Friday Reads: CALIFORNIA by Edan Lepucki

Dear Readers,

Even though the TV has started showing back-to-school commercials, don’t leave your hammock yet! This summer week’s Friday Reads: CALIFORNIA by Edan Lepucki, a must-read debut novel for anyone who loves post-apocalyptic fiction, as I do. (You can thank Stephen King’s THE STAND, one of my top three favorite novels of all time, for this lifelong addiction.)

Edan Lupecki's CALIFORNIA

What’s interesting to me about CALIFORNIA–as with all novels set in the aftermath of life as we know it–is both the delicious dystopian details (I always want to know how things went catastrophically wrong) and the psychology of the survivors. Any good sci-fi story is a mirror of our psyche, and good post-apocalyptic fiction is no exception, leading you to wonder: how and what would I do in that situation? Would I survive?

Friday Reads: WE ARE CALLED TO RISE, by Laura McBride

Dear Readers,

This is the second week in a row I have read a staggering debut novel! Last week it was Courtney Maum’s I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN HERE WITHOUT YOU; this week it is Laura McBride’s stunning new novel WE ARE CALLED TO RISE.

promo for Laura McBride's WE ARE CALLED TO RISE

     I’m a big fan of novels that show seemingly disparate lives intersecting and influencing each other–think about the literary version of the movie “Crash.” This brave debut, set in Las Vegas, takes on a case worker advocate for children, a woman whose husband is leaving her for another woman, a soldier waking up in a hospital after searing trauma, a first-grader whose Albanian emigrant parents drive an ice cream truck. How these characters affect each other–you’ll never forget it. And despite the hardships depicted in this book, you’ll be uplifted by the lovely spirit that moves behind it all.

What the cool (writer) kids are reading this summer! Recommendations from your favorite novelists.

Dear Readers:

So many amazing new books out there this summer–a smorgasbord! A cornucopia! A buffet of literary delight! & here, courtesy of radio host Robin Kall Homonoff of Reading With Robin, is a three-part series of what your favorite novelists are reading–recommendations from Jodi Picoult, Chris Bohjalian, Christina Baker Kline, all the GRAND CENTRAL Girls, & more. Bon appetit!

What The Cool Writer Kids Are Reading This Summer

(What I bought because of these lists:

WE ARE CALLED TO RISE, Laura McBride
SUMMER HOUSE WITH SWIMMING POOL, Herman Koch
THE VACATIONERS, Emma Straub
I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN HERE WITHOUT YOU, Courtney Maum
THE POSSIBILITIES, Kaui Hart Hemmings
THE BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS, Christina Henríquez)

Friday Reads: I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN HERE WITHOUT YOU

Dear Readers,

Happy #FridayReads! This week I devoured Courtney Maum’s delicious debut novel I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN HERE WITHOUT YOU:

I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN HERE WITHOUT YOU

….about charmingly feckless British artist Richard Haddon, who’s living in Paris (hint, readers: armchair travel! vicarious French dining!), married to a beautiful French lawyer–and trying to win her back after having an affair with an American. A smart, funny, winning novel that asks: How do you make love last?

To order, please click here. Happy reading!

(Check back next Friday for another #FridayReads recommendation!)

Whose story is it? POV and tense

Dear readers,

Today’s Wreader (writer-reader) question is: how do you choose point-of-view for your novel? What about past vs. present tense?

From the Talking Heads, quoted in BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY: “Facts all come with points-of-view/ Facts don’t do what I want them to do.” I’m pretty sure most writers have felt the frustration of his or her facts and story sliding around from one character’s viewpoint to another! Not to mention tension about tense.

Tense tension

So how do you choose what POV to use? What tense? Do we just sort of shut our eyes and throw darts at the narrational dartboard? Not at all. Luckily, there are guidelines for this sort of thing. At least in my book(s).

How To Become A Writer

Dear Readers,

Today’s question from an aspiring writer-reader (Wreader?) is: Since I was little, I’ve wanted to be a writer. I’m in college taking classes, but there’s no technical “writing” degree. What are some classes you would recommend as being important to being a writer?

She went on to say, bless her, that she had downloaded my audio how-to writing course from Modern Scholar: THE AUTHOR AT WORK: THE ART OF WRITING FICTION. Which I hope is helpful and inspiring!

MY WRITING PROCESS Blog Tour

Dear Readers,
Ever heard of a blog roll? I hadn’t–until the publication of my second novel, THE STORMCHASERS. Prior to that, the phrase conjured Paul-Bunyan type images of trotting atop rolling tree trunks surging down a muddy river. (I’ve got roots in MN, remember.)
logrolling (MN HIst Society) for creative process blog
What I learned while promoting THE STORMCHASERS is that a blog roll actually is not all that unlike a log roll, except you’re sending ideas out into the world and trying to keep them afloat–via other writers. I was lucky enough this week to be hollered to from a nearby log by another novelist, Henriette Power (author of THE CLOVER HOUSE, which if you haven’t read yet, you definitely should put on the very top of your summer list!). Henriette answered questions about her writing process on her blog, and then she threw the questions to me.  So here are my answers about writing process–and as soon as I’m done I’m yodeling to the writer on the next log, so stay tuned to see who posts their writing process thoughts next.
QUESTIONS

1. WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

The O.G. reading copy of THOSE WHO SAVE US

Dear Readers,
This morning on Facebook, awesome reader Shannon Bromenschenkel requested a photo of my original reading copy of THOSE WHO SAVE US, so here she is.

She’s one of my most valuable possessions–what I’d grab along with Woodrow, my laptop and family photos if I had to run out of a house on fire. I bought her at Borders in downtown Boston in 2004, the first day the novel was published. I stood next to the “New Releases” table & watched people pick her up and put her down & finally couldn’t stand it anymore and purchased this copy myself, telling the beautiful gay couple standing next to me, “This is mine! This is my book!” They looked at the author photo and then at me in my yoga pants with my crazy writer hair and said, “Are you SURE?” But after I showed them my driver’s license, they hugged me and said “Congratulations!”
To this day, when I have a THOSE WHO SAVE US reading, I read from her. On the first, blank pages of this edition I inscribed every reading I took this novel to–until I ran out of space. There are literally hundreds of events written there. Thank you, readers! Thank you, Shannon Bromenschenkel!

 

Nexus of Literature and History: CATCHER’S KEEPER (author Q&A)

Dear Readers,

Sometimes new books are born at the nexus of literature and history. Today I interview J.D. Spero, author of the debut novel CATCHER’S KEEPER, an Amazon quarter-finalist alternate-reality portrait of what would have happened had Holden Caulfield intersected with the assassin of John Lennon–and tried to prevent the murder.

CATCHER'S KEEPER by J.D. Spero

What if Holden Caulfield was around when John Lennon was shot? In 1980 John Lennon was killed by Mark David Chapman, who believed he was Holden Caulfield, narrator of the classic The Catcher in the Rye. After the shooting, Chapman remained on the scene calmly reading the book, which he later offered to police as “his statement.” Catcher’s Keeper asks the question, “What if Holden had met Chapman, learned of his plan, and tried to prevent the assassination?”