were two books by New York Times Bestselling author Gail Carriger, Soulless and Changeless. I read the first in under 24 hours, and then made my dad stop at the Village Bookstore to pick up the second, which I promptly finished in another 24 hours. And no, I didn’t finish them so quickly because they’re a quick read; I literally could not put them down.

Ms. Carriger’s novels follow Alexia Tarabotti, an unmarried, quick-witted, pragmatic lady living in Victorian England. She also has no soul. The novels are set in a world where werewolves and vampires have somewhat assimilated into high society, yet proper manners are still a must.

I wouldn’t call this series a derivative of the still-strong vampire/ supernatural craze sweeping the nation, although vampire popularity may have helped these novels become so popular so quickly. I sense no whiff of epic teenage “love-me-or-I-will-die” histrionics usually found in every book in the Young Adult book section in Target (I challenge you to find a book there without black on the cover or lurking vampires within its pages).

No, Ms. Carriger has succeeded in writing a more enjoyable novel of the supernatural, dabbling in humor, sci-fi steampunk, mystery and romance. Not only were the books delightful to read, so was Ms. Carriger to interview. We talked about her inspirations, personal rules and upcoming projects; the third in the series, Blameless, releases September 1st. Listen in this Wednesday at 6pm CT to Real Good Words to hear my interview with Gail Carriger.

BONUS- I have a tendency to make my own playlists for things and I made one for researching for this interview; here it is!

Wishing He Was Dead - The Like

100 Years From Now - Karen Elson

The Tale of Two Doves - A Whisper in the Night

Body And Soul - Billie Holiday

The Great Exchange - Thrice

Novocaine for the Soul - Eels

Vampires - Fastball

You’ve Changed - Sia

A Change Would Do You Good - Sheryl Crow

Werewolf - Cat Power

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Tree Grows in Brainerd

It's amazing sometimes, what words and stories can do. They can take you away, they can make you more present and they can shape a life.

I recently interviewed Randy Susan Meyers about her debut novel, "The Murderer's Daughter". It's a book I really enjoyed and I was excited to talk with her about it. But something happened in that conversation - we got talking not just about her book - but about what books can mean to us. And about how we can mark the moments in our lives by the books we read. Suddenly, I forgot that I was interviewing an author, and it felt like Randy and I were the best of friends, passionate about the same things.

Here's a little of what she said:

"Reading was probably the most stabilizing influence in my entire life. My sister and I were both tremendous readers - we both went to the library almost daily. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was incredibly influential to me. To read about/from the point of view young girl who loved her father but whose father was very destructive to the family - that meant an enormous amount to me."

And just like that, I remembered reading "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn". A book that a girl who grew up in Brainerd, Minnesota might not connect with. Except that, when I read it, as a freshman at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, I was new to a big city, and I had just started my first "real" job. This job was as a newspaper clipper. Which is what Francie, the main character of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" does. And that did it, I was pulled into this story, and it automatically became a part of who I was then. And now, I can perfectly remember what it felt like to read it.

Randy went on to say, in our conversation, about how books can transport us back to the times in our lives when we read them:

"I can say right off the top of my head the worst break up ever - I was reading White Oleander and Poisonwood Bible. In Cold Blood kept me from ever staying alone in the country."

You can hear our whole conversation here.

What books were influential to your life?