Monday, May 31, 2021

Q&A with Gayle Tzemach Lemmon



Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is the author of the new book The Daughters of Kobani: A Story of Rebellion, Courage, and Justice. It focuses on an all-female Kurdish militia that fought the Islamic State during the war in Syria. Lemmon's other books include Ashley's War. She is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.



Q: What inspired you to write The Daughters of Kobani?


A: One of the soldiers from Ashley’s War called me and said you have to come to Syria. Initially my reaction was no—I realized what it would take to do justice to the story.


This is about women who took on men who bought and sold women, and about America’s partner in the war against the Islamic State….[The Kurdish Women’s Protection Units] put women at the center of their efforts. It’s so important in its scope and reach, it was impossible not to want to tell the story. It looks different when women hold power.


I made seven trips there, from August 2017 to December 2019.


Q: The Publishers Weekly review of the book says, “Lemmon briskly sketches the biographies of individual fighters and commanders, and unravels the complex history of the region with skill.” How did you research the book, and what did you learn that especially surprised you?


A: It was such a privilege to research this story. There’s so much history shared in the news pieces, but there’s so much else underway at the time that few sought to understand the impact.


In a digital world, there’s so much captured on WhatsApp and Twitter. I looked at photo archives of local and international media. I dug into what we hadn’t seen. It’s such a complex story. We talk about war as nameless, faceless people and that’s not the case. These young women faced off against the Islamic State.


Q: How would you describe the dynamic between these women and the men they dealt with, and how successful were they in meeting their goals?


A: Nowhere have I ever seen women more comfortable with power and less apologetic in embracing it themselves. They’re proved themselves in battle. Their ideology says the Kurds can’t be free if women are not free. They had no reason to do anything other than advance their agenda.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: I hope readers are inspired by the story. In the end, it’s about women who said just because something has been done doesn’t mean it has to be. They fought men who sold women for half a decade.


It’s a story of American national security. Fewer than 10 U.S. forces died in combat in Syria to rid the world of the hold of the Islamic State. 10,000 local forces died.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: First I need to have this book out in the world. I’m working on a potential TV adaptation. Secretary Clinton’s production company [has the rights]. And Reese Witherspoon is producing an adaptation of Ashley’s War. It’s exciting to see.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: So many times when we talk about people rising to the moment, the way we talk about them affects the way we see them. Men do remarkable things and they’re called leaders. Women do remarkable things and they’re called exceptions.


This story is about military history. It’s about U.S. political history of the Syrian war. Most important, it’s a book about friendship, courage, and the fact that this is truly about the female superpower: just getting on with it.


They’re not superheroes, they’re just like women in your community who, when things are going sideways, do everything they can to protect the people they love. There’s no better way to take away the “other” than to share a narrative that shows our humanity.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Gayle Tzemach Lemmon.

Q&A with John Ferling




John Ferling is the author of the new book Winning Independence: The Decisive Years of the Revolutionary War, 1778-1781. His many other books include The Ascent of George Washington. He is professor emeritus of history at the University of West Georgia, and he lives near Atlanta.


Q: What inspired you to write Winning Independence, and why did you choose to focus on the years 1778-1781?


A: I was drawn to the topic in large measure because the four years of the war after Saratoga, if not forgotten, are not as well remembered as the first 30 months of the war.


Too many people, I think, see Saratoga as the “turning point” of the war, as it is often described, and because of that they look on the American victory as inevitable.


I wanted to show readers that the war became a stalemate soon after Saratoga and it could have ended either with America having failed to win independence or with a U.S. that included perhaps only 10 or 11 states, and facing a bleak future.


I also wanted to reexamine Sir Henry Clinton, who became Britain’s commander in chief in America in May 1778, and who I think had been treated unfairly by historians.


Q: The Kirkus Review of the book says, "A traditionalist, Ferling concludes that, but for its blunders, Britain would have defeated the rebels, who made their own blunders—but not enough to lose." What do you think of that description?


A: I more or less agree. I argued that Britain could have won the war in 1775, 1776, or 1777. Had Britain scored a decisive victory on the first day of fighting, the colonists’ ardor for war might have evaporated.

Britain had the capability to score a nearly bloodless victory at Bunker Hill, which might also have led the colonists to think that it was hopeless to fight the British.


Twice during the New York campaign in 1776 – while a Continental army was hopelessly trapped in Brooklyn and later when Washington’s entire army was in essence trapped on Manhattan – the British had it in their power to score colossal victories that almost certainly would have ended the war.


In 1777, had General Howe taken his army northward rather than after Philadelphia, he might not only have saved Burgoyne from his fate at Saratoga, but he had the means to score a decisive victory over the rebel forces. The Allies made few blunders after 1777.


I argue in the book that late in 1780 Britain’s commander in chief, Sir William Clinton, devised a strategy that might well have avoided defeat and led to Britain’s re-conquest of two to three southern colonies, but that Clinton was foiled by London’s intrusiveness, especially that by Lord George Germain, the American secretary.


Q: How would you assess George Washington's performance during this part of the war?


A: Washington, a thoroughly amateur leader who had never previously commanded more than 2,000 men or led an army against a professional European force, committed error after error in 1776 and 1777.


But he learned from his mistakes and after 1777 benefited from the French alliance. He was risk averse after 1777, essentially refusing to act without French consent or cooperation. It was a wise policy.


Washington was clearly an extraordinary leader and the best man for the job of commanding the Continental army, though he was not a great strategic thinker. In another book, I argued that America was lucky to have survived Washington’s mistakes and fortunate to have had him as its commander, and I still hold to that conclusion.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: I hope readers will understand that this was a long, desperate war whose outcome – much like our Civil War and World War I – was in doubt until the very end in 1781.


I also wanted readers to see what Washington and his counterpart, General Clinton, knew and didn’t know while wrestling with incredibly difficult decisions. Things were not as clear-cut to them as they often seem in retrospect.


Finally, Clinton was scapegoated in England following the war and many historians have jumped on that bandwagon, but I hope readers will come to see him differently.


I think he was a good general, though perhaps not a great one, who came close both to avoiding a defeat that had seemed inevitable four years earlier and to reclaiming two to three colonies that since 1776 had been lost to the British Empire.


In other words, Britain’s defeat was not inevitable and Clinton came close to avoiding the defeat that is nowadays too often seen as inevitable.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: The library that I use has been closed since March 2020 due to the pandemic, so I’ve been unable to begin another book or even to dig around enough to come up with a potential book project.


I have spent my time pulling three magazine articles out of Winning Independence. Two have appeared in American History on H-Net and one in the online Journal of the American Revolution. Links to them can be found on my website.


At the moment, I am working on an article that looks at the postwar “war” between Clinton and his subordinate, General Charles Cornwallis, over who was responsible for the catastrophe at Yorktown. Some, but only some, of that article appeared in Winning Independence.


Where I might go thereafter is a mystery to me. I love research and writing and hope that once the library reopens (which is also a mystery to me) I can find a topic to burrow into.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

Q&A with Debra Green




Debra Green is the author of Violet and the Pie of Life, a new middle grade novel for kids. Her many other books include the Zeke Meeks series. Also a lawyer, she lives in Southern California.


Q: What inspired you to write Violet and the Pie of Life, and how did you create your character Violet?


A: I wanted to share the joy I get from theater and math. Yes, math. With the help of an artist from my publisher, Holiday House, I created cute and funny charts, graphs, and equations illustrating Violet’s personal problems and her attempts to solve them. I hope readers will find them as cute and funny as I do.


To add depth to my novel, Violet’s parents separate, she has problems with her best friend, and she learns that people she envies may be hiding painful secrets.


Creating Violet was easy because she is much like me at that age. My parents separated when I was 10, I had a domineering best friend, and I was in The Wizard of Oz like Violet is.


Q: Can you say more about why you decided to include a school play of The Wizard of Oz in the novel?


A: I think most kids are familiar with the play, so I didn’t have to explain it to them and could get right to the plot. I love the play and movie of The Wizard of Oz, and I played the Wicked Witch in middle school.


Also, I like the symbolism of a timid girl who wins the part of the lion and finds courage.


Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: The title I chose originally was horribly boring. My agent and I brainstormed for something more intriguing. She eventually came up with the title Violet and the Pie of Life. “Pie” in the title reflects both Violet’s love of eating pie and the pie charts she makes to illustrate her life.


Q: The Publishers Weekly review of the book says, "Green sincerely conjures Violet’s deep pain, confusion, frustration, and worry over shifting relationships; her frank, energetic voice carries this sensitive narrative." What do you think of that description?


A: I’m so happy my book got good or great reviews from every professional reviewer. Since Violet is based on me, I take it personally when reviewers like her voice! There is also a lot of humor in the book, which many reviewers enjoyed.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I have a story coming out next year in the anthology Coming of Age: 13 B’nai Mitzvah Stories. I’m also working on a middle grade novel and a chapter book.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Thank you for interviewing me. And I thank anyone who takes the time to read this interview. I’m especially grateful to the readers of my books.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

May 31



May 31, 1819: Walt Whitman born.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Q&A with Tara Sullivan




Tara Sullivan is the author of Treasure of the World, a new novel for older kids and young adults. The book is set in a mining town in Bolivia. Her other books include The Bitter Side of Sweet. She lives in Massachusetts.


Q: You lived in Bolivia as a child. How much did that experience factor into your decision to write this novel?


A: It was a huge influence. All of my early memories take place in Bolivia. I loved the country and had longed for the chance to showcase it in a book. The trick was finding the right story to do so—I am so happy that Ana’s story is the one I get to tell in order to introduce my readers to my childhood home!


Q: How did you create your character Ana, and what kind of research did you do to write the book?

A: From the beginning, I was committed to finally having a girl protagonist. In order to be true to realities of the human rights issues I was representing, the main characters in my first two books were boys.


But the story of intergenerational poverty is not gendered. In fact, I think the story of girls and women in poverty is a critical one that deserves more of our attention. Ana, Mami, Abuelita, Yenni—all my female characters came from a place of wanting to show the bravery and resilience of women in challenging situations.


I got pushback at various times on this. In fact, at one point, I was told that I should re-write the book from a male perspective to make it more interesting. I fought this by adding agency and depth to Ana’s characterization. There was no way I was going to tell this story without her!


As for research, I did a ton! Like my other books, not only did I read widely about the location and the issues, but I also took a research trip to Bolivia. It was thrilling: my first time back since I was a child.


It was also humbling: no amount of reading compared to the experience of actually talking to the girls and women who live on the mountain in crushing generational poverty. My challenge, in the fiction, was to do their reality justice.


Q: The Publishers Weekly review of the book says, "Sullivan approaches tough topics, including child labor, economic pressure, and repressive gender roles, from a resonant, believably young perspective, balancing Ana’s precarious struggle to survive with hope." What do you think of that description?

A: I love that description! It’s pretty much my writing process in a nutshell: I began with the tough topics and an understanding of the difficulties from my research trip.


My journey as an author was to take these hardships and have them be my starting point for Ana’s journey, rather than the sum of all that defined her.


Hope was the key to doing that. One of my near-final edits was an edit of the “tone” of the book. It meant re-writing the entire book from page one, but the key was finding hope and threading it through.


Learning to find hope in even the darkest places, fictionally, turned out to be particularly powerful for me personally as I edited and launched the book amidst a global pandemic.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?

A: I hope that readers will look at the layers of Ana’s story and walk away a little more curious than they were before about the world, and a little more empathetic and understanding of the unknown challenges others may be facing.


Reality is always more complex and embedded in history and place than our snap judgments and easy understandings would have us believe.


Q: What are you working on now?

A: The pandemic has put a stop to international research trips, which has halted my creative process for books like Treasure of the World. For now, I’m playing with other words that make me happy. When the world settles, we’ll see where I’m off to next!


Q: Anything else we should know?

A: If you’re a teacher (or just want to have a little fun and learn a bit more for yourself or your book club), I’m in the process of creating a full suite of free, online resources to accompany my books. These include more traditional “school” activities like writing extensions, but also Jeopardy games and escape rooms that are more interactive and fun.


I’m slowly populating this list, but I will have the complete suite for all three of my books ready to go in time for the start of school in the fall. You can find the activities on my website at:


Thanks so much for inviting me to chat about Treasure of the World. It’s been a long road to publication for this book: I hope readers come to love Ana as much as I do!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Tara Sullivan.

Q&A with Paul Meisel



Paul Meisel is the author and illustrator of the new children's picture book My Tiny Life by Ruby T. Hummingbird, the fourth in his Nature Diary series, which also includes My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis. He has illustrated more than 80 books.


Q: What inspired you to write My Tiny Life, and how did you create your character Ruby T. Hummingbird?


A: This book is the fourth in my Nature Diary series. The series started with a book about praying mantises, followed by a bluebird book, and then one about brown marmorated stink bugs.


All of these books are about animals that can be found in my yard. Because I’ve only seen Ruby Throated Hummingbirds here (although I’ve read that five or six varieties can be found in Connecticut) naturally this book had to be about them.


Like many people who can spend hours watching these tiny birds at a feeder, I was intrigued by their showy flying displays as they zoom up and down, backwards and forwards. I was also inspired by their feistiness—their desire for the most part to NOT share, flying all around the yard chasing each other, and occasionally giving in and drinking together.


Q: Did you need to do much research to write the book, and if so, did you learn anything surprising?


A: Since I’m not a scientist or naturalist, I did a fair amount of research for this book.


I was interested to learn that hummingbirds don’t mate for life as bluebirds do, which seems in character given their independent nature.


I knew they were small but I was still surprised to learn that although they weigh only as much as two pennies, they can fly for 18-24 hours without stopping when they travel over the Gulf of Mexico during migration.


It was also surprising to learn that scientists believe Ruby Throated Hummingbirds travel over the Gulf only in the spring when they return to the United States and not in the fall when they travel south.


One theory suggests that they’re not in a hurry when traveling south and can take the longer land route, which they somehow know is safer owing to storms that form over the water in the fall. Scientists believe the hummingbirds are anxious to return for the breeding season, which can be quite competitive as they vie for mates.


Q: Did you focus on the text first or the illustrations first, or did you create them simultaneously?


A: For these books I write the text first. Because the text is pretty descriptive, my wonderful editor, Grace Maccarone, has a good idea of what the illustrations will look like. If she likes the idea and the manuscript she’ll present it at a submissions meeting. If the publisher is interested, I’ll submit the text and an illustration dummy.


Then I’ll make revisions to the manuscript, the illustrations, or both.


I resubmit the full dummy, which is then sent to an expert, who inevitably suggests changes or additions. Once everything is approved I will do finished art. Because these books are scientifically accurate (aside from some artistic license), it’s a slightly longer process than it might be for a work of fiction.


Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?


A: I hope kids learn that Ruby Throated Hummingbirds have a lot of personality, that they’re unique birds in both size and spirit, and that they’re extraordinary fliers!


As with all of the books in the Nature Diary series, I hope kids come to understand something about a life cycle, and that each animal is a member of an ecosystem in which sometimes the main character is a predator and sometimes it’s the prey.


I also hope kids come away with a sense that nature needs to be in balance for each animal to survive and thrive, that they - and we - need a healthy habitat to live in.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’ve just finished See Me Go, which is in the I Like To Read series. See Me Run, an ALSC Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Award winner, was the first book in my series of doggy adventures. See Me Go takes the dogs underwater, into outer space, and inside an Egyptian tomb. Quite the adventure!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I’ve been lucky to be able to make books about subjects that are close to home, or, in the case of stink bugs, IN my home. I hope that by reading my books kids will get the idea that their own backyards, parks, and neighborhoods are full of amazing things to write about if they look closely.


I also hope kids realize that they can write or draw things that they aren’t “experts” about, just as I’m not an expert bird illustrator or naturalist/scientist. Kids can do research in a library or online and learn so much, just as I did when I did the research for My Tiny Life by Ruby T. Hummingbird


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

Q&A with Keith McWalter




Keith McWalter is the author of the new novel When We Were All Still Alive. His other books include the essay collection No One Else Will Tell You. He lives in Granville, Ohio, and Sanibel, Florida.


Q: What inspired you to write When We Were All Still Alive, and how did you create your character Conrad?


A: My mother’s death from an E. coli outbreak over a decade ago was my wake-up call to an awareness of my own mortality, and eventually became the emotional foundation of the novel.


I’d already written a short memoir, Befriending Ending, which related my experience of her last days and what it taught me about death and dying.


But that was an exercise in facts and philosophy, and I wanted to get at the emotional reality of familial connection, loss, redemption, and solace, and how they interplay throughout life, in a way that a memoir couldn’t.


So I started this novel where the protagonist, Conrad, loses the person dearest to him, and he basically has to reinvent himself and his understanding of his own past and future. I suppose it was an attempt to inoculate myself against a kind of loss I hope to God I never have to experience.


I had also reached a point in life where the unfairnesses and consolations of growing older became a focus, and I wanted Conrad to embody those realities, and to depict how a couple’s loves and friendships change and endure over the span of a lifetime and into late middle age.


Q: How was the novel's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: The title is a direct lift from a line in an autobiographical short story by John Updike, originally published in 1960, in which he describes his adolescence with his parents and his grandmother in rural Pennsylvania.

He reminisces about his grandmother’s life and death, and then Updike writes that “when we were all still alive” his life was different: secure and ordered, and now unrecoverable, but deserving of remembrance.


I was on my fifth or sixth draft of my novel, then titled The Widower’s Handbook, when I read this short story, and that line captured so beautifully the tone of loss and wistfulness that I was aiming for that “When We Were All Still Alive” struck me as a better title than what I had. I was sure no one would recognize the source, but if anyone did, I’d have an avid reader for sure.


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?

A: I had no idea how it would end. It was a journey of discovery, and it had many different endings along the way. It was once several chapters shorter, and ended in an ambivalent way that an early reader thought was unsatisfying, so I kept writing.


And it finally dawned on me that Sarah’s death, occurring late in the book, could come not only as a surprise but might strike the reader as a cheap melodramatic trick, and that it needed to be the explicit premise of the story rather than its climax.


This change also required that the time sequence become nonlinear, circling back to where the narrative began before it moved forward again, which seemed a nice reflection of Conrad’s journey out of grief. So yes, many changes and many endings, as well as many beginnings.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: A renewed sense of appreciation of the glories of ordinary domestic life, which we’ve all been longing for this past year, a deeper awareness of our individual, personal mortality, and the fact that our loves and friendships are our only real solace.


The book’s stylistic reference points were two of my favorite novels – Evan S. Connell’s Mrs. Bridge, a pointillist portrait of a marriage, rendered in brief scenes and small moments – and James Salter’s Light Years, another domestic novel in which the passage of time becomes a central theme, almost a character.


They’re both deeply introspective books, yet utterly uplifting in their effect, and that was the alchemy I hoped to reproduce.

Q: What are you working on now?


A: Two stories, and we’ll see if either one crosses the finish line. One is a literary science fiction novel (think The Age of Miracles) about the consequences of radically extending the human lifespan. It will be much more of a conventional, plotted genre novel.


The other is a novel about two big-shot finance guys from California who get trapped in New York City on the day of 9/11 and have to make their way back across the country by car to get home.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: When We Were All Still Alive is very much a “retro” novel in that it harkens back to a time when “literary” fiction was more concerned with intimate relationships and precise description of those relationships than with complex plotlines or exotic circumstances.


If you’re looking for the three “Ds” that dominate current fiction --diaspora, dysfunction, and deep dark secrets -- they’re not in this book.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

May 30



May 30, 1938: Billie Letts born.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Q&A with John Marshall and Liza Marshall




John Marshall and Liza Marshall are the authors of the new book Off Our Chests: A Candid Tour Through the World of Cancer. John Marshall is an oncologist a professor at Georgetown University. Liza Marshall, a former attorney, is a survivor of breast cancer and a founder of the group Hope Connections for Cancer Support. A husband-and-wife writing team, they live in the Washington, D.C., area.


Q: What inspired the two of you to write this memoir, and how did you work together on it?


A: Actually, our inspiration came from one of our dear friends who also is a writer. The Arlington Magazine had done a story about us, specifically the juxtaposition of a wife with breast cancer and a husband who is an oncologist as well as the fact that we approached a somewhat grim situation with familial humor. 


When our friend read the article, she said she thought there could be a book there in light of the fact that John had been quite publicly vocal about many issues in cancer care and healthcare in the United States. 


When we first tried to write it though, our lives were too busy and we were unable to find the time. Writing a complete draft required John's taking a sabbatical and the magic of being in Oxford, England, for four blissfully quiet months.


We wrote completely separately, actually even in different locations, John in the college library and Liza in the flat. We did not share each other's drafts with the other until we were done.  That initial review of each other’s feelings, some of which we had never told each other about, was a relatively intense moment for us both.


Once we returned to the States, our friend, Marianne Szegedy-Maszak, helped us organize our chapters into a cohesive and, we hope, readable whole.


Q: How was the book’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?

A: The book title is Liza’s inspiration. We felt it was perfectly appropriate, depicting the physical removal of Liza’s breasts off her chest, John's metaphysical need to get his feelings about our world of cancer medicine off his chest, and finally Liza and John’s revelations about their feelings at the time. 


Q: As an oncologist and a cancer survivor, as well as husband and wife, what impact did writing the book have on you and on your relationship?


A: We wrote the book 15 years after the events depicted actually occurred. While the delay was mostly logistical, we have found that it was quite important for time to have passed for both of us to be secure in our relationship and to allow the feelings and reactions we had then to have had time to settle and distill. 


The book project has definitely brought us closer together, from the four months in a small flat in England away from our usual daily demands to the ongoing work together on talks, interviews, and marketing. We are truly enjoying the entire process and having opportunities to replace some of our parallel activities with joint activities.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from your experiences?


A: We expect different people and different audiences to take away different messages from the book. 


On a superficial level, we hope readers will use our book to learn about what is to come and to navigate their own medical journeys or, for those already on the other side of cancer treatment, to find empathy for and even some humor in what they have endured. 


By dissecting out the intertwined but different roles of patient, caregiver, and healthcare team members, we also hope that each will see the others for both their strengths and their vulnerabilities. 


And we hope that the reader will extend forgiveness and grace when he or she encounters imperfections in others involved in the process. 


Some may be interested in our commentary on U.S. healthcare, a reflection on perspective if one is considering overall policy. 


Finally, we hope that our book will inspire discussions among those who read it to improve communication and understanding of one another.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Managing the pandemic, preparing for a much-delayed family wedding, figuring out what is next in our lives, dedicating time to our church, to a local organization that provides support for cancer patients and their caregivers, and for John, continuing his work at the cancer center.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: We are very cognizant of the fact that we received outstanding medical care because of our backgrounds, from knowing many people in the cancer world to a job with excellent health insurance. 


We also know that it would be impossible to extend that same level of care to everyone in the United States much less to everyone in the world. 


However, we should strive to improve access and healthcare quality for all of our brothers and sisters around the world.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

Q&A with Heywood Gould




Heywood Gould is the author of the new book Drafted: A Memoir of the '60s. His other books include Fort Apache, the Bronx. A novelist, screenwriter, and director, he lives in New York City.


Q: What inspired you to write this memoir about the 1960s? 


A: There had been nothing written or filmed about draft dodging in the ‘60s. Thought it might be of historical interest.


It was an intense moment. There was an explosion of promiscuity, of participatory politics, psychedelics,  pop culture. The Civil Rights struggle, the antiwar movement.


Draft dodging was desperate and at times farcical. Definitely good material for an entertaining book.


Q: You've noted that the memoir began as a film script and then you considered writing it as a novel. What were some of the reasons you chose the project's current form?


A: Myopic movie executives didn't see the potential in a screwball comedy built around a bankable young star (TBD). Then I realized that I had more to say about the period than could ever be said in a movie.  


Q: Did you need to do any research to recreate the time you write about, or did you remember most of the details?


A: I went back and checked my memories for accuracy. Tried to keep everything from my POV.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: A feeling for the time, the change in sensibility. An appreciation of the personalities. Some historical info they hadn't been aware of that might change their perception of the period.


Q: What are you working on now? 


A: My next project is called How Not To Be a Cancer Patient and it’s about my 20-year struggle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb