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Archive for the 'Q&A' Category

Powell’s Q&A: Richard Kadrey

Describe your latest book.
The Getaway God is the sixth book in the Sandman Slim series. In it, the very unholy nephilim, James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, has made a few enemies. None, though, are as fearsome as the vindictive Angra Om Ya — the insatiable, destructive old gods. But their imminent invasion is just one of Stark's problems, as L.A. descends into chaos and a new evil — a knife-wielding Christmastime serial killer the media dubs St. Nick — stalks the city.

No ordinary killer, St. Nick takes Stark deep into a conspiracy that stretches from Earth to Heaven and Hell. He's also the only person alive who may know how to keep the world from going extinct. He's also Stark's worst enemy — the only man in existence Stark would enjoy killing twice — and one with a direct line to the voracious ancient gods.

How did the last good book you read end up in your hands, and why did you read it?
The book was The Brothers Cabal by Jonathan L. Howard. One of the perks of being a writer is that people ...


Powell’s Q&A: Joanna Rakoff

Describe your latest book.
My Salinger Year is a memoir about my sojourn as the assistant to J. D. Salinger's agent, a job that involved answering his fan mail, typing letters on an ancient IBM Selectric, mastering an archaic device known as a Dictaphone, and generally coping — or trying to decipher — the odd, outmoded customs and practices of the agency. When I took the job, my boss warned me that I'd never see Salinger, that he would never call, and if by some crazy chance he did, I was to utter as few words as possible and immediately put him through to her. As it turned out, this was not the case! Salinger decided, during my first month at the agency, to publish a new book: a standalone edition of his last published story. And soon he began calling frequently, if not as often as his fans.

Over the course of my year at the agency, I got to know Salinger better than I ever thought I would, but also got to know those fans, whose letters affected me in a profound and unexpected way. ...


Powell’s Q&A: Geoff Dyer

Describe your latest book/project/work.
Another Great Day at Sea is an account of my experiences aboard the USS George H. W. Bush. It's a masterpiece of the form, widely hailed as the best book ever written about my time on the George H. W. Bush. Also, I have two early novels, The Colour of Memory and The Search, which are only now being published in the U.S., even though they're masterpieces, too.

Describe a recurring dream or nightmare.
Trudging and trudging with my legs getting heavier and heavier and not getting anywhere. I have this dream all the time. Fortunately I don't have nightmares.

Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
Lots, many of them D. H. Lawrence related (Taormina, Taos, Eastwood). But yeah, I'm always up for a bit of the old lit pilg.

What scares you the most as a writer?
My brain packing in. Even more than that, the suspicion that it already has.

What do your bookshelves look like? Are you a book hoarder? Do you embrace chaos, or are you a meticulous organizer?
I hoard books, but my beautifully organized ...


Powell’s Q&A: Rene Denfeld

Describe your latest book.
The Enchanted is a story narrated by a man on death row. The novel was inspired by my work as a death penalty investigator and some of the questions I face. Why do people do such terrible things to each other? What is the meaning of redemption? While the setting is grim, the novel is a celebration of our human ability to find joy, hope, and beauty even in the most despairing of circumstances.

What's the strangest or most interesting job you've ever had?
I would say my current job as a death penalty investigator is the most interesting job I've had. The strangest? In my early 20s I worked as a bartender in a famous Portland punk rock club. It was right down the street from Powell's, back before the area gentrified. Many Powell's employees would come down to drink after work. On slow nights we'd play backgammon and talk music, art, and books. On busy nights we'd duck the flying beer bottles.

Writers are better liars than other people: True or false? Why or why not?
A good writer is the best truth ...


Powell’s Q&A: Alice Hoffman

Describe your latest book.
My new book, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, is a magical historical mystery that takes place in 1911 New York City — it's a love song to New York, to the labor movement, to magic, and to love itself.

What fictional character would you like to date, and why?
Heathcliff. Wouldn't everyone?

What's the strangest or most interesting job you've ever had?
I was the secretary at a sex clinic. Very bad job for someone who can't spell.

Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
Ray Bradbury. Something Wicked This Way Comes. I still remember sitting in the basement turning the pages and thinking this is what a book should be.

Writers are better liars than other people: True or false? Why or why not?
Writers are better truth tellers because you can't write a good novel without the truth seeping through.

How do you relax?
Books, of course.

Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
With my son — to Chincoteague Island in Virginia — he was a fan of the Misty of Chincoteague series and a horse ...


Powell’s Q&A: Olivia Laing

Describe your latest book.
The Trip to Echo Spring is an investigation into the liquid links between writers and alcohol, examining the relationship between creativity and drinking through the work and lives of six extraordinary men: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, John Berryman, John Cheever, and Raymond Carver.

I grew up in an alcoholic family myself and was deeply suspicious of the heroic myth of the hard-drinking author. One spring, wanting to make sense of this ferocious, entangling disease, I took a journey across America, travelling from Cheever's New York to Williams's New Orleans, from Hemingway's Key West to Carver's Port Angeles. As I travelled across the country, I began to piece together a topographical map of alcoholism, from the horrors of addiction to the miraculous possibilities of recovery.

A combination of biography, travelogue, memoir, and literary criticism, The Trip to Echo Spring strips away the myth of the alcoholic writer to reveal the terrible price that creativity can exert.

My first book, To the River, is the story of the Ouse, the English river in which Virginia Woolf drowned ...


Powell’s Q&A: Joshilyn Jackson

Describe your latest book.
Someone Else's Love Story begins when a young woman who claims to have experienced a virgin birth and a geneticist who is a stone-cold atheist walk into a Circle K convenience store just as it is being robbed. Shandi and William would never meet, much less bond, under normal circumstances, but their lives entwine irrevocably when the crime goes south and they are taken hostage.

Shandi calls it destiny. William calls it coincidence, but a convenient one; he lost everything he cared about to "an act of physics" exactly one year ago. He's been looking for a bullet to walk into ever since. He has no idea he is winning Shandi's heart when he puts himself between the gun and her three-year-old boy, Natty. It's absolutely a love story, but it doesn't necessarily belong to Shandi and William.

At its heart, this is a book about miracles. The book is full of fake miracles — huge, splashy ones: the so-called virgin birth, more than one kind of resurrection.

Meanwhile, the real miracles are very tiny and very human. They are flawed. No one notices ...


Powell’s Q&A: Kevin Sampsell

Describe your latest book.
This Is Between Us is a novel about the many dimensions and moods that a love affair can take on. It's told in about 200 short scenes, each detailing the highs and lows of how the emotions and passions of this man and woman honestly shape their lives together, warts and all.

What's the strangest or most interesting job you've ever had?
Working here at Powell's is definitely the most interesting. When I introduce authors at events, I feel like an ambassador to literature, or sometimes when I recommend some of my favorite books (Home Land by Sam Lipsyte, Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower, Daddy's by Lindsay Hunter, A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews) to people, I feel like some kind of a life coach. When you think about it, it's an odd job being able to pick out what goes into someone's brain. Plus, since Powell's is such a famous destination, we get all sorts of celebrities shopping in here too, so almost every day holds some kind of surprise.

Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
In ...


Powell’s Q&A: Amy Tan

Describe your latest book.
After eight years, I finally have a new novel: The Valley of Amazement. The title comes from a painting I saw in a museum in Berlin, which depicted a landscape with an ambiguous tone. When I first saw it, I thought it depicted sunset after a storm. But then it appeared to be sunrise before a storm. Or was it sunrise after the storm? The shifting sense of it reminded me of the ambiguity of who we are in changing circumstances. I had only recently learned that my grandmother might have been a courtesan. If so, what circumstances led to that, and how might life in the flower world have changed her attitudes and how she saw herself? My stories have often centered on repeating questions that have to do with our sense of self. How much is ingrained by society — or mothers? If few choices are available, how does this affect our attitude and beliefs? In this novel, the questions play out in the intertwined lives of two women. One is an American, Lucia, who rebels and runs away from San ...


Powell’s Q&A: Wally Lamb

Describe your latest book.
We Are Water is a multi-voiced story about a family and a nation in transition. It's 2009. Barack Obama is in the first year of his presidency, the state of Connecticut has recently legalized gay marriage, and Orion and Annie Oh's 27-year marriage has ended because Annie, a successful outsider artist, has fallen in love with Viveca, her champion in the art world and her bride-to-be. As the wedding approaches, it elicits a variety of responses from ex-husband Orion, a university psychologist, and the Ohs' three grown children: earnest do-gooder Ariane, her born-again twin brother Andrew, and the twins' wild-card younger sister Marissa. Likewise, the impending ceremony pries open a Pandora's box of toxic secrets that have festered beneath the surface of the Ohs' lives. In this, my fifth novel, I explore the themes of class, race, evolving social mores, and the origins and purpose of art. As were my earlier novels, this story is an exploration of power and powerlessness and their effect on flawed but humane characters.

What is the strangest or most interesting job you've ever had?
One summer when I ...


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