Author Interviews

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From Texas Standard.

The streets in front of the State Capitol building will be blocked off this weekend to make room for white tents and long tables piled high with books. Think of that new book smell – that’s the smell of the upcoming Texas Book Festival.

Some of the most celebrated authors in the world will be descending on Austin. The whole event is free, from browsing books to attending author signings.

Lois Kim, the festival’s executive director, says over 300 authors are coming to the event – including Tom Hanks, the Bush sisters, Dan Rather, and celebrity chef Mark Bittman. She says they’re also expecting literary stars like Walter Isaacson and Jennifer Egan.

Courtesy of Amanda Eyre Ward

Austin author Amanda Eyre Ward has written novels about undocumented youth and immigration, AIDS and death row. A review of one of her novels described her as “a leading author of socially conscious fiction.” So, what might readers expect from her newest novel, The Nearness of You?  

Ward tells KUT’s Jennifer Stayton, she shattered her own image of what a novel “should” be about when writing this one.

Headshot courtesy of the author

How's this for a catchy book title: "If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?”  

Author and UT McCombs School of Business Professor Raj Raghunathan admits it’s a provocative title, and maybe a little tongue-in-cheek. But, he says the book is really trying to answer that question. Why are people who are smart—successful, high achievers—not as happy as you might expect? Listen below to an interview with Raghunathan about the links between happiness and intelligence.


Image via Flickr/Embajada de EEUU en la Argentina (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Sandra Cisneros is a daughter of Texas.

She isn’t really a Texan, per se, but her writing – mostly involving Latinos and Latino issues – has so resonated among Texas audiences that she was awarded the Texas Medal of the Arts. She was writer-in-residence at Our Lady of The Lake University in San Antonio once upon a time and received the Texas Institute of Letters Dobie Paisano Fellowship.

Cisneros is the author of “The House on Mango Street.” It’s a book so beloved that it’s required reading in middle schools, high schools and universities across the country. It’s sold over six million copies since its initial publication and it’s still selling strongly.

Tomorrow, Cisneros releases her memoir, “A House of My Own.”

 


Image via Flickr/Ellen Macdonald (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Allyson Holley/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

The game is tied. There’s five seconds left on the clock. A hush comes over the crowd and the defense seems to part as you make your way to the basket. You jump up and – your fantasy ends there.

Who are you kidding? Even in your wildest dreams you can’t dunk a basketball.

Or can you? That’s what Asher Price wanted to know. He writes about energy and the environment for the Austin American-Statesman, so he took a scientific approach to his quest to dunk a basketball. He stopped by the Texas Standard to talk about his book Year of the Dunk.

 

Aging. We all do it. Most of us try to avoid it, or at least stave off the effects of it. But two Austin authors hope women will learn to savor the wisdom and benefits that can come with growing older.

Ruth Pennebaker wrote and Marian Henley illustrated Pucker Up! The Subversive Woman's Guide to Aging with Wit, Wine, Drama, Humor, Perspective, and the Occasional Good Cry. Listen for their tips and tools for enjoying all that is good about the golden years.

Via Pixabay.

This story comes from Texas Standard.

There’s a popular kids book by Beverly Cleary titled Ramona Quimby, Age 8. It’s the sixth book in the Ramona series. In it, the struggling pre-adolescent protagonist proclaims that the best part of third grade is the time when you can “drop everything and read.”

Well that sentiment’s not just for precocious book characters or little kids, either.

This Sunday marks the first ever Drop Everything and Read Texas Day or “DEAR Texas Day” – for those of us who like acronyms.

Mackenzie Dunn/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard

T.C. Boyle is no stranger to tackling the taboo in his literature. His more than 20 novels examine every restricted topic in America and have earned him more accolades than many authors would ever dream of receiving. The New York Times raves his latest novel is the best one yet.

The Harder They Come examines the shootings that seem to be taking place nonstop across America. “It seems like there’s one every month now,” Boyle says. The novel takes place in Fort Bragg, California; however, it could be anywhere in the United States.

Rebecca Davis

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected through technology, the need for international news has steadily increased. But America’s appetite for foreign journalism has never been that large.

Many traditional news outlets have cut down on foreign correspondents, which makes author and professor Tracy Dahlby an increasingly rare subspecies of journalist. Dahlby’s memoir, “Into the Field: A Foreign Correspondent’s Notebook,” provides a remarkable look at his vast experiences in Asia and the transformation of media that’s still on the way.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Chris Tomlinson spent most of his life comfortable that he knew who he was and where he came from. After all, a small part of Texas was named after his ancestors. Tomlinson Hill is a small town community in Falls County. It's a place where generations of his family carved out a comfortable living from the land.

Before the Civil War, they also owned slaves. But Chris grew up believing what he'd been told: that the slaves his family owned were happy – so happy they took the family name and settled the land after they were free.

It was not until after he returned from 11 years in Africa as the Nairobi Bureau Chief for the Associated Press that Tomlinson decided to delve into his family history. What he learned not only changed his sense of family, it changed his sense of history as well. The result of his search is the book, "Tomlinson Hill."

Leslie Abbott Photography.

Good guys and bad guys are always easy to sort out in thrillers, right? Not so fast. In the murky waters of Jeff Abbott's latest novel Inside Man, the roles are not always so clear cut or easily defined.

Al Aumuller/ World Telegram & Sun/Library of Congress

From the small Texas town of Killeen, Oveta Culp Hobby grew up into a remarkable woman, serving her country and opening doors for women in the military.  

She helped establish the Women’s Army Corps and received a distinguished service medal – the first woman in the army ever to do so. She also served as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

ChinLin Pan/KUT

If you read fiction, and you don’t know about  "The Rosie Project," you’re missing something. The book was a breakout hit all over the world, raking in reviews ranging from merely exuberant to down right delirious. So what’s all the fuss about?

"The Rosie Project" is a flat-out fun read by an author who appears to have a lot of different interests dosed with a healthy sense of humor. But believe it or not, the book started out as high drama.

"This is the story of Don Tillman," author Graeme Simsion tells The Texas Standard's Emily Donahue. 

Summer reading season is here. So what are you taking (metaphorically or not) to the beach? 

Fear not: In this edition of Kirkus on the Standard, David Brown speaks with Kirkus Reviews editor Clay Smith about a couple reading recommendations to get you through the heat.

This weekend not only kicks of the summer vacation and travel season. It also kicks off the summer reading season. So The Texas Standard reached out to the mavens of manuscripts at the Kirkus Reviews. 

Editor-in-chief Clay Smith sat down with David Brown to discuss some of the best books available this season. Smith's picks for summer reading with a punch include:

Natchez Burning by Greg Isles. "Greg Isles is a guy who has been publishing thrillers for a while and he was on a routing publishing schedule, you know, year after year ... He had a car crash and was induced into a coma recently and so this is his first thriller in five years. And it deals with all that southern stuff. You know, race, long held secrets, society and readers are loving it. It is hard to put down."

What do transistors, lithium batteries and AK-47s have in common?

Each one of those inventions fast-forwarded human history. They and many more, argues Austin-based author Robert Bryce, are examples of a trend in nature and society toward making things, faster, cheaper and – Bryce argues – better.

Bryce's new book is called "Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong." He spoke to Texas Standard host David Brown.

Samantha Ortega for KUT News

In the 1960s, Pres. Lyndon Baines Johnson signed a major change in immigration rules into law. Eliminating per country quotas, the move made it easier for immigrants with professional experience and education to come to the Unites States.

From that moment forward, Pakistanis began coming to the U.S. in waves.

Dallas and Houston are now top destinations for Pakistani immigrants. In both cities, Pakistanis have high rates of working in elite positions – a contrast to opportunities available to those remaining in Pakistan today.

"It's an Orange Aardvark!" is the new book from Michael Hall. It's a short book, so we don't want to give anything away. But we can tell you it involves carpenter ants, a lot of holes and a hilarious payoff. Kirkus Reviews calls the book “suspenseful and entertaining; all-around great fun.”

The Texas Standard spoke to Hall on the phone, on a lunch break between school visits. "I enjoy the school appearances," Hall said. "The kids are so attentive and curious. They're just great audiences and it's a lot of fun."

Samantha Ortega for Texas Standard

There are few incidents in Texas history as compelling as the UT Tower shooting.

On August 1, 1966, a UT student and ex-marine named Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the UT Tower and opened fire on the pedestrians below. 16 people were killed. Dozens were injured. It was the first mass shooting on a US college campus. And it changed many lives.

Austin novelist Elizabeth Crook has used the events of that day to craft a vivid and emotional novel, "Monday, Monday." She told KUT's Emily Donahue that she felt some qualms about her subject matter. She began writing in 2006. And as she wrote, several school shootings occurred, from Virginia Tech to Sandy Hook.

It's happened to all of us: just when you're ready to deliver the perfect rebuttal,  last word or final point, your tongue trips up and you slaughter your English.

Don't fret about it, says author Ammon Shea. The man who spent a year reading the Oxford English Dictionary is taking on grammarians and nitpickers alike.

Shea's new book "Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation" (out this June) is an eye-opening look at how language mistakes have become accepted as correct usage.

Samantha Ortega for KUT News

The novel "The Burgess Boys" took the nation by storm last year. This month, the novel is available in paperback.

The follow-up to Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel "Olive Kitteridge" spent weeks atop the New York Times bestseller list and months making the rounds of book-circles.

Elizabeth Strout visited with the Texas Standard's Emily Donahue to talk about her book. Listen to their conversation in the audio player below.

A young man about to go to war meets a young woman. They fall in love. A reckless, passionate affair follows. It lasts just a week, but it reverberates through six lifetimes.

That's just one layer of the narrative in a new novel by Austin author Justin Go. “The Steady Running of the Hour” includes a race against time and crosses two centuries and multiple continents – from the drawing rooms of London to the horror of World War I battlefields – through Europe, Asia and the U.S.

facebook.com/HarnessMakersDream

The Kallison family name has resonated amongst Texans for generations.

It's the name of the department store in San Antonio crowned by a cowboy carrying a saddle on his right shoulder. It's also the of the Kallison Ranch, the place that brought Texas ranching into the 20th century.

"The Harness Maker’s Dream" recounts the story of Nathan Kallison, the Jewish Russian who escaped persecution and later became a successful rancher in Texas.

 

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Imagine – you have it all – a life of luxury, famous friends, a beautiful lover. You are a good, supportive friend – happy and content. And it’s all a lie.

The truth keeps you up at night, tortures you during the day. But you can’t change who you are.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

It’s been eight years since Amy Tan’s last book. But critics are already saying “The Valley of Amazement” was worth waiting for. 

It’s a complicated story of mothers and daughters, secrets and lies, the past and the present, China and America. And – perhaps above all – it’s about women’s fierce wills to survive.

KUT's Emily Donahue spoke with Amy Tan about her new book. She was five years into writing a different novel, Tan says, when she took a new look at an old family photo.

“I had a photo of my grandmother sitting on my desk and it was my favorite photo of her,” Tan says. “She looks quite beautiful and dreamy eyed, and it is in fact the photo that is on the hard cover edition of ‘The Bonesetter's Daughter.’” 

Akashic Books

While Pulitzer Prize winner Larry McMurty described Dallas in Texas Monthly as “a second-rate city that wishes it were first-rate,” literary agent and editor David Hale Smith prefers a different description. This one’s found in the lines of Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s song “Dallas:"

Dallas is a rich man with a death wish in his eyes

A steel and concrete soul in a warm-hearted love disguise.

“It’s one of the great lyrics of all time. The song is a poem, but it really nails Dallas, and of course nails the essence of this book we put together,” Smith says. He sat down with KUT's David Brown to discuss that new book, “Dallas Noir." 

Emily Donahue, KUT News

Imagine a book about the future – a future where children are groomed to feed wild vampire-like beasts. A book with good guys who are bad guys, bad guys who retain a touch of humanity, and a few characters primed to save the world.

The Lair” is the second in a series of young adult books from Round Rock author Emily McKay. The first was “The Farm.”  Both are set in a post-apocalyptic future, in which adults have failed young people, and young people have adulthood thrust upon them.

McKay's vampires are neither glamorous nor elegant, but they are smarter, stronger and faster than humans. And in both “The Farm” and “The Lair,” human children are farmed to feed human/vampire Ticks.

Larry Tye

It's a bird … it's a plane … it's … you guessed it: Superman.

The high-flying Son of Krypton has been been a cultural force for 75 years and, while he's graced the panels of comic books and the silver screen, his humble beginnings and evolution over the years have reflected changing political and cultural tides, says Superman biographer Larry Tye.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: Donna DeCesare is one of four gold medal winners of the 2013 Maria Moors Cabot prize, awarded by the Columbia Journalism School for outstanding reporting on Latin America and the Caribbean. “The Cabot Prize honors journalists who have covered the Western Hemisphere and, through their reporting and editorial work, have furthered inter-American understanding,” reads a statement on the journalism school’s website.

You can see more of DeCesare’s work on her website.

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