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

 Authority

[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

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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

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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 www.uncpress.unc.edu 

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 erykpruitt.com

 

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.

Find out more at twodatesaweekworks.com

The Latest from Carolina Book Beat

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Little Colored Girls Like to Wear Pearls Too! by Janice Mack Guess (broadcast 3-24-2014) A native of Winston-Salem, NC, Janice moved to Durham with her family when she was ten years old. An alumnus of the legendary Hillside High School and NC Central University,  she is retired from GlaxoSmith Kline with thirty years in the pharmaceutical industry and currently works at NCCU as an administrator. After participating in a race relations forum sponsored by the Pauli Murray Project of the Duke Human Rights Center in the summer of 2010 Janice began telling her story of how she, along with her brother and sisters, were the first black children to desegregate Brogden Junior High School in Durham, NC. In response to the enthusiasm and encouragement she received from listeners she has put her memories of that chaotic and bewildering time into this  small but powerful book.

In the introduction Janice states, “I am pleased to offer these stories to you, a new generation of young people who face different but equally serious challenges. Perhaps your journey can be made smoother if you know and appreciate how hard my generation fought to break the chains of racism and prejudice.”

Find out more at www.janicemackguess.com

The Latest from Carolina Book Beat

The Ghost Train to New Orleans (The Shambling Guides, #2) Ghost Train to New Orleans by Mur Lafferty (broadcast 3-3-2014) Mur Lafferty is a writer, podcast producer, gamer, geek, and martial artist. Her books includeThe Shambling Guide to New York City, Ghost Train to New Orleans, Playing For Keeps, Marco and the Red Granny, and The Afterlife Series. She is the host of the award winning podcast I Should Be Writing, and the host of the Angry Robot Books Podcast. She is the winner of the 2013 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. In the newest of the  Shambling Guides  Zoë Norris (introduced in The Shambling Guide to New York City) who writes travel books for America’s community of supernatural entities, takes us on a ghostly ride to New Orleans. Zoë is human, but her boss is a vampire, her best friend is a death goddess, and at least one of her coworkers wants to eat her. A must for armchair travelers with a taste for the bizarre with a humorous twist. Find out more at murverse.com 

The Latest from Carolina Book Beat

Poet Carolyn Yorkdream within a dream

Dream Within a Dream by Carolyn Pleasants York (broadcast 2-17-2014) Carolyn talks about the NC Poetry Society that was begun in 1932 and now has several hundred members that meet for times a year at the Weymouth Center for Arts and Humanities in Southern Pines. Among other things the society offers are 15 poetry contests, an anthology “Pine Song”, a newsletter and a mentoring program.

From there the conversation turns to dreams, their promptings for poetry and Carolyn’s novel with poems, Dream Within a Dream.  Listen in to hear some good poetry.  Go to ncpoetrysociety.org to find out more.