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17 May 2011 0 Comments

Inspiration–and laughter–for the ladies: Ghada Abdel Aal’s Writing Life

When she was in her early twenties, Egyptian writer Ghada Abdel Aal began the complicated process of seeking a spouse. It involved meetings in parental living rooms over awkward glasses of tea. On one such occasion her potential groom spent his time screaming at a soccer game on tv. Another turned out to have a [...]

8 May 2011 2 Comments

The Reverse Orientalist: Kamal Abdel-Malek’s Writing Life Interview

When Kamal Abdel-Malek was a young student, he chose to study outside the Arab world, eventually becoming a professor at Brown and Princeton Universities in the US. It was the first step in the physical and intellectual journeys of this intriguing Egyptian writer. Born in Alexandria and now a teacher of Arabic literature at the [...]

4 May 2011 0 Comments

Italy’s Uncomfortable Past: Francesca Melandri’s Writing Life interview

I’ve hosted award-winning writers on this blog before – but never on the day that they received an award. Yet just today the fabulous Italian writer Francesca Melandri received the Book of the Year award from Elle magazine. And justly so. Her novel, “Eva dorme,” tackles the kinds of social issues that only the greatest [...]

22 April 2011 8 Comments

Doctor knows life and death: Abraham Verghese’s Writing Life interview

If you were a book editor who wanted to create the perfect writer for a best-selling epic novel of an African-born doctor forced to take refuge in the U.S., you might pick someone from Ethiopia. Make him of Christian Indian parentage. Educate him in medicine and send him to the Iowa Writing Program. Make him [...]

17 April 2011 0 Comments

From Romance to Corpses: Tess Gerritsen’s Writing Life

Tess Gerritsen started with romance, but soon realized that dead bodies were where it’s at. At least, dead bodies handled deftly by the two most compelling female series characters in thriller fiction, Detective Jane Rizzoli and Dr. Maura Isles. Her first books were romance novels, but after writing eight of them she switched to medical [...]

10 April 2011 3 Comments

Getting inside your head: Virtual Reality guru Jeremy Bailenson’s Writing Life

Move over cards, cocaine, and nicotine, Virtual Reality is the new addiction. It isn’t restricted to the realms of academe or science fiction. Whether you know it or not, it’s going to change your life. It already may have done so. Stanford University Professor Jeremy Bailenson is co-author of a new book, Infinite Reality, which [...]

4 April 2011 1 Comment

The Heart to the Rest of the World: the Writing Life with Tony Parsons

When you ask writers what underpins the greatest books, they may talk about structure, style, character-building. The best of them identify the novelist’s emotional understanding of himself and his ability to translate it to the page. That’s what strikes readers – perhaps without their even knowing it – and gives them an immediate connection to [...]

2 April 2011 20 Comments

Married to Mohammad:Marguerite van Geldermalsen’s Writing Life interview

In the southern desert of Jordan, the ancient Nabateans carved their city, Petra, out of the red-rose rock. Later the caves were home to tribes of Bedouin. And to a young backpacker from New Zealand who fell in love with a Bedouin man. Marguerite van Geldermalsen met Mohammad in the late-Seventies and for the initial [...]

7 November 2010 6 Comments

Swallow semen, identify penis: Helen Fitzgerald’s Writing Life interview

It will be a long time before anyone thinks of a better way to open their first novel than this: “My best friend Sarah was asleep. Her husband was lying beside her, and I was swallowing his semen.” That’s paragraph two of “Dead Lovely” by Helen Fitzgerald, a fabulous crime novel which manages to amuse, [...]

17 October 2010 2 Comments

Compelling seeds of true history: Philip Sington’s Writing Life interview

The best historical novels are based on some element of real history which has been either neglected or is little known. Philip Sington’s “The Einstein Girl” grows out of the revelation that Albert Einstein had a secret daughter. Sington takes that seed and, with the hand of a true thriller master, builds around it a [...]