Author Essay

Good for Book Clubs

What makes a writer tick? How do they form the stories that change a reader’s life? From what they love to read, to their writing process, to ideas for their next book – you’ll get exclusive behind-the-scenes peeks at the literary life.

Author Essay Good for Book Clubs

The Muse of Music

Bestselling author Taylor Stevens on the music she listens to while writing.

There have been times that music didn’t feature heavily in my creative process, but those have been rare and far between. For the most part, music has been both a muse and a signal to my brain that playtime is over. Flip that music switch and the psyche knows it’s time to go to work.

Unfortunately, music has also been a double-edged sword because, while it has been integral to getting the writing done, it can also be very distracting. When I first started writing, I learned quickly that almost anything I loved to listen to throughout the day was disastrous when putting words on the page. For example, with a few exceptions, songs with lyrics had to get cut from the playlists. Movie soundtracks and classical music—which both seem like plausible alternatives—got the ax, too.

Author Essay Good for Book Clubs

Why Bradstreet Gate?

Author Robin Kirman reveals the meaning of the title of her crime mystery novel.

A gate is a passage: it takes people from one place and lets them out, in an orderly fashion, in another; in some cases it also serves as a means of selection. The gates of heaven only open for the virtuous, the saved, and permit them into eternal paradise; the gates of our elite universities – and we can think of the whole college admission process as a metaphorical gate — select our nation’s most talented and hardworking youth for positions at the highest levels of society. So we like to think, at least, and the frenzy that accompanies that admission process suggests this is an idea we Americans take very seriously. If our faith in heaven’s gates has wavered, our faith in Harvard’s remains strong — maybe because we need to believe in some sort of system in a time when the path to prosperity feels especially uncertain.

Bradstreet Gate, the title of my debut novel, is also the actual name for the newest gate on Harvard Yard. Commemorated in ‘97, it was named after America’s first published female poet in honor of twenty-five years of women living on the old yard.

Author Essay Good for Book Clubs

When a Book Becomes a Calling

Forty years after the Fall of Saigon, and fifty years since our nation’s involvement in a conflict that became a long and bloody war in Vietnam, I began to reflect on the journey that has led me to tell the stories of those who serve.

“I ultimately located the parents of Jefferson Donald Davis in Tennessee and Daniel H. Petithory in Massachusetts,” writes bestselling author Eric Blehm. “They invited me to their homes. I spent a weekend sleeping in the bedroom where Dan had grown up, surrounded by the sad but proud memorabilia that honored his death in the line of duty, including the Silver Star and Purple Heart that had been presented posthumously. We sat at the kitchen table for hours. There were tears throughout days that began with coffee, shifted to beer, and ended with good whiskey.”

Author Essay Good for Book Clubs

Why I Love Bookstores (It’s Not What You Think)

Bookstores. One of my favorite places. Right up there with bars, restaurants, nightclubs, the gym, the doctor’s office, dry cleaners, and the DMV.

Can I tell you something? I love bookstores. I do. Not just because I’m a big reader—I loved Flowers in the Attic, Bonjour Tristesse, Anaïs Nin (all), Colette (again: all), Madame Bovary, Dangerous Liaisons . . . you get the idea. (Merci, France! You’ve taught me so much.) No, I love bookstores because they’re full of hot guys. You know what I’m talking about: the kind of guy who’s all scruffy and bespectacled and underfed, wearing corduroy pants and a dorky concert T-shirt, getting all excited over some Swedish poetry or six-hundred-page treatise on the nature of parks in urban landscapes? I love that guy.

Author Essay Good for Book Clubs

Erik Larson is Bringing History to Life on Twitter, and It’s Amazing

Starting today (or rather late last night) one of our favorite authors Erik Larson is recreating history . . . on Twitter!

We love it when authors bring their books to life in cool ways, and this is a fantastic example. Erik Larson – author of the New York Times bestseller Dead Wake will be live-tweeting the last voyage of the Lusitania through the ship’s final moments on May 7th. He’ll be using images and video to bring the story to life.

We can’t wait to watch the story unfold. We’ve captured a feed here on RIF which organizes the tweets in chronological order for easy perusing.

Author Essay Good for Book Clubs

Thriller Author Samantha Hayes On Feeling “Different”

Divorce was almost a thing to be whispered about: her parents are divorced, as if it would explain any oddities I had.

“During the week, I lived with my mum,” remembers Samantha Hayes, author of What You Left Behind.

“She was an artist, of the archetypal starving and bohemian kind, but had left art college to marry my dad and have kids. After the divorce, she went back to painting, but making a living was really tough. The family home had been sold, and the little cottage my mum bought was very basic and tumble-down, although she had grand plans to renovate it when she made some money. But despite her best efforts, the money never came. For the rest of my childhood we lived with a leaky roof, concrete floors, no heating, and we sometimes struggled to afford food.”

Author Essay Good for Book Clubs

Bethany Chase on ‘Books I Ritually Re-Read’

I like to be happy, and I will shamelessly defend my fondness for books that tend to make me that way.

“Like most bookworms,” says Bethany Chase, author of The One That Got Away, “I have an important list of criteria for the books I ritually reread.”

“The book must be funny, romantic, with characters I miss when I’m away from them. It definitely can’t be depressing, offer any dreary meditations on human nature. I have a lot of re-reads I dearly love, but here are my tippity-toppity five.”

Author Essay Good for Book Clubs

Exclusive Sneak Peek of Signature Kill by David Levien

Flesh. The lone word came to Officer Hawkins’s mind.

“He thumped the cruiser into park and stepped out, one hand wrapped around his six-battery Maglite, the other resting on the butt of his Glock .40 duty weapon,” begins David Levien’s new serial-killer thriller Signature Kill.

“He walked closer, his feet making a slight crunching sound on the grass, crisp with frost. He passed his light over the pile, and what he saw made his mouth go dry. There was a racing in his chest and a sickening drop in his stomach. Sweat popped along his back and crotch as adrenaline hit him hard.

It was a woman’s body, or parts of her body, naked in the night.”
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