Thursday, September 30, 2010

Q & A with Reed Farrel Coleman

Hello All!

I am thrilled to share with all of you a question-&-answer session I had with author Reed Farrel Coleman. I have had several opportunities to meet and talk with Reed at various conventions over the years, and look forward to seeing him at Poisoned Pen on October 20 to get my new copy of his latest book, Innocent Monster.

Without further ado:

"I read about 2-3 years worth of your columns in Crimespree, one of your short stories, two of your Moe Prager books, one book you wrote under the pen name of Tony Spinosa, and I own the book that you edited, Hard-boiled Brooklyn. Of all the hats mentioned above, which do you, or did you, enjoy the most?

The one you didn’t mention: poet. I started writing it when I was 12 and published it on and off for years. I have taken it back up again and am now a co-editor of The Lineup, a journal featuring poems on crime.

Why did you write several books under the name Tony Spinosa?

It’s a long boring contractual thing, but I figured since I had to do it I might as well have some fun with it. I don’t think you’ll be seeing any new novels from Tony, but an occasional short story might pop up.

How did the concept of co-authoring a book with Ken Bruen (Tower) come about? How did you like this particular process of writing?

Tower was Ken’s idea and he invited me along for the ride…and what a ride it was. The process on the book was the most difficult thing I ever went through as an author and it was the best. It made me stretch like crazy and question my talents and skills and my sanity. I am much the better writer for it.

What’s your favorite piece of writing that you’ve had published? (I know, it’s like naming a favorite child - feel free to name 2 or 3 favorites).

In sixth grade I wrote a story called “Hector the Garbage Collector” that I thought was the coolest thing ever. My poem “Commentary, Sorry” I’ve always been particularly fond of. As to novels … Let’s go with Innocent Monster.

I understand that you are a teacher at Hofstra University. How did this come about, and what do you like about it?
About five years ago they asked me to be the dinner speaker at the banquet commemorating the end of their summer workshop program. They liked my speech so much, they asked if I might like to teach a class the following year. I’ve been teaching a summer class there ever since. I like teaching and I think I’m good at it, but I’d rather be writing.

Questions I borrowed from the online newsletter Shelf Awareness: a) what was your favorite book as a child? and b) what book are you an evangelist for?

a. Honestly, as a child I didn’t have a favorite book. As a young teen I loved 1984.

b. That’s easy: Adult- Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell, YA: King Dork by Frank Portman

What are you reading right now?
Gone ‘Til November by Wallace Stroby

I got the impression from one of your columns that you don’t like blogging - if true, why?
I understand why people do it. I’m glad people do it. Thank you for inviting me to your blog, by the way - I very much appreciate the generosity. I just don’t get why writers do it. The energy they use for blogging takes away from the energy they would use for their real work. Besides, I have no great urge to share details of my everyday life. What I want to express, I express in my work. What I want to say, I say to the people I want to say it to.

What do you think of the other aspects of social media that are now common marketing tools - namely Facebook and Twitter?

If I had my druthers, I might do Facebook, but not Twitter. It just cuts against who I am. But the reality of the world and the marketplace are such that I do both. It’s funny that you call it social media, but both you and I use the word market. Again, I don’t judge people who do it gladly for doing it. I just wish I could focus my energies on my work. I think this makes for a fascinating discussion which I will probably take up from time to time in my Crimespree column. Thanks for being a faithful reader of the column. It’s fun to write.

Tell us about your series with Moe Prager, and the latest in that series, the new book Innocent Monster.

Innocent Monster is the sixth installment in the Moe Prager series. It deals with Moe, now in his early 60s, taking on the case of a kidnapped 11-year-old art prodigy named Sashi Bluntstone. It’s three weeks after she’s gone missing, but Moe is desperate to solve the case and thereby repair his ruined relationship with his daughter Sarah. Moe expects only tragedy, but is dogged in his pursuit through the underbelly of the New York art scene. As always, Moe finds much more than he set out looking for.

The series is a different take on the usual PI protagonist. Moe is for the most part a happily married family man with a stable business and a normal social life. He’s an ex-cop who never made detective and it is the urge to prove himself that drives him at first. But he inevitably falls into the abyss of dark secrets and cover-ups, some of which he is complicit in prolonging. As William Faulkner once said, “The past is never dead. It isn’t even past.” And each Moe book proves his point.

* * *

Reed Farrel Coleman has published eleven novels—two under his pen name Tony Spinosa—in three series, and the stand-alone Tower co-written with award-winning Irish author Ken Bruen. He’s won the Shamus Award for Best Novel of the Year three times, won the Barry and Anthony, and twice been nominated for the Edgar. He is a co-editor of The Lineup and was the editor of the anthology Hard Boiled Brooklyn. You can reach Reed on his website, Facebook, or Twitter."

Thank you so much to Reed for his time and answers and to Sara J. Henry for putting this together! This was an honor and a thrill for me and my blog.

Happy Reading!


The photo on the left is from Reed's website, and the one the right was taken with my camera of Reed and me at Bouchercon 2009.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis

Hello All,

I received Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis at a very appropriate time in my life. The main character Melanie Hoffman has just gotten divorced, and so have I--different circumstances, but both Melanie and I have gone through big and interesting changes as a result.

Melanie has achieved what so many women work at and obsess over--she lost over 100 pounds and has gotten herself to a healthy weight. She has also changed jobs, from being a lawyer to owning a small gourmet take-out cafe called Dining by Design. The food she offers is healthy, calorie conscious and good. The good marriage Melanie thought she had is not, and she is blind-sided by the fact that her husband leaves her for an overweight woman.

Good Enough to Eat starts each chapter with descriptions of comfort foods, or remembered foods from Melanie's childhood, and then moves on to what is triggering the want of comfort. Melanie learns so much in this book, with the occasional two steps back that happens to everyone going through a life change like a divorce. She strengthens her current friendships, opens her own door and cafe to a young woman in her own transition, and develops new relationships, including a new man in her life.

I thought this book was on track as far as someone going through a divorce, and also learning to accept herself and her imperfections as she grows into her new life. I liked the ending too.

Highly recommended, and I'm glad that Melissa Broder (Penguin Group) and serendipty sent this book to me at this time. For those who want to know, yes, recipes are included.

Happy Reading,

Disclaimer: The only compensation this reviewer received was a copy of this book for review