Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Q&A with Ben Pastor

 


 

 

Ben Pastor is the author of the new novel The Venus of Salò, the latest in her Martin Bora series. She was born in Italy, spent 30 years in the United States, and is now living in Italy again.

 

Q: What inspired the plot of your new Martin Bora novel?

 

A: Truly deceptive are beginnings and endings…This free quote from Hölderlin’s poetry sums up the historical context of Martin Bora’s experience in The Venus of Salò, set during the last months of the Second World War.

 

His juvenile enthusiasm at the start of the conflict turned out to be misleading; political disgrace, even as Germany rumbles toward final defeat, is nothing but the cost of his meritorious ethical choices.

 

It is the winter of 1944-1945, in Mussolini’s German-run puppet state near Italy’s northern border.

 

Colonel Bora works as a liaison between the two headquarters, and in so doing his responsibilities range from diplomacy to active warfare against guerrilla units in the mountains. A series of gruesome deaths soon forces him to try to understand why young local women are falling victim to an apparently senseless violence.

 

All along, as a long-time covert opponent of Hitler’s regime, he must steel  himself against the likelihood of harsh retribution.

 

What inspired me? We live in times when concepts like justice, equality, and peace agitate and divide the world as never before. Although the novel was first conceived years ago, its depiction of a man’s struggle to stay true to his ideals in the face of adversity makes it timely and appropriate.

 

How far would any of us go, physically and psychologically, to stand by our beliefs? And how will Bora investigate and confront feminicide, an issue still burning today?


Q: How did you research the novel, and what did you learn that especially surprised you?

 

A: When writing, my approach to research is born out of personal curiosity and an academician’s tolerance for lengthy practices of fact-finding, double-checking, digging through first- and second-hand material, maps, photographs, on site investigation, and more.

 

In preparation for the draft, it was useful for me to travel to the region where the novel takes place, inquire of elderly eyewitnesses, visit local libraries, ransack bookshops for reliable texts in several languages… in other words, immerse myself in that world and that historical period.

 

Familiar as I already was with the events and the principal players in them, I must say that a few surprises came my way.

 

The melancholy of a lakeside once torn between fighting armies, under Nazi and fascist occupation, is palpable even today, despite the glorious reputation Lake Garda has among tourists the world over. Its beauty, mild climate, palm trees and fine hotels cannot altogether cancel the echo of all that happened there.

 

The mindful visitor will readily identify Mussolini’s final residence (under German guard), the local SS and Black Shirts headquarters, let alone the markers pointing out places where patriots fought and died. Equally unexpected was perceiving the local population’s tickled embarrassment over the fame the town of Salò and neighboring communities “enjoy” in history books, 80 years after the events.

 

Q: Why did you decide to focus on a Wehrmacht officer in your series?

 

A: Twelve Bora novels have seen publication in various languages during the past 25 years. My protagonist and I have been travel companions for longer than many couples stay married!

 

Believe it or not, in my attempt to “push the envelope” while conceiving an out-of-the-ordinary mystery, the first idea was to create a WWII investigator who served in the Russian NKVD, Stalin’s infamous secret police. Of course, my character could not be a murderous thug, and would need a certain leeway to do his inquiries besides.

 

As neither possibility appeared likely under the Soviet regime, I had to look somewhere else. However, the same logic held true on the German side for a disreputable corps like the SS.  

 

Thus, Bora became a Saxon cavalry officer in the regular armed forces, the Wehrmacht. From a landowning background, with a degree in philosophy, he is a Catholic, although a descendant from Martin Luther’s wife. His art-loving maternal family is Scots, liberally minded and supportive.

 

A sportsman who gave up a chance to win the Berlin Olympic Games in order to fight in the Spanish civil war as a legionnaire, Bora is also a faithful, passionate young husband who keeps an accurate diary of his moral doubts throughout the war.

 

The publishing world showcases investigators of all types and sizes, from all walks of life. Choosing a protagonist from what is to all appearances the wrong side of the fence found its justification in the true stories of German soldiers who rejected the regime’s criminal orders at the cost of their careers and often their lives.

 

Secretly coming to the aid of civilians, especially the persecuted, and generally living on the edge, Bora saves his soul while retaining the allure of a first-rate combatant and dashing horseman.

 

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

 

A: Everyone will probably take away from this novel what in some form s/he already had inside. My hope is that at least some of the concerns I try to convey in The Venus of Salò come through and stay with the reader.

 

Among them I would mention a sense of hope and resilience, a strong moral instinct, the delight in physical love as an antidote to fear, and generally speaking, a hardy attitude in life, capable of grinning even in the face of trouble. Bora has lost a hand in combat, but displays all the vigor and efficiency of an individual unbowed by disability.

 

In my opinion, a mystery should entertain, while possibly making readers reflect not only on crime-solving and justice, but also on the way we all confront daily choices in normal times, free of the horrors known to the generations of our parents and grandparents.

 

Q: What are you working on now?

 

A: Thanks for asking. In May, The Wolf Pit is coming out in Italian – the first novel I actually wrote in my native language, as I habitually write in English. I am now in the process of working with the publishers and their marketing staff to schedule readings, book presentations, attendance at literary festivals, and TV appearances.

 

The choice of using Italian is tied to the novel’s plot, actually a sequel to Alessandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed, Italy’s fundamental novel – more or less as Moby Dick is for Americans. Set in Spanish-run Milan and its duchy, it takes place in the XVII century during the Thirty Years’ War, and the subsequent plague that ravaged Europe.

 

Taking up where Manzoni left off, the story evolves from a tale of oppression, injustice and redress into a mystery full of action and intrigue, against a backdrop of religiosity and superstition typical of those witch-burning days.

 

The protagonist, Don Diego Antonio de Olivares, a young and spirited lawman, is the latest addition to the team of my fictional investigators.

 

Q: Anything else we should know?

 

A: Well, my next project regards Martin Bora. We backtrack from 1945 to 1941, shortly after the start of the German invasion of Russia. Bora has just come out of a close encounter with the enemy in fine shape except for a broken arm.

 

He fears that a desk job will be his destiny for the following weeks, until he is unexpectedly shipped to Odessa, the once wild Ukrainian port city on the Black Sea. Due to the war, gone are the days when Odessan streets echoed with the cries of Greek and Italian vendors, klezmer music, sailors’ oaths, and the shooting rows of criminal gangs in the alleys of the Moldavanka quarter.

 

The spunky officer is given a perilous task even as the death squads of the SS move east to annihilate entire populations. It will be interesting to see how he manages through it all, of course coming across a fresh criminal case of his own.

 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Ben Pastor.

June 25

 


 

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

June 25, 1903: George Orwell born.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Q&A with Antoine Laurain

 

Photo by Pascal Ito@Flammarion

 

 

Antoine Laurain is the author of the novel French Windows, now available in a new translation from French to English by Louise Rogers Lalaurie. Laurain's other books include An Astronomer in Love. He lives in Paris.

 

Q: What inspired you to write French Windows?

 

A: One inspiration is the view from my apartment in Paris! I can see many buildings and many windows, even some of my neighbors on the other side of the courtyard.

 

I thought maybe a building with all its floors could be like a book with chapters, with characters, events, lives... And why not a murder on one floor? That could be the mysterious part of it. 


Q: How did you create your characters Nathalia Guitry and Dr. Faber?

 

A: Nathalia saw something, and she took a pic with her camera. She pretends it's a crime. True or lie? That's the first question. Then she is going to write a story of the floors she can see from her windows, same question again: are the residents real or pure imagination? You will find the answer at the end of the book.

 

Dr. Faber is the person she discusses her writing with, as though they were short stories.  He tries to understand if they are real or not, like a game. I like the idea of the therapy room, the sofa, the silence for their discussions, like a bubble out of time. 

 

Q: What do you think the novel says about the nature of truthfulness?

 

A: Perhaps the novel says that everything is always true, but just “hidden” behind symbols, alternative names, masked changes you need to understand. 

 

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

 

A: I hope they take pleasure in reading about all the different lives and destinies, floor after floor, and experiencing the suspense as they approach the truth at the end. 

 

Q: What are you working on now?

 

A: Guess what: another book!

 

Q: Anything else we should know?

 

A: I hope you will enjoy this little trip in Paris. Think of it as a long weekend inside an old Parisian building in my city, with a mysterious plot. 

 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Antoine Laurain.

June 24

 

Photo by Beowulf Sheehan

 

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

June 24, 1937: Anita Desai born.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Q&A with Claire Berger

 


 

 

Claire Berger is the author of the new book How Much Is Enough?: Getting More by Living With Less. She is also a stand-up comedian.

 

Q: What inspired you to write How Much Is Enough?

 

A: How Much Is Enough? Getting More By Living With Less was conceived underwater at the Prospect Park YMCA in Brooklyn. It was March 2021 and pandemic protocols were still in place and strictly followed.

 

I had just moved to New York and joined the Y to find community and a good swimming pool. The pandemic rule was that each person was only allowed to swim for 30 minutes and then relinquish their lane to another swimmer.

 

After the pandemic rules were lifted, everyone could swim as long as they like. But I had become a happy 30-minute swimmer. Couldn’t that be enough of a workout? As I continued to swim I started my own “Enough” inventory, thinking about all the other aspects of my life where I ask myself “How much is enough?”

 

Q: The writer Peggy Klaus said of the book, “In a world where we are encouraged to want more, buy more, and be more, How Much Is Enough? is a wonderful exploration into what truly fills us up.” What do you think of that description?

 

A: I am thrilled to receive this endorsement from such an esteemed author and corporate coach. It is an important reminder that what we have is, more often than not, more than enough. “More” doesn’t equal happiness, enhance our health or deepen our relationships.

 

Q: As an author and a stand-up comedian, how do you see the two coexisting for you?

 

A: My stand-up material was always rooted in truth and filled with personal stories, so writing How Much Is Enough? feels like a logical next chapter for me as a writer and performer. I look forward to reading chapters and inspiring conversations about Enough for audiences everywhere.

 

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

 

A: I recently read a study where this question was asked, “If you met your 13-year-old self and could offer just three words of advice, what would you tell her?” The overwhelming answer from the respondents was “YOU ARE ENOUGH.”

 

I want my readers to be inspired to do their own self-reflection on the concept of “Enough” in all aspects of their lives and come to the same supportive conclusion. We are all “Enough.”

 

Q: What are you working on now?

 

A: I am about to embark on a six-month promotional book tour throughout the US and welcome the opportunity to join book clubs and literary events. For more information about my tour schedule, please contact me through my website: www.claireberger.com

 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

June 23

 


 

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
June 23, 1889: Anna Akhmatova born.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Q&A with Susan Coll

 


 

 

Susan Coll is the author of the new novel Real Life and Other Fictions. Her other novels include Bookish People. She is the events advisor for Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C.

 

Q: What inspired you to write Real Life and Other Fictions, and how did you create your character Cassie?

 

A: The novel was inspired by events surrounding the Silver Bridge collapse in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in 1967, which resulted in 46 fatalities.

 

Prior to the disaster, there were multiple sightings in the area of a gigantic creature said to be part man, part moth: The Mothman. The creature was thought to be a harbinger of disaster – not the cause itself.

 

There were said to be similar sightings of the Mothman prior to the explosion of a nuclear reactor in Chernobyl in 1986, as well as the apartment bombings in Moscow in 1999.

 

A 2002 movie starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney took the Mothman story it in the direction of horror and suspense.

 

I wanted to try to capture the same narrative from the point of view of a survivor, which is where my protagonist, Cassie, comes in. She was orphaned at the age of 2 and has always wondered why her parents were in West Virginia at the time of the accident.

 

Q: How was the book’s title chosen, and what do you think the novel says about storytelling?

 

A: I struggled with this title more than most. The Wonder was my working title, but Real Life and Other Fictions fits in nicely with theme of storytelling, which is at the heart of the novel.

 

Cassie is a writing instructor who is haunted by the stories her students write. Her aunt is the host of a hugely successful podcast called The Storyteller. And Cassie’s life has been shaped by a story that no one in her family will talk about.


Q: How did you research the book, and did you learn anything about the Mothman that especially surprised you?

 

A: I made two trips to Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and attended The Mothman Festival. I watched the movie The Mothman Prophecies countless times and read anything I could find about the bridge collapse, including newspaper clips at The Mothman Museum.

 

And yes, I was definitely surprised by some of what I learned about The Mothman – there are lots of internet rabbit holes one can go down on the subject, and theories to do with aliens, with government conspiracies, and with a curse. There are also some who think The Mothman was simply an owl or a crane.

 

Q: The Washington Post review of the book said, “Real Life and Other Fictions is quirky without being saccharine. It effortlessly mixes a journey around grief, reinvention and romance in midlife with the myth of a moth and the supernatural.” What do you think of that description?

 

A: I love this description. It’s always a surprise to learn how other people read and interpret a novel, and in some ways it helps me to better understand my own book.

 

Q: What are you working on now?

 

A: I’m working on a comedy set at a literary nonprofit in DC. It features one of the characters from my previous novel, Bookish People. I’m having a lot of fun with it. It also involves a cat, which is entirely new territory for me.

 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Susan Coll.

Q&A with Jennifer Berne

 


 

 

Jennifer Berne is the author of the new children's picture book A Tour of the Human Body. Her other books include How the Sea Came to Be

 

Q: What inspired you to write A Tour of the Human Body?

 

A: Well, in this case it was the first in a series of picture book tours of interesting nonfiction subjects — ones in which numbers would reveal and enhance the facts and curiosities of each subject.

 

And what subject is more interesting than our own bodies! Our bodies are built of so many intriguing systems, and yet most of us know so little about how it all works. So to launch the series, the human body— the body of the reader —  seemed like the perfect place to start.

 

Q: How did you research the book, and what are some of the facts you found especially fascinating?

 

A: This was a HUGE research project. I had towering piles of research books in my office, each one with scores of post-its sticking out of their pages. And of course there are excellent anatomy and physiology internet sites I continually used. 

 

Our bodies are a constant source of wonder to me. A couple of the most fascinating facts I discovered were these:

— Your  body renews its cells so fast that 15 million cells were replaced by new ones in the time it took you to read this sentence.

— Your tongue can only taste five flavors. All the rest of your flavor identification is done by your nose, which can detect over 1 trillion odors.

— In your lifetime you’ll eat approximately 55 tons of food. That’s equivalent to eating nine tyrannosaur rexes.

— If all your blood vessels were laid out end to end, they would measure more than 60,000 miles. That’s enough to circle the world, more than twice!

 

Q: What do you think Dawn DeVries Sokol’s illustrations add to the book?

 

A: I think Dawn was the perfect illustrator to be a partner on this book. Her background in journaling, collage, and in book design were all called into play here.

 

Because the subject was so multifaceted and had so many different elements on each spread, Dawn’s sense of design and composition were just what we needed. And then, her sense of playfulness and creativity perfectly matched the kind of playfully geeky voice I used in the text.

 

Q: The Kirkus Review of the book says, in part, “Before finishing off with additional, less number-centric facts about body parts and showing readers how to take personal measurements, Berne brings her selective tour of body systems to a close with a final, entirely comprehensible number: ‘We are 1 people, 1 species, 1 family’ living on ‘1 home.’” What do you think of that description?

 

A: I like that they focused on that closing sentence. It’s an important one for me. Because, in addition to describing the many wonders of our bodies, I wanted to reach for a higher truth. And that is the truth residing within our bodies, within our physiology —  that we are all one, one species on a shared planet, united in our humanity.

 

I think in today’s world that's an important thing to be reminded of.

 

Q: What are you working on now?

 

A: A couple of projects. First, the next book for Kane Press in the Number Tours for Curious Kids series...A Tour of Outer Space. It’s all written and fact-checked, and Dawn is now creating some absolutely wonderful cosmic illustrations for it.

 

Another project I’m excited about is titled Dinosaur Doomsday: One World Ends. Another Begins. It’s about the dramatic extinction of the giant dinosaurs and how that opened the world up for the little prehistoric mammals who evolved to become us. That’s for Chronicle Books and it’s being illustrated by the super-talented Caldecott-winning Brian Floca.

 

Other projects are in the works, but it’s too soon to talk about them. Stay tuned!

 

Q: Anything else we should know?

 

A: One thing I could mention is that I love to hear from my readers. Once a book goes out into the world it has its own life and its own relationships that the book creators know nothing about. So it’s great when kids or teachers or families reach out to me and let me know how my books have impacted their lives. So if anyone feels like writing to me, I would welcome it!

 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Jennifer Berne.

June 22

 


 

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
June 22, 1898: Erich Maria Remarque born.

Friday, June 21, 2024

Q&A with Jeffrey Dunn

 


 

 

Jeffrey Dunn is the author of the new novel Wildcat. His other books include the novel Radio Free Olympia. He is also a longtime educator.

 

Q: How was your new novel’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?

 

A: In the Appalachian village of Braeburn, Pennsylvania, there is a road called “Wildcat Hollow Road.” It’s a good Appalachian name: free but threatened, just like the wildcats whose coughs, screams, and yowls are familiar to those who know these hills.

 

Q: The novel’s subtitle is “An Appalachian Romance”--how important is setting to you in your writing?

 

A: Crucial. Reviewers have pondered and struggled with the word “romance.” Is it sexting with your paramour? Is it a love affair with Appalachia? Is it “Romance” with a big “R,” as in fighting oneself out of the classical/industrial and into the romantic/natural? Yes, yes, and yes. Apparently, many aren’t fans of complexity.

 

I want all readers to enjoy Wildcat, but I especially want readers connected with the Appalachian Rust Belt to resonate both with the area’s industrial collapse of the 1980s and with the area’s magical potential for a sustainable future.


Q: The BookLife review of the novel says, “Dunn...strikes a graceful balance between the mystical and the everyday in this meditative reflection on acceptance and belonging.” What do you think of that description?

 

A: Spot on, really. “Everyday?” No argument there. Appalachia doesn’t suffer outsiders gladly and quickly judges people by whether they talk Appalachia’s talk and walk Appalachia’s walk.

 

“Mystical?” Yes, if by mystical you mean magical—e.g. the transformation the landscape goes through as the sun tracks through the sky as well was the unexplainable “Shadows” of those killed in mine accidents just outside a mine.

 

And “meditative reflection on acceptance and belonging?” Seems fair. Although the speaker in the novel has retired to the place where he graduated from high school, he, in many ways, remains an outsider. For him, the act of journaling about his return is a chronicle of both the town and himself weaving back together the threads that unraveled during Wildcat’s dark past.

 

Q: What are you working on now?

 

A: My new novel, Whiskey Rebel (Izzard Ink), will be out in 2025. This is the story of a shell-shocked soldier who returns home from Iraq only to question the very meaning of American freedom.

 

While panning for gold, he meets Hamilton, a barefoot, manic, obsessive drummer with a burning desire—to distill tax-free whiskey just like his forefathers during the American Whiskey Rebellion of 1794.

 

They join forces, set up shop in the rugged western high desert of Washington's Columbia Basin, and begin producing Westcoulatum Good Goddamned 1794 Freedom Whiskey. As they explore their friendship, they assemble a cast of quirky characters who discover that freedom is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.

 

Q: Anything else we should know?

 

A: I am the author of the critically acclaimed novel Radio Free Olympia (Izzard Ink, 2023), have been featured on NPR, and write for Medium. I also advocate for educational reform, drawing on my award-winning 41-year teaching career, my Ph.D. in Cultural Studies and English Literature, and my experience with dyslexia.

 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Jeffrey Dunn.

Q&A with Stephen A. Sadow

 


 

 

Stephen A. Sadow is the editor of the new book I Am of the Tribe of Judah: Poems from Jewish Latin America. His other books include King David's Harp. He is a professor emeritus of Latin American literature and Jewish studies at Northeastern University.

 

Q: What inspired you to create this anthology of Latin American Jewish poetry?


A: Since 1987, I have been studying and translating poems from Jewish Latin America.

 

With my co-translator J. Kates, the former president of the American Literary Translators Association, I have translated poems from over 50 poets, most who write in Spanish and a few in Portuguese. Some of these translations were published in literary magazines in the United States, Great Britain and Sweden.

 

We have published six book-length anthologies of work by individual poets.


In 2022, I was having lunch with my dear friend Ilan Stavans. I mentioned that I had many, many translations sitting in my files. Ilan’s response was, “Let’s do a book!” As it turned out, he had done translations of poets I’d never worked on. Ilan made a few calls.

 

Two weeks later, I was invited by Michael Millman of the University of New Mexico Press to submit a book proposal.


Q: How did you choose the poems to include?

 

A: My goal in choosing the poems was to cover as much literary and geographical territory as I could within the planned length of the book. This meant picking poems from the 16th to 21st centuries, picking poems from 11 countries, while not letting any country dominate the collection.

 

I had to make judgments about the quality of each poem. I also had to make sure that many themes of Jewish writing in Latin America. Of course, I tried to include poems written by personal friends and acquaintances, but that was not always possible.


Q: What themes do you see running through the anthology?

 

A: The dominant themes of the anthology are immigration from Europe and adaptation to Latin America, the Holocaust, and anti-Semitism, Jewish religion and holidays, the Hebrew Bible and the mystical Kabbalah, Sepharad (Spain before the Expulsion of the Jews) everyday life experiences, poetics and the question of what is a Jew.

Q: Especially given the current rise in antisemitism, what do you hope readers take away from these poems?


A: I have come to see I Am of the Tribe of Judah as a political document. It provides one more reason for pride in Jewish accomplishments. It is positive and even aggressive in outlook.

 

As a compendium of fine literature and profound commentary, the book provides a broad knowledge about Latin American Jews and their poetry, something few have heard about.

Q: What are you working on now?


A: I will be spending a great deal of time this year promoting the book, through talks at Jewish institutions and a few universities. Also, I am writing an article for an academic journal about self-transcendence in the work of Costa Rican Jewish Poet Rosita Kalina for publication in Latin American Jewish Studies.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: I am professor emeritus of Latin American Literature and Jewish Studies at Northeastern University in Boston. Besides translation, I did ample scholarly research in those fields. One of my books won a National Jewish Book Award.

 

I have made almost 40 trips to Latin America, and immersed myself in Jewish intellectual culture in Buenos Aires and Mexico City.

 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

 

Q&A with Jennifer Schwed and Doug Bradshaw

 


 

 

Jennifer Schwed and Doug Bradshaw are the creators of the new musical audiobook 19: The Musical. It focuses on important figures in the women's suffrage movement. Schwed and Bradshaw are playwrights, filmmakers, and multimedia storytellers.

 

Q: What inspired you to create 19: The Musical?

 

A: As multimedia creators, we were considering our next production after finishing a run of an immersive theatrical play about Edgar Allan Poe.

 

It was the fall of 2016, and inspired by both the storytelling elements of Hamilton and what we had assumed would be the election of the first female president, we arrived at the idea of 19: The Musical.

 

This would be an artistic homage to the women who fought and won the right to vote in the US, the 19th Amendment. So much of women’s history remains buried and we felt now was a great time to right that wrong.


Q: How did the two of you collaborate on the project?

 

A: We’ve been collaborating for over a decade, so we’ve developed a sort of rhythm to creating projects. We outline a story together, deciding on the flow and what material will be covered. Then we kind of go into our corners and tackle different parts of a production.

 

Sometimes, the creative process is just inspired--one of us absolutely wants to write a song for one scene and the other is drawn to another scene.

 

What’s nice is that you have a partner to work through tricky parts or passages, testing them out loud, trying different words and phrases. And then of course, we do write together sometimes!


Q: How did you research the project, and what did you learn that especially surprised you?

 

A: Our research consisted of a lot of reading, speaking to many historians and watching documentaries. Almost everything we learned was a surprise as this subject is so poorly covered in most schools.

 

One of the most surprising things we learned was how often these women put themselves in harm’s way, spending time in jail, being force-fed and beaten. These women were relentless in their pursuit of equality.

 

And these suffragists were also a blueprint for the Civil Rights movement in America; they were the first group to peacefully assemble and demand their rights by marching to the White House.

 

Q: What do you hope listeners take away from the project?

 

A: We hope listeners appreciate how important it is to be involved and stay involved in politics because it impacts every bit of their lives. We want listeners to be inspired by the idea of working together and creating influence that can affect positive change.

 

And most importantly, we want to credit these women who went before us; we want to shed light on their story, their power and their perseverance. 


Q: What are you working on now?

 

A: Currently, we’re reworking our immersive Poe production for other mediums, we’re outlining a noir detective series, and there are a few other ideas on the table!


Q: Anything else we should know?

 

A: We would love for the audiobook of 19: The Musical to be shared in schools and used for educating children and young adults about the inspiring historical actions of the women who fought for and won the right to vote.

 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

June 21

 


 

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

June 21, 1905: Jean-Paul Sartre born.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Q&A with Catherine Bybee

 


 

 

Catherine Bybee is the author of the new novel All Our Tomorrows. Her many other novels include When It Falls Apart. She lives in San Diego.

 

Q: What inspired you to write All Our Tomorrows, and how did you create your characters Chase and Piper?

 

A: I truly enjoy writing about the rich and famous…especially when the characters are "newly" rich. Cinderella stories never go out of fashion, IMHO. So, the birth of All Our Tomorrows and The Heirs Series happened.  

 

Another big reason for this particular book with the conflicts that my characters face is the state of our country. While America has rolled back 50 years of precedence with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, I wanted to write a common scenario with the very real emotions unmarried women have when faced with an unexpected pregnancy.

 

While the secret baby trope isn’t new, it must shift and change with the times. I hope the outcome satisfies all my readers. 

 

Q: What do you think the novel says about money and inheritance?

 

A: In a simple sentence, money and inheritance don’t equate happiness. Chase and Alex inherit their late father’s estate… but they also inherit his stress and problems that come with a billion-dollar company.

 

Shouldering the livelihood of a thousand employees is a real responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. And since Chase and Alex are relatable characters, it’s easy to feel their pain despite the fancy cars and big houses. 


Q: How would you describe the dynamic between Chase and Piper?

 

A: Honest and genuine. If you or I won the lottery, we’d wonder if the new people entering our lives are there for our companionship or the money.

 

With Piper and Chase, there isn’t any question why each of them are there. I love how Chase needs Piper just as much as she needs him. For both their romantic relationship as well as their business life. It’s a very equal relationship and I love that.

 

This is a bit like a reverse Cinderella story. Yes, Chase is the one with the money, but it’s Piper who teaches him what that truly means. I love that.  

 

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

 

A: Piper is the character with an uncertain future…until Chase promises all his tomorrows to her. *Sigh*

 

Q: This is the first in a new series--what's coming next?

 

A: There are two brothers and one sister in this series. Each of them has a completely different story in how they acclimate to their new “Billion Dollar” lives and the romance they find in their journeys. 

 

Book two is all about the missing blue-collar brother and the reporter who needs to uncover his secrets. 

 

Book three… All about Alex (Alexandrea) who has given up on any possibility of a life partner… Well... this is a Bybee book so you know THAT isn’t going to last. *smile*  

 

Q: Anything else we should know?

 

A: Absolutely… Unlike most of my series where each book never leaves a hanging plot point, this series has an underlying issue that isn’t resolved until the end of the series. While I still strive to assure that each of my novels can be read as a stand-alone, these three will have a bit of doubt until the last page of the final book. 

 

And one more thing… be sure and read my Author’s Notes in these books. You might feel my passion for the plot twists and know where they are coming from. 

 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb