Archive for the ‘N.C. Events’ Category

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“Mastering the Art of French Cooking” Earns Two Honors

July 2, 2012

“Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” which was originally published in PANK last fall, won first place in the flash fiction category of the 2012 Press 53 Open Awards last week. An awards ceremony is planned for the annual Wine & Words Fest on Saturday, October 20, at the Community Arts Café in Winston-Salem, NC. The story will be featured in the Press 53 Open Awards Anthology 2012, to be released at that event.

This has been a good year for this story, as it turns out, since a few weeks ago, it was also named a notable story of 2011 as part of the storySouth Million Writers Awards. See the full list of notable stories here.

I’m simply thrilled with the attention that this story has received, and I’m grateful for editors Roxane Gay and Bran Green at PANK for giving it a home in the first place. — Art Taylor

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“Booksellers and Librarians Solve Mysteries Every Day”

April 20, 2012

Here’s a quick press release from Sisters in Crime — good things going on on Saturday, April 21, across the nation!

Sisters in Crime (SinC), an international organization founded to support the professional development of women writing crime fiction, is holding a “Booksellers and Librarians Solve Mysteries Every Day” event on Saturday, April 21, to thank librarians and booksellers for 25 years of support of the mystery genre.

“In honor of the 25th anniversary of the founding of Sisters in Crime, we are very pleased to be able to thank some of the people who work the hardest on the front lines of publishing by rolling up our sleeves and working beside them,” said Frankie Y. Bailey, President of Sisters in Crime.

The April 21 celebration launches a pilot program that will bring a select group of Sisters in Crime member authors into bookstores and libraries in hometowns from Livermore Falls, Maine, to Honolulu, Hawaii, where they will work as volunteers from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (local time) on that day. The authors will work in the stacks, on the sales floor, and behind the scenes to do whatever a manager asks of staff members—shelving, bagging, sweeping, assisting patrons, pulling holds, making recommendations, taking out the trash, checking in returned books, and more.

“We know that, in their efforts to help readers find the right books at the right time, booksellers and librarians solve countless mysteries every day,” SinC board member Jim Huang, the coordinator of the event and a former independent bookstore owner, said. “This is our opportunity to thank them in a tangible way—and to find out what the publishing world is like from their perspective.”

The participating authors, bookstores, and libraries include:

  • Frankie Y. Bailey, at The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany, NY
  • Gail M. Baugniet, at the Maikiki Community Library in Honolulu, HI
  • Charlotte Cohen, at the Santa Ana Public Library in Santa Ana, CA
  • Kathy Lynn Emerson, at the Treat Memorial Library in Livermore Falls, ME
  • Barbara Fister, at Once Upon a Crime in Minneapolis, MN
  • Susan Froetschel, at the Takoma Park Neighborhood Library in Washington, DC
  • W.S. Gager at the Jackson District Library in Jackson, MI
  • Kathleen Heady at the Haverford Township Free Library in Havertown, PA
  • Lee Kelly at Barnes & Noble in Marietta, GA
  • Molly MacRae at the Jane Addams Book Shop in Champaign, IL
  • Robin Murphy at the Sharpsburg Library in Sharpsburg, MD
  • Chelle Martin, at the Sadie Pope Dowdell Public Library in South Amboy, NJ
  • Denise Osborne, at the Mid-Continent Public Library, Raytown branch, in Raytown, MO
  • Bernadette Pajer, at the Uppercase Bookshop in Snohomish, WA
  • Karen Pullen, at McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro, NC
  • C. L. (Cheryl) Shore, at Bookmamas in Indianapolis, IN
  • Mary Stanton/Claudia Bishop, at Murder on the Beach in Delray Beach, FL
  • Lane Stone, at the Charles E. Beatley, Jr. Central Library in Alexandria, VA
  • Susan Van Kirk, at the Warren County Public Library in Monmouth, IL
  • Kathryn R. Wall, at the Beaufort County Library, Hilton Head branch, in Hilton Head Island, SC
  • Tina Whittle, at The Golden Bough in Macon, GA

In addition to the in-store and in-library volunteer project, SinC’s more than 3,000 members are gearing up to support the “Solving Mysteries Day” event by going into libraries and bookstores on April 21 to personally thank the booksellers and librarians they find working behind the counters and in the stacks.

“The plan is to show booksellers and librarians how much we really care about the work they do. We couldn’t do our work without them,” Bailey said.

Sisters in Crime is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary year. The organization was established with an organizational meeting held in New York City in the spring of 1987. Today, SinC is made up of more than 3,000 members and 48 chapters worldwide—authors, readers, publishers, agents, booksellers, librarians, and others who love mysteries. Sisters in Crime is online at www.sistersincrime.org.

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Interview: Steve Almond, author of God Bless America

October 16, 2011

I’m pleased to welcome two great short story writers this week: the inimitable Steve Almond in conversation with Tara Laskowski. Almond is just on the eve of a new book publication, the short story collection God Bless America, and a short tour with some key stops worth mentioning. On Wednesday, October 26, Barrelhouse will host Almond at The Black Squirrel in Washington, DC. On Saturday, November 12, he’ll keynote the Baltimore Writers’ Conference. And in the midst of a several appearances in North Carolina—beginning with Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill and ending at Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books—Almond will also keynote this year’s Writer’s Week at UNC-Wilmington, where he’s currently serving as a visiting writer this fall; that talk, on Wednesday, November 16, also serves as the official launch party hosted by the publisher, Lookout Books. The book itself is available for pre-order at Lookout.org for 30 percent off the retail price until October 24, and will be released on October 25. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the chat below. — Art Taylor

After six years, fans of Steve Almond are pleased to hear that he has a new collection of short stories out. God Bless America, Almond’s third story collection after The Evil B.B. Chow and My Life in Heavy Metal, offers up 13 new glimpses into the lives, hopes and dreams of Americans.

Packed with humor, tragedy, sadness and hope, the collection is written, as the New York Times Book Review says, by a “gifted storyteller” who delivers “always enjoyable, often hysterical stories.”

Almond is an opinionated guy, and his stories don’t shy away from politics either—the effects of war, terrorism, the economy, big business, religion. As Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!, says, “Almond’s characters are sons and fathers, inveterate gamblers, thwarted dreamers, the mothers of children gone astray, and God Bless America teach us how to love every one of them.”

I had an opportunity to ask Almond a few questions about the collection, current and future projects, and his thoughts on the state of the country he so carefully paints a vivid portrait of.

Tara Laskowski: You capture here some very distinct portraits of Americans. How did this collection come about? Did you sit down to write about America, or did you find later as you were writing these pieces that this was the common thread throughout?

Steve Almond

Steve Almond: This is going to be disappointing. I basically just chose what I took to be my strongest stories and put together a manuscript. I wanted to be in the world of short fiction again. I didn’t consciously set out to write about America. But like every other sane person in this country, I’ve watched in a kind of horror as our country has descended further and further into moral ruin. So obviously, that concern crops up in the work. But I’m mostly interested in particular Americans, and the way in which people seek to cope with their loneliness and regrets.

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Interview: Sarah R. Shaber, author of Louise’s War

August 1, 2011

Sarah R. Shaber

I’ve long been a fan of Sarah R. Shaber’s novels, beginning with the first book in her Simon Shaw mystery series, Simon Said, which won the St. Martin’s Press/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Award. Four other books followed, each following the adventures (and misadventures) of a distinguished history professor at a small college in Raleigh, NC: Snipe Hunt, The Fugitive King, The Bug Funeral, and Shell Game. (These books have recently been made available as e-books, for those needing to catch up.) This summer, Shaber debuts a second series with the book Louise’s War. While the new novel still has a tangential connection to the North Carolina that Shaber calls home (the book’s heroine reflects frequently on her past and family in coastal Wilmington, NC), the setting now is the big city: Washington, DC. And here the characters aren’t just looking back on history; they’re living it—with Louise working in the fledgling OSS during the height of World War II.

A launch party for Louise’s War is scheduled for Tuesday, August 9, at 7:30 p.m. at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh—and Shaber promises cake! In the calm before that first bookstore appearance (and in the final days of wrapping up the second book in the series), Shaber indulged a few questions about Louise Pearlie and the various wars she’s fighting.

Art Taylor: The title of your new novel, Louise’s War, seems to work on a number of levels. In the most straightforward reading, we’re getting the title character’s view of World War II itself, of life on the homefront, and of the budding OSS operations. What drew you toward writing about this era and about the OSS? And where did Louise herself come from, this coastal NC native discovering herself in the big city?

Sarah Shaber: When I decided to write a new historical mystery series, World War II immediately came to mind. I’d done some reading on World War II for Snipe Hunt, the second book in my Simon Shaw series, and I remember thinking that was an era I’d like to write about again. World War II was a true battle between good and evil. It took the combined strength of the United States, the British Empire and the Soviet Union to defeat the Axis. Coming right after the Depression, too, the challenges were enormous.

Washington became a boom town. Thousands upon thousands of people migrated there for jobs. The social set from Paris, London, Rome, and other capitals under siege filled hotels and apartments. Con men, criminals and spies followed. OSS was perhaps the most interesting agency in Washington. The Director, Wild Bill Donovan, didn’t care who you were or what your politics were as long as you could help defeat the Nazis. It would take pages to list all the real characters who worked there; Julia Child, Sterling Hayden, and Moe Berg, the baseball player, are just three!

Louise comes from Wilmington as a sentimental homage to Snipe Hunt. Fans of my earlier series might notice that her last name, Pearlie, a common name on the North Carolina Coast, is also the name of the fictional beach — Pearlie Beach — where Snipe Hunt takes place.

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Interview: Kelli Stanley, author of The Curse-Maker. Upcoming: Angela Davis-Gardner, author of Butterfly’s Child

March 18, 2011

The Writer’s Center has recently asked me to begin hosting their new podcast series, which debuted in February and has already featured interviews with novelist Alice McDermott (here) and novelist and critic Alan Cheuse (here; neither conducted by me, incidentally). For my first interview, published here today, I chatted by phone with San Francisco-based mystery writer Kelli Stanley, the author of two highly praised historical mystery series. Her Roman Noir novels put a twist on that old French phrase: They’re actually set in first-century Britannia, what we know today as Roman Britain. The first book in that series, Nox Dormienda, introduced the amateur detective Arcturus and became a Writer’s Digest Notable Debut, won the Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award and was a Macavity Award finalist. A follow-up, The Curse-Maker, was published last month and is the focus of much of our conversation here. Stanley’s second series is set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1940. The first of those books, City of Dragons, has just recently been named a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and a second, City of Secrets, will be released later this year.

I had the great fortune to fall into conversation with Stanley at last year’s Bouchercon by the Bay in San Francisco — at a “black envelope” Litanies of Noir event that also featured readings by Megan Abbott, Cara BlackDavid Corbett, Eddie Muller, Domenic Stansberry, and more — and our chat proved one of the highlights of the entire trip, so I was glad to catch up with her again more officially this month. Check out the full interview here.

Angela Davis-Gardner’s Butterfly’s Child

For next month’s podcast for The Writer’s Center, I’ll be chatting with novelist Angela Davis-Gardner about her new novel Butterfly’s Child, which offers a literary twist on Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Kirkus Reviews has already heaped some lavish praise on the new book, noting that “the novel is told with control, precision and emotional understatement. In its way, it holds its own alongside the modern Western masterpieces of Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy. For all its melancholy and madness, it strikes themes of hope and renewal, and believing in the unbelievable.”

Davis-Gardner will be touring through North Carolina over the next month, beginning this Sunday, March 20, at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh. Check out the full schedule at her own website — and be sure to stay tuned for our podcast interview in mid-April. — Art Taylor


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Interview: 2011 Piedmont Laureate Scott Huler, author of On the Grid

January 20, 2011

Scott Huler; courtesy United Arts

Scott Huler, author most recently of On the Grid: A Plot of Land, an Average Neighborhood, and the Systems that Make our World Work, was named earlier this month as the third Piedmont Laureate, a position serving a five-county area in central North Carolina and “dedicated to building a literary bridge for residents to come together and celebrate the art of writing, enriching the lives of all our citizens.”

Huler is the first nonfiction writer named to the one-year position. Poet Jaki Shelton Green first held the position in 2009, and novelist Zelda Lockhart followed in 2010. The program is co-sponsored by the City of Raleigh Arts Commission, Alamance County Arts Council, Durham Arts Council, Johnston County Arts Council, Orange County Arts Commission and United Arts Council of Raleigh & Wake County.

In addition to On the Grid, Huler is also the author of No-Man’s Lands: One Man’s Odyssey Through The Odyssey; Defining the Wind: The Beaufort Scale, and How a 19th-Century Admiral Turned Science into Poetry; On Being Brown: What It Means to Be a Cleveland Browns Fan; and A Little Bit Sideways: One Week Inside a NASCAR Winston Cup Race Team. He has also worked as a reporter for The News & Observer in Raleigh and appeared on National Public Radio, among other outlets.

Laureate events will be posted at the program’s website. Soon after the honor was announced, Huler chatted briefly with me about the position and his own plans for the coming year. — Art Taylor

Art Taylor: The Piedmont Laureate program seeks to promote the art of writing through readings, workshops and more. What particular goals or challenges have you personally set for yourself in this role?

Scott Huler: My goal for the year is to do what I can to wake people up to the stories all around them. I don’t really want to spend a year telling my own stories; frankly, I’ve heard them all before. So we’re trying to organize events that will be highly participatory. We’re interested in getting a lot of writers involved, and especially getting people involved who might not have thought of themselves as storytellers. Since I’m a nonfiction writer, I see the whole world as nonfiction stories. Poets and fiction writers I suppose do much the same, but what I love most about nonfiction is simply getting the story down. “Good prose is like a window pane,” says Orwell, and good nonfiction does simply that: sees something, frames it, and gets out of the way. So we’re trying to wake people up to the fact that all those YouTube videos? those Facebook status updates? those Tweets? That’s all nonfiction storytelling, and we should be aware of it — and try to do it as well as we can.

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NC News & Events: Fred Chappell To Receive John Tyler Caldwell Award

June 30, 2010

The trustees of the North Carolina Humanities Council have just announced that they will award their highest honor, the John Tyler Caldwell Award for the Humanities, to author Fred Chappell later this year. The award “pays tribute to individuals whose life and work illuminate one or more of the multiple dimensions of human life where the humanities come into play: civic, personal, intellectual, and moral,” and previous recipients have included: John Hope Franklin, Doris Betts, Sam Ragan, Charles Kuralt, William Friday, Reynolds Price, Louis Rubin, Emily Herring Wilson, Walt Wolfram, and Marsha White Warren, among others. This year’s award ceremony is scheduled for Friday, October 8, at 7 p.m. at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s School of Music Recital Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

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