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07-24-09: Three Two Books with Alan Cheuse : Daniel Silva, 'The Defector', Colum McCann, 'Let The Great World Spin'

Let's set the record straight; the story is "Martyrdom" and the collection is 'Metahorror,' edited by Dennis Etchison. And in fact it was Douglas Winter who edited 'Prime Evil.' All this becomes clear as you listen to my latest conversation with Alan Cheuse as we discuss 'The Defector' by Daniel Silva and 'Let The Great World Spin' by Colum McCann. In the process, my dog is running around the back yard where Cheuse and I sit each Wednesday and discuss books, and the neighbors are cutting up wood, not one another. Well, we hoped, and we didn't hear any screams.

We didn't get to that third book because we hadn't actually finished reading it yet. I didn't have the latest Joyce Carol Oates novel, and Alan had only cracked the first three pages. But as you'll understand, those are three vital pages so far as it goes when choosing a book. That's because we talked about how to avoid bad books, as well as why you should read, well, lighter fare (and what some critics will dismiss as just plain crap) between the masterpieces. Man does not, should not live by caviar alone. To hear a conversation about a healthy literary diet, follow this link to the MP3 audio file.



 Kimberley Cameron
07-22-09: Book Passage Mystery Conference: A 2009 Interview with Literary Agent Kimberley Cameron

"Deals are being made every day, it’s very healthy and the publishers are buying lots of books"
        — Literary Agent Kimberley Cameron

I first spoke with Kimberley Cameron of the Reece Halsey Literary Agency back at the Left Coast Crime convention in 2004. But I recognized her right on the dot when she showed up at the Book Passage Mystery Conference, and I knew that she'd have some very interesting things to say about the state of the writing world.

I was glad that Ms. Cameron was willing to speak on tape, because this was my chance to find out what exactly writers who are searching for a literary agent would need to do to obtain one. Of course, going in there's one big task ... writing the book, assuming it's fiction. But so much had changed in the intervening five years that I wanted to know. Were they now accepting email queries and submissions? Where did she see the "free on the internet" and e-readers fitting in?

To my mind, Cameron has all the makings of an excellent writer herself, as her replies and her thoughts are so perfectly orchestrated. What's more interesting is that by and large, she has really good news for would-be writers and reader, for that matter. Here's a link to fifteen minutes of sage advice.



 Karen West and Elaine Petrocelli
07-21-09: Book Passage Mystery Conference : Overview Interview with Karen West and Elaine Petrocelli

"We want editors who are hiring"
        — Elaine Petrocelli

You hear about a lot of writer's conferences, and many make some pretty bold promises. At Book Passage in Corte Madera, California, they keep those promises, and the faculty of now-veteran authors who once were students here is amazingly solid proof. Over next couple of weeks, we'll be running interviews with some of those who attended this year's conference. We're going to start with Elaine Petrocelli and Karen West; Elaine's the Owner of Book Passage and Karen West organizes the 700 events per year they host at this remarkable store.

I only spent one day at the Book Passage Mystery Conference, but it was an impressive day. There weren't a lot of students, for a reason — registration is limited, so the ratio of students to faculty, that is, actual published writers, including names like
Laurie R. King and Martin Cruz Smith, is quite small. But the whole setup was superb, with a great schedule of panels focusing on actual writing techniques taught by the veterans but also by accomplished writers who have graduated from the conference and found themselves published; including for example, Tony Broadbent, author of 'The Smoke.'

We've got a number of interviews from the conference, and we're going to start with an overview interview with Elaine Petrocelli and Karen West. I spoke with Petrocelli, the owner of Book Passage a back in November of 2007, and it was a pleasure to meet her in person, and to speak with her and Karen West, who organizes the events. This is a conference about writing your fiction well and actually selling it; agents and editors attend, and Petrocelli makes sure they’re interested in buying. Here's the overview of this impressive event.



 Simon Rich
07-20-09: A 2009 Interview with Simon Rich

"A lot of my favorite comedy writers actually write horror"
        — Simon Rich

I save the good stuff for a sunny day, or what would be a sunny day if I didn't live in the fog belt. It's been a while since I talked with Simon Rich, the author of 'Free Range Chickens,' but our conversation is evergreen. You want to find out what’s it's like to hang out at the Harvard Lampoon, or write sketches for Saturday Night Live? Simon Rich is your man.

'Free Range Chickens' was a really interesting book for me. There are fewer words in this book than in many opening chapters, but they're good words and so finely honed they might cut glass. But mostly, it’s just funny. But what I really found interesting when I spoke to Rich were his tales of working on the Harvard Lampoon, and his own fresh sense of wonder, as it were, about the world he now inhabits, writing skits for Saturday Night Live. He's got a great and very skewed sense of humor; it's bone dry, skeleton dry. I'll let him do the talking when you follow this link to the MP3 audio file.



New to the Agony Column

04-17-15: Commentary : Erik Larson Follows a 'Dead Wake' : Countdown to Destiny

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Erik Larson : " "...said to have been found in the arms of a dead German sailor..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 201: Erik Larson : Dead Wake

04-15-15: Commentary : Peter Bell Reflects 'A Certain Slant of Light' : Strange Stories of Modern Scholars

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Peter Bell : "...I looked up some of the old books..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 200: Peter Bell : Strange Epiphanies and A Certain Slant of Light

03-14-15: Commentary : Marc Goodman Foresees 'Future Crimes' : Exponential Potential

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Marc Goodman : "...every physical object around us is being transformed, one way or another, into an information technology..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 199: Marc Goodman : Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It

03-01-15: Commentary : William Ury on Getting to Yes with Yourself: And Other Worthy Opponents : To the BATNA, Robin!

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with William Ury : ...he proceeded to shout at me for approximately 30 minutes..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 198: William Ury : Getting to Yes with Yourself: And Other Worthy Opponents

02-22-15: Commentary : Jennifer Senior Experiences 'All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood' : Reading Fun for the Whole Fambly!

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Jennifer Senior : "...it becomes a source of enormous tension once a baby comes along..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 197: Jennifer Senior : All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood

02-09-15: Commentary : Stewart O'Nan Looks 'West of Sunset' : Twilight of the Great

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Stewart O'Nan : "...we see him as a tragedian because is life is a tragedy..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 196: Stewart O'Nan : West of Sunset

02-04-15: Commentary : Armistead Maupin Maps 'The Days of Anna Madrigal' : Swiftly Flow the Years

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Armistead Maupin : "I could see what silliness was going on while it was happening..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 195: Armistead Maupin : The Days of Anna Madrigal

01-31-15: Commentary : Christine Carter's Path to 'The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work' : Neurohabits

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Christine Carter, Ph.D. : "...a real tipping point..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 194: Christine Carter, Ph.D. : The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work

01-23-15: Commentary : Jake Halpern Pushes 'Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld' : Non-Fiction 21st Century Noir

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Jake Halpern : "...he goes to Las Vegas to this debt-buyers' convention..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 193: Jake Halpern : Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld

01-19-15: Commentary : David Shields and Caleb Powell Assert 'I Think You're Totally Wrong' : The Power to Bicker

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with David Shields and Caleb Powell : "I read no book reviews any more; the level of discussion is really pedestrian." David Shields "I'm just saying it's a conflict of interest!" Caleb Powell

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 192: David Shields and Caleb Powell : I Think You're Totally Wrong

01-17-15: Commentary : Charles Todd Expects 'A Fine Summer's Day' : We Interrupt This Program...

Commentary : Charles Todd Engages In 'A Test of Wills' : The Politics of Passion and Policing

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Charles and Caroline Todd : "...let them be themselves and sort it out..." Caroline Todd "...it's more on a personal level..." Charles Todd

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 191: Charles Todd : A Fine Summer's Day

01-13-15: Commentary : Rosalie Parker Unearths 'The Old Knowledge' : The New Old World

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Ray Russell and Rosalie Parker : "I thought I'd write something for fun.." Ray Russell "..there was a side of me of that was interested in the strangeness..." Ros Parker

01-12-15: Commentary : Richard Ford 'Let Me Be Frank with You' : The Default Years

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Richard Ford : "...most of our politicians are morons..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 190: Richard Ford : Let Me Be Frank with You

01-06-15: Commentary : Bessel van der Kolk 'The Body Keeps the Score' : Human Trauma

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Bessel van der Kolk : "...being able to see what happens in the brain really helps us to understand certain things..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 189: Bessel van der Kolk : The Body Keeps the Score

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