Author Essay Good for Book Clubs

A Novelist Admits Some of His Key Influences Come from TV

P.D. Viner reveals his TV influences and the many working titles he considered for his debut novel, eventually (evocatively) titled The Last Winter of Dani Lancing.

“I was given a writing exercise by my great friend Catherine Smith,” recalls P.D. Viner. “Her challenge was to update a Grimm’s fairytale to the present day. So I read a number of the dark tales and I was struck by an idea. In one story, a person was murdered, and three drops of their blood fell onto the floor – these drops of blood shouted out that they had been killed; they bore witness to their fate.

That seemed to me to be just what modern-day DNA testing does for us: it leads you straight to the killer. In fact, the working title of my novel was: Three Drops of Blood.”

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

The Book You Love that No One Else Has Heard of

I’m honestly not sure why the book Moscow to the End of the Line warrants blank stares when I mention it’s one of my favorite reads.

It’s like taking a Russian Hunter S. Thompson, mixing him with Jonathan Franzen, and tossing in a pinch of Chekhov and Kafka just for good measure.

Dreamlike, drunken, hilarious, moving, my adjective list could go on and on. It’s not necessarily written in a mainstream style, but everyone I’ve forced this book upon has come back to me loving it. And since I gave it to both a diehard Harry Potter fan and an exclusive romance reader – and it earned praise from both – I have to take that as a sign that this book really is something rare.

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Winners Announced:
The People in the Trees

Congrats to Jason M., Nikki K., Elaina M., Mackenzie K., Brandon F., and 20 other members of the Read It Forward community!

Their entries were selected at random to win an Advance Reader’s Copy of Hanya Yanagihara’s debut novel The People in the Trees.

Make sure you’re subscribed at the top of this page. You’ll get an exclusive email from us every week with info on how to enter our members-only Read It First giveaways.

Meanwhile, why not click around and get your first look at the next great book!

Author Essay Good for Book Clubs

“Things I Wish I Would Have Said”: Shani Boianjiu on Tour

“There are things I wish I would have said to people in other countries,” admits Shani Boianjiu when reflecting on her recent book tour.

“In Budapest . . . I left a booth at a book festival after signing some books . . . . My publisher told me that [one] woman said to him in Hungarian that she does not have a lot of money, but every few months, she saves up for one book she really wants to buy and that she had read about my book and decided that this was the book she wanted to buy this time. There is so much I wish I could have told that woman about what hearing such a thing meant to me.”

Author Essay Good for Book Clubs

Jenni Fagan on “the Girl with a Shark’s Heart”: NPR Interview

“I was interested in developing in a character . . . who’s uncomfortable to be around sometimes but that you’re very compelled by.”

In her NPR interview, novelist Jenni Fagan admits that her heroine Anais is “the girl with a shark’s heart.”

“She’s a contradiction of things. And that’s what I was interested in developing in a character, you know, somebody who doesn’t just fit neatly into boxes, somebody who’s uncomfortable to be around sometimes but that you’re very compelled by. And I’m always fascinated by writers who manage to do that with protagonists, and I think it’s very interesting.”

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Sometimes a Lady Is in the Mood for a Fairytale

I wanted new romance, with fresh obstacles to overcome! I wanted the happily ever after, and I wanted it now.

“Disney cartoons didn’t cut it anymore,” remembers Emily Ansara Baines. “Belle danced with Beast. Ariel sang to Eric. Jasmine and Aladdin took their magic carpet ride. A kid could re-watch those movies on VHS only so many times.

That’s when my mother introduced me to Mary Stewart. The few people familiar with the works of British novelist Mary Stewart know her by her popular Merlin trilogy. (The Crystal Cave is still on many middle school reading lists.) But those were not the novels my mother showed me after knocking on my door late one night.”

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Giving It Away or Keeping It on the Shelves

There are two basic options for what to do with a book once it’s finished: place it back on the bookshelf or pass it on to someone else.

“‘Kill your darlings,’” a phrase made famous by Faulkner and the college literary classes that followed, is meant as a nod to the emotional process of editing,” observes Rachel Goldberg. “But those of us who have given away a novel that so deeply touched us know it can apply to a book collection as well.”

What about you? Do you pass on your books or keep them on the shelves? How do you decide?

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Winners Announced: Save Yourself

Congrats to Carol S., Barbara A., Alicia B., Adele J., Kelly C., and 195 other members of the Read It Forward community!

Their entries were selected at random to win an Advance Reader’s Copy of Kelly Braffet’s debut thriller Save Yourself.

Make sure you’re subscribed at the top of this page. You’ll get an exclusive email from us every week with info on how to enter our members-only Read It First giveaways.

Meanwhile, why not click around and get your first look at the next great book!