Elliott Holt’s acclaimed debut novel You Are One of Them, toggles between conflicts global and intimate (the Cold War, hurt feelings over a friend’s neglect) and is set against the backdrop of ‘80s suburban Washington and ‘90s Moscow.
Join the conversation live through Google Hangout when Elliott discusses her novel, with author Kevin Wilson (The Family Fang), during a Booktalk Nation event at 7 p.m. ET Tuesday, June 18, sponsored by Politics & Prose in Washington DC. Sign up and order a personally inscribed copy of You Are One of Them at booktalknation.com.
Ahead of her talk, Elliott answered a few questions for us.
BTN: You borrowed the title of your novel from Elizabeth Bishop’s poem, “In the Waiting Room.” Why?
EH: In that poem the speaker realizes that she is connected to humanity, even people far away and from totally different cultures–”you are one of them,” she says to herself. It’s a poem about identity and understanding of self.
BTN: You Are One of Them revolves around an intense but ultimately doomed friendship between two young girls. What did you find compelling about that kind of relationship?
EH: I don’t set out to write about doomed relationships, but narrative needs conflict, so the best relationship-stories are about relationships that face obstacles.
BTN: You’ve written award-winning short fiction. How did that compare with the challenge of completing your first novel?
EH: The novel is a very different form. It’s more forgiving. I love writing short stories and am going back to them.
Sign up here to join Elliott Holt and Kevin Wilson on Tue. June 18th at 7pm ET/ 4pm PT.
Join the conversation as bestselling nonfiction authors Susan Orlean and Mary Roach reveal their tips for success during a live Booktalk Nation event at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 20, powered by online video chat service Shindig.
Mary will interview Susan in a discussion titled “How to Start (and End) a Book,” covering subjects such as how to know if you’ve found a book worthy topic and when to stop researching and start writing. Participants will be able to ask questions live, via webcam, during the event.
If you’re also new to the service, click here to check it out. http://www.shindig.com/event/susanorlean.
Susan’s latest title, Rin Tin Tin, a biography of the canine star, was one of the biggest books of 2011 and is now out in paperback. Susan will personally inscribe your copy of Rin Tin Tin, as well as three of her previous books, The Orchid Thief, The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup and My Kind of Place, when you order through booktalknation.com. Our host for the event, Oblong Books in Rhinebeck, NY, will deliver the books to your door.
Susan is new to BTN, but this is Mary’s second appearance. Watch her discuss her latest book, Gulp, in a recent BTN Google Chat.
Sign up here to join Susan and Mary on Thu. June 20th at 7pm ET/ 4pm PT.
It’s the question authors are asked most often: “Where do you get your ideas?”
Here’s a hint from Douglas Kennedy, who recently wrote on his blog about a moment back in 1985 when his fiancé asked whether they should really go through with the wedding.
“Seen now, five years after our divorce, I cannot help but think: she did have a point, as we were – on certain levels – not the person either of us was searching for,” he wrote.
But they did get two great kids out of the 23-year marriage, and Douglas has since found happiness with a new wife.
Now, about his latest novel, Five Days… A 42-year-old woman with two nearly grown children feels stuck in a long, lifeless marriage, until a chance encounter with a man makes her dream of finding happiness in a new life.
Join Douglas live for a Google video hangout discussing Five Days with Ron Hogan of thehandsell.com during a Booktalk Nation event at 1 p.m. ET Wednesday, June 12, hosted by Crawford Doyle Booksellers in New York City. Sign up to participate and order a personally inscribed book at booktalknation.com.
We won’t spoil Five Days for you, but here’s a little more on what to expect, from that same blog post:
“Everyone has demons. Everyone is haunted. And just about everyone dreams of happiness. That’s ‘la condition humaine’ writ large.
“And that, in turn, is one of the overriding themes of Five Days: a novel which grapples with the choices made and dodged in life, and how we truly are the architects of our own happiness and despair.”
Sign up here to join the video chat with Douglas Kennedy and Ron Hogan on Wed. June 11th at 1pm ET/ 10am PT.
Drew Magary Explains What to Do When Your Child Defiantly Pees in the Hotel Pool, and Why His Fatherhood Book Doesn’t Suck
Someone Could Get Hurt is the fatherhood memoir written for (and by) a parent who loathes fatherhood memoirs.
“Those memoirs are all bad. When we sold the book, it was with the explicit knowledge that fatherhood books suck and nobody wants to buy them. It was incumbent upon me to write something that was better,” Drew Magary said in an interview with the website Biographile.
If you’ve read his articles in GQ or his column on Deadspin, or are among his 62,700 Twitter followers, you know Drew can put an irreverent, fresh twist on any subject—even one as well-worn as parenthood.
Join the father of three young children in a conversation about Someone Could Get Hurt with journalist and author Will Leitch during a live dial-in Booktalk Nation event at 2 pm ET, Monday, June 10. Politics & Prose in Washington, DC hosts. Sign up to reserve your spot and order a personally inscribed copy at booktalknation.com.
One thing Drew won’t likely talk about is trying to get his kids to root for his favorite teams, as he explained in an online interview with Matt Ufford on SB Nation:
“All care about is my sports fandom; their sports fandom is utterly irrelevant to me. Likes it’s nice to go to sporting events with them and like ‘share in the moment’ and all that sappy crap, but honestly I just want to watch the game. I don’t care about any of that. It’s not a freakin’ metaphor for life. I can get all my parental fulfillment by other means.”
Oh, and what to do about your child defiantly peeing in the hotel pool? Watch helplessly. At least that’s the lesson we gleaned from Drew’s book.
Sign up to join the chat with Drew on Monday, June 10th at 2pm ET/ 11am PT.
Centering her novel Sparta on a Marine struggling to adjust to civilian life after fighting in Iraq, Roxana Robinson thrust herself into the national conversation surrounding some urgent issues: Post-traumatic stress disorder, the shoddy treatment of veterans, and the contrast between patriotic ideals and the reality of war.
This was not by accident. “I never thought we should’ve gone into Iraq,” Roxana told Publishers Weekly. “Learning that not only were we there under false pretenses, but that we weren’t treating our own troops responsibly was very troubling. It made me feel the need to set down the story of a soldier, and to explore his experience.”
Roxana relied on extensive research to grasp the truth of that experience. And it’s probably safe to say that most of the reviewers and interviewers praising the book’s timeliness have likewise no first-hand knowledge of the war in Iraq. But there’s at least one notable exception–author (Fobbit) and retired Army journalist David Abrams, who will interview Roxana at 7 pm ET, Wednesday, June 5 during a live dial-in Booktalk Nation event hosted by Crawford Doyle Booksellers in New York City. Sign up to participate in the conversation and order a personally inscribed copy of Sparta at booktalknation.com.
When asked recently about PTSD during an interview with an Idaho reporter, David, who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, took the opportunity to plug Sparta, saying, “I highly recommend it to anyone who is trying to get inside the mind of a veteran traumatized by war and who’s having a hard time fitting back into society.”
Sign up here to join the dial-in event with Roxana on June 5th at 7pm ET/ 4pm PT.
Though they both have huge solo writing careers, sisters Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush relish the chance to collaborate on supernatural thrillers like Wicked Game and Wicked Lies. To mark publication of the third book in their series, Something Wicked, they’ll visit Booktalk Nation for a live dial-in event at 7 p.m. ET Monday, June 3.
Ahead of the interview, the co-authors took the time to answer a few questions (separately), sharing their thoughts on empathizing with psycho-killers, late fees that go bump in the night and the lost manuscript that should stay that way.
Have a question of your own? Sign up here to join the conversation and order a personally inscribed book.
BTN: A villain has to be terrifying, but somehow compelling enough so that readers want to spend time with him. What makes a great bad guy?
Lisa: I think it’s important for the reader to understand the villain, to “get” why he does what he does and understand his motivation. I know it sounds a little crazy, but I believe the villain has to be somewhat empathetic to the reader.
Nancy: I like bad guys with tunnel vision. They’re so convinced they’re right that they can rationalize the most horrific behavior away. And everybody else just doesn’t understand them. I mean, filleting someone’s skin off? It just sometimes has to happen, you know?
BTN: You earn a living terrifying others. What scares you?
Lisa: Too many things to list, but primarily isolation. Being alone on a usually busy street and there’s no one and I mean NO one around. Any place where I am TOTALLY out of control scares the hell out of me. Also, I’m afraid of heights and am somewhat claustrophobic. As I said, you name it, I can find a way it scares me.
Nancy: This is almost embarrassing. Well, it is embarrassing. Late fees. I wake up at night sometimes and wonder if that payment got made in time. Also, I’m not big on zombies. Watched about three episodes of WALKING DEAD and thought. . .no.
BTN: You’ve known each other your whole lives. How has your personal relationship changed after writing multiple books together?
Lisa: Technically, Nancy’s known me her whole life, I had two years of freedom without her before she was born. We’re sisters, but great friends. Writing books together helps us learn to “see” through the other’s eyes. As close as we are, and as many experiences that are the same, there are major differences and writing together exposes them .. . . again, something that terrifies me!
Nancy: We’ve always plotted together, even though, to date, we’ve only co-authored a few books. Still, the old give-and-take really came into sharp focus once the Wicked Series began. The first book, WICKED GAME, was a real learning experience. Hard, but good. We were definitely sorting out who should do what and what our individual strengths and weaknesses were. Now, we seem to be in a rhythm.
BTN: Your first book together–I think it was titled Stormy Surrender–was never published. Is it still in a drawer somewhere and will it ever be published?
Lisa: Stormy Surrender, written with another friend and the two of us has been lost over the years. I have no idea what happened to it. (That’s probably a good thing!)
Nancy: I believe STORMY SURRENDER may have gone to that great manuscript depository in the sky. . .so no, I don’t think it’s salvageable even if it’s still collecting dust in a back closet somewhere. We had a lot of fun writing it way, way back in the beginning, but I’m guessing the story might be kind of creaky after all these years.
Sign up here to join Lisa and Nancy on June 3rd at 7pm ET/ 4pm PT.
After decades of afflicting the comfortable, Letty Cottin Pogrebin is showing us how to comfort the afflicted.
A lifelong, outspoken activist for social reform, Letty got the idea for How to be a Friend to a Friend Who’s Sick during her recent bout with breast cancer. Being on the receiving end of awkward, misguided attempts to comfort inspired her to interview others who were ill or suffering about what they really needed from friends and family.
Join the conversation when she talks with author Will Schwalbe at 7 pm ET Thursday, May 30 during a Booktalk Nation interview hosted by Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA. Sign up to join the live dial-in event and order a personally inscribed book at booktalknation.com.
Letty has spent her career working for change. She helped lead the feminist movement as a founding editor of Ms. Magazine and—most memorably for children of the seventies—one of the creative forces behind Marlo Thomas’s groundbreaking Free to Be You and Me project.
She’s also a bold voice on Jewish issues, fearlessly taking on controversial subjects. Letty has written pieces criticizing liberal Jews who overlook the anti-women positions of pro-Israel lawmakers; she’s asked why any show of empathy for Palestinians is seen as a betrayal of Israel.
Her newest cause may be her least political, but it is also her most universal. How to be a Friend to a Friend Who’s Sick is written for anyone who will ever need to help a loved one through a health crisis. So, eventually, everyone.
Sign up here to join Letty and Will on Thursday, May 30th at 7pm ET/ 4pm PT.
It was an inspired idea. As far as it went.
Publisher Sourcebooks launched a Send Susanna Kearsley to My Hometown promotion inviting readers to go online and vote where Susanna should visit on the U.S. tour to promote her forthcoming novel Firebird.
Originally set for three stops, the tour was expanded to five after more than 1200 readers responded.
As we said, a fine idea. But what about Susanna’s many fans who don’t live near one of those five towns?
Fortunately, inspiration struck again when Sourcebooks and Booktalk Nation teamed up to bring Susanna not just to readers’ hometowns, but to their homes. No matter where they live.
Join the conversation through Google Hangout at 7 p.m. this Wednesday, May 22—two weeks before the novel’s pub date–when Susanna talks about Firebird during a Booktalk Nation event hosted by Murder by the Book in Houston, TX. You can ask a question live or submit one ahead of time. You can even pre-order a personally inscribed book that will be delivered to you the first week of June. Sign up at booktalknation.com.
Susanna’s fans will be happy to hear that Firebird is, in the author’s words, a “sort of sequel to The Winter Sea.” Like that earlier novel, Firebird mixes actual historical events and people into the story and combines narratives from past and present. And, of course, there’s romance.
Sign up here to join Susanna on Wednesday, May 22nd at 7pm ET/ 4pm PT.
David Burstein was still a teenager when he directed 18 in ’08, a documentary that led to him founding the young voter engagement organization Generation 18. Now 24, he’s the author of Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation is Shaping our World.
Ahead of his live video Booktalk Nation interview this Thursday, May 23 [sign up here to join in], David explained why he’s so bullish about his much-maligned peer group.
BTN: Aside from being younger, how are Millennials different from members of any other generation?
DB: Millennials are more global, more tolerant, more diverse, more educated, more connected, and bigger than any generation before them. They embrace change. They are the only generation to come of age with one foot in the old world of pre-internet, pre-Facebook, pre-computer, doing their first research projects in libraries, and another foot in the digital era. They understand the best of the old world and the best of the new and are happily blending them together. They are defined by their willingness to try new things, to adapt, and to bootstrap—something they’ve had to learn in the wake of the recession. This nimble ability to adapt and move in our current fast future positions Millennials uniquely among generations.
BTN: Every day we see stories about your generation confronting double-digit unemployment and crushing student debt, usually with a headline like “Millennials Face Future of Living in Parents’ Basement.” What makes you so optimistic?
DB: The future is coming at us faster and faster, the rate of change is increasing and the amount of change that takes place in a given year is skyrocketing as well. So much change has taken place so fast that our governments, businesses, and other large institutions haven’t always had enough time to fully catch up. This is the reality the Millennials have come of age in and this is the environment they are the masters of.
So when we look at our own trajectory, we know that although the situation may be bad right now, everything could—and probably will—change in the next year. That gives us a sense of optimism that our grandparents’ generation didn’t have during the Depression when the pace of change was much slower.
BTN: Speaking of headlines, after the Obama ’08 adrenaline rush, did Millennials really revert to political apathy?
For several decades American politicians have partaken in divisive culture wars over issues like gay marriage. For most Millennials, whether or not gay people should be allowed to marry is not a big moral question. To us, it seems obvious that the answer should be yes. Now, politicians on a wide spectrum ranging from President Obama to conservative North Carolina Senator Richard Burr have cited young people’s changing views on the issue as the leading factor that pushed them to endorse gay marriage and vote for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Millennials are helping push older politicians to get out of the “culture war” business, it’s happening on gay marriage and it’s beginning to happen on other issues like abortion and immigration as well.
However, the greatest contribution yet to come is how we govern and act as politicians, something we’ll know more about in the next several election cycles as more Millennials run for office.
Sign up here to join the video hangout with David this Thursday, May 23, at 7 pm ET/ 4 pm PT.
For Nathaniel Philbrick, Boston Strong isn’t a concept he started thinking about in the wake of the marathon bombing. His new book, Bunker Hill, illuminates the courage of the Boston patriots whose defiance of British forces in 1775 ignited the American Revolution.
Nathaniel launched his book in Boston two weeks after the bombing. In an interview with My North.com he talked about how the locals were responding to Bunker Hill.
“So far the readers have been very enthusiastic. If there is a hero in my book, it’s the city of Boston, and the one thing I’ve learned after researching and writing Bunker Hill is that Bostonians have always been resilient and ever mindful of their past.”
Even without the help of such tragic news events, Nathaniel has a way of making the past feel more relevant. In books like Mayflower, The Last Stand and his National Book Award-winning In the Heart of the Sea he casts old events in a new light, often challenging notions we picked up in school and through popular culture about pivotal events in American history.
Join the conversation when Nathaniel talks with author Tony Horwitz about Bunker Hill at 7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT, Tuesday, May 21 during a dial-in Booktalk Nation event hosted by Bank Square Books of Mystic, CT.
Sign up to save your spot and order a personally inscribed book at booktalknation.com.