Author Essays

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.

Suddenly, at 40 years old, I moved to Luxembourg for my wife’s job. For the first time in the quarter-century since graduation, I had zero friends.

I needed to make new friends. It had never occurred to me that this would be a problem, because this had never been my problem. But now I apparently needed to walk into a roomful of people I didn’t know, stride up to one—any one—and say, “Hi, I’m Chris.”

I smiled far more frequently and insincerely than I wanted to. I joined a tennis club. I went to French classes, cooking classes, wine tastings. I became a class parent and spent far more than the necessary amount of time at my kids’ school.

The anecdotes about my mother in my book are pitched from my perspective. What I wanted to do is give her the opportunity to offer her perspective.

“My mother and I sat down together in her house in Illinois in the days right after Christmas,” remembers Sara Barron.

“The whole thing should’ve gone off without a hitch, but it did not. And that is because in the half-hour prior to the scheduled interview, we got into an argument about what I perceive as my mother’s eating disorder versus what my mother perceives as her own healthy approach to eating.”

As a writer, I’m always thrilled when a character shows up in my head, demanding that I write a story about her.

“The point is that you breathe life into these characters who show up and agree to talk to you,” says Maddie Dawson, author of The Opposite of Maybe, “and then—just like with the real humans you raised—there comes a time when you have to listen to them.

We read to be intrigued, delighted, and to find out what happens next—and sometimes, it turns out, writers are just as surprised as readers by what our characters decide to do.”

The novel you’re about to read is truly extraordinary.

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year, New York Times Bestseller, and National Book Award Longlist Selection, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena was named one of the Best Books of 2013 by, Barnes & Noble,, New York Magazine, NPR, Chicago Tribune, Kansas City Star, GQ, Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Chronicle, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Review, and Library Journal.

Wow, right? Dive into the read and check out our bonus book material – to continue your reading journey and to start a lively book club discussion!

Inevitably I get a question like this: how is it that, as a male author you’ve been able to write, in a believable way, from a female point of view?

“I really believe we are more alike than different,” says Roland Merullo, author of Vatican Waltz.

“It’s absolutely true that women and men have certain fundamental differences. But I try to work the territory that is ‘below’ those differences. Deeper. Each in our own way, we all love and want to be loved. We all have relationships, and those relationships always include both happy and difficult moments. We all experience fear and hope and worry and disappointment and exhilaration, and that’s the place I like to work.”

Scott Sigler wrote his first monster story in the third grade and hasn’t stopped since. A creator of novels, short stories and screenplays, Scott’s work revolves around modern science’s dichotomy of simultaneously producing good and evil.

Check out our chat with bestselling author Scott Sigler and editor Matt Staggs. Both have been zombie fans since they were 10 years old.

They talked about why zombies are so popular and what’s next in the world of paranormal fiction. Check it out!