The writer of four fiction (including ‘The Grief of Others,’ newly out on paperback), and four nonfiction books, Cohen is also known for her frequent book reviews—and for growing up in a school for the deaf and entering NYU at the age of 16. She talks to Noah Charney about her work.
What’s your morning routine like?I love water, immersing myself in hot running water, so I tend to shower myself into the day, and then I walk the dog, and then come back home for the little scramble of everyone getting out the door, and then, if I am lucky, I begin to write. With an apple and coffee.Do you have any distinctive habits or affectations?Moving my lips and whispering under my breath while I work. I never knew I did this until it was pointed out to me.
The author of many mysteries—and now the young-adult thriller “Don’t Turn Around”—talks to Noah Charney about grabbing mobsters from the audience to dance the Macarena.
Where did you grow up?We moved around a bit when I was younger, but I grew up primarily in Rhode Island, in a beautiful seaside community called East Greenwich. It was a small town, and so safe that we rarely locked our doors at night. It was an idyllic place, where we did a lot of sailing and swimming. Even though I now split my time between San Francisco and L.A., New England is a big part of who I am, which is why I set a lot of my novels there.
Her dad is a famous horror writer. His daughter is a rising literary star with a debut novel. Emma and Peter Straub talk to Noah Charney about family ties.
Emma Straub is the author of the new Hollywood novel Laura Lamond’s Life in Pictures. Her book is quite a break from the work of her father, the literary horror novelist Peter Straub. Peter has been a bestseller for decades, and his Ghost Story is considered a masterpiece of the genre.Where did you both grow up? Emma: The isle of Manhattan. My mother likes to call me a little island girl. I can’t help it if I’m provincial. Peter: Milwaukee, Wis.
Arthur Phillips, the author of ‘The Tragedy of Arthur’ says he would like to take Shakespeare to a movie that claims the Bard was a fraud.
Where did you grow up? Minneapolis, MinnesotaWhere and what did you study? Medieval history at Harvard. Jazz saxophone at Berklee.Where do you live and why? Brooklyn. Close to friends and family, and publishing. And a dog park.Describe your morning routine. Wake obscenely early, empty the dogs, exercise, breakfast with kids, see off everyone to school, then go to write.What is a distinctive habit or affectation of yours? I am notorious for always having two beagles with me, in any and all circumstances.
Vanessa Diffenbaugh, author of the novel ‘The Language of Flowers’ and the founder of the Camellia Network, talks about her mission connecting youths with critical resources, and how she needs to have another baby in order to write.
At the age of 23, Vanessa Diffenbaugh took four children into her home, and she has been fostering kids in need ever since. Her debut novel, The Language of Flowers, chronicles the experience of a young woman growing up in foster care and the difficulties she experiences after leaving the system.What is Camellia Network?I founded Camellia Network with my dear friend Isis Dallis Keigwin. The mission of our organization is to create a national network that connects every youth aging out of foster care to the critical resources, opportunities, and support they need to thrive in adulthood.
Sam Tanenhaus, the editor of the New York Times Book Review, talks to Noah Charney about what he looks for in great criticism.
Where do you live? In Tarrytown, New York. My wife found employment in Westchester when I was jobless and writing a book, so we moved up from Manhattan and stayed. It’s now been 22 years.Describe your typical day at the review. It’s a sequence of routines, though they vary depending on the day. Today, for instance, three colleagues and I discussed galleys of eight to 10 books, and settled on potential reviewers for each. Next we’ll review letters and see which we might publish.
Elena Gorokhova’s memoir about the Soviet Union has been called the ‘Angela’s Ashes’ of Russia. She talks to Noah Charney about studying with Frank McCourt.
Memoirist Elena Gorokhova’s debut work, A Mountain of Crumbs, about life in the former Soviet Union and emigrating to the United States, has been praised by many people, one of them being former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins, who said, “Elena Gorokhova has written the Russian equivalent of Angela’s Ashes.” Indeed, Gorokhova wrote A Mountain of Crumbs after taking Frank McCourt’s memoir-writing workshop.Where did you grow up?I grew up in Leningrad, the second in size and the most beautiful Russian city, in the 1960s and 1970s.
The author of ‘A Sense of Direction’ reveals how he came to write a travelogue that is ‘all digressions.’ He talks to Noah Charney.
In 1947 Sal Paradise/Jack Kerouac and Dean Moriarty/Neal Cassady went on the road, and their intense quests for meaning embodied the Beats. In 2008 Tom Bissell and Gideon Lewis-Kraus went on a trip around Europe, and their friendship illuminates a skeptical-slacker era exemplified by hipsters in Brooklyn. Their pilgrimage, on foot, forms part of Lewis-Kraus’s travel memoir, A Sense of Direction, with a lone journey to Japan and a trip to Ukraine with Lewis-Kraus’s father and brother rounding out the three acts.
With no windows! The popular mystery writer and Dan Brown predecessor tells Noah Charney he writes in a room without a view in order to concentrate—and it works. The Lost Angel is out in paperback.
Javier Sierra’s The Secret Supper, was a smash hit just before The Da Vinci Code raised further interest in Leonardo’s The Last Supper. Sierra is one of Spain’s best-selling authors. He’s also an art historian who writes non-fiction and presents television programs on historical mysteries.Where did you grow up?In Teruel, a cold and small city in Northeastern Spain. During Middle Ages, it was a meeting point for Muslims, Jews and Christians, and their fingerprints are still visible there.
The thriller writer tells Noah Charney about ‘the most horrible thing you’ve ever read.’
With the addition of a new book, The Columbus Affair, Steve Berry now has over 14 million thrillers in print, available in 51 countries. There are seven novels alone in a series featuring his hero, Cotton Malone. But before success was possible, he had five separate novels rejected a total of 85 times before his first book sold, a process that took him 12 years: six years to find an agent, and then six years before his first novel came out. If anyone knows the value of hard work in writing, it is Berry.
The historian talks to Noah Charney about the cities that inspire him and why Nietzsche should be brought back to life.
Peter Watson is the author of many books of cultural and intellectual history, including The Medici Conspiracy, The Caravaggio Conspiracy, and The German Genius. His latest book is The Great Divide: History and Human Nature in the Old World and the New, in which he attempts a synthesis of climatology, geology, paleontology, and archaeology to explain that geography determines the ideology of humans. Of which of your books or projects are you most proud?Sotheby’s: The Inside Story, because it did spark some change in the art and antiquities world.
The queen of the fierce crime novel tells Noah Charney that she’s actually an introvert who stays home in her pajamas.
Karin Slaughter’s 13 books—including her new novel, Criminal—have sold millions of copies. But someone in Finland still had the audacity to ask her to be interviewed inside a sauna. Her books are blockbusters of the crime genre, yet Slaughter says she’s a severe introvert who would rather spend time in her beloved pajama shorts than go out to bars.Where do you live? It sounds pretentious to say I “divide” my time, but when I am home, that usually means my house in Atlanta or my cabin in the North Georgia Mountains.
Jennifer Finney Boylan started her writing career as James Boylan, and then became the first bestselling transgender author. She talks to her former student Noah Charney. Plus, more ‘How I Write’ interviews with Lev Grossman and Jodi Picoult.
James Finney Boylan was my creative-writing professor at Colby College just before undergoing an operation in 2002 (what she called “the switcheroo”) to become Jennifer Finney Boylan. She’s the author of the novels The Constellations (1994), The Planets (1991), and Getting In (1998), but she is perhaps best known for being the first transgender bestselling author after her memoir She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders came out in 2003.What’s your most recent book?2013 will see the publication of two books of mine: Stuck in the Middle With You: Parenting in Three Genders, as well as the 10th-anniversary edition of my memoir, She’s Not There.
The British military historian talks to Noah Charney about his most embarrassing moment—when he tried to buy a copy of his first book.
British author Antony Beevor is a master of military history, particularly at depicting the most crucial battles between Germany and the Soviet Union in World War II. His Stalingrad and The Fall of Berlin 1945 are filled with vivid details. In his new book, The Second World War, Beevor widens his focus and surveys the entire war. He talks about “preemptive pessimism,” an ideal day (it sounds pretty nice), and his most embarrassing moment—when he tried to buy a copy of his first book at Harrods.
The Time book critic and author of The Magician King tells Noah Charney that Hugh Jackman’s Real Steel made him cry, and why he never gets writer’s block. Plus, more ‘How I Write’ interviews with David Eagleman and Jodi Picoult.
Senior Time book critic and author Lev Grossman’s latest novel, The Magician King, is now out in paperback. He discusses his strange phobia, what makes him cry, and what he and Gore Vidal have in common.Where did you grow up?Lexington, Mass., otherwise known as “The Birthplace of Liberty,” because the first battle of the Revolutionary War was fought there. Though that’s not where the “shot heard ‘round the world” was fired—that happened in Concord, where we won.
Every week, we interview writers about their daily routine and where they keep their desks.
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