Land of Love and Drowning is narrated by the “old wives” of the island. They are the ones who receive and pass on the stories, including this one about the soldiers in New Orleans. An old wives’ tale is generally a label given to a tale thought to come from myth and superstition, and so should be considered with derision. But worse, an old wives’ tale is one that is often considered false in part because it is told by old women.
St. Louis writer Michele Andrea Bowen made a splash in the inspirational fiction world with her Church Folk series, which followed the loves and losses of a tight-knit church community in Durham, North Carolina. Her latest release, Pastor Needs a Boo, launches a spin-off of that series, the Pastor’s Aide Club, and finds reader favorite Denzelle Flowers—a former FBI agent turned pastor—the woman who will be the making of him. In a behind-the-book essay, Bowen explains why she chose Reverend Flowers to kick things off.
With her 2010 debut novel, Still Missing, Canadian author Chevy Stevens established herself as a writer who can tranform small fears into ultimate nightmares. Her new novel, That Night, evolves a tale of high school bullying into a story of revenge and twisted girl-world secrets. Stevens shares a look behind the curtain into the changing tides of her writing life.
With her 2012 novel Dare Me, Megan Abbott transformed high school bullying into a startling tale of reckless teenage chaos. In her new novel, The Fever, another group of young women find themselves at the center of pandemonium, as one by one girls fall to a mysterious infection that causes terrifying, gruesome seizures. The author shares how this haunting tale was inspired by a real-life “mass hysteria” outbreak in Le Roy, New York, in 2012.
Born in America to Afghani parents, author Nadia Hashimi grew up hearing her parents’ stories of the thriving Afghanistan they left in the 1970s. But when she finally visited decades later, she found a struggling country that bore little resemblance to their memories—especially in the way women were treated. Because of the increasing restrictions on female freedom, the custom of bacha posh, the practice of dressing a daughter as a son, has become common. Hashimi’s first novel, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, traces that modern tradition back to its possible origin, a time when women dressed as men to guard the king’s harem. Here, the author explains how these two cultural flashpoints inspired her debut.
“There’s a scene in your story that’s unrealistic. The one where your main character’s marriage was arranged so quickly. In those days, matchmaking could take years, especially between old, wealthy families.”
This was the feedback from a family friend who read the manuscript for Three Souls during its early stages of editing. This friend grew up in a very traditional family and had majored in Chinese literature. If my novel’s depiction of Chinese family life in the years before World War II passed her critical judgement, I could breathe a sigh of relief.
There were many things I liked about my Grandmother Puffer’s home: cartoons on television (We didn’t have a TV at home: hippie parents.), Cheerios for breakfast (ditto), and all manner of ancestral relics. There was a genuine family tree—branches wider than my arms—and artifacts like a chair that Myles Standish had sat in (and in which we were not to sit) and a bugle that had been played at President Wilson’s inauguration. More than all this stuff, there were the tales my grandmother could tell.
When Coll Coyle, a struggling tenant farmer in 1832 Ireland, accidentally kills the landowner he works for, retribution is fierce. Forced to flee the country for America, Coyle exchanges one bleak existence for another when he finds work digging the rail beds for the Pennsylvania railroad. And he’s still being pursued by the relentless overseer, Faller, who is determined to see Coyle...
Here’s a confession: It’s tough, close to no-way-no-how, for me to write something without first giving it a name. Why?Names have always helped my ideas cohere (or at least transform from inchoate to an emerging form). Names have made me think about the pressing thing or things I want to say, and have helped me consider my reader: What do they need from the language, the characters,...
Linda Spalding—who has lived in Canada for 30 years—has written fiction and nonfiction over her long and varied career. With her third novel, The Purchase, which won Canada's 2012 Governor General's Award for Fiction, she draws from her own family history for the very first time. It's the story of a Quaker man who moves to Virginia in 1798 and finds his abolitionist...