Author Stalker

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Patricia Lockwood’s Food Diary

Patricia Lockwood’s Grub Street food diary delighted me so much that I set a Google alert in order to never miss a thing that crazy bat writes. Read it now and DO read the comments. They hate her! They don’t understand. Food is supposed to be serious, apparently. 

If you were looking to incorporate your reading into your eating, this is a great idea:

8:30 p.m.: I make it a habit to eat whatever’s in the books I’m reading. This means chowder for Moby-Dick, mixed grill for The Corrections, mushrooms and sour cream for Speak, Memory, and a hamburger with french fries for Ramona Quimby, Age 8. It means that whenever I readRedwall I go out into the yard and eat flowers. (Be careful with this. There are daturas in my yard, and if I accidentally eat one of these I am told I will experience a “vision quest” in the manner of Ayla from the Clan of the Cave Bear books.) Right now I’m reading the new Murakami, which means I eat pasta while listening to classical music and thinking about cats and wondering what it would be like to live down in a well. I bet I would love it.

Filed under patricia lockwood grub street ramona quimby food

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The Author Stalker Interview with Carrie La Seur

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Carrie La Seur is the author of the new literary thriller The Home Place. This highly recommended, highly suspenseful read has something for everyone; there’s a mysterious murder, family drama, a love story, and at the center of it all, a fiercely smart, independent woman who’s forced to deal with her past. Carrie talked to me about her writing tips, how she juggles being a lawyer, pilot, and author…and of course, Channing Tatum. Read the interview and then pick up her book!

You’re an expert in many things: You’re an environmental lawyer, you have a doctorate in modern languages, you’re a licensed private pilot, and now you’re a published novelist. Do you identify with one profession over another? Describe your journey to becoming a writer.

I’ve always been a writer, since long before I had any other kind of title. I do all these things because they interest me, I’m a little ADD, and I have a lot of excess energy. But there will never be a time when I don’t write on a regular basis in some form. It’s a fundamental character trait.

I have always used the written word as my primary and best form of self-expression. I’ve written law review articles and shorter pieces on environmental questions for the nonprofit I founded, Plains Justice, and I’ve also published essays with online publications like Salon, Grist, and Huffington Post.

There was a point before I went to law school when I submitted a few stories to literary journals, and my vague recollection is that I had a few published, but I couldn’t even tell you where anymore. It’s not something I’ve had time for in many years. Of course there’s a whole library of stories, novels, etc. on my hard drive and in my drawers that should never see the light of day. 

You have a jam-packed schedule. How did you find the time to write this book?

It was late nights, weekends, and vacations mostly. I’ve had to develop the discipline to sit down and put words on paper whenever I have the chance, even if I change all of them later. I carry a little notebook to take down anything that comes to me while I’m on the road or in a meeting, and I’ve been surprised how often these notes make it into the final version of the novel. If you give your brain a task, your unconscious mind gets on it even when you’re doing something completely different.

There are certain parallels between your own life and that of your protagonist, Alma Terrebonne. You both attended Yale Law School and settled in Billings, Montana. It takes a while for Alma to adjust from the big city to Montana. Did you have a similar experience?

Montana is such a refuge for me. I travel fairly frequently and certainly don’t feel isolated here, but Alma’s homecoming is far more complex. It’s not a choice she made, it’s forces beyond her control acting on her. I don’t think anyone enjoys that experience.

I love reading thrillers, and I would classify The Home Place as a literary thriller — it’s definitely a page-turner, but the writing is incredibly beautiful and you delve into complex issues. Are you a fan of thrillers and did you set out to write one?

I do love thrillers, especially when they introduce me to complex people and take me down paths where I can’t see around the next corner. I set out to write the sort of thing I’d be excited to find on the shelf.

Your book gets into unique subject matter — the environmental issues of land mining, what it’s like to live as a gay person in Montana, the poverty and drug abuse rampant in isolated areas — will there be a sequel to The Home Place?

There’s an as-yet-unnamed book to follow The Home Place that has the earmarks of a sequel but I think functions pretty well as an autonomous story. It will incorporate many of the characters from the book, plus a cast of new ones. I write to tell myself stories I want to hear, so if a theme has come up in The Home Place, there’s a good chance it will wind its way into future work.

My favorite character in your novel is Chance, a hot cowboy and Alma’s high school sweetheart. Serious question: Who would you cast as Chance in the film version of The Home Place? (During my reading, I pictured Channing Tatum.)

It’s funny that you mention Channing Tatum, because in another conversation with a blogger we were just discussing him as the casting choice for Pete. I don’t imagine Chance as anybody too pretty. The book never describes him as handsome, but he matches Alma in some pretty important ways. He’s an intellectual in a place where intellectualism isn’t always valued, and he feels the same conflict between home and the outside world. That’s why the relationship is able to pick up so quickly. I picture him as someone more like a young Hugh Laurie — although I realize that’s probably not the most commercial idea!

Who are your favorite writers? Can you recommend a book you enjoyed recently?

I’ve been loving a lot of nonfiction recently, especially Farewell Fred Voodoo, Amy Wilentz’s fascinating memoir of working as a foreign correspondent in Haiti over the last decade or so. I also have a love/hate relationship with Tana French’s thrillers. They’re so good, but I find myself wanting to argue with her about some of her choices with her characters, which must be a sign that she’s engaged me completely.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Apply butt to chair. That’s all there is. And when you’re not writing, live a little. Get dirty. Fight for something. Figure out what you believe in. Your passion — or lack of it — will translate to the page. The world needs more passionate writers. 

You can find Carrie La Seur online at her website or on Twitter @claseur

Author photos by Dewey Vanderhoff. 

Filed under carrie la seur the home place women writers author interviews channing tatum tana french books writing advice

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Ann Patchett Loves Station Eleven

I will read anything by Ann Patchett. I’ll also read anything by Emily St. John Mandel. 

Well friends, the stars have aligned. Ann Patchett read Emily St. John Mandel’s new novel (thanks to a recommendation by Donna Tartt!), and she loved it so much that it’s going to be the September selection for her bookstore’s book club. 

I read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, a book that scared me half to death. Sitting on my front porch reading the last 75 pages, all I could think about was how much I wanted a cigarette, only to remember that I stopped smoking 20 years ago. Station Eleven is a post-apocalyptic novel, and as long as we’re talking about things I don’t read, we should add post-apocalyptic to the list. But Station Eleven is so compelling, so fearlessly imagined, that I wouldn’t have put it down for anything. 

Filed under emily st. john mandel station eleven Ann Patchett books

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What’s the one book you wish someone else would write?

I thought this would be my favorite Amy Bloom quote from her New York Times By the Book interview: 

Death, suffering, resolution and a nice, sharp sentence seem to go so well with sand and sun.

But then this happened:

What’s the one book you wish someone else would write?

I wish someone else would write a book that clearly and persuasively articulated why women’s reproductive rights are so important to this country, on both moral and legal grounds. When I say “clearly and persuasively,” I mean that, after reading this wonderful book, all opposition to women’s reproductive rights would evaporate, like morning mist. 

Amy Bloom illustration by Jillian Tamaki.

Filed under women writers by the book amy bloom women's rights

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italicsmine:

Emma Straub and I had a fantastic reading at McNally Jackson. It’s such a beautiful store and the crowd was warm and enthusiastic. Also, fashionable.

Also, someone needs to give me and Emma a talk show, stat!

OMG I’m in the picture on the left, looking so delighted and eager about everything Edan and Emma are saying. I could hardly contain myself. Last night was prime author stalking.