Author Essays

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.

Meet the Author Good for Book Clubs

Interview with Peter Buwalda, Author of Bonita Avenue

Dutch writer Peter Buwalda is keenly attuned to the ironies of being a successful novelist. “A successful writer is living a paradox,” Buwalda says from to his home in Amsterdam, where he moved after his gripping literary debut, Bonita Avenue, became a bestseller in Holland in 2010.

“Being successful and writing sort of exclude each other. Before I was a real recluse, and now I am an outgoing person. I have to be,” Buwalda says.

Until he was 34, he worked as an editor and journalist and was “a very fanatical reader.” Then he decided to write fiction and “changed like Gregor Samsa in the story by Kafka into a novelist. For me it was late, so I had to try to write a thick, serious novel at once, without hesitating, diving into the deep.”

Author Essays Good for Book Clubs

Huan Hsu on Being Half-American, Half-Chinese

There are a lot of books on China being published these days, and many of those books are being written by people who aren’t Chinese.

“There’s nothing wrong with this, of course,” says Huan Hsu, author of The Porcelain Thief. “Some of the writers behind the books I most admire aren’t Chinese.

And Hessler and Gifford and Pomfret wrote fantastic books on China; they likely speak better Mandarin and feel more comfortable in China than I do. But they’re not Chinese. And while books about the Chinese-American experience in America are plentiful, the Shanghai bookstore I visited seemed to indicate that the story of Chinese-Americans in China remains unstudied.”

Author Essays Good for Book Clubs

Should You Judge a Book by Its Cover?

Simon Kurt Unsworth, author of The Devil’s Detective, speaks at the Lancashire Writing Hub and answers a question from the audience. His answer may surprise you!

“I think you damn well should judge books by their covers,” says Simon Kurt Unsworth.

“I’ll tell you why in this short ramble. I think the first thing I need to do is to differentiate something. When we say ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover,’ we often mean don’t judge people by how we see them, the first things that we see about them. I don’t suppose there’s anyone in this room who would disagree that we should not judge people by things like the color of their skin, whether they’re male or female, their age, how they kind of look to us. But I don’t really think that’s what this phrase actually means.”

Author Essays Good for Book Clubs

5 Literary Guests I’d Want at My Dinner Party

I imagine my fantasy dinner as more of a potluck pajama party: lounging on pillows in front of the fireplace, plentiful cups of hot tea rivaling the ample wine, and a smorgasbord of nibbles at our socked feet.

In that setting, I’d love to have these five literary powerhouses together for an open, honest conversation about being childless women in a world where motherhood is the ubiquitous expectation.

I greatly admire each of my dinner party guests for their literary accomplishments and moreover, their exemplary legacy as women pioneers. The idea of having these five together (if even in fantasy) makes me giddy—for the pearls of wisdom being passed from hand to hand. You can bet I’d bring my biggest purse to the feast, gathering gems to take home until the seams split.

Author Essays Good for Book Clubs

Kazuo Ishiguro on His (Movie and Music ) Influences

Do you know about any of your favorite authors’ influences? Let’s trade some fun author trivia in the comments!

We love learning about an author’s influences. What films do they watch? What music do these listen to? Here, Kazuro Ishiguro talks about the influences that impacted his writing of The Remains of the Day* (which he wrote in four weeks, amazingly).

Here’s a quick tease of his new novel, The Buried Giant: It begins as a couple set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen in years. Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in nearly a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge, and war.

Author Essays Good for Book Clubs

Follow Erik Larson and Join the Adventure

Following Erik Larson’s adventures on Twitter gives us something to do while we wait for Dead Wake to hit the shelves on March 10, 2015.

We know not everyone is on Twitter, but you don’t have to be on Twitter in order to check out Erik Larson’s adventures. Right now, he’s on the Queen Mary 2!

Erik Larson is one of our favorite authors on Twitter. He posts funny, personal, thought-provoking observations, often about his books but just as often about his life.

It’s the best of what social media can be: a glimpse into the mind of an extraordinarily talented person.

Author Essays Good for Book Clubs

Start Reading If I Fall, If I Die

The boy stepped Outside, and he did not die.

“He was not riddled with arrows, his hair did not spring into flame, and his breath did not crush his lungs like spent grocery bags. His eyeballs did not sizzle in their sockets, and his heart’s pistons did not seize. No barbarian lopped his head into a blood-soggy wicker basket, and no glinting ninja stars were zinged into his throat.

Actually, incredibly: nothing happened—no immolation, no blood-bath, no spontaneous asphyxiation, no tide of shivery terror crashing upon the shore of his heart—not even a trace of his mother’s Black Lagoon in his breath.”

Author Essays Good for Book Clubs

Start Reading The Room by Jonas Karlsson

Critics say The Room is Franz Kafka meets Melville’s ‘Bartelby, the Scrivener’ with a dash of the film Brazil thrown in.

Bjorn is a compulsive, meticulous bureaucrat who discovers a secret room at the government office where he works–a secret room that no one else in his office will acknowledge. When Bjorn is in his room, what his co-workers see is him standing by the wall and staring off into space looking dazed, relaxed, and decidedly creepy.

Bjorn’s bizarre behavior eventually leads his co-workers to try and have him fired, but Bjorn will turn the tables on them with help from his secret room.