Carol Goodman’s newest THE SEA OF LOST GIRLS about deception, moody teens, a mysterious death, and so much more, set against the backdrop of an elite prep school

By Leslie Lindsay 

Sea-of-Lost-Girls-Carol-Goodman-3-2020

~Weekend Reading Spotlight|Always with a Book~

CAROL GOODMAN is the 2018 recipient of the Mary Higgins Clark Award from the Mystery Writers of America for The Widow’s House.  She’s nominated for the award again in 2020 for her most recent novel, The Night Visitors. And years ago, I was completely enamored with boarding schools thanks to THE LAKE OF DEAD LANGUAGES.

Now, THE SEA OF LOST GIRLS (WilliamMorrow, March 3, 2020; Trade Paperback Original) Goodman uses her adroit storytelling to bring a simmering new work of psychological suspense, in which one woman’s carefully hidden past might destroy her future—all set against the backdrop of a prestigious prep school with its own dark secrets hidden among the ivy.


    “Carol Goodman is a superb writer, and she explores family and small-town dynamics in a way that’s both suspenseful and touchingly real. THE SEA OF LOST GIRLS features a fascinating cast of characters, intriguing setting—and enough shocking twists to leave you breathless. I loved it.”

— Alison Gaylin, Edgar Award-winning author of Never Look Back


Tess has worked hard to keep her past buried, where it belongs. Now she’s the wife to a respected professor at an elite boarding school, where she also teaches. Her seventeen-year-old son, Rudy, whose dark moods and complicated behavior she’s long worried about, seems to be thriving: he has a lead role in the school play and a smart and ambitious girlfriend. Tess tries not to think about the mistakes she made eighteen years ago, and mostly, she succeeds.

abstract background beach color
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

One morning Tess gets a text at 2:50 AM: it’s Rudy, asking for help. When she picks him up she finds him drenched and shivering, with a dark stain on his sweatshirt. Four hours later, Tess gets a phone call from the Haywood school headmistress: Lila Zeller, Rudy’s girlfriend, has been found dead on the beach, not far from where Tess found Rudy just hours before.  As the investigation into Lila’s death escalates, Tess finds her family attacked on all sides. What first seemed like a tragic accidental death is turning into something far more sinister, and not only is Tess’s son a suspect but her husband is a person of interest too. But Lila’s death isn’t the first blemish on Haywood’s record, and the more Tess learns about Haywood’s fabled history, the more vulnerable she feels about her own secrets as she realizes it’s foolish to expect all skeletons to stay safely locked in the closet.

CDCFA80E-34E6-42D2-A875-116C7434AE23 (2)

Artistic photo of book cover designed and photographed by L.Lindsay. Follow me on Instagram @leslielindsay1

For more information, to connect with Carol Goodman via social media, or to purchase a copy of THE SEA OF LOST GIRLS, please visit:

Order Links:

~BOOK CONCIERGE~

Several other titles came to mind with this one. You might want to consider: Kimberly McCreight’s RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA and also, Shari Lapena’s SOMEONE WE KNOW. 

Carol-Goodman-Author-700x467ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Carol Goodman graduated from Vassar College, where she majored in Latin. After teaching Latin for several years, she studied for an MFA in Fiction. She is the author of twenty novels, including The Lake of Dead Languages and The Seduction of Water, which won the 2003 Hammett Prize, and, under the pseudonym Juliet Dark, The Demon Lover, which Booklist named a top ten science fiction/fantasy book for 2012. Her YA novel, Blythewood, was named a best young adult novel by the American Library Association. Her 2017 suspense thriller The Widow’s House won the Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her books have been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family, and teaches writing and literature at The New School and SUNY New Paltz.

YOu can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites:

I hope you do!

image1 (5)

Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. Her cover art will be featured on Up the Staircase Quarterly in May 2020, and the 2nd edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA will be available this spring. Leslie has been awarded one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

LOVE IT? SHARE IT!

#fiction #boardingschools #mystery #secrets #alwayswithabook #professors

CDCFA80E-34E6-42D2-A875-116C7434AE23 (2)

[Cover and author image courtesy of WilliamMorrow and used with permission. Artistic photo of book cover designed and photographed by L.Lindsay. Follow me on Instagram @leslielindsay1. Special thanks to WilliamMorrow.]

Award-winning director, screenwriter, and producer Jan Eliasberg talks about her debut fiction, inspired by true events and strong women in science, HANNAH’S WAR, plus WWII movies, RBG, and more

By Leslie Lindsay

A gripping story of one woman’s bravery and brilliance during WWII, exploring themes of identity, deception, and more.

Hannahs War Jacket

~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~

JAN ELIASBERG DIRECTOR, WRITER AND PRODUCER KNOWN FOR CREATING EVOCATIVE MATERIAL FEATURING PERFORMANCES FROM TODAY’S MOST COMPELLING ACTORS.

With HANNAH’S WAR (Little Brown/Back Bay Books, March 3 2020), award-winning screenwriter and film director, Jan Eliasberg turns her gaze toward fiction, but staying true to form, she is continuing to highlight strong, independent female characters. I was blown away with the writing in HANNAH’S WAR and had to remind myself this is a debut novel for the author. The writing is fast-paced and beautifully descriptive.

Inspired by real-life scientist, female physicist Lise Meitner, HANNAH’S WAR is Eliasberg’s answer in seeking truth and information about scientific discovery, women’s place in the workforce (and in war), discovery, morality, love, family, and more. There’s a bit of everything in HANNAH’S WAR–from mystery and science, to spies, and romance; a wartime story of loyalty and truth and the unforeseeable fallout from one women’s choice.

HANNAH’S WAR is more imagination than fact, but there are most definitely poles from which Jan Eliasberg strung her narrative–who was Dr. Lise Meitner? What was her story? And why don’t we know more about her? I adored the science references and a woman working in such a field at that time.

Split between dual time periods and locations – Berlin in 1938 and Los Alamos in 1945, we get an eye-opening investigation of military intelligence, the atomic bomb, WWII, and more.

HANNAH’S WAR is an impressive debut with plenty of cat-and-mouse moments, spies, thrills, and romance, which will surely ensnare many.

Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented Jan Eliasberg to the author interview series.

Leslie Lindsay:

Jan, wow! HANNAH’S WAR is shattering. And your obsession with her absolutely shines. I think we’re all a little haunted into writing something. I have a sense I know what it was for you—Lise Meitner. Can you tell us how you came to learn about her, how the writing blossomed?

Jan Eliasberg:

I was in the New York Public Library reading on microfiche the August 7, 1945 issue of the New York Times. Under the headline: FIRST ATOMIC BOMB DROPPED ON JAPAN; TRUMAN WARNS FOE OF A ‘RAIN OF RUIN,’” there was an article tracing the simultaneously terrifying and wondrous development of the atomic bomb. Somewhere under the fold, buried in a dense paragraph, this sentence appeared: “The key component that allowed the Allies to develop the bomb was brought to the Allies by a female, ‘non-Aryan’ physicist.” Who was this woman? Who was the female Jewish physicist responsible for the single most important scientific discovery of the twentieth century whose work had, literally, changed the world? And why had I never heard of her? Why, I wondered, isn’t her face staring out of every science textbook?

Those questions prompted a ten-year quest that took me deeply into the history of the atomic bomb, and the physics that propelled it. My mystery woman was Dr. Lise Meitner, an Austrian scientist, a Jew, working at the highest levels of research at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin. She and long-term partner Otto Hahn were on the verge of a ground-breaking discovery when Austria was annexed. Meitner’s privileged position, and all the protections her colleagues had promised, evaporated within six terrifying hours, as she fled Berlin within hours of being captured and sent to the camps.

Hahn remained in Berlin and was so dependent on Meitner that he continued to collaborate with her, even after she’d fled to Sweden. He met with her in Copenhagen in secret and sent her, on postcards via courier, the results of experiments they’d designed together. It was Meitner not Hahn, who analyzed the results and recognized that they had split the atom.

Because Meitner was Jewish, the paper Hahn published in Germany did not have her name on it. Hahn falsely claimed that the discovery was based solely on insights gleaned from his own chemical purification work, and that any insight contributed by Meitner played an insignificant role.

After the war, when Hahn was awarded the 1945 Nobel Prize for the discovery of nuclear fission, he conveniently left the record uncorrected, robbing Meitner of the Nobel Prize she rightfully deserved. In Meitner’s diaries, she writes about sitting in the audience at the Nobel Ceremony, hoping that Hahn would mention her name: he did not. The Nobel “mistake,” was never acknowledged, much less rectified.

As a pioneering female director in Hollywood I strongly identified with this brilliant woman whose ground-breaking work was falsely credited to a man. Because Meitner couldn’t correct the historical record, I determined to do it for her.

Otto_Hahn_und_Lise_Meitner
Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn in the laboratory. Source: Wikipedia

Leslie Lindsay:

You’re an award-winning screenwriter and director. How did your background in television and film help as you shaped HANNAH’S WAR? How are the disciplines similar, and how do you see them as different? I know when I write, I sometimes ‘see’ the scene coming to life; my fingers are the mere conduit. Is it like for you, too?

Jan Eliasberg:

Directing film has of course taught me to think visually. I often think of film as a kind of visual poetry, in which each shot must perfectly convey both story and emotion. I took a similar approach to writing the novel; I tried to envision everything, exactly as you said. In writing classes someone always repeats the old adage: “show don’t tell;” as a director, all you do is show because film is a visual medium—so that made my transition to writing fiction not only fluid, but also fun.

Film and television are great taskmasters in terms of story structure: if a cinematic story doesn’t have the correct structure, no amount of beautiful narrative, fabulous dialogue, or brilliant characterization can salvage it. Most screenwriters spend months “breaking story,” before they write a single line. All the story engines must be activated; all the beats of conflict, tension, and rising action must be in place, all the plot twists must come at the right moments to maintain the viewer’s interest and must feel simultaneously both surprising and inevitable.


“I flew through Hannah’s War, a gripping true story long overdue to be told, of a brilliant woman physicist working to develop the first atomic bomb and the secret she fights to protect.”

Martha Hall Kelly, author of Lilac Girls


Leslie Lindsay:

As I read HANNAH’S WAR, there were several movies that came to mind…obviously many WWII movies, but also HIDDEN FIGURES, about the intelligent ‘calculators,’ African-American women working to get the space shuttle into orbit. Marginalized women are present in both your work and HIDDEN FIGURES—also at a time when science and math, and well, work in general—was more male-dominated. Can you talk about that, please?

Jan Eliasberg:

There’s a tradition of books and films about marginalized geniuses contributing in a positive and patriotic way to society while fighting against social prejudiceswhether it be the schizophrenic John Nash in A BEAUTIFUL MIND; the story of gay and closeted Alan Turing in THE IMITATION GAME; or Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson in HIDDEN FIGURES.  HANNAH’S WAR falls within that tradition.

But these kinds of stories are relatively rare. Because of the way history is toldby the victorsmarginalized figures are often left out of, or are greatly diminished, in the authorized story.

We know, for example, about male fighter pilots in World War IIwe’ve seen TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH; TORA! TORA! TORA! TUSKEGEE AIRMEN: PEARL HARBOR. But we’ve never seen the story of the W.A.S.P. – the Women Air Service Pilots in WWIIwhich is just as heroic, just as compelling. That story has been erased from history and needs to be reclaimed.

I wanted to tell Lise Meitner’s story in part because I identified with her. We need more storytellers from marginalized communities to recover and reclaim these stories. Then we will be able to understand history and civilization from a multiplicity of perspectives.

Leslie Lindsay:

I was so struck—saddened and angered—about the anti-Semitism in HANNAH’S WAR. This was a dark time. Can you talk about that, please?

Jan Eliasberg:

It was a given that HANNAH’S WAR would investigate anti-Semitism in Germany. Then, because Hannah brings the perspective of what she has seen and experienced in Germany with her to Los Alamos, it allowed me to look at the reality of anti-Semitism in the United States.

My father, who fought in WWII, told me stories of what it was like to come back and try to find a job; he talked about whole professional fields that were closed to him as a Jew: the “white shoe” law firms like Cravath, Swain; Banking; Wall Street. I knew that the character of Jack would be far more interesting if he was hiding secrets of his own and I started toying with the idea of making him Jewisha Jew who’d made a conscious decision to “pass.”

I remembered being at Yale and learning about the historical link between Yale’s secret societies and the OSS (now the CIA). The CIA was born out of the world of the American “aristocracy”—the moneyed, old families of America. Men of “good character” essentially meant privileged, entitled, white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants. The idea of making Jack an interloper in that world was irresistible—and it felt like a wonderful way to explore anti-Semitism in America.

One could credibly posit that anti-Semitism was exported from America to Germany, not the other way around. I didn’t make any of that up, it’s all there in history if we choose to look at it. And, alas, these issues of Anti-Semitic and anti-refugee sentiments have all too obvious parallels in America today.

abstract arrangement art background
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

Can you tell us more about Lise Meitner—maybe some facts that didn’t make it into HANNAH’S WAR? What do you think she might say about the book?

Jan Eliasberg:

In photographs, Meitner has the diminutive delicacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a fragile beauty that, I imagine, made her easy to underestimate. She also has the steely gaze of a fierce warrior; someone who will follow her principles with an inner tenacity wherever they lead. Like RBG, she was an avowed and staunch feminist.

“I was known as the woman the all-male chemistry department did not want to hire,” she wrote, “Under such circumstances one becomes, and remains, a feminist.”

In 1945, at a dinner for the Women’s Press Club, President Harry Truman honored Meitner’s accomplishments with this back-handed compliment, “So you’re the little lady who got us into this atomic mess!” Such sexism and condescension weren’t new to Meitner. She’d endured them patiently and without protest since the day she gave her inaugural speech as the first female University Lecturer and the press jokingly reported the topic of her speech as “Cosmetic Physics” instead of “Cosmic Physics.”

I like to imagine her at that Women’s Press Club Dinner, dainty frame perched in the seat of honor, cuffs of lace encircling her tiny wrists, her mouth in a practiced smile as she struggles to suppress an eye-roll at Truman’s diminishing praise.

Most importantly, however, she had an incredibly strong moral compass. I was very taken with his statement she made near the end of her life: “Those blessed with a brilliant mind and a gift for science have a higher duty that comes before discovery, a duty to humanity. Science can be used for good or evil; so, it’s incumbent upon scientists to ensure that their work makes the world a better place.”

Meitner died in 1968 in Cambridge, England; she was 89 years old. The epitaph on her gravestone, written by her nephew Otto Frisch, reads:

“Lise Meitner: a physicist who never lost her humanity.”

I’d like to think that she’d very much appreciate the way I captured her humanity in the novel.

file-20190205-86205-ff9763
Image source: http://theconversation.com/lise-meitner-the-forgotten-woman-of-nuclear-physics-who-deserved-a-nobel-prize-106220

Leslie Lindsay:

Jan, this has been so insightful and fascinating. Thank you so much for taking the time. Is there something I should have asked, but may have forgotten? What’s obsessing you now that Lise/Hannah made her way into a book?

Jan Eliasberg:

I’ve enjoyed this enormously – thank you for asking such great questions.

I hope that HANNAH’S WAR will show my daughter and her peers that history is filled with remarkable women of towering achievement and deep humanism; we need only look beyond the authorized texts to see them. I wrote to shine a light on one of these women, and I hope HANNAH’S WAR will be a beacon for all women, in my daughter’s generation and beyond, to live not only with authenticity and pride, but also with the support and acknowledgement of the wider world.

I hope readers will come to believe that the actions of one person can shape the course of history, that the power of love can, truly, change the world. Those are the primary reasons I write the book.

If readers want to know more about the research I did, or more about my visual inspirations, or my film and television work, they can visit my website: http://www.janeliasberg.com. I welcome a dialogue with my readers and love to get specific questions.

In terms of what’s obsessing me now: I’m working on my next novel. It will stand alone for anyone who hasn’t read HANNAH’S WAR, but it is a companion piece in the sense that it follows the character of Hannah’s niece. Sabine Weiss, who disappears mysteriously halfway through HANNAH’S WAR to a fate we never know. It explores the experiences of those who remain, those who survive. It asks how survivors of deep trauma can heal and questions what our collective obligation is to help in that healing.

Just as in HANNAH’S WAR, those big moral questions are wrapped up in what I hope is an “edge of your seat” mystery and a great, sweeping love story.

D5C93638-3D9F-4AB9-AAAC-0C1FB907A2AA

Artistic photo of book designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram @leslielindsay1 for more like this and other bookish things.

For more information, to connect with Jan Eliasberg via social media, or to purchase a copy of HANNAH’S WAR, please visit:

ORDER LINKS:

Jan Eliasberg_Nina Subin 2ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jan Eliasberg is an award-winning writer/director. Her prolific directing career includes dramatic pilots for CBS, NBC, and ABC, such as Miami Vice and Wiseguy; countless episodes of television series, including Bull, Nashville, Parenthood, The Magicians, Blue Bloods, NCIS: Los Angeles, Supernatural, and dozens of others; as well as the feature film Past Midnight, starring Paul Giamatti, the late Natasha Richardson, and Rutger Hauer.

Eliasberg also has a storied career as a screenwriter, writing films driven by strong female leads, including Fly Girls about the Women Air Service Pilots in WWII for Nicole Kidman and Cameron Diaz at FOX 2000, among many others.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites:

I hope you do!

IMG_6816Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. Her cover art will be featured on Up the Staircase Quarterly in May 2020 and the 2nd edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA will be available this spring. Leslie has been awarded one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

SECOND EDITION OF SPEAKING OF APRAXIA COMING SOON FROM WOODBINE HOUSE

LOVE IT? SHARE IT!

#historicalfiction #inspiredbytrueevents #WWII #Germany #NewMexico #womeninscience #womeninhistory #atomicbomb 

D5C93638-3D9F-4AB9-AAAC-0C1FB907A2AA

[Cover and author image courtesy of Dewey Decimal Media and used with permission. Artistic photo of book designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram @leslielindsay1 for more like this and other bookish things]

Deliciously dark and creepy domestic thriller now in paperback–Samantha Downing talks about MY LOVELY WIFE, her publishing journey, and her next thriller, HE STARTED IT

By Leslie Lindsay 

5 juicy stars to this tautly paced, all-encompassing deliciously dark domestic suspense, MY LOVELY WIFE (Berkley, March 26 2019) will capture and ensnare and have you looking twice at your neighbors. 

9780451491732

~PUB DAY PREVIEW|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~

NOW IN PAPERBACK!!

with new dark cover

INSTANT USA TODAY and NATIONAL BESTSELLER!

#1 Library Reads, IndieNext, and Amazon Best of the Month in Thriller!


“A dark and irresistible debut.”—People

Truly stunning, jaw-dropping, and so engrossing, you simply cannot look away. That’s what debut author, Samantha Downing, is so skilled at in her debut–this is a debut, people!–and you absolutely have to read it.

Here’s the thing: it’s dark. It’s twisted, but on the surface, it’s oh-so-saccharine. Married for 15 years, Millicent and her unnamed husband, the protagonist/narrator have found themselves in a slightly boring marriage. They have two kids, a boy and a girl who are on the cusp of adolescence. It’s a nice life in a comfortable suburban area of Florida where everyone goes to work and then home for a pre-planned dinner. There’s soccer and tennis lessons and Millicent sells real estate.

But MY LOVELY WIFE is a powerhouse of a novel. It’s about drama, a marriage, kids out of control, and the news media; it’s also about the folks next door, who just happen to be killing women for sport. 

Or, are they? There’s
definitely some planning and premeditation. And maybe someone in this partnership is more sinister than the other. Or maybe they’re just in over their head? MY LOVELY WIFE is an effortless page-turner. I simply couldn’t put it down. The way Downing braids past and present and keeps the reader sort of brooding in the past is masterful.

The writing is simple, but the plot is complex, the structure is intense and the pace, relentless. 

Do yourself a favor and buy this book. Now.

But first, please join me in welcoming Samantha Downing to the author interview series.

This interview previously/originally ran March 2019. This is a reprint.

Leslie Lindsay:

Samantha, oh my Gosh! This book! So you’re a bit twisted—and I like that. The seed for MY LOVELY WIFE was first planted when you watched a documentary about a husband who abused his wife and forced her into helping him with his dirty schemes to kidnap women and hold them hostage. It sounds like an episode of “Criminal Minds” (one of my top favorite show—so good for helping with plot problems!), can you talk a little more about that?

Samantha Downing:

Absolutely! When I saw that documentary, it struck me that we’ve never seen a woman initiate a crime like this. It’s always a man working alone or a man who has coerced someone—like his wife—to go along with it. I wanted to explore it the other way, and that’s how I came up with the character of Millicent.

And I agree with you about Criminal Minds!

folding knife
Photo by Matt Hatchett on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

I’m interested in your writerly journey. It might seem like this book was an overnight success…but can you tell us where you started as a writer? Have you always written? Was this something ‘new’ to you? Can you tell us a bit about getting an agent and how MY LOVELY WIFE was acquired, a sense of the timeline?

Samantha Downing:

I don’t think a true “overnight success” exists, at least not that I know of! I am certainly not. I’ve been writing for over twenty years. It’s been a hobby and a passion, something I’ve always looked forward to doing in my spare time. The publishing industry always seemed like this unsolvable puzzle, so I basically stayed away from it.

I wouldn’t be published if not for a friend of mine, Rebecca Vonier. She is one of my critique partners, and she loved this book enough to send it to a friend of hers who went to school with an agent in New York. He referred me to Barbara Poelle, who then sold MY LOVELY WIFE to Jen Monroe at Berkley on a 48-hour exclusive. It was—and still is—a wild ride!

quote calligraphy under cup of lemon tea
Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

As a first-time published author, what do you think you did ‘right,’ and what do you wish you had known more about?

Samantha Downing:  

So far, what I’ve done right is trust the people who know what they’re doing. I don’t try to tell my agent, editor, publicist or marketing team how to do their jobs. They know how, so I just stay out of their way! Another thing is to be professional about everything—be on time, on schedule, and prepared. Claiming that you are tortured creative soul will get you nowhere in life or in publishing!

What I wish I had known is how long the process takes. The book was purchased almost 18 months ago and is just now being released. Patience is key! Even if you think nothing is happening, a lot can be happening behind the scenes.


Wow! MY LOVELY WIFE is a stunner—full of twists, well-drawn characters, and riveting suspense.”

—Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times bestselling author 


Leslie Lindsay:

Was there ever a period where you were ready to thrown in the towel? And what got you over that hump?

Samantha Downing:

Throw in the towel on writing? Never. Because it was a hobby, I did it because I enjoyed it. Some people enjoy cooking or knitting or playing a musical instrument. I enjoy writing. Why would I stop

Leslie Lindsay:

How about research? I am sure you had to do plenty for MY LOVELY WIFE…and gosh, did you worry if the Feds would come track you down based on your browser history?!

Samantha Downing:

I’m pretty sure I would be locked up in a mental ward if someone looked at my search history! There were a lot of things I had to research about dead bodies and preservation of bodies and…well, I shouldn’t say too much. But I do think writers should have their own special browser, so when the NSA or the CIA sees what we’re searching they can just say, “Oh no worries. Just another writer.”

couple wearing grey t shirts walking on shallow water and smiling
Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

Can you give us a few facts about you—like, what do you do when you’re not reading or writing? If you have any strange obsessions (ahem), and maybe what’s next for you?

Samantha Downing:  

Let’s see…I’m a dork, really. I read a lot, I binge-watch good and bad TV, and I have to watch Big Brother every summer. It’s a thing, really. I’m also a black belt in karate, just in case a psychopath comes my way (or a mugger, more likely!). Also, animals. I love all animals and wish I lived in a big country house filled with them, but instead I live in a small city apartment. Someday!

My next book is another thriller and I hope it’s as disturbing as this one. That’s all I can say for now! [Editor’s Note: HE STARTED IT will be available April 28 from Berkley. Pre-order now]

Leslie Lindsay:

Samantha, it’s been such a pleasure. Please tell what I should have asked, but may have forgotten?

Samantha Downing:

Not that I can think of. Just want to say thank you so much for having me! I really appreciate it.

IMG_2342

Artistic photo of book cover designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Gimme a follow on Instagram for more bookish news like this @leslielindsay1

For more information, to connect with Samantha Downing via social media, or to purchase a copy of MY LOVELY WIFE, please see: 

Read an Excerpt!

Order LInks: 

NOW IN PAPERBACK with new Dark cover!9780451491732

Samantha Downing high res credit Jacqueline Dallimore 2018ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Samantha Downing currently lives in New Orleans, where she is furiously typing away on her next thrilling book.

 

 

 

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites: 

I hope you do!

SECOND EDITION OF SPEAKING OF APRAXIA COMING SPRING 2020 FROM WOODBINE HOUSE!
image1 (5)

Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. She has been awarded as one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

LOVE IT? SHARE IT!

Look for Samantha’s new thriller, HE STARTED IT, coming April 28th from Berkley

#domesticthriller #debut #familyman #MyLovelyWife #tradeedition 

[Cover and author image courtesy of Berkley and used with permission. Artistic photo of book cover designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Gimme a follow on Instagram for more bookish news like this @leslielindsay1]

 

Twisty courtroom drama that is both perceptive and culturally-intelligent, touching on special needs, mothers, secrets, immigrants, and a medical mystery in Angie Kim’s MIRACLE CREEK

By Leslie Lindsay 

A literary courtroom thriller about an immigrant family, a fascinating medical exploration, secrets, lies, and more.

*NATIONAL BESTSELLER*

creek

~Weekend Reading | ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~

May IndieNext Pick ♦ April LibraryReads Selection ♦ April Book of the Month Club Pick ♦ Amazon Editors’ Pick ♦ Apple Books 2019 Top Ten Debuts ♦ Time Magazine 11 Best Fiction Books of 2019 So Far ♦ Washington Post Summer Reads ♦ Good Morning America Hot Summer Read ♦Entertainment Weekly April Jewels ♦ ELLE April Reading List ♦ Real Simple The Short List ♦ Southern Living Best Spring Books ♦ July Junior Library Guild Adult Crossover Selection (Grades 11 & Up)

PLUS, named a Most Anticipated 2019 Book by
BuzzFeedNylonThe MillionsElectric LitBookRiot, CrimeReads / LitHub, GoodReads, Vulture and more

~PAPERBACK EDITION COMING IN APRIL~

MIRACLE CREEK (April 2019) is such a powerhouse of a novel from Angie Kim, I was seriously questioning whether it was truly a debut, it’s that good. In rural Miracle Creek, Virginia, Young and her husband, Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment, hyperbaric chamber known as ‘the miracle submarine.’ It’s a pressurized oxygen chamber patients enter for therapeutic reasons–the ‘dives’ could potentially cure anything from autism to infertility, and a few things in between.

But the chamber mysteriously explodes, killing two people, and injuring several others. The book opens with such a compelling and propulsive line–“My husband asked me to lie.” And thus, we’re thrown into the world of MIRACLE CREEK, where no one and everyone is honest. Secrets are kept, lies are ignored; concealment becomes the standard. I found the writing hugely enjoyable, lush and poetic, snappy, and witty, at times The author does an amazing job of building layers, adding in smart twists, and the courtroom drama is second to none. I mean, wow.

Told from multiple POVs, we ‘dive’ (yes, pun intended) into several character’s experiences, mothers raising special needs children (and the long, exhausting days, the maternal guilt and wishes for a different life), and also an infertile physician, the life of Korean immigrant family, and so much more. I found reading MIRACLE CREEK immensely enjoyable, but also a little exhausting. There are a lot of ‘facts’ to keep straight, courtroom details/banter, and more. And it’s so well done.

Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented Angie Kim to the author interview series.

Leslie Lindsay:

Angie! Welcome. Gosh, this book! It’s so good. I think for any writer to be successful, she needs to be completely smitten—but also haunted—with her premise. What was it for you that got you to ‘dive’ into the narrative of MIRACLE CREEK?

Angie Kim:  

Thank you so much for featuring me and MIRACLE CREEK, Leslie! They say that you put a lot of yourself into your first book, and that’s definitely the case for me with MIRACLE CREEK. There are three strands of my life that I pulled together into the narrative—the Korean immigrant strand (I myself moved to the US from Seoul, South Korea, as a preteen), the courtroom trial strand (I was a trial lawyer in my 20s), and the special-needs parenting strand (I have three kids who all faced and overcame medical issues as babies/toddlers). As for the one thing that really got me into the narrative, my first line for the longest time was “The pounding. It’s the pounding I remember most.” The pounding sound is that of a little boy with autism and anxiety, pounding his head against the thick steel wall of the hyperbaric oxygen chamber. It’s something I experienced while undergoing HBOT with one of my kids, and that’s the first thing I thought of and wrote. Once I wrote that, I had to write more to explore why he was pounding his head, what the adults were doing, etc.

silhouette of trees under clear night sky
Photo by Dương Nhân on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

I’ve read plenty of courtroom dramas (none this good, by the way), and stories featuring medical aspects, mysteries…but I’d have to say MIRACLE CREEK is a first for me in terms of reading about hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). How did this piece come to be? It’s a little obscure, and I think that’s why I like it. Can you tell us more about your personal involvement in it and how the mechanism works?

Angie Kim:  

Thank you so much. HBOT is something I experienced myself. My son was four years old when he was diagnosed with celiac disease and ulcerative colitis. The standard treatments weren’t working, and he was crying that his stomach hurt and throwing up and not gaining weight. So we decided to try an experimental treatment a friend had told me about, involving breathing pure oxygen inside a pressurized chamber. The first time we saw the HBOT chamber, my son said, “It’s a submarine!” We’d watched the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine for family movie night earlier that summer, and it looked just like that, with thick steel walls, four portholes, and such. The idea is that you go inside and are sealed in, and the air inside is pressurized, which makes the air denser. The patients put on these oxygen helmets and breathe in pure oxygen, and the denser oxygen can deeply penetrate the damaged cells of your body, including your nerves, which helps them to heal more quickly.

background blur bokeh bright
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

In some ways, I related to the mothers of the special needs children in this story. My oldest daughter had a severe speech disorder when she was younger and yes—I remember the research, the worries, the therapies, the wish for a different child. Actually, I think the wish was for the speech issue to not plague her. You really ‘got’ these mothers (who were mostly struggling with autism, but also physical handicaps as well). There’s love here, but also struggle. And some of these passages were darn-right hard to read. Were they hard to write? And What—or whom—informed you? Is this a book about special needs?

Angie Kim:

It’s absolutely a book about the world of parenting children who have special needs and disabilities. As I said earlier, all three of my kids are fine now, but they suffered a wide array from medical issues as young children, so I went through many of these experiences, which are emotionally intense and draining. Your own book about [childhood] apraxia [of speech] really interested me because one of my kids was born deaf in one ear, which resulted in auditory processing issues and speech delays. I’m guessing that our kids did a lot of the same therapies.

I also drew on the experience of being in the HBOT chamber with mothers of kids with autism and cerebral palsy. When we did the dives that summer, because of the presence of pure oxygen and the risk of fire that entailed, we couldn’t bring anything in—no phones, toys, electronics, magazines. That left us with nothing to do but talk. We shared life stories and traded information about the various illnesses our kids were contending with. It was a wholly immersive and intense experience, and it felt like a confessional of sorts. Some of those women became close friends, and some served as early readers for MIRACLE CREEK. It was very hard to write about some of the dark, shameful thoughts that parents (especially mothers) have, but I thought it was important to bring that out, to tell everyone that this is human, that it’s not something we should be ashamed of.

green skies and black clouds photography
Photo by Mustafa ezz on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

Special needs, infertility, and also race/culture are a big piece of MIRACLE CREEK. Abe (one of the attorneys in the book), is African-American. The infertile doctor and his wife are a biracial couple (she’s Asian and he’s Caucasian). Teresa, one of the HBOT mothers is Latina. And the Yoos are Korean. Were there any particular inspirations behind these choices? Were they really ‘choices’ at all?

Angie Kim:

It was important to me that the cast of characters be diverse because the DC area is so diverse, and I wanted the book’s fictional world to reflect the real world. These chronic issues and disabilities hit people of all ethnicities, and I wanted that to be clear. I also wanted to attorneys to be totally kick-ass, and to be diverse as well. Nothing against awesome white male litigators (my husband is one!) but I feel like so many litigators we see on TV and in the movies are white men, and I think it’s important to show other types of people in that role. I can’t tell you how many people have reached out to me or said in book club discussions that Shannon (a totally bad-ass trial lawyer) is their favorite character!

Leslie Lindsay:

I know you’re an attorney by training and so the courtroom stuff probably came very naturally. But you were so good at building layers, developing chain reactions, planting seeds…so I am curious if you knew how MIRACLE CREEK would end? Did you always know who the guilty party was? Can you give us a little glimpse into your process?

Angie Kim:

I did not know how the novel would end! I am not an outliner; I’m a so-called “pantser” who writes more organically. I did not know for the first year or so of writing who set the fire (the inciting incident), and I didn’t know until almost the end why or how that person set the fire. I believe in an iterative writing process, in which you outline (very broadly) what you think might happen, write a few chapters, then you realize that the outline is completely wrong and revise the outline, then write a few more chapters, then you realize you have to revise the outline yet again, etc., etc.

black and red typewriter
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

MIRACLE CREEK is a very obsessive, engrossing read. What’s obsessing you nowadays? It doesn’t have to be literary.

Angie Kim:

My next novel is about a 10-year-old boy who’s nonverbal (with apraxia [of speech] and possibly autism) who goes on a walk at the beginning of the story with his father (who is the primary caregiver), but later in the day, only the little boy returns home. And because he’s nonverbal, he can’t tell anyone what happened during the walk. So my obsession these days is learning about kids who are nonverbal, and the new communication therapies and technologies nonverbal kids are using to try to communicate. I’m reading every book I can find on this topic!


“Miracle Creek is an engrossing puzzle-box of a book: a twisty courtroom drama that also manages to be emotionally astute, culturally perceptive, and deeply empathetic. Angie Kim tackles hot-button subjects with a delicate touch, proving herself a master of both portraiture and storytelling. I loved this novel.”

―Janelle Brown, author of the New York Times bestseller Watch Me Disappear


Leslie Lindsay:

Angie, thank you, thank you for taking the time to chat with us today. Is there anything I forgot to ask…like, what’s on your to-do list this week, what you’re reading, when the paperback version of MIRACLE CREEK is set to come out, or anything else?

Angie Kim:

The paperback version of MIRACLE CREEK comes out on April 7 and I’m about to travel to San Antonio for the AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs) conference, and I’m so excited to meet up with my writer friends! I’m also putting together a book club challenge! I’ve participated (via in-person or video-conferencing) in over 85 book club discussions so far, and my publisher and I are putting together a fun book club challenge in which we’re trying to get at least one book club in every state of the US to join us! Readers can contact me through email or  website if they’re interested in having their book club participate!

IMG_6841

Artistic image of book covered designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1

For more information, to connect with Angie Kim via social media, or to purchase a copy of MIRACLE CREEK, please visit: 

Order LInks: 

~PAPERBACK EDITION COMING IN APRIL~

BOOK CONCIERGE:

You might also like LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng, forthcoming A GOOD NEIGHBORHOOD (Therese Anne Fowler), THE DEARLY BELOVED by Cara Wall, DEFENDING JACOB (Willliam Landay) and also Shari Lapena’s SOMEONE WE KNOW.

angie-300x200ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Angie Kim is the author of the national bestseller Miracle Creek, named a “Best Book of the Year” by Time, The Washington Post, Kirkus, Real Simple, Library Journal, The Today Show, Amazon, and Hudson Booksellers, and a Good Morning America Hot Summer Read. Kim is one of Variety Magazine’s “10 Storytellers to Watch,” and has written for VogueThe New York TimesThe Washington PostGlamour, Salon, and Slate. She moved from Seoul, Korea, to Baltimore as a preteen, and attended Stanford University and Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. A former trial lawyer, she now lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and three sons, and is at work on her next novel.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites: 

I hope you do!

image1 (5)

Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. Her cover art will be featured on Up the Staircase Quarterly in May 2020, and the 2nd edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA will be available this spring. Leslie has been awarded one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

~2nd EDITION OF SPEAKING OF APRAXIA COMING SPRING 2020~

LOVE IT? SHARE IT!

#literaryfiction #medicalmystery #HBOT #courtroomdrama #writing #alwayswithabook #autism #specialneeds #mothers #infertility 

IMG_6841

[Cover and author image retrieved from author’s website. Author photo cred: Tim Coburn. Artistic image of book covered designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1]

Stunning literary fiction about race, class, family, secrets, injustice, more in Anissa Gray’s gorgeously rendered debut, THE CARE AND FEEDING OF RAVENOUSLY HUNGRY GIRLS, now in paperback

By Leslie Lindsay

Everybody’s hungry in THE CARE AND FEEDING OF RAVENOUSLY HUNGRY GIRLS…daughters who yearn for mothers, sisters who need sisters…

BookCover-768x1152

~FICTION SPOTLIGHT|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ 

NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK! 

One of the most anticipated reads of 2019

Vogue, Vanity Fair, Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Essence, Bustle, HelloGiggles and Cosmo!

The poignant and emotionally affecting debut novel by CNN journalist Anissa Gray, THE CARE AND FEEDING OF RAVENOUSLY HUNGRY GIRLS (Berkley Trade Paperback, January 2020) is such an exquisite read about class, family, love, and more. Embraced by booksellers and librarians and endorsed by authors like Terry McMillan and Delia Owens, the novel is a powerful exploration of what it means to be middle class in today’s America—and what it feels like to be an outsider in your family and community.


“If you enjoyed An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, read The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls…an absorbing commentary on love, family and forgiveness.”

—The Washington Post 


Gray grew up a pastor’s daughter in a small western Michigan town and drew from her experiences to create the intimately familiar world of the Butler family. Told from the alternating perspectives of sisters Althea,Viola, and Lillian, THE CARE AND FEEDING OF RAVENOUSLY HUNGRY GIRLS illustrates the unique perspectives of siblings who grow up in the same home yet experience the same events differently. When oldest sister Althea and her husband—once well-respected members of the community—are incarcerated, the life of each family member is changed forever. With their sister awaiting trial, Viola and Lillian are forced to deal with painful memories as they come together to care for Althea’s teenage daughters.

IMG_7089

Artistic image of book cover designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1

For more information, to connect with Anissa Gray via social media, or to purchase a copy of THE CARE AND FEEDING OF RAVENOUSLY HUNGRY GIRLS, please visit: 

Order LInks: 

NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK! 

~BOOK CONCERIGE~

Want more like this? Try: AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE by Taryi Jones; Jennifer Weiner’s MRS. EVERYTHING; THE MOTHERS by Brit Bennett; RED AT THE BONE (Jacqueline Woodson) and Kiley Reid’s SUCH A FUN AGE. 

anissa.gray_01-3-e1537819480907ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Anissa Gray was born and raised in western Michigan. She graduated from Western Michigan University and received her Masters in English from New York University. After graduate school, Anissa went on to work as a print reporter at Reuters in Manhattan, covering global financial news. That was followed by a move to Atlanta and the initiation of her career in broadcast journalism at CNN, where she has held roles as writer, editor, and producer, receiving Emmy and duPont awards for contributions to the network’s coverage of major stories.

After more than 20 years as a journalist, Anissa, a lifelong book lover and voracious reader, pursued fiction writing, applying her love of storytelling from the realm of real-life, newsworthy happenings to the events and encounters that shape our lives. The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls is her first novel.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites: 

I hope you do!

image1 (5)

Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. Her cover art will be featured on Up the Staircase Quarterly in May 2020, and the 2nd edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA will be available this spring. Leslie has been awarded one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

~Updated Edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA coming Spring 2020~

LOVE IT? SHARE IT!

#fiction #literaryfiction #families #secrets #incarceration #sisters 

IMG_7089

[Cover and author image retrieved from author’s website. Author photo cred: Bonnie J. Heath. Artistic image of book cover designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1]

Sweeping meditation on sacrifice and survival spanning generations, weaving into the present, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s shattering, THE REVISIONERS

By Leslie Lindsay

Gifts, glories, and gospels of generational legacies spanning time, race, and more in THE REVISIONERS. 

b_W1sicmVzaXplIiwxMDAwXSxbIm1heCJdLFsid2UiXV0=

~WeekEND Reading: Spotlight~

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year 

Just how much our past is woven into our present? That’s the question Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s asks in THE REVISIONERS (Counterpoint, 2019). Told in a trifurcated timeline from a first person POV–1924, 2017, and 1855–but focusing on one family and several strong women, this is a tale of generational legacies, healing, traditions, motherhood, prejudices, and a dash of magical realism.

Set in New Orleans 2017, Ava and her teenage son, King, are living with Ava’s white, wealthy grandmother, Martha, serving as her companion/caretaker. Ava–a single mother and recently laid-off–is paid for her service to her grandmother and saving up so she and her son can leave and have a home of their own. But Martha’s behavior soon becomes erratic, then threatening and Ava must leave before her story–and that of an ancestor she never knew–Josephine–collide.


“Sexton takes on [Toni Morrison’s artful invocation of the ghost] in her new novel The Revisioners. . . She writes with such a clear sense of place and time that each of these intermingled stories feels essential and dramatic in its own way.”

—Ron Charles, The Washington Post


Josephine’s tale is told in a two parts: 1855 when she was a young slave girl on the Wildwood Plantation, and also in 1924 as an older, freed woman living a simple life in a cozy home she keeps neat as a pin. Josephine is befriended by a white, lonely, younger woman, Charlotte, who is struggling with fertilityIt’s a reluctant friendship at first–can two women with different colored skin be friends? How about if that friendship spans generations? But Josephine is known as a sort of magical doula/midwife and perhaps she can help Charlotte become ‘in the family way?’ Still, Charlotte has demons of her own–and a backstory that might threaten her relationship with Josephine.

photo of string lights
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

At its heart, THE REVISIONERS explores the depths of women’s friendships–marginalized, powerful women, healers, ‘seers,’ and survivors. It’s about mothers and their strong connections to their children (male children, too), and the dangers that upend those bonds (religion, community, marriage, geographical distance), and more. It’s about culture and race, and unjust circumstances; and ultimately, THE REVISIONERS ponders generational legacies, the endurance of hope, the promise of freedom–of thought, of action, of speech.

I felt a great sense of empathy and desire to ‘right the wrongs’ of past injustices. A powerful read that was well-researched and realized.

IMG_6849

Artistic photo of book cover designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram for more bookish photos like this @leslielindsay1

For more information, to connect with Margaret Wilkerson Sexton via social media, or to purchase a copy of THE REVISIONERS, please visit: 

Order Links: 

b_W1sicmVzaXplIiw2NjBdLFsibWF4Il0sWyJ3ZSJdXQ==ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born and raised in New Orleans, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton studied creative writing at Dartmouth College and law at UC Berkeley. Her debut novel, A Kind of Freedom, was a 2017 National Book Award Nominee, a New York Times Notable Book of 2017 and a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice. Her work has been published in The New York Times Book Review, Oprah.com, Lenny Letter, The Massachusetts ReviewGrey Sparrow Journal, and other publications. She lives in the Bay Area, California, with her family.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites: 

I hope you do!

image1 (5)

Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. Her cover art will be featured on Up the Staircase Quarterly in May 2020, and the 2nd edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA will be available this spring. Leslie has been awarded one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

LOVE IT? SHARE IT!

#fiction #literaryfiction #historicalfiction #slaves #AmericanHistory #AmericanSouth #AfricanAmerican #BlackHistoryMonth #TheRevisioners #mothers #children #generations #legacy #tradition #alwayswithabook 

IMG_6849

[Cover and author image retrieved from author’s website. Artistic photo of book cover designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram for more bookish photos like this @leslielindsay1]

 

Mary Kubica is back with her most twisty and disturbing tale yet–THE OTHER MRS., plus backstory and character development and Maine as the backdrop

By Leslie Lindsay 

Soon to be a Netflix film, THE OTHER MRS. is a twisty, spine-tingling read chocked full of twists, turns, and deception.

The Other Mrs. cover_smp

Mary Kubica has won me over countless times since her debut, THE GOOD GIRL in 2015. Perhaps its her down-to-earth approach, the fact that she resides in the Midwest and writes about family and geography of which I am familiar, yet with a twisted jaw-dropping jolt. THE OTHER MRS. (Park Row, February 18 2020) is no exception.

Sadie and Will Foust have only just moved their family–two boys, 14-year-old Otto and younger Tate–from Chicago to small-town Maine following the death of Will’s sister. They’ve inherited Alice’s old, creaky home along with her 16-year old daughter, Imogene. Sadie is working as a one of the only two physicians at the small island clinic. Will is a part-time professor at a small college. Shortly after moving in, there’s a murder of a female neighbor. Suspicions rise. Will is known to be a philanderer and Sadie the jealous wife. Could they be involved? What about Imogene? She’s struggling with her mother’s suicide. Or maybe Otto? He’s a bit disturbed and has a ‘past’ in Chicago. Maybe it has something to do with the victim’s step-daughter? She’s young but she’s the one who found her step-mother and made the 9-11 call.

THE OTHER MRS. is told from a total of four POVs–two women and a little girl, and toward the very end, we get the story from Will’s POV. I found each POV engaging and dark, but some of the earlier chapters were a little confusing…I kept wondering how all of these characters fit together. And they do, but it’s not quite as clear-cut as other books in the same genre might be. Everyone’s a little damaged, and most definitely an ‘unreliable narrator.’

Once I had a good working theory, everything seemed to zoom! 
Some readers may need to suspend belief with a few of the plot points, but overall, I liked the direction this story took. There’s a bit of a twist to the twist, and I found this a bit jarring in a good way.

Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented Mary Kubica back to the author interview series.

Leslie Lindsay:

Mary! Wow. Such a twisty and duplicitous tale. I always want to know about beginnings and what was haunting you when you set out to write THE OTHER MRS. Was it a setting, an event, or character you wanted to explore? Something else?

Mary Kubica:

Thank you for having me here, Leslie! I’m thrilled to be chatting with you again. Without giving anything away, the twist came first.  It doesn’t often happen this way, but with THE OTHER MRS. I had an idea that I wanted to learn more about and deeply explore, and so I went with it. The characters came next, to fit the needs of this ending I had in mind. As the characters evolved throughout the writing process, however, their stories took on a life of their own and they became darker and more damaged than I thought they would be, and their lives exponentially more complicated. This is one of my greatest joys about writing: seeing the way the story spontaneously takes shape.

body of water next to green trees during golden hour photography
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

I love how the majority of THE OTHER MRS is set in remote island off the coast of Maine. Sure, there’s some Chicago backstory, but mostly we’re in Maine. This is the first book you’ve written that didn’t take place wholly in the Chicago area. What was that like for you?

Mary Kubica:

It had its challenges, because I’m not nearly as familiar with Maine as I am Chicago, and yet it was refreshingly new. I took a fictional, unnamed island that I could do anything with, and set my story there. I had to do a decent amount of research into Maine islands in general, such as how to access the islands, how people make a living there, and things like emergency protocol on the more sparsely populated of them, but because it was fictional, I could alter the details to suit my needs. I once thought I’d set all of my novels in Chicago because it’s home for me, but I enjoyed trying something new for a change – and a remote island off the coast as winter sets in was just what this novel needed in terms of setting. It wouldn’t have worked as well on the bustling streets of Chicago.

Leslie Lindsay:

I loved, loved that old house where the Foust’s end up living. It’s creepy and gloomy and of course, Alice died there, too, so that adds to the ominous vibe. Can you tell us a little more about the house, the setting, and if it was inspired by any real place? Or fictional? Because I kept ‘seeing’ the Addam’s Family house.

Mary Kubica:

I loved this house too! I know what a huge enthusiast you are of old homes, and am thrilled this one spoke to you! I found a photo of an old foursquare farmhouse that I used as inspiration for the exterior. As for the interior, I made it all up. I thought of what would creep me out, and a dingy, dark, aging home with an eerie attic where a woman had died pretty much hit the nail on the head for me. One of my favorite parts of this book was the creation of the house and all the stories and secrets it holds.

brown broom and white plastic bucket
Photo by Monica Silvestre on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

I know we’ve talked about this before—about the plotter vs. pantser thing. Actually, it was J.R.R. Tolkien’s view of gardener (pantster) and architect (plotter). An architect is all about the structure and the gardener makes it pretty. Or maybe that’s the decorator? So what I want to know is, what weeds did you have to dig up in this one? Did THE OTHER MRS. start off one way and end up going a different direction?

Mary Kubica:

I had the pleasure of hearing George R.R. Martin speak last year, and he also described authors as either gardeners or architects. I absolutely love that comparison. I am a gardener, and what Martin said about gardeners is that sometimes we plant a seed and don’t know what will come up. Other times we plant a seed and nothing comes up. I really appreciated that admission, especially coming from such an esteemed author. With THE OTHER MRS., the story evolved much in the way I imagined it. That’s not to say there weren’t many drafts and a lot of revision, but much of that was about pacing and revealing things at the right point in the novel. One part I struggled with was the character of Mouse. Hers is the only narrative the readers hear in the third person perspective. I didn’t feel I could do her story justice any other way, and feared getting her voice quite right.

Leslie Lindsay:

THE OTHER MRS touches on child abuse and other darker things—like mental illness, stress, anxiety, bullying, and more. Can shed a little light on this, please? What do you think is important for readers to take away?

Mary Kubica:

There are many dark aspects to this novel. It can be heavy at times. I didn’t know early on that all of this would find its way into THE OTHER MRS., but as I created the characters and learned more about their backstories, it needed to be there. All of these things are prevalent in our lives, whether they happen to ourselves, to people we know or are in reports we see on the news. It was important to me that readers had a clear picture of who these characters are and of the experiences and events that brought them to this juncture in their lives. If there’s something for readers to take away from this, it’s just that we never be fully aware of the extent of other people’s struggles. Be kind to one another.   

top view photo of people writing on notebook
Photo by Isaac Taylor on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

Oh my gosh! I have to ask about Netflix! How thrilling. What is that process like and when can we expect to see this on the screen?

Mary Kubica:

The screenwriter, Jack Thorne, has recently delivered the screenplay, and is making revisions as we speak. I’m so thrilled to see what he’s done with it! It is truly beyond my wildest dreams to be able to one day soon see my story on TV.

Leslie Lindsay:

What three things do you wish you were asked about more frequently? It doesn’t have to be literary.

Mary Kubica:

Being honest, I feel like all the questions get asked.  There isn’t ever anything I wish people would ask more frequently.


“In The Other Mrs., Mary Kubica weaves a labyrinth of deception and family secrets, each one more shocking than the last, with an ending that left me thunderstruck. If you have any doubts Mary Kubica is a master of the genre, this book will change your mind.”
~ Samantha Downing, bestselling author of My Lovely Wife and forthcoming He Started It (April 2020)


Leslie Lindsay:

What are you most looking forward to this year?

Mary Kubica:

I’m looking forward to enjoying time with my family. My kids are growing up far too fast for me. My daughter starts high school in the fall and my son will be in 7th grade.  I want to soak up as much time with them as I possible can. I’m also working on my next novel (of course!).

Leslie Lindsay:

Mary, this has been most enlightening. Thank you, thank you for taking the time. Please let me know if there’s anything I forgot to ask.

Mary Kubica:

I think you covered it all! Thanks so much, Leslie, for the thoughtful questions and for taking the time to read THE OTHER MRS. and speak with me. I always enjoy this!

IMG_5121

Artistic photo of book cover designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow @leslielindsay1 on Instagram

For more information, to connect with Mary Kubica, or to purchase a copy of THE OTHER MRS., please visit:

Order Links:

Mary Kubica credit Sarah JastreABOUT THE AUTHOR: MARY KUBICA is the New York Times and international bestselling author of several psychological thrillers, including the THE GOOD GIRL, which has now sold over a million copies. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children, and enjoys photography, gardening and caring for the animals at a local shelter.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites: 

I hope you do! 

f361308f-8e47-46bd-ab06-5662fe502b14

image1 (5)

Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. She has been awarded as one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

LOVE IT? SHARE IT!

#thriller #domesticsuspense #psychthriller #alwayswithabook #TheOtherMrs #mentalhealth #Maine #murder 

[Cover and author image courtesy of Park Row Books and used with permission. Artistic photo of book cover designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow @leslielindsay1 on Instagram]

 

Stunningly shocking and terrifying, and so good, FEVER DREAM is haunting and magical and I am obsessed

By Leslie Lindsay 

A blazingly stark yet lush and surreal tale that will shock and injure your world, no matter how comfortable you think it is. 

9780399184604

~WeekEND Reading: Spotlight~

I’m dubbing this week, “Fantastical Fiction Week.” I mean, wow. I read two books (see Wednesday’s interview with Vikram Paralkar on NIGHT THEATER) that absolutely blew me away and are very closely related in terms of themes, writing style, and genre. And this genre is a slippery one to pin down. Some call it speculative fiction, others say it’s magical realism.  Others still might liken it to horror or gothic or even a fairy tale. All agree it’s imaginative and stark and might include elements of science fiction.  I find it thought-provoking, literary, dreamy, hallucinatory, mysterious, and at times, terrifying.


“This is a weird hallucination of a book—reading it feels like an experience, like something that happens to you, as infectious and mysterious and unstoppable and possibly magical as the disease that powers its plot.”

LitHub


A  young woman called Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital. A boy named David sits beside her. He is not her son. She is not her mother. Just what is their relationship? Together, they tell the most haunting tale of broken souls, toxins, motherhood, sunshine, looming environmental and spiritual catastrophes, anxieties, and the ties that bind parent to child–the ‘safety distance,’ the metaphorical rope a mother uses to gauge safety of her children in the world.

close up photo of painting
Photo by Anni Roenkae on Pexels.com

Just what is FEVER DREAM (Riverhead, May 2018)? An actual dream? A novel? A horror tale? A hallucination? It is a ghost story? A prayer? A love letter? A cautionary tale? I don’t know. And I don’t care. It’s amazing. Here, Samanta Schweblin creates a dreamy aura of strange psychological menace and otherworldly light in this absorbing, taut, tension-filled, highly unsettling and ambivalent novel. I promise you, FEVER DREAM is like nothing you’ve read before, and you better read it now.

BOOK CONCIERGE:

If you want more like this, try THE NEED by Helen Phillips, NAAMAH by Sarah Blake, THE BOBCAT by Katherine Forbes Riley, IN THE HOUSE IN THE DARK OF THE WOODS by Laird Hunt, and NIGHT THEATER by Vikram Paralkar.

IMG_6857

Artistic photo of book designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram @leslielindsay1 for more like this and other bookish things.

For more information, to connect with Samanta Schweblin via social media, or to purchase a copy of FEVER DREAM, please visit: 

ORDER LINKS: 

2128471ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Samanta Schweblin was chosen as one of the 22 best writers in Spanish under the age of 35 by Granta. She is the author of three story collections that have won numerous awards, including the prestigious Juan Rulfo Story Prize, and been translated into 20 languages. Fever Dream is her first novel and is longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize. Originally from Buenos Aires, she lives in Berlin.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites: 

I hope you do!

image1 (5)Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. Her cover art will be featured on Up the Staircase Quarterly in May 2020 and the 2nd edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA will be available this spring. Leslie has been awarded one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

SECOND EDITION OF SPEAKING OF APRAXIA COMING SOON FROM WOODBINE HOUSE

LOVE IT? SHARE IT!

#fiction #literaryfiction #speculativefiction #magicalrealism #children #mothers 

IMG_6857

ALSO by Samanta Schweblin:

[Cover and author image retrieved from author’s website on 2.13.20. Author photo cred: Alejandra Lopez. Artistic photo of book designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram @leslielindsay1 for more like this and other bookish things]

Sharp, stunning, and surreal story of an isolated physician on the outskirts of town in which he must bring life back to the dead; morals and medicine and miracles in Vikram Paralkar’s NIGHT THEATER

By Leslie Lindsay 

A surgeon in a remote clinic must bring the dead back to life by dawn in this fantastic, wholly unique read filled with existential angst, magical realism.

NIGHT THEATER high-res

~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~

Set in rural India, NIGHT THEATER (Jan 14, 2020 Catapult) is such an exquisite read unlike anything I’ve read before. Vikram Paralkar was born and raised in Mumbai and now resides in Pennsylvania as a physician-scientist and his expertise absolutely shines.

A bitter surgeon flees from his former job as a coroner/pathologist to a small village clinic where the conditions are poor–he’s constantly cleaning and sterilizing, squashing roaches, and buying supplies out of pocket. He has a little help–a woman he calls a ‘pharmacist,’ but her credentials are questionable and she serves many roles: nurse, confidant, clinic manager, assistant.

One night, a teacher, his pregnant wife, and their 8-year old son appear at the clinic as the surgeon is finalizing some paperwork. They were killed in a violent robbery, but tell the surgeon they have been offered another chance, ‘sent back’ from the afterlife at the hands of the ‘afterlife official.’ He has til dawn, less than 24 hours, to mend their wounds, to bring blood back to their bodies, to allow breath to flow again.

He’s skeptical, asks questions. Doubts rise. Who are these people? What do they want? Are they ‘for real?’ Criminals? Demonic? Is he merely exhausted? Is this really happening? The surgeon works quickly. He knows what to do.

As a reader, we are asked to suspend beliefs, consider alternativeswhat do angels look like? What do they say? Can the dead feel pain? Emotions? Can they cry? Is the afterlife run by bureaucrats? Is the afterlife truly ‘better?’ And who is God, anyway?

THE NIGHT THEATER braids together and active story (can the surgeon mend this family within the time period), with a sort of existential questioning, ruminations on life and death. I was held captive in the glimmering but grotesque descriptions of the body, decay, the surgical procedures, and the magical essence of not fully knowing, palpating that luminal space between sleep and wakefulness, life and death. I was undone by this book. 

Please join me in welcoming the talented Vikram Paralkar to the author interview series: 

Leslie Lindsay: 

Wow. What a tale. I am so very intrigued with NIGHT THEATER and have so many questions, but first I think we as writers are always haunted into what we write. Something—or someone—is quite literally tugging us along, begging for a story to be told. Can you talk about what it was for you in this story? 

Vikram Paralkar:

I’m delighted that NIGHT THEATER resonated with you the way it did. There were several themes that I had been obsessing over before I wrote this novel, and I can broadly group them into four categories: First, the position of the doctor in society, and the contrast between the Hippocratic ideal of the wise, compassionate doctor and the reality of the flawed human who often inhabits that role. Second, the contrast between our fragile bodies and the scale of the universe, which makes our earth appear like a speck of dust in the amber of deep space and deep time. Third, narratives of God and the afterlife, and the way in which modern humanity, straddled with existential quandaries that have no easy resolution, has to grapple with the nonexistence of God. And fourth, the nature of corruption, and the way in which it corrodes human beings and societies, creating impossible choices for those who wish to pursue honest lives. These concerns had occupied me for years, and they led to the plot of NIGHT THEATER crystallizing in my mind: A cynical, disillusioned, but deeply moral surgeon, battling corruption in his work in a rural Indian clinic, would be faced one night with a task that would dwarf any challenge that had ever been placed before him in the course of his career: to return the dead to life.

body of water
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay: 

Your experience as a physician and scientist absolutely shine and inform your writing, but you do aren’t a trained writer, are you? What inspires you to keep the saw sharp? How do you balance two very demanding jobs? 

Vikram Paralkar:

My education has been entirely in science and medicine, and I’ve never taken any writing courses or workshops. But what better training could there be to become a writer than to read literature and be inspired by it? I started reading Dostoevsky, Borges, Saramago, Calvino, Naipaul, Nabokov, Elliot, Woolf when I was in my late teens. The texture of their prose and the sophistication of their ideas inspired me to write. As to the act of balancing demanding jobs – Medicine, Science, and Fiction are all important to me. I take them all seriously, and I feel driven by them.


“Night Theater hypnotized me, held me on the line between life and death, perfectly grotesque in its discussion of the body, perfectly heady in its depiction of the afterlife. Paralkar has created my favorite kind of story: morbid, magical, and enthralling.”

Leslie Lindsay:

I love that NIGHT THEATER is set in a rural village in India; I think it sheds a fresh light on a very familiar setting: a medical clinic, but adds a sort of unique slant to the story. Do you think the story would be different if it were set somewhere else?

Vikram Paralkar:

It was important for the plot of NIGHT THEATER that it be staged in an isolated setting – one that would simultaneously be open to the sky and its immensity, and yet claustrophobic and cut off from the world. As it happened, there was a particular personal experience to which I could turn for inspiration on that front. As a final-year medical student, I was assigned to a two-week rural health rotation in a small village clinic, where I was supposed to work under the supervision of a senior government doctor. The day I landed there, the senior doctor left on vacation, leaving me to my own devices. It was a terrifying feeling, to be left in that place, feeling grossly unqualified for an assignment that involved human lives. I still remember how it felt, standing at night in the entrance of that clinic, looking up at the pitch-black sky and beholding stars I had never before seen through the urban haze of Mumbai, wondering what I would do if a villager showed up at my doorstep with a medical emergency. I wanted to smuggle that feeling into the mental state of the surgeon in NIGHT THEATER, and turn the clinic of the novel into his claustrophobic universe. He would only have access to the things that the clinic could provide to him, and the outside world would provide nothing – no resources, no personnel, no moral guidance. I find it difficult to imagine that I could have executed this story in any place other than a rural clinic.

scenic view of night sky with stars
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay: 

I was so taken with the descriptions of the after-life and God and angels, the ‘officials,’ re-birth, all of it. Certainly, these are topics that have been discussed and regarded for years and years; no one really knows what happens after life. Can you talk a little about the bodies of literature your characters drew their beliefs from? And have you worked with patients with near-death experiences? 

Vikram Paralkar:

There are two primary living characters in NIGHT THEATER: the surgeon and his pharmacist. The surgeon is a highly-educated atheist who does not believe in God or the afterlife, while the pharmacist is a young village woman with a partial school education, and she accepts the mainstream Hindu cosmogony of karma and rebirth that has been part of her upbringing. The dead patients, who have returned from the afterlife, prove them both wrong, and reveal an afterlife that turns out to be entirely unexpected – a bureaucracy in which the dead must endlessly petition officials for the privilege of rebirth.Kafka was of course an inspiration for me in the formulation of this aspect of the tale. The characters in this novel wouldn’t have known about Kafka, but the idea of a complex, de-humanizing bureaucracy would have been familiar to them from their encounters with government corruption. My own reason for crafting such a realm was to subvert the idea of the afterlife itself. The afterlife is supposed to be a consolation for our anxieties regarding death – a place where final justice will be meted out and all wrongs righted. But are we entitled to these consoling narratives? And do ideas of the afterlife make our decisions here on earth any easier? These were the questions I wished to confront.

photo of clouds during dawn
Photo by Szabó Viktor on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay: 

Ultimately, I think NIGHT THEATER is a tale about morals—doing what’s right—but it’s also about miracles. Small ones, big ones. Can you expand on that a little? Or, correct me if I am wrong—maybe that wasn’t your intended theme. 

Vikram Paralkar:

Oh no, you’re absolutely right. The word ‘miracle’ is of course a loaded one, and is often abused in quite facile ways. It always strikes me as strange when a news report refers to the discovery of a lone survivor from a catastrophic train accident as a “miracle,” leading to the rather uncomfortable corollary that some celestial overseer decreed that all the other travelers were meant to perish. To me, the word ‘miracle’ speaks not to any particular phenomenon in the world, but to the change that it is capable of evoking in the mind of the perceiver. We are not creatures that just process facts and make decisions about food and shelter and safety. We infuse every aspect of our lives with emotional weight, with meaning, with significance. It is in this sense that I understand the word “miracle.” The functioning of a cell is miraculous, the breath of a child is miraculous. Music is miraculous, as is language. Some of us, because of the states of our minds or the events of our lives, are shut off from the ability to see these miracles. The surgeon in NIGHT THEATER, in the beginning of the novel, is trapped in such a state, where his despair and his cynicism prevents him from seeing any of the miracles of life. I will leave it to the reader to decide whether he is able to see them by the end.

Leslie Lindsay: 

I can’t wait to see what you do next—no pressure! Is there another story calling to you?

Vikram Paralkar:

I’m working on another novel, about an eyemaker who can see the past and future of his clients. Medicine, morality, time.

Leslie Lindsay: 

Vikram, this has been so insightful and fascinating. Thank you, thank you for taking the time. Is there anything I should have asked, but may have forgotten? 

Vikram Paralkar:

We could have talked endlessly about philosophy and ethics, about the paradoxes in our ideas of humans as both thinking creatures and creatures of flesh and blood, about the impossibility of final knowledge and our obligation to make moral decisions based on imperfect insight. About God, about belief, about skepticism, and about how the practice of medicine touches every one of these issues. But that would have taken us all night and day!

IMG_6846

Artistic image of book cover designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram for more like this and other bookish things, @leslielindsay1

For more information, to connect with Vikram Paralkar via social media, or to purchase a copy of NIGHT THEATER, please visit: 

ORDER LINKS: 

Vikram Paralkar author photo credit Kimberly KundaABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Vikram Paralkar was born and raised in Mumbai. Author of a previous book, The Afflictions, he is a physician-scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, where he treats patients with leukemia and researches the disease. He lives in Philadelphia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites: 

I hope you do!

image1 (5)Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. Her cover art will be featured on Up the Staircase Quarterly in May 2020 and the 2nd edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA will be available this spring. Leslie has been awarded one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

Second edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA coming soon from Woodbine House

LOVE IT? SHARE IT!

#literaryfiction #medicalfiction #magicalrealism #speculativefiction #alwayswithabook #morals #ethics #medicine #afterlife #isolation #miracles #India

IMG_6846

[Cover and image courtesy of Catapult Books and used with permission. Artistic image of book cover designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram for more like this and other bookish things, @leslielindsay1]

Debut literary thriller about a family man grappling with his sense of self, a downward spiral, plus true-crime inspiration, character development and so much more in A GOOD MAN

By Leslie Lindsay 

Debut thriller about a man grappling with his sense of self after his life spirals out of control. 

AGoodManR6-2-669x1024

~WEEKEND READING|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~

Ani Katz will have readers on edge the entire time they are immersed in her riveting debut, A GOOD MAN (Penguin Books Original, January 14 2020). Katz plays with the dysfunctional family dynamic, an unstable/unreliable male narrator, and the picture-perfect family. Thomas Martin is a devoted family man with a beautiful wife, a sweet daughter at a private school, a home on Long Island, a job as an ad man. He has an eccentric family of origin he’s running from–but sheltering–at the same time. In a sense, A GOOD MAN is a fairy tale, complete with flittering glimmers of dysfunction.

Thomas Martin is a devoted family man with an enviable life: a beautiful wife and daughter, a well-appointed home on Long Island, a job at a prestigious Manhattan advertising firm. He’s also a devoted brother and son, yet this family of origin is disturbingly sheltered.

What happens when Thomas’s life—and ego—are rocked to their core? Through a series of unfortunate events, one seemingly right after another, his entire world devolves. He becomes a bit unhinged. Things unravel. He’s telling his story, but can he be trusted? Tension and discomfort abound in A GOOD MAN. There’s a palpable sense of impending doom, and I wondered just how much was real, how much a figment of his imagination, a defense mechanism, a form of coping.

That said, some events may be perceived differently by different readers. Some triggers in terms of family dynamics, incest, abuseIs Thomas a monster? A hero? Something in between? Is he simply a good man?

Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented Ani Katz to the author interview series.

Leslie Lindsay:

Ani, wow. What a deliciously dark tale. I always think we’re sort of haunted into a story. What was the driving force for you in A GOOD MAN? Were you inspired by an event, a character? Something else?

Ani Katz:

Thank you! The very first spark for the idea for A GOOD MAN came from a similar tragedy that happened several decades ago in the extended family of a close friend of mine. Initially, I thought that I would use that story as part of a multigenerational family saga, but ultimately I couldn’t really justify that choice. I had become increasingly aware of this frustrating trend in contemporary literature, especially in true-crime inspired fiction, where something really shocking and gruesome happens, but the reader is kept at a safe distance, and isn’t forced to question their consumption of those kinds of stories. But I kept thinking about men who commit intimate violence against their loved ones, and why those stories were so compelling and disturbing to me. I decided that if I wanted to explore this kind of story I had get inside that voice, and that I would have to force my readers to come along for the ride.


“Ani Katz is a brilliant writer. I sat down to read A GOOD MAN and didn’t move until I’d finished it. This is a spellbinding work of psychologically potent art. I can’t wait to read what she does next. I loved this book.”

Caroline Kepnes, author of You


Leslie Lindsay:

You wrote A GOOD MAN solely from the male POV—Thomas’s. And you do it so well. Yet, you’re a woman. What kind of exercises—or research—did you do to understand Thomas—the male ego, his world, and other pieces of making his voice come to life?

Ani Katz:

Writing from a man’s point of view — and Thomas’s particular point of view — was not as difficult as I initially thought it would be, and it got easier as I got deeper into the writing process. I struggled most when I first started, when I felt I had to adopt a more obviously repulsive voice so that readers didn’t find Thomas too sympathetic. But as I kept going, I realized that approach didn’t make any sense. Thomas only works as a character if he’s familiar and understandable; the reader won’t stick with him otherwise.

My research was multifaceted: I read a lot of relevant books, including Emmanuel Carrère’s The Adversary (a true crime memoir about the case of Jean-Claude Romand, a man who for nearly two decades pretended to be a respected doctor before his lies came to light, leading him to murder his family in 1993), Joe McGinniss’ Fatal Vision (an account of the trials of Jeffrey MacDonald, an army physician found guilty of slaughtering his pregnant wife and two young daughters in 1970), and Errol Morris’ A Wilderness of Error, which is a critique of McGinniss’ book. I also read some great pieces of longform journalism about various cases of men who had committed acts of violence against their families, and spent a lot of time on men’s rights blogs and other websites that promote traditional masculinity in order to absorb their ways of speaking about women, marriage, and family.

In the end, embodying Thomas’s voice felt almost natural. Whenever I got stuck, I would return to the same guiding questions I always keep in mind when writing a character: Who do I know who’s like this, and what would they do or say in this situation? What fears, desires, insecurities, and anxieties do I myself share with this character? Since so many aspects of Thomas’s mindset are so pervasive in our culture, those qualities became easy to access on the page.

black and white fence crime forbidden
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

What did you find most challenging as you wrote? How did you reconcile those challenges?

Ani Katz:

The entire premise of this novel was fairly risky, and I knew it would be tough to pull off. Though in some ways I found it surprisingly easy to capture Thomas’s voice, it was still hard to thread the needle of the unreliable narrator, specifically how to show the slippage between Thomas’s perceptions of reality and the perceptions of others without making it too gimmicky. Though I’d purposely avoided it for the majority of my drafting process because I knew it would sap any faith I had in my own writing abilities, I went back to Lolita, which is such a master class in how to show those moments when the mask comes off to reveal the reality of abuse without ever rupturing the narrator’s control.

I also spent several weeks struggling with the ending of A GOOD MAN; I knew the entire novel would fail if I couldn’t nail the final act. I had to figure out how to handle it unflinchingly, looking directly and plainly at what happens without resorting to gratuitous or graphic violence. I passed a lot of nights lying awake in bed trying to figure it out from a craft perspective, just thinking it through. Then, even once I’d figured it out, I still wouldn’t be able to sleep because I was so troubled by what I’d just invented.

empty damaged room with mattress
Photo by Wendelin Jacober on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

Thomas works in advertising and lives on the picture-perfect north shore of Long Island. How might this story have been different if it was set, in say, Boise, Idaho? Would it be different? Was the setting intentional on your part?

Ani Katz:

The setting was very intentional for a few reasons. For one, it comes back to the adage of writing what you know: I grew up in Bay Shore, on the South Shore of Long Island, so it’s a place I’ve thought about a lot. I was also interested in how suburban Long Island represents such wildly different things to different people. It’s a place of both enormous wealth and serious poverty, sometimes side by side in the same town. It’s idealized as a place that’s outside the city but also close enough to commute, but it can also be very provincial and isolating. Many families settle there because the conventional white American view is that the suburbs are “safer” than the city, but Long Island has also been the site of brutal violence, like the Gilgo Beach murders of sex workers, as well as anti-immigrant hate crimes. If you’re white and affluent, it’s a place of privilege; even though we’re in deep blue New York State, many parts of Long Island can be very culturally and fiscally conservative, and vote Republican most of the time. This setting is an important layer of Thomas’s psyche. He craves the kind of picture-perfect life that Long Island seems to promise, but as one discovers, there’s rot under the facade.

person walking on gray sand
Photo by Bradley Hook on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

Can you tell us a little about why Thomas references operas so frequently in A GOOD MAN? Does it have something to do with comedy and tragedy? The hero’s journey? Another purpose?

Ani Katz:

Thomas uses his extensive knowledge of opera to gild and sugarcoat the telling of his story. Being a connoisseur is integral to his sense of self as a cultured, upwardly mobile person, and the specific works that he references are often convenient rhetorical crutches that help him explain away his behavior. Tannhauser, especially, is all about a man who gains absolution through the destruction of a selfless, pure woman. Opera also signals a link between Thomas and his abusive father, who was the other notable connoisseur in the family. Overall, I think that opera is a really fitting medium for this story; it’s so steeped in melodrama, with such life-and-death stakes.

corn fields under white clouds with blue sky during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

Thomas is obsessed with telling his story. What’s obsessing you these days? It doesn’t have to be literary.

Ani Katz:

Like many people, I’m generally obsessed with geo-politics, especially the Democratic primary. I’m also a third grade teacher, so on any given weekday the emotional and intellectual lives of a bunch of eight and nine year olds take up most of my headspace. I’ve found it very helpful to have a day job that’s connected to reading and writing but that doesn’t require me to sit at a desk all day writing what someone else wants me to write. Working with children to help them develop their own literary lives re-energizes me, and inspires me to do my own work in my (admittedly too infrequent) free time.

Leslie Lindsay:

Ani, this has been so insightful and intriguing. Thank you for taking the time. Is there anything else I should have asked, but may have forgotten?

Ani Katz:

I think this covers it. Thank you!

IMG_5960 (1)
 Artistic photo of book cover designed and photographed by me, L.Lindsay. Give me a follow for more like this, and other bookish news @leslielindsay1

For more information, to connect with Ani Katz via social media, or to purchase a copy of A GOOD MAN, please see:

Order LInks:

Ani Katz credit Sarah J. WinstonABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ani Katz is a writer, photographer, and teacher. She was born and raised on the South Shore of Long Island, New York, and holds an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago and a BA from Yale. She lives in Brooklyn.

 

 

 

 

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites:

I hope you do!

image1 (5)

Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. Her cover art will be featured on Up the Staircase Quarterly in May 2020 and the 2nd edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA will be available this spring. Leslie has been awarded one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

LOVE IT? SHARE IT!

#domesticthriller #debut #familyman #unreliablenarrator #violence #downwardspiral #truecrimeinspired #opera #alwayswithabook

IMG_5960 (1)

[Cover and author photo courtesy of PRH and used with permission. Artistic photo of book cover designed and photographed by me, L.Lindsay. Give me a follow for more like this, and other bookish news @leslielindsay1