Archive for the ‘Meet the Author’ Category

As part of our mission to promote authors, the joy of reading, and to help independent booksellers, The Book Jam has paired with the The Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont to present an ongoing series entitled “3 Questions”. In it, we pose three questions to authors with upcoming visits to the bookstore. (We have a rotating list of six possible questions to ask just to keep things interesting.) Their responses are posted on The Book Jam during the days leading up to their engagement. Our hope is that this exchange will offer insight into their work, will encourage readers to attend these special author events, and ultimately, will inspire some great reading.

Willy Loman's Reckless Daughter or Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances Cover ImageSolitary Bee Cover Image

This “3 Questions” features two poets Elizabeth Powell and Chelsea Woodard. These award winning poets have authored numerous volumes of poetry. Both authors will visit the Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont at 7 pm on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 to discuss poetry and their latest collections. The event is free and open to the public. However, reservations are recommended as space is limited.  Call 802-649-1114 or email info@norwichbookstore.com to save your seat.

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Elizabeth Powell

Elizabeth A. I. Powell’s second book Willy Loman’s Reckless Daughter: Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances won the Robert Dana Prize in poetry. A Pushcart Prize winner, Ms. Powell has also received a Vermont Council on the Arts grants and a Yaddo fellowship. Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Barrow Street, Black Warrior Review, Ecotone, Harvard Review, Handsome, Hobart, Indiana Review, Missouri Review, Mississippi Review, Slope, Sugarhouse Review, Ploughshares, Post Road, and elsewhere. Born in New York City, she has lived in Vermont since 1989 with her four children.

A New Selected Poems Cover ImageNine Stories Cover ImageThe Nick Adams Stories Cover Image

1.What three books have helped shape you into the writer you are today, and why?

Galway Kinnell’s Selected Poems….my grandmother gave it to me and the musicality and lyricism  combined with the depth of meaning and metaphor totally blew my mind permanently as a 15 year old. Prior to reading that book, I had the usual suspects, and I had spent my young childhood listening to a record album called something like “The Wit of John F. Kennedy”, and I think listening endlessly and obsessively to that gave me a real sense of tuning in to speech patterns and cadences.

Also, I like what Charles Simic says about good lines of  poetry, that they are like good jokes in phrasing and timing. I grew up also listening to a lot of Groucho Marx and Richard Pryor. The Book of Lists was also important. I love list poems now.

But in terms of books, JD Salinger’s Nine Stories was and is important to my sensibility, how to come at the truth  from an angle.

As a young person I loved Ernest Hemingway’s The Nick Adams Stories. It showed me the perfect sentence. It taught me “that everything is 7/8 below the surface.”


2.What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?

Walt Whitman because he contains multitudes and I like that!

Fortune Smiles: Stories Cover ImageI Must Be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems Cover ImageJesus' Son Cover Image

3.What books are currently on your bedside table?

chelsea woodard - writer, editor, poet, critic and translator

Chelsea Woodard

Chelsea Woodard received her MFA from the Johns Hopkins University and her PhD from the University of North Texas. She earned a BA in Visual Arts and English from Union College. Her poems have appeared in The Threepenny Review, Southwest Review, Best New Poets, Blackbird, 32 Poems and other journals. She currently teaches in New Hampshire where she lives with her husband, Pete.

An Eco-Acoustic Reading of Seamus Heaney's Death of a Naturalist Cover ImageThe Canterbury Tales Cover ImageRonia, the Robber's Daughter Cover Image

1.What three books have helped shape you into the writer you are today, and why?

Seamus Heaney’s Death of a Naturalist has had a large influence on me. The fact that, while he is looking downward and backward in the poems, “digging” into the details of his personal and familial history, he is always looking beyond those things into new territory as well, trying to make whatever “darkness” he finds “echo” somehow. His echoing darkness, to me, is a very resonant image for poetry. Reading the Canterbury Tales in college and then re-reading them, as a graduate student, years later also had a big impact. I was astounded and still am by the music of the Tales, the grittiness of the detail, and the unexpected pathos. Chaucer’s rhyme royal is stunning. I felt, reading the Tales, that I was able to see such a vividly defined worldview through the pilgrims’ stories. I also love how Chaucer gives the female characters such agency, and always read him in the Tales as a sort of pioneer feminist. There are also numerous children’s books that have been formative. One in particular is a book by the Swedish author, Astrid Lindgren, called Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter. I still keep a copy on my bookshelf. Lindgren’s descriptions of the forest and its inhabitants have always stuck with me––the feeling that there are things lurking in the undergrowth both beautiful and terrifying, the sense of awe for the natural world that she expresses even in a story meant for children.
2.What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?

Probably Anthony Hecht. From everything I’ve heard, he was incredibly wise and dignified, and I think his writing is imbued with such grace, intelligence, and gravitas. Also sadness. I would love to sit and talk with him about life, or history, or writing. He was one of the great greats. I wish I could have met him. Second would be Geoffrey Chaucer.

We Are as Gods: Back to the Land in the 1970s on the Quest for a New America Cover ImageThe Wynona Stone Poems Cover ImageThe Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales Cover ImageThe Last Illusion Cover Image3.What books are currently on your bedside table?

A creative nonfiction book called We Are as Gods by Kate Daloz, about the back to the land movement in the 1970s. A friend recommended her book, and I went to her talk in Peterborough this summer––it’s a fascinating and vivid story. Caki Wilkinson’s most recent book, The Wynona Stone Poems, The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales (which I have not started but am looking forward to), Gene Weingarten’s collection, The Fiddler in the Subway, and The Last Illusion, by Porochista Khakpour.

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This “3 Questions” features Sara Rath, author of 15 books, including the new historical novel, Seven Years of Grace: The Inspired Mission of Achsa W. Sprague, published by the Vermont Historical Society. This book dramatizes the life of Vermonter Achsa W. Sprague, who in the decade preceding the Civil War, lectured to audiences of of thousands on Spiritualism, the abolition of slavery, women’s rights, and prison reform. Using Sprague’s papers at the Vermont Historical Society, the story includes trances, angels, and the love Achsa felt for a married man.

Ms. Rath has been named a MacDowell Fellow, received a Fellowship to the Ucross Foundation, and was awarded a Wisconsin Arts Board Individual Artist’s Fellowship. She will visit the Norwich, Vermont at 7 pm on Thursday, June 16th to discuss Seven Years of Grace: The Inspired Mission of Achsa W. Sprague 

Seven Years of Grace: The Inspired Mission of Achsa W. Sprague Cover Image

This event with Ms. Rath is free and open to the public, and will be held at the Norwich Historical Society at 277 Main Street (just one block from the Norwich Bookstore). Reservations are recommended as space is limited: please call the Norwich Bookstore 802-649-1114 or email info@norwichbookstore.com. The Norwich Bookstore will attend and provide Ms. Rath’s book for purchase.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life Cover ImageA Dark-Adapted Eye Cover ImageFar from the Madding Crowd Cover Image

(1) What three books that have helped shape you into the author you are today, and why?

This is a difficult question for many reasons.  “The author I am today” writes in a variety of genres: poetry, nonfiction, fiction. My undergraduate degree is in English, and I have an MFA in Writing from Vermont College, in Montpelier, so I have read widely and have been influenced by a wide variety of poets and authors. To narrow this down, my copy of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird has pages falling out because I refer to it so often.  I also love mysteries by the English author Ruth Rendell, who wrote as Barbara Vine, and A Dark Adapted Eye is the first work of hers that captivated me.  As an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin, I was especially fond of my classes in The English Novel, so I’d have to add Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, the usual.  I’m a great Anglophile.


(2) What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?

I confess to a guilty pleasure: the cozy mysteries in the Agatha Raisin series written by  M. C. Beaton, a/k/a Marion Chesney.  She is a prolific author, 80 years old, who also writes historical romances — but Agatha Raisin is a cheeky middle-aged busybody who lives in the Cotswalds and solves murders.  Perhaps if we had coffee, Marion would invite me to her thatched cottage in the Cotswalds for a visit!

Nurse, Come You Here!: More True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle Cover ImageCarry the One Cover ImageBrooklyn Cover ImageThe Blood of an Englishman: An Agatha Raisin Mystery Cover ImageDead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania Cover ImageThe Sea Cover ImageWays to Spend the Night Cover ImageEmpty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune Cover Image

(3) What books are currently on your bedside table?

Magazines:  The New Yorker, Real Simple, Eating Well

Nurse, Come You Here!  More Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle
, by Mary J. MacLeod.
Carry the One, by Carol Anshaw
Brooklyn, by Colm Tolbin
The Blood of an Englishman, by M. C. Beaton
Dead Wake, Erik Larson
The Sea, John Banville
Ways to Spend the Night, (short stories), Pamela Painter
Empty Mansions, Bill Dedman and Clark Newell, Jr.

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This “3 Questions” features Ted Levin, nature writer, photographer, VPR (Vermont Public Radio) commentator, and author of America’s Snake: The Rise and Fall of the Timber Rattlesnake and other books.


Mr. Levin will visit the Norwich Bookstore at 7 pm on Wednesday, May 11th to discuss his latest book, America’s Snake: The Rise and Fall of the Timber Rattlesnake. In America’s SnakeMr. Levin captures the snake’s natural history and unique behaviors, and looks at the people who love them, loathe them, and have abused them through illegal tradeMr. Levin has written for Sports Illustrated, Audubon, National Wildlife, National Geographic Traveler, and other publications.America's Snake: The Rise and Fall of the Timber Rattlesnake Cover ImageThe event with Mr. Levin is free and open to the public. However, reservations are recommended as space is limited.  Call 802-649-1114 or email info@norwichbookstore.com to save your seat.

The Origin of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition Cover ImageWild America: The Record of a 30,000 Mile Journey Around the Continent by a Distinguished Naturalist and His British Colleague Cover ImageA Sand County Almanac: With Essays on Conservation from Round River Cover Image

1.What three books have helped shape you into the author you are today, and why?

a) The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. Darwin loops together the past, the present, and the unimagined future, all bound together by natural selection. Seen through the lens of natural selection, the unifying principle of biology, every species is a work in progress, a continuous interpretation of its immediate environment.

b) Snakes and Snake Hunting by Carl Kauffeld (out of print), and Wild America by Roger Tory Peterson and James Fisher. Both were seminal books for a nature-loving twelve-year-old boy, the very first indication for me that men other than baseball players grew up to do boy things.

c) Sand County Almanac and Essays from Round River by Aldo Leopold. Leopold wrote eloquently of the wild lands of his home in Wisconsin, as well as of faraway places like Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental, all the while building a case for a healthy land ethic, an ethic now embraced by successive generations of people who feel a need for the preservation and conservation of self-sustaining ecosystems.


2.What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?

Theodore Roosevelt. I’d like meet a president who made conservation a national priority, who took vacations in the backcountry with writer-naturalists such as C. Hart Merriam, Gifford Pinchot, John Muir, and John Burroughs. In 1907, Roosevelt (and Burroughs) saw the last wild flock of passenger pigeons. (Roosevelt might even be able to explain to me what in the world has happened to the Republican Party.)

Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life Cover ImageImperial Dreams: Tracking the Imperial Woodpecker Through the Wild Sierra Madre Cover ImageThe Birds of Panama: A Field Guide Cover ImageAn Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist Cover Image

3.What books are currently on your bedside table?

Half-Earth by E. O. Wilson; Imperial Dreams by Tim Gallagher; Birds of Panama by George R. Angehr and Robert Dean; An Appetite for Wonder by Richard Dawkins.

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searchOne of our favorite people  – the superb author Sarah Stewart Taylor – is someone we turn to when we need a great new book or author to read. Thus, we were thrilled when she agreed to turn her recent trip to Ireland into a Book Jam post about some authors she discovered while abroad. In this post, Sarah discusses the power of literature one discovers when traveling, and how literature provides superb armchair travel when hopping on a plane is just not possible. We hope you enjoy her suggested reading list as much as we do. Thank you Sarah! And, happy travels to all.


On a trip to Dublin, Ireland recently, I ducked into a fantastic little bookshop in Sandymount. The tables were piled high with new and used books of all kinds, and I asked the proprietor to recommend some Irish mysteries for me. An obsessive fan of both Ireland and crime fiction, I love revisiting one of my favorite places on earth through the works of the Irish crime writers Tana French and John Banville (one of my favorite Irish novelists, writing mysteries as Benjamin Black), and I needed some more titles to get me through until their next ones are published.


He obliged very nicely and I came home with an extra bag to contain all the books I’d bought. I discovered some terrific new-to-me Irish crime writers, among them Gene Kerrigan, Jane Casey (who is Irish but writes mysteries set in London), Declan Hughes, Adrian McKinty, Brian McGilloway, and Stuart Neville. 


Reading mysteries about a place is one of my favorite ways to prepare for travel, to prolong the fun of an adventure once I’m home. Donna Leon’s Venice mysteries are among my favorites, focusing on the cases (and the meals) of the appealing Inspector Guido Brunetti and reminding me of past trips to that magical city. I love the mysteries of Cara Black, which always bring me back to trips to Paris.


It’s also fun to read mysteries about places I haven’t yet been lucky enough to visit. Jason Goodwin’s Inspector Yashim novels, set in the 19th century Ottoman Empire, have made me obsessed with visiting (modern-day) Turkey and Colin Cotteril’s wonderful mysteries set in Cambodia have added that country to my travel bucket list. I absolutely loved a novel by Richard Crompton, set in Kenya and titled Hour of the Red God. It stars a Masai detective named Detective Mollel and was one of my favorite new mysteries of the past few years.


So — what are your favorite mysteries about places you’ve visited — or would like to?


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In a bit of a twist, today’s 3 questions focuses on a group, Sisters in Crime, coming to the Norwich Bookstore this coming Saturday, April 16th at 2 pm. The answers were provided by Beth Kanell, a member of the group and one of the event organizers.

During the Sisters in Crime event, a group of writers will gather to expose their own mystery work to readers and to get their creative juices flowing. Each participant, both published and not yet published, will have five minutes to read a selection of their own mystery writing to the group. Participating published writers include Toby Speed, Kate George, Beth Kanell, Brett Ann Stanciu, Deloris Netzband, Joseph Olshanand, Margot Zalkind Mayor (who will read from new work by her husband, Archer Mayor), Lisa Q. Matthews, and Vicki Steifel. You are invited to read from your work or to listen.

The Sisters in Crime New England group consists of authors, readers, publishers, agents, booksellers and librarians bound by a passion for the mystery genre and support of women who write mysteries. The group welcomes Sisters — and Misters — in Crime from anywhere who have an interest in the New England mystery community. To learn more, see www.sincne.org.images.png

This event is free and open to the public. Call 802-649-1114 or email info@norwichbookstore.com with questions.
The Monogram Murders: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery Cover ImageBrush Back Cover Image

1) How do Sisters in Crime‘s Murder By the Minute meetings encourage and support mystery writers?

The old days of women mystery writers being nearly invisible are steadily changing — but there’s still a tilted ratio of women to men on the bookshelves, and encouragement means a lot. Reading your work at Murder by the Minute helps remind you of how good your writing is, and why you wanted to write that book, even though it’s taking longer than you hoped! The appreciation and support that writers find among the Sisters (and occasional Brothers) in Crime at this event can boost you through the toughest parts of writing, because you realize you have real people waiting to find out the criminal, the solution, and your (amateur or pro) sleuth’s discoveries about both the mystery and her- or himself.

Cloak of Darkness Cover ImageThe Big Sleep Cover Image

2) In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge/obstacle to writing a good mystery?

A mystery is satisfying when all the parts make sense, from the clues to the crime to the solution. But a mystery stays with the reader as a really good mystery when the characters claim your long-term attention. Mastering the art of memorable characters is the hidden secret to writing a really good mystery (but it helps if you totally understand the crime involved!).

Hush Hush: A Tess Monaghan Novel Cover ImageThrough the Evil Days Cover ImageThe Scent of Rain and Lightning Cover Image

3) Which three mystery writers would you say are must-reads for the burgeoning mystery writer?

Today’s cozy mysteries are rooted in Agatha Christie‘s puzzle mysteries; the hard-boiled ones emerged from Raymond Chandler; and the art of the espionage mystery was refined by Helen MacInnes. Those are the musts — but their mysteries can feel out of date! The modern classics now include the mysteries by Sara Paretsky, Nancy Pickard, Julia Spencer-Fleming, and Laura Lippman — all champions of Sisters in Crime.

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This “3 Questions” features Michelle Hoover, author of Bottomland. Ms. Hoover is the Fannie Hurst Writer-in-Residence at Brandeis University and teaches at GrubStreet, where she leads the Novel Incubator program. She is a 2014 NEA Fellow and has been a MacDowell Fellow and a winner of the PEN/New England Discovery Award. Her debut, The Quickening, was a 2010 Massachusetts Book Award “Must Read.” She is a native of Iowa and lives in Boston.

Ms. Hoover will visit the Norwich Bookstore at 7 pm on March 30th to discuss her latest book, Bottomland, a novel based loosely on an unearthed family secret. The book follows the Hess family as they settles on Iowa farmland hoping to escape anti-German sentiment after WWI. As the country marches towards WWII, lives are changed when two of the daughters disappear.  The book has been critically acclaimed by many including Kirkus Reviews.

Bottomland Cover Image

The event with Ms. Hoover is free and open to the public. However, reservations are recommended as space is limited.  Call 802-649-1114 or email info@norwichbookstore.com to save your seat.

To the Lighthouse Cover ImagePlainsong Cover ImageBeloved Cover Image

1.What three books have helped shape you into the author you are today, and why?

Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse taught me that both the shape of the sentence and its ideas matter, that these things are not in opposition but feed on each other. Kent Haruf’s novels, in particular Plainsong, gave me the courage to be plain spoken in my fiction, which I believe is my instinct in the first place. Toni Morrison’s Beloved proved that point of view and structure could always be fluid, and that the author has complete freedom in these choices, as long as the author carries the reader well enough along on that ride.url-1.jpgurl.jpg

2.What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?

I’m currently fascinated with Kate Atkinson. I would love to talk with her about her career, moving from her beloved, rather zany, experimental books to more genre type crime novels, and now her two historical novels, Life After Life and God of Ruins, both of which I consider two of my favorites. I would love to talk to Emily St. John Mandel too. Her novel Station Eleven was perfection. I’d like to talk to writers who I think are essentially normal people that have done great, unusual work. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to talk at all.

Salvage the Bones Cover ImageMonument Road Cover ImageThe Heart Goes Last Cover ImageA Cure for Suicide Cover Image

The Incarnations Cover ImageHarriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders Cover ImageStones in the Road Cover ImageHalf in Love with Death Cover Image

3. What books are currently on your bedside table?

I generally keep a pile of about ten or so, and the ones that catch me immediately are the ones I finish. I finished Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones a few weeks ago. A remarkable experience. And then there’s Charlie Quimby’s Monument Road, which I should have read years ago. Then there’s Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last, Jesse Ball’s A Cure for Suicide, and Susan Barker’s The Incarnations—all from last year’s top book lists. I have a copy of Julianna Baggott’s Harriot Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders, as well as two books by former students of mine: E.B. Moore’s Stones in the Road and Emily RossHalf in Love with Death. I know these last three well, but they’re still in that pile, keeping it warm.

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In plenty of time for Super Tuesday voting, this “3 Questions” features Ted Rall author of Bernie. Mr. Rall is a political cartoonist, opinion columnist, graphic novelist and occasional war correspondent whose work has appeared in hundreds of publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Village Voice, and Los Angeles Times. He twice won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist.
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Mr. Rall will be visiting the Norwich Bookstore at 7 pm on Friday, February 26 to discuss his latest book, Bernie, a graphic novel discussing the life of Vermont’s junior US Senator and Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. (Please note his visit is not on the Bookstore’s typical Wednesday author event slot.)

The event with Mr. Rall is free and open to the public. However, reservations are recommended as space is limited.  Call 802-649-1114 or email info@norwichbookstore.com to save your seat.

1. What three books have helped shape you into the author you are today, and why?

Various compilations of the cartoons of Jules Feiffer, because he was the cartoonist who showed me the possibilities offered by verbose cartoons, and tackling politics through the people affected rather than the politicians. 1984 by George Orwell, because it was so completely committed to its (bleak) vision. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer, because of its ambitiousness, trying to explain a phenomenon (Nazism) that remains impossible to process, even today.

2. What author (living or dead) would you like to have a cup of coffee with and why? 

Adolf Hitler, author of Mein Kampf. I want to know what the hell he was thinking, and why, and could he have been talked out of it.

3. What books are currently on your bedside table?

Days of Rage by Bryan Burrough, Congo by David van Reybrouck, Mussolini by Laura Fermi (out of print), The Embrace of Unreason by Frederick Brown.

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