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Guest Host: Dana Sachs April 19, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in multi-cultural fiction, women's fiction.
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Guest host for Friday, April 19, 2013: Dana Sachs

Dana SachsWho wouldn’t want to drive across country in a classic Rolls Royce? In Dana Sach‘s aesthetic novel, The Secret of the Nightingale Palace,  Anna, a young widow still grieving the leukemia death of her husband and her feisty octogenarian grandmother, Goldie, do just that.

Comfortable in her widow’s weeds, Goldie can’t understand why Anna is still reeling from the harsh, drawn-out death of her husband two years before. However much she wants to move on, Anna has armored herself with undesirability and unworthiness—two attributes for which Goldie has no sympathy. When Goldie recruits—practically demands—Anna to drive her from New York to San Francisco to return a portfolio of rare Japanese prints to a friend sent to the Manzanar Concentration Camp during World War II, a fascinating tale of two widows of different eras unravels across the miles. The Secret of the Nightingale PalaceSachs deftly examines multi-cultural issues in romance, politics, and life.

Just when you think the book is going one place, The Secret of the Nightingale Palace turns a corner and goes an unexpected direction for an ending both unexpected and delightful for both of the women.

Sachs began her writing career as a journalist, publishing articles, essays, and reviews in, among other publications, National GeographicMother JonesTravel and Leisure Family, and The Boston Globe. Her first book, The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam (2000) was chosen as an American Booksellers Association Book Sense Pick (the precursor of the Indiebound Next List). Her first novel, If You Lived Here (2007) was also a Book Sense Pick and was chosen for inclusion in Barnes and Noble’s Discover Great New Writers Program. Her nonfiction narrative The Life We Were Given: Operation Babylift, International Adoption, and the Children of War in Vietnam (2010) resulted from a Fulbright Foundation Fellowship in Vietnam. She is the co-author, with Nguyen Nguyet Cam and Bui Hoai Mai, of Two Cakes Fit for a King: Folktales from Vietnam (2003) and co-translator of numerous Vietnamese short stories into English. With her sister, filmmaker Lynne Sachs, she made the documentary about postwar Vietnam, “Which Way is East.”

Follow Dana Sachs on Twitter: @DanaSachs.

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Powerful Middle Grade Fiction December 3, 2012

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in Christian fiction, historical fiction, multi-cultural fiction.
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MediaMonday for December 3, 2012: Philip Roth Calls it  Quits, from New York Times By the Book interview, November 17, 2012.

Christina Diaz Gonzalez in #litchatNever underestimate the zest of middle grade readers. The success of such series as Harry Potter, Wimpy Kid, Artemis Fowl, Percy Jackson and the Olympians have kept their publishers in the black and made household names of their authors. This Wednesday in #litchat we’ll discuss the power of middle grade fiction, then on Friday, award-winning author Christina Diaz Gonzalez joins us as guest host to discuss her newest middle grade historical novel, A Thunderous Whisper.

In A Thunderous Whisper, Ani believes she is just an insignificant whisper of a 12-year-old girl in a loud world. This is what her mother tells her anyway. Her father made her feel important, but he’s been off fighting in Spain’s Civil War, and his voice in her head is fading. Then she meets Mathias. His family has just moved to Guernica and he’s as far from a whisper as a 14-year-old boy can be. Ani thinks Mathias is more like lightning. A boy of action. Mathias’s father is part of a spy network and soon Ani finds herself helping him deliver messages to other members of the underground. She’s actually making a difference in the world. And then her world explodes. A Thunderous WhisperThe sleepy little market town of Guernica is destroyed by Nazi bombers. In one afternoon Ani loses her city, her home, and more. But in helping the other survivors, Ani gains a sense of her own strength. And she and Mathias make plans to fight back in their own unique way.

Christina Diaz Gonzalez is the author of the award-winning and best-selling children’s novel, The Red Umbrella. Gonzalez’s debut novel (the story of a 14 year old Cuban girl who is sent to the U.S. in 1961 as part of Operation Pedro Pan) showcases the generosity of the American spirit and highlights the pain of losing one’s homeland. Reviewers from publications such as The Washington Post, Publisher’s Weekly and School Library Journal have praised the book as being exceptional, compelling and inspirational.

Follow Christina Diaz Gonzalez on Twitter: @ChristinaDG.

Powerless Women in Fiction November 5, 2012

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in commercial fiction, MediaMonday, multi-cultural fiction, women's fiction.
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MediaMonday for November 5, 2012: Should Authors Write Consumer Book Reviews? Source media by Carolyn Kellogg from November 2, 2012 Los Angeles Times Jacket Copy, Why is Amazon Deleting Writers Reviews of Other Author’s Books?

Roberta Gately in #litchatSome women’s lives read like fiction. Open a newspaper and stories of abuse, neglect, poverty, and a myriad of other devices rob women of voice and power in cruel and inhumane ways. On Wednesday in #litchat, Robyn McIntyre will lead discussion on how abused, displaced and/or powerless women feature in fiction. Friday’s guest host, Roberta Gately, will continue the topic with discussion of her new novel, The Bracelet.

While training in Geneva for her new position with a UN-sponsored program in Pakistan, Abby Monroe witnesses the death of an exotic young woman. The image and mystery of the death follows her to Peshawar, where she works amid danger and despair at a UNICEF clinic monitoring childhood immunizations. Sparks fly when Abby, fresh from a recent break-up, meets arrogant New York Times reporter Nick Sinclair. A caring person, Abby is swept into a human trafficking ring where women and children are enslaved and UN moguls double-play both sides for profit and power. The death Abby witnesses in Geneva becomes a chilling coincidence when she strings the details together and must flee for her life.

A nurse, humanitarian aid worker, and writer, Roberta Gately has served in third-world war zones ranging from Africa to Afghanistan. Her first novel, Lipstick in Afghanistan, imagines another nurse in a war-torn country, this time post-9/11 Afghanistan. Gately has written on the subject of refugees for the Journal of Emergency Nursing and the BBC World News Online.  She speaks regularly on the plight of the world’s refugees and displaced.

Follow Roberta Gately on Twitter: @RobertaGately.

Masks & Mirages May 7, 2012

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in literary fiction, multi-cultural fiction.
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Media Monday for May 7, 2012: By the Book: Neil Gaiman: By the Book, New York Times, May 3, 2012.

Author Anna Jean Mayhew, guest host of #litchat on May 11, 2012.

Author Anna Jean Mayhew, guest host of #litchat on May 11, 2012.

Some people look back at the 1950s as that idyllic mid-century time when America was at the apex of glory. These are mostly those who didn’t live through them, or at least didn’t have to endure the harsh laws that maintained the mirage. If you lived in the South during the first half of the 20th century you saw a different image of America. Within that image of prosperity and freedom lurked a set of laws contrived to enforce the “separate but equal” ideology that conjured the illusion. On Wednesday, May 9, we’ll discuss how Masks & Mirages have been used in fiction, then on Friday, Anna Jean Mayhew, author of The Dry Grass of August, joins us to further this discussion.

In The Dry Grass of August, Mayhew introduces us to the Watt family of Charlotte, North Carolina. They look like the all-American family climbing the financial and social ladder during the booming post-war economy of the early 1950s.  They have a spacious home in a desirable neighborhood of Charlotte, they belong to a country club, their Donna Reed-like mother stays home managing the colored maid, while the father runs his business and rakes in money enough to support the illusion of the American dream. Things go south for the Watts family during a road trip to Florida when their colored maid, Mary, falls victim to the racism that cruised the streets of redneck towns in the 1950s.

Like in many novels, the maid is drawn as the heart of the family, having practically raised all four children while the mother was off playing bridge or having pedicures. Told through the eyes of 14-year-old Jubie, or June as she’s called when she’s in trouble, the story peels the veneer back on the “happy days” of the 1950s South, with the Jim Crow laws connived to keep African-Americans from true integration into the “separate but equal” society. Jubie’s at the perfect age to tell this story which glimmers of first crushes, conflict with parental ideals, and indiscreet relationships in both business and personal life. The Dry Grass of August is one of those novels that blurs the lines between genres. Is it YA fiction. Yes. Is it women’s fiction. Definitely. Is it literary fiction? Absolutely.

Anna Jean (A. J.) Mayhew’s first novel, The Dry Grass of August, won the 2011 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, and is a finalist for the 2012 Book Award from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. A Blackstone Audio book came out in December, and the French translation was published in April. The book will also be translated into Italian and Norwegian for release in 2013. In February, A. J. was a featured speaker at Southern Voices in Birmingham, AL, along with novelist Scott Turow. Last September, she dined with Governor Beverly Perdue at a gathering to honor North Carolina authors, and is now working on her next novel, Tomorrow’s Bread.

View the video trailer of The Dry Grass of August.

Follow Anna Jean Mayhew on Twitter: ajmwrites.

Celebrating the Contributions of African-American Authors February 13, 2012

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in African-American literature, bestsellers, multi-cultural fiction, weekly topics, women's fiction.
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Truth in Memoir is today’s Media Monday discussion from this Associated Press piece on NPR’s site. Greg Mortenson is asking judge to overturn the civil lawsuit claiming he fabricated events in his bestselling memoir, Three Cups of Tea, saying other authors could be subjected to similar claims and the result would be a stifling of the free exchange of ideas.

Jacqueline E. Luckett, photo by Ashley SummerFebruary is Black History Month in America. Those who don’t study American literature rarely discover the poetry of the slave Phyllis Wheatley that predates the American Revolution. While they may have heard of Frederick Douglas, the average reader is unaware of the thousands of written slave narratives that give voices to the individuals trapped in that era. Booker T. Washington and  W. E. B. Du Bois wrote widely of the post-Civil-war black experience, influencing many of those who would later contribute to the brilliant arts, music and literature movement of the 1920s-40s that became the Harlem Renaissance. One can’t speak about African-American literature without recognizing Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and Maya Angelou, some of which have passed and others are still contributing. This week in #litchat we’re celebrating the many contributions of Aftrican-American authors, both past and present, to the literary canon.

We are delighted to have author Jacqueline E. Luckett join us as guest host on Friday, February 17. Luckett’s new novel, Passing Love, features the best of this week’s celebration of African-American literature. In Passing Love, two heroines pass through two timelines and two continents to come together for a bittersweet finish. The novel opens in contemporary California, with Nicole-Marie as primary caretaker to her embittered mother and Alzheimer’s stricken father. Still numb from her divorce several years ago, yet wrapped in guilt as the other woman to a married lover, Nicole-Marie is galvanized to take back her life after her best friend dies from cancer. Drop back sixty years to World War II-era Mississippi, when 16-year-old RubyMae, the wild and beautiful daughter of straight-laced parents, meets devilishly handsome sax player Arnett Dupree. Take both heroines across the Atlantic to Paris, where each of these determined women forge new lives that hardens one and softens the other, then combines them both through a shared history.

In between the lines of Passing Love, Luckett examines the treatment of blacks in Jim Crow America, with sensitive illumination of how black soldiers were segregated and undervalued by the American military during World War II and scoffed at by white America when they returned home, yet hailed as heroes—and rightly so—in post-war Europe. She deftly portrays the complexities of the African-American individual, in this case RubyMae, whose complexion, features and hair provide opportunity to “pass” as white. Within this miasma, Luckett recreates post-war Paris, with its jazz-age nightclubs, cafes, intrigues and challenges, contrasting the ordinary freedom available to blacks in Europe, against the racial prejudice and suffocating restrictions of America. The title, Passing Love, is drawn from a poem by Langston Hughes, to whom Nicole-Marie refers often, poetry being a link between her and her aging father. While RubyMae is seen from her teenage years, the bulk of her story occurs in her twenties, yet Nicole-Marie’s maturity as a woman of a certain age—she’s 57—is ballast to maintain the balance of this elegant novel.

Jacqueline E. Luckett’s first novel, Searching for Tina Turner, put her on the list of writers to watch. A lifelong storyteller, Luckett spent most of her professional life in corporate America. In 1999, she took a creative writing class on a dare, from herself, and happily found her love of writing reignited. By a lucky coincidence, that same year she discovered the Voices of Our Nations (VONA) writing workshops and participated over the next four years in workshops with Christina Garcia, Danzy Senna, Junot Diaz, Ruth Forman and Terry McMillan. VONA provided a safe haven for a new writer still unsure of abilities, yet eager to learn. Luckett attributes much of her growth as a writer to the VONA workshops. In 2004, Luckett formed the Finish Party (featured in O Magazine, October 2007) along with seven other women writers–of–color. An avid reader and lover of books, Luckett is an excellent cook, aspiring photographer, and world traveler. She lives in Northern California and, though she loves all of the friends there, she takes frequent breaks to fly off to foreign destinations.

Follow Jacqueline E. Luckett on Twitter: @JackieLuckett.

Photo of Jacqueline E. Luckett (above): Ashley Summer.

Revenge January 30, 2012

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in multi-cultural fiction.
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Whether served hot or cold, revenge is a dish that makes compelling plots in novels. On Wednesday, we’ll discuss Revenge and the books that us keep readers rooting for the satisfaction of payback.

Joining us on Friday, February 3, is Duncan Jepson, author of All the Flowers of Shanghai. Within this saga of family pride, female empowerment, and sweeping political change, you’ll meet Feng, a meek Chinese girl who transforms into a bitter woman during her arranged marriage into a powerful Shanghai family. Ignorant and voiceless in the household ruled by the authoritarian father and his array of sniping, jealous wives, Feng strikes back against the family in ways unimaginable, which come back to haunt her in later years. Primarily set in the glory days of Shanghai just prior to World War II, the novel barely touches on the war or the Japanese occupation and atrocities, but it does take Feng out of the controlled, yet pampered Shanghai household and into the rough, revolutionary countryside where she experiences control of another kind.

Monday Media discussion in #litchat: The Bookstore’s Last Stand, by @JulieBosman, published in  in @NYTimes.

Duncan Jepson is an award winning filmmaker who has directed and produced two documentary features and is currently finishing his third, A Devil’s Gift. He is a founder and managing editor of the Asia Literary Review and was previously editor of the award winning WestEast Magazine. He has written for the Daily TelegraphInternational Herald Tribune and his articles on the Chinese literary scene have been published in the SCMP and Publishing Perspectives.

Jepson is Eurasian, Chinese/English, a corporate lawyer, and has travelled extensively in Asia since the 1980s, studying Mandarin in Beijing in 1987 and returning through the late eighties and early nineties to run a manufacturing business. In 2005, after visiting Kabul, Duncan established a charity, the Society for Children’s Education in Asia, to support the Aschiana Accelerated Girls Learning Centre. He was a director of the Child Welfare Scheme, a charity supporting street kids and young mothers in Nepal. Most recently he established Share, a charity focused on providing opportunities to reduce social inequality among Hong Kong youth.

View the video book trailers of All the Flowers of Shanghai.

Follow Duncan Jepson on Twitter: @DuncanJepson.

Saints Alive December 12, 2011

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in historical fiction, Latino literature, literary fiction, multi-cultural fiction.
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Luis Alberto Urrea

Some characters are simply to good to be true. The Pollyannas of literature. Melanie Wilkes. Pip. Forrest Gump. Sweet, kind, generous. We think of these characters as literary saints. They believe in the inherent goodness of people and can’t understand why others don’t. There’s another kind of literary saint, the ones with flaws. Ivanhoe, Atticus Finch, Jo March. There are the saints whose deep convictions are met with adversity and yet the remain true to their calling. These and others of similar cut are the literary saints we’ll be discussing this week in #litchat.

Joining us on Friday, December 16th, for his second visit to #litchat , is Luis Alberto Urrea, whose sequel to his award-winning novel The Hummingbird’s Daughter was published this month. Queen of America follows Teresita, the young Mexican woman called the Saint of Cabora, whose ability to heal the sick spread throughout Mexico near the turn of the 20th century and whose passion for freedom inspired the native peoples of Mexico to fight against the corrupt government. Queen of America opens where the The Hummingbird’s Daughter ends. Teresita and her father have fled Mexico with government assassins on their tail. It doesn’t take long for word to spread to the sick, wounded, and hopeless around their new situation in Arizona that Teresita, the Saint of Cabora, has not lost her gifts.

Urrea writes with Dickensian humor and a scope for history like Tolstoy, bringing the late 1800s to life from the border towns of the Southwest and the Indian uprisings on both sides of the border; to a San Francisco still rushed with gold, and into the parlors of New York society. Everywhere she goes, Teresita is followed by pilgrims seeking her touch, a phenomenon that both nourishes and depletes her. Among the powerful threads running throughout Queen of America is Teresita’s conflicted passion for romance and beauty against her calling as a healer. These flaws bring pain as Urrea takes readers through Teresita’s brief marriage to a violent psychopath and her later association with people bent on exploiting her gifts. Urrea paints all of this with the brush of a poet, combining the facts of Teresita’s life with the essence of her life’s work.

Luis Alberto Urrea, 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for nonfiction and member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame, is a prolific and acclaimed writer who uses his dual-culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss and triumph. Born in Tijuana, Mexico to a Mexican father and an American mother, Urrea has published extensively in all the major genres. The critically acclaimed and best-selling author of 13 books, Urrea has won numerous awards for his poetry, fiction and essays. The Devil’s Highway, his 2004 non-fiction account of a group of Mexican immigrants lost in the Arizona desert, won the Lannan Literary Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Pacific Rim Kiriyama Prize.

Urrea attended the University of California at San Diego, earning an undergraduate degree in writing, and did his graduate studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder. After serving as a relief worker in Tijuana and a film extra and columnist-editor-cartoonist for several publications, Urrea moved to Boston where he taught expository writing and fiction workshops at Harvard. He has also taught at Massachusetts Bay Community College and the University of Colorado and he was the writer in residence at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Urrea lives with his family in Naperville, IL, where he is a professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Follow Luis Alberto Urrea on Twitter: @urrealism.

Ugly Ducklings August 8, 2011

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in African-American literature, coming-of-age, fiction, multi-cultural fiction.
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Ernessa T. Carter (photo: Christian Hibbard)

Fiction is rife with ugly ducklings who mature into beautiful swans. Some of them leave behind the tatty feathers of the past for the sequins of success, never to look back. Others are driven to soar higher, farther, faster in a “living well is the best revenge” on those who poked fun at their facades in the dark days of their uglihood. Then there are those who harry their harassers, plotting ingenious revenge on the beautiful people who shamed, bullied, and scorned them. This week in #litchat we’re discussing ugly ducklings in literature.

Guest host on Friday, August 12, is Ernessa T. Carter, whose debut novel, 32 Candles features an ugly duckling heroine who belts out velvet soul on stage while plotting silken revenge on her high school persecutors. Abuse isn’t new to Davidia Jones, though. Her mother, an alcoholic small-time prostitute beat the voice right out of Davidia when she was a child. Davidia finds refuge in the happy ending romances of Molly Ringwald movies until a particularly cruel prank by the richest and most beautiful girl in town sends Davidia fleeing for her sanity. On the road to sanity, she finds her voice on a nightclub stage in L.A. and grows into the skin she was born to flaunt as sultry chanteuse Davie Jones. Having eschewed the Molly Ringwald endings, the transformed Davie is stunned for the second time in her life when high school crush, James, brother to the cruel tormentor of her Molly Ringwald years, reenters her life. Davidia/Davie is one of those characters we root and rage with, whose struggle reminds us that to some extent we are all  products of personal reinvention.

Ernessa T. Carter, 32, has worked as an English as a Second Language teacher in Japan, a music journalist in Pittsburgh, a payroll administrator in Burbank, and a radio writer for “American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest” in Hollywood. She’s also a retired L.A. Derby Doll (roller-derby), and now lives, blogs, and writes in Los Angeles. A graduate of Smith College and Carnegie Mellon University’s MFA program, 32 Candles is her first novel. She blogs at www.fierceandnerdy.com.

Follow Ernessa T. Carter on Twitter: @ErnessaTCarter.

Pseudonyms July 25, 2011

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in chick lit, multi-cultural fiction, mystery, non-fiction.
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Samuel Clemons had Mark Twain. Charles Dodson had Lewis Carroll. The Bronte sisters had the Bells. Pseudonymns. For reasons public and private, long-speculated and tossed glibly in gossip, these and thousands of other authors through the years chose to publish their writing under different names. The reasons they chose pen names are many, varied from author to author and era to era. This week in #litchat we’ll discuss authors writing under pseudonyms.

We have a treat in store this week with two guest hosts. On Wednesday, July 27, Carmela Ciuraru joins us to discuss her new book, Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms. Friday, July 29, a mystery novelist will share why she chose to publish her debut novel, A Good Excuse to Be Bad, under the pen name Miranda Parker.

Carmela Ciuraru, Nom De Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms

Nom De Plume is an engaging glimpse into the lives of 18 literary icons who published under pen names. Rather than try to psychoanalyze why these complex individuals chose pen names, Ciuraru draws from scholarly sources, first-person anecdotes, diaries, and public record to contrast the authors with their alter egos. Ciuraru asserts that the choice of pen name and how the author employs—or lives within—the pseudonym reveals as much about the person as the words he/she writes. The secrets alluded to in the book’s subtitle aren’t new author scandals, conspiracies or mysteries, but overlooked details that distinguish the character of the author from the alias. Nom De Plume unites rigorous research with witty and playful prose, resulting in a book writers will be putting on their holiday gift lists for years to come.

Carmela Ciuraru does not write under a pseudonym. In addition to Nom De Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms, Ciuraru’s anthologies include First Loves: Poets Introduce the Essential Poems That Captivated and Inspired Them (Scribner) and Solitude Poems (Alfred A. Knopf/Everyman’s Library). A graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School, she is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and PEN American Center. She has written for the  New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, O, The Oprah Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, and other publications. She is a 2011 Fellow in Nonfiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA).

Follow Carmela Ciuraru on Twitter: @CarmelaTheTwit.

Miranda Parker, A Good Excuse To Be Bad

Miranda Parker may or may not reveal her real name during her visit to #litchat. She will, however, share why she chose to write under a pen name. Her debut novel, A Good Excuse To Be Bad, is the first in a series featuring drop-dead gorgeous bounty hunter Evangeline Crawford. When her brother-in-law, the high-profile pastor of an Atlanta megachurch, is murdered and her twin sister arrested for the crime, Evangeline uses her brains and her beauty to reveal the killer. Evangeline, nicknamed “Angel,” flirts and flaunts while on the job, but off duty, the girl walks a mean straight and narrow.

After graduating from Agnes Scott College, the author known as Miranda Parker began working as a features editor for various magazines and spent many years as a publicist for national recording artists, actors, ministers, and authors. However, writing fun, fiesty, redemptive bad girl gone good stories is her passion. She resides with her family in Georgia near a horse ranch and her daughter’s Girl Scout Troop. On a perfect day she can be found curled up with a good book or in a movie theater with a bucket of popcorn.

Follow Miranda Parker on Twitter: @MirandaParker2.

The Power of Place November 15, 2010

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in commercial fiction, literary fiction, multi-cultural fiction, religion and mysticism, weekly topics.
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Ilie Ruby
(Photo: Steve Lifshatz)

When discussing fiction, we talk often of protagonists–their physical attributes, personality development, emotional growth, personal motivation and the like. In many novels, the setting is so integral to the story, it becomes a character as vivid as the humans who inhabit the place. The Power of Place is this topic of the week for November 15-19 in #litchat.

On Friday, November 19, author Ilie Ruby joins #litchat as guest host. Ruby’s debut novel, The Language of Trees, is a mesmerizing work of mystery steeped in Native Indian lore and spiritualism. Through the disappearance of a local woman and the link it has to the drowning of a boy in Canandaigua Lake a decade ago, a powerful story of hope and forgiveness emerges. It’s not a love story, yet the relationship between Grant Shongo, who returns broken from divorce to the lakeside house of his childhood, and his first love Ecco O’Connell, ties them together and to the place. As memorable as the characters themselves, is the place called Canadaigua Lake. Spirits old and new roam the area with ancient memories and modern motivations. Humans and animals, spirits and setting bind together in this book of hope, forgiveness, respect and love.

Ilie Ruby grew up in Rochester, New York and spent her childhood summers on Canandaigua Lake, the setting for her debut novel, The Language of Trees. She is the winner of the Edwin L. Moses Award for Fiction, chosen by T.C. Boyle; a Kerr Foundation Fiction Scholarship; and the Phi Kappa Phi Award for Creative Achievement in Fiction. Ruby is also a recipient of the Wesleyan Writer’s Conference Davidoff Scholarship in Nonfiction and the Kemp Award for Outstanding Teaching and Scholarship. She has worked on PBS archaeology documentaries in Central America, taught 5th grade in Los Angeles on the heels of the Rodney King riots of 1992, and written two children’s books, Making Gold and The Last Boat. In 1995, she graduated from the Masters of Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California, where she was fiction editor of The Southern California Anthology.

Follow Ilie Ruby on Twitter at @IlieRuby.