The Latest from Carolina Book Beat: James Maxey


James Maxey (broadcast 11-03-2014) — A “focus on speculative fiction” episode with co-hosts Samuel Montgomery-Blinn and Mur Lafferty, interviewing Hillsborough author James Maxey. Maxey is the author of superhero novels Nobody Gets the Girl and Burn Baby Burn, epic fantasy series Bitterwood and The Dragon Apocalypse, and a short fiction collection There Is No Wheel. In studio he talks about his new novel Bad Wizard, the story of Dorothy Gale ten years after she returns from Oz. Maxey will host a launch party for the novel on Wednesday, November 5th at the Orange County Library.

The Latest from Carolina Book Beat: Richard Dansky

Richard Dansky (broadcast 10-13-2014) — A “focus on speculative fiction” episode with host Samuel Montgomery-Blinn and new series co-host Mur Lafferty, interviewing guest Richard Dansky, Durham game writer and author, about his work with Ubisoft/Red Storm, his novels Vaporware and Firefly Rain, and forthcoming RPG book Wraith: The Oblivion 20th Anniversary Edition. 90 minutes.

The Latest from Carolina Book Beat: Tony Daniel

Islands Poster

Tony Daniel (broadcast 9-29-2014) — A “focus on speculative fiction” episode after the summer break, with host Samuel Montgomery-Blinn and guest Tony Daniel, author and editor, in studio to talk about Islands, his radioplay adaptation of a novella by Eric Flint, which was cast, recorded, and produced locally by Baen Books.

The Latest from Carolina Book Beat: Wilton Barnhardt and Jeff VanderMeer


[Note: due to a technical problem we do not have a podcast recording of this show. My sincere apologies to our guests and to our listeners.]

Wilton Barnhardt and Jeff VanderMeer (broadcast 7-7-2014) — A double-feature show with guest host Samuel Montgomery-Blinn and (for the second hour) co-host Paul Nagy.

The show kicked off with an hour with NC State professor Wilton Barnhardt, who has two readings early this week to kick off a nation-wide tour in support of the new paperback release of his NY Times bestselling Southern novel Lookaway, Lookaway, optioned earlier this year by HBO for a comedy series. He reads at Flyleaf Books at 7 pm on Monday night, and at McIntyre’s Books on Tuesday at 6:30 pm. Barnhardt talked about the unique, almost-experimental structure of the book — one point of view chapter each from 11 members of the Johnston and Jarvis families — and some of the research and reactions to the book. He also gave a short reading from the book, a discussion between Duke and Gaston. Later, he gave an amazing retelling of his start in writing, post-graduation from Michigan State, getting his foot in the door at Time-Life through the various temp agencies they employed, applying for secretarial jobs while also working on articles here and there, until finally landing a regular gig as the NASCAR reporter for Sports Illustrated. He also talked about his teaching history, from UC Irvine to Warren Wilson and his current position at NC State’s MFA program. Finally, I put him on the spot by asking for 5 of his most influential and/or favorite books: The Ambassadors by Henry James, Light in August by William Faulkner, Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather, Sentimental Edudcation by Gustave Flaubert (which he credits as being his “aha!” moment of connecting historical fiction with satirical farce), and John Dos Passos’ USA Trilogy.

After a short excerpt from the Macmillan Audio edition of Lookaway, Lookaway, and thanks to Paul’s help, I was able to welcome Jeff VanderMeer into the second hour of the show via phone. VanderMeer has 4 readings in the Carolinas in just over a week, starting and ending with Wednesday events (9th and 16th) at Hub City in Spartanburg, SC around readings on Thursday (July 10th) at Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books at 7:30 pm and Saturday (July 12th) at Asheville’s Malaprop’s. And! He will be my guest via phone this week on Carolina Book Beat at 11 AM. (Do check out his conversation with Frank Stasio on WUNC’s The State of Things which aired last week.) We talked about SharedWorlds, the summer teen writing camp at which he has taught for several years now, about his recent (and multiple award-winning) creative writing book Wonderbook, and of course his Southern Reach trilogy: Annihilation (published in February), Authority (published in May), and Acceptance (to be published in September). A key conversation point was on the distinction between an “unreliable” narrator and one who is purposefully careful with the details he or she reveals at which time. Speaking of narrators, we also talked about the audiobook editions for The Southern Reach, read by Carolyn McCormick and Bronson Pinchot for Blackstone Audio.

After the guest interviews, Paul and I talked about the nominees for the Manly Wade Wellman Award and went through the upcoming book events calendar with a particular focus both on new science fiction convention ConGregate (in Winston-Salem this weekend) and a multi-creator signing event at Chapel Hill Comics on Saturday evening to mark the sale of the store by long-time owner Andrew Neal.

The Latest from Carolina Book Beat: Monica Byrne


Monica Byrne (broadcast 6-2-2014) — A “focus on speculative fiction” episode with hosts Samuel Montgomery-Blinn and Paul Nagy, with Durham author and playwright Monica Byrne in studio to talk about her debut novel The Girl in the Road.

The Latest from Carolina Book Beat: Jay Posey

Jay Posey (broadcast 5-5-2014) — A “focus on speculative fiction” episode with hosts Samuel Montgomery-Blinn and Paul Nagy, with Durham game designer and author Jay Posey in studio to talk about the just-released Morningside Fall, the second book in hist post-apocalyptic Legends of the Duskwalker series after his debut novel Three last year.

The Latest from Carolina Book Beat: Gray Rinehart, Lex Wilson, and Jen McConnel

Islands Poster 

Gray Rinehart, Lex Wilson, and Jen McConnel (broadcast 4-28-2014) — A 2-hour “focus on speculative fiction” episode with two one-hour parts.

Part 1: Gray Rinehart and Lex Wilson: Gray Rinehart is an editor, author, and musician, performing live in the studio from his new album Truth and Lies and Make-Believe. We also talked about some of his short stories (such as “Therapeutic Mathematics and the Physics of Curveballs”) and some “deeclassified” stories from his work as “Slushmaster General” for Baen Books, where he is a contract editor reading unsolicited novel manuscript submissions. Lex Wilson is a writer and actor, award-winning in both comic book scripting (an Eagle Award for “The Time of Reflection”) and short fiction (a Writers of the Future winner for “Vestigial Girl”) with TV roles including “Revolution” and (along with Gray and guest host Samuel Montgomery-Blinn, who have bit parts) in Baen Books’ forthcoming radioplay adaptation (by Tony Daniel) of Eric Flint’s novella “Islands”.

Part 2: Jen McConnel is the author of the new adult novel The Secret of Isobel Key (out from Bloomsbury Spark) and most recently of Daughter of Chaos, a young adult novel just released from Month9Books. We talked about her novels and other books, ahead of her appearance at The Regulator Bookshop on Wednesday, April 30.

The Latest from Carolina Book Beat

It just makes me want to get out the canning jars...

Pickles and Preserves by Andrea Weigl (broadcast 4-14-14) Andrea, food writer for Raleigh News and Observer,  defines her year by her canning sessions, from Jerusalem Artichoke Relish in winter to spring Strawberry Preserves, summer pickled and brandies peaches and later fall Fig Preserves.

With complete, easy-to-follow instructions and troubleshooting tips, she highlights the regional flair that southern cooks bestow on this traditional art of survival. The fifty classic and inventive recipes from Dilly Beans to Refrigerator Honeysuckle Jam should tempt old pros at canning as well as newbies.  Also nice to know for those concerned with food safety the risk of botulism, which scares many people away from canning, is only a concern when preparing meats, poultry, seafood, and low-acid vegetables.  This book contains no such recipes.  I am definitely going to try the Strawberry Freezer Jam!

Find out more at 

The Latest from Carolina Book Beat

Dirtbags by Eryk Pruitt (broadcast 4-7-14) The blame for a county-wide murder spree lies at the feet of three people broken by a dying mill town: Calvin, a killer; London, a cook; and Rhonda, the woman who loves them both. Neither they, nor the reader, see the storm brewing until it’s too late in this Southern Gothic noir (or Southern neo-noir) that adds a transgressive, chicken-fried twist to a story ripped straight from the pages of a true crime novel or episode of Dateline NBC.

Eryk states, “If there’s one thing I want to do, it’s tell a good story. Horror, noir, suspense…film, stage, page. To me all that matters is the story. I’ll tell you one at the bar over a bourbon or in a packed movie house during a film festival. Life is short; in the end, all that remains are the stories.”

Find out more about this story of serial killers in training that is rapidly gathering devoted readers at


The Latest from Carolina Book Beat


Two Dates a Week, Rekindling the Spark by Marion O’Malley and Art Scherer (broadcast 3-31-14) Over the course of their 30-year marriage, Art Scherer and Marion O’Malley had talked with  therapists, both individually and as a couple, only to have mixed results. Then there was something else new when they became “empty nesters” and their youngest child went away to college. This professional couple experienced a new low in their relationship  to the point of considering divorce.

Instead they made a pact with each other to begin a “scavenger hut” for tools to rekindle the spark in their relationship. “We agreed to really try to not focus so much on our disagreements and differences,” says Marion, “but instead, to make a regular effort to see each other with new eyes, and to date each other again.” “We all know what good date behavior is,” explains Art. “If we weren’t on our best date behavior on our first dates, we’d never have a second date.” Their thought was that they had done it before and they could do it again.The resulting self-help process was codified into this small, fun, easy-reading and inspiring book as well as, they confess, saving their marriage.

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