Skip to main content


Archives - December 2011

December 21, 2011

Mira Bartok on an Arctic Christmas

Posted by Katherine
Mira Bartók is a Chicago-born artist and writer and the author of twenty-eight books for children. Her writing has appeared in several literary journals and anthologies, and has been noted in The Best American Essays series. She lives in western Massachusetts, where she runs Mira List, a blog that helps artists find funding and residences all over the world. She has received awards from such organizations as the Fulbright-Hayes Foundation, the Associated Writing Programs, the Illinois Arts Council, Pollock-Krasner Grant, and the Carnegie Fund for Writers. Here she talks about the Christmas she spent in the Arctic while on a Fulbright Fellowship.
December 20, 2011

Ellen Meister on Books for Hannukkah

Posted by Katherine
Ellen Meister is the author of three novels. Her most recent book, THE OTHER LIFE (Putnam/Berkley), appears on several Best Fiction of the Year lists, was singled out by the American Booksellers Association for the prestigious Indie Next List, and is under option with HBO for a television series. She currently edits manuscripts for published and aspiring authors, teaches creative writing at Hofstra University Continuing Education, does public speaking about writing-related issues, and is at work on her fourth novel FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER (Putnam, 2013). Here she talks about gifting books in harder times during the holidays.
Donna M. Johnson is the author of HOLY GHOST GIRL, a new memoir that has been acclaimed by numerous publications and blogs, including the New York Times, O Magazine, The New York Review of Books, and People Magazine. She writes about religion for the Psychology Today blog, the Dallas Morning News, and the Austin American Statesman. Donna was awarded a writing residency by the Ragdale Foundation (Lake Forest, IL) in Spring 2009 and won the Mayborn Creative Nonfiction Prize for the Holy Ghost Girl manuscript in progress in 2007. She lives in Austin with her husband, the poet and author Kirk Wilson. Here she talks about THE LITTLE LAME PRINCE AND HIS TRAVELING CLOAK, one of the only things she has retained from when she was a little girl.
December 18, 2011

Nancy Jensen on BLACK BEAUTY

Posted by Katherine
Nancy Jensen’s work has appeared in numerous literary journals, and her first book, WINDOW, a collection of short stories and essays, was published by Fleur-de-Lis Press in 2009. She has been awarded an Artist Enrichment Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and an Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council. Nancy shares her home with eight rescued cats and her dog Gordy, who is her partner on a pet therapy team with Pawsibilities Unleashed of Kentucky, visiting hospitals, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and daycare centers. When she isn’t writing or enjoying the company of her furred family, she teaches as a member of the core faculty in the MFA in Writing Program at Eastern Kentucky University. Her first novel, THE SISTERS, has been selected by the Independent Booksellers Association as the #1 Indie Next Pick for December and Kirkus Reviews has included it in its list for Best Fiction of 2011. It is also one of Carol Fitzgerald’s Bet’s On Picks for 2011. Here she remembers receiving Black BEAUTY as a Christmas present.
John Connolly is the author of 16 international bestsellers, including his latest, THE BURNING SOUL and THE INFERNALS. He divides his time between Dublin, Ireland and Portland, Maine. Here he talks about some of the best and worst gifts he has ever received for Christmas.
December 17, 2011

Diana Gabaldon on Comics

Posted by Katherine
Diana Gabaldon is the author of the award-winning, #1 NYT-bestselling OUTLANDER novels, described by Salon magazine as “the smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting “Scrooge McDuck” comics.” Dr. Gabaldon holds three degrees in science: Zoology, Marine Biology, and Quantitative Behavioral Ecology, (plus an honorary degree as Doctor of Humane Letters, which entitles her to be “Diana Gabaldon, Ph.D., D.H.L.” She supposes this is better than “Diana Gabaldon, Phd.X,”) and spent a dozen years as a university professor with an expertise in scientific computation before beginning to write fiction. She has written scientific articles and textbooks, worked as a contributing editor on the MacMillan ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMPUTERS, founded the scientific-computation journal SCIENCE SOFTWARE QUARTERLY, and has written numerous comic-book scripts for Walt Disney. None of this has anything whatever to do with her novels, but there it is. Here she talks about a great gift for the bibliophile who has everything: comic books.
December 16, 2011

Susan Wiggs on Greetings from Ray

Posted by Katherine
  Susan Wiggs' first book was published by Zebra in 1987, and since then she has been published by Avon, Tor, HarperCollins, Harlequin, Warner and Mira Books. Unable to completely abandon her beloved teaching profession, Susan is a frequent workshop leader and speaker at writers' conferences, including the literary institution Fields End and the legendary Maui Writers Conference. Her novel The Charm School was voted one of RWA's Favorite Books of the Year. She is the proud recipient of three RITA awards for Lakeside Cottage, Lord of the Night and The Mistress, and is often a finalist for the prestigious award. Her books appear regularly on numerous "Best Of" lists. Susan enjoys many hobbies, including sitting in the hot tub while talking to her mother on the phone, kickboxing, cleaning the can opener, sculpting with butter and growing her hair. She lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with her family. Here she talks about DANDELION WINE, a favorite book that was passed down from her grandmother.
  Brockway claims to be a native of either Minnesota or New York. Neither has been confirmed. She also claims to be thirty-two. No one has even bothered looking into this. We do know she was attending graduate school at the University of Minnesota when she became involved with medical student, David Brockway. At some point they apparently legalized the relationship because when next she surfaces, she is sporting a new surname and a daughter. A decade of relative anonymity ensues– except for the infamous alien encounter photographs which have, of course, now been debunked. No substantiated records occur until 1994 when Brockway published her first book, PROMISE ME HEAVEN. Since then she has written over twenty full-length novels and anthology stories, bringing the current number of her books in print to over 1,500,000 published in thirteen countries. Brockway has twice received coveted Publishers Weekly starred reviews and unqualified recommendations from Library Journal, as well as two starred reviews from the Library Journals organ, BOOKLIST. Her 2004 title, MY SEDUCTION was named one of 2004s top ten romance by that same industry magazine. An eight time finalist for Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award, Brockway has twice been its recipient, first in 1998 for MY DEAREST ENEMY and in 2002 for THE BRIDAL SEASON. Her books regularly appear on national and regional bestseller lists and are frequent Doubleday/Literary Guild selections. Today Connie lives in Minnesota with her husband David, a family physician, and two spoiled mutts. Here she talks about giving a book to her granddaughter for Christmas.
December 14, 2011

Maria Dueñas on Santa vs. The Kings

Posted by Katherine
Maria Dueñas holds a PhD in English Philology and is currently a professor at the University of Murcia. She has also taught at American universities, is the author of several academic articles, and has participated in various educational, cultural, and editorial projects. She is currently writing her second novel. Here she talks about the Spanish Christmas tradition that replaces Santa: The Three Kings.
December 13, 2011

Carla Neggers on Cookbooks

Posted by Katherine
Carla Neggers is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 60 novels, with translations in 24 languages. Born and raised on the western edge of the beautiful Quabbin Reservoir in rural Massachusetts, Carla grew up with tales of her father’s life as a Dutch sailor and her mother’s childhood in northwest Florida. At a young age, Carla began penning her own stories on a branch high up in her favorite sugar maple. Now she enjoys spending time at the family homestead (now a tree farm) with her six brothers and sisters and their families. When she’s not writing, Carla loves to travel, hike, kayak, garden, and, of course, dive into a good book. She lives with her family in Vermont, near Quechee Gorge. Here, she talks about journeying through some of the cookbooks she plans on gifting this Holiday season.