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08-30-12 UPDATE: Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 62: Laura Lippman, 'And When She Was Good'
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Here's the sixty-second episode of my new series of podcasts, which I'm calling Time to Read. Hitting the one-year mark, I'm going to make an effort to get ahead, so that podcast listeners can get the same sort of "sneak preview" effect that radio listeners get each Friday morning. And yes, I know this means I have one more to go this week — and here it is!

The podcasts/radio broadcasts will be of books worth your valuable reading time. I'll try to keep the reports under four minutes, for a radio-friendly format. If you want to run them on your show or podcast, let me know.

My hope is that in under four minutes I can offer readers a concise review and an opportunity to hear the author read from or speak about the work. I'm hoping to offer a new one every week.

The sixty-second episode is a look at Laura Lippman, and 'And When She Was Good.'

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Time to Read, Episode 61: Laura Lippman, 'And When She Was Good.'



08-31-12: A 2012 Interview with Karen Kondazian

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"...once in a while it feels like you're channeling..."

—Karen Kondazian

--> Karen Kondazian has been cracking 'The Whip' for some time now, so she was quite comfortable at her latest stop, on Clint Eastwood's ranch in Carmel. We sat down in a cark, cozy conference room. Just outside, she told me, the green pickup truck parked was the one Eastwood drove in the movie version of The Bridges of Madison County. I have to admit I'd not have recognized it; I'm a Dirty Harry fan.

But it was the perfect place to talk about her Western novel, having driven myself past Watsonville, where the real Charley Parkhurst is now buried. Kondazian's reading from her novel was amazing; she read one chapter in the middle and an excerpt from the rules for stagecoach riders.

It's not surprising that her work as an actress informed her work as a writer. What was surprising, to me at least, was to learn how little we knew of Parkhurst and the areas of her life where Kondazian let her imagination roam to create a nicely dramatic story arc. Kondazian informed me that there's going to be an audio book version of the story, but alas, she's not reading it. I think she has a great voice for the task, and you can hear her read, and talk about the book, by following this link to the MP3 audio file.




08-30-12 UPDATE: Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 61: Karen Kondazian, 'The Whip'
Click image for audio link.

Here's the sixty-first episode of my new series of podcasts, which I'm calling Time to Read. Hitting the one-year mark, I'm going to make an effort to get ahead, so that podcast listeners can get the same sort of "sneak preview" effect that radio listeners get each Friday morning. And yes, I know this means I have one more to go this week — and here it is!

The podcasts/radio broadcasts will be of books worth your valuable reading time. I'll try to keep the reports under four minutes, for a radio-friendly format. If you want to run them on your show or podcast, let me know.

My hope is that in under four minutes I can offer readers a concise review and an opportunity to hear the author read from or speak about the work. I'm hoping to offer a new one every week.

The sixty-first episode is a look at Karen Kondazian, and 'The Whip.'

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Time to Read, Episode 61: Karen Kondazian, 'The Whip.'




08-30-12: A 2012 Interview with John Shirley

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"In the novel it gets very, very dark and it's sort of Lord of the Flies for the 21st century."

—John Shirley

When John Shirley tells you that his new novel 'Everything is Broken' is, "very, very dark," that's a sign readers should be ready for something worse than they can possibly imagine. Of course, that's the point; we read John Shirley so we can be prepared not for what fiction has to offer, but the real world, which regularly outstrips all but the darkest of noirs.

John Shirley has a pretty agile sense of humor to underscore his darkness though, and it came across as we sat down in the midst of SF in SF to talk about his latest novel. He tells us that there is a bit of speculation around the edges, but mostly what we have here is a very well-worked out what-if scenario. Shirley told me how he set up a classic confrontation between a town that had renounced taxes supporting government and a natural disaster that made emergency services a must.

Of course, Shirley's novel predated the sort of disaster he predicted, and the effects that we've seen in the wake of recent disasters. Here's our chance to hear a writer talk about writing non-futuristic friction that happens to predict all too well certain unfortunate aspects of what is now the recent past. You can hear our conversation by following this link to the MP3 audio file.




08-28-12: A 2012 Interview with Richard Kadrey

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"I didn't start out with the intention of re-writing the history, like I said, of reality..."

—Richard Kadrey

And here is Richard Kadrey, a perfect example of intentions that go astray in the best of all possible ways. I had the pleasure of speaking with Richard Kadrey again at SF in SF in July, and as ever, he is lots of fun to speak with. There aren't many writers who can toss of comments about re-writing the heaven, hell and everything between, but Kadrey is certainly among them.

Kadrey is referring, of course, to his Sandman Slim series. It started out as a sort of hard-boiled detective novels with a supernatural twist. But Kadrey merely had to follow up on the internal lines of logic he laid down in the first book to find himself, some three years later, in the midst of a celestial and philosophical overhaul of pretty much everything we know. As we talked about it at SF in SF, he was clearly pretty used to the idea.

What made this interview was so fun was the great casual tone that Kadrey brings to the highest and most important of subjects. Here he is, to a degree turning the Bible and every other Holy Book on earth into a detective serial, and yes, well, that's cool with him. All in a day's work, one word, one sentence one book at a time.

Readers and listeners can hear just how cool he is with this project by following this link to the MP3 Audio file.




08-27-12: A 2012 Interview with Tim Powers

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"...their poetic gift did seem to sort of, come from outside of themselves..."

— Tim Powers

I met with Tim Powers to talk about 'Hide Me Among the Graves' in an oasis of cool and slick technology set among the stony towers of an urban landscape paved over Southern California desert.

We were in the middle of an incredible heat wave, with most temperatures well over 100 degrees. I came from Orange County to San Bernardino on freeway overpasses so immense that could have been built for Egyptian Gods, then drove through scrub suburbs to find San Bernardino Valley College. The campus was neat and trimmed, and there on the corner, was the futuristic entrance to KVCR, where I was very kindly allowed to use the studio to record this interview.

Let me say that KVCR was incredibly accommodating, their studio is great, and the people are accomplished and helpful. I hooked up state-of-the-art mics to my tapeless recorder, and sat down to talk to Tim Powers about his latest novel.

Powers is such an interesting writer to speak with; he's a research-driven artist who knows precisely how far to go into his chosen area of interest to bring back the best story. He makes it sound like he's a prospector looking for gold nuggets who simply finds them laying about in the open. Of course, there's much more to his books than that, but it happens under the hood, so to speak. Powers is a writing engine who takes in the fuel of research and using magic of the sort he writes about so well, transforms the facts into stories that capture our imagination, engage our intellects and ultimately give ud as new perspective on the world around us, what matters and why.

Plus, he entertains the hell out of readers for every second they're staring at the pages and for years afterwards as they revisit the places he has taken them.

Of course the story of how he finds the stories he creates is nearly as fascinating as the stories themselves; and you can hear the story behind the story of 'Hide Me Among the Graves' by following this link to the MP3 audio file.



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02-23-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jeff VanderMeer, Part 2 : "...still clear distribution lines for books...."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 150: Annie Jacobsen : Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America

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02-14-14: Commentary : Jenny Offill Engages 'Dept. of Speculation' :The Domestic Descent

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Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jane Pauley : "..it suddenly hit me; I almost cried..."

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