Oh, we love our pets at Five Directions Press. We love them so much that we wrote our hearts out describing them, and now have to share the resulting “dish” in two parts! Courtney J. Hall John [June 16, 2:14 pm]: There’s a gray cat in our yard. Me [June 16, 2:19 pm]: Go pet it! John [June 16, 2:20 pm]: But it might bite me. It was an inauspicious beginning to what would turn out to be a lasting love affair between a man and a cat (and me, when the cat lets me), but six years
As much as I love historical fiction—especially historical fiction set in Russia and Eastern Europe (assuming the authors know what they’re talking about, that is)—I also love mystery stories. Not the hard-boiled, high-body-count variety but the so-called cozy mystery exemplified by Agatha Christie, Josephine Tey, and Dorothy Sayers, on whose books I cut my literary eyeteeth back in the day. So it’s no secret that discovering P. K. Adams, a writer who grew up in Poland and wr
It’s my great pleasure to interview Joy Castro for this Spotlight feature. With her permission I’d like to introduce her with her recent (and very attention- getting) Twitter quote: "Wear yourself out physically every day. Meditate every day. Make love every day, even if it's only—‘only’—with yourself. The art you make will be immeasurably better, the work you do in the world will be less anxiety- & ego-driven, & there will be much less bullshit in your life." Your range is e
With this post, Five Directions Press author Joan Schweighardt—the author of The Last Wife of Attila the Hun and Before We Died, among other novels—is reviving our Spotlight series featuring authors both inside and outside our coop. Read on to find out more about the multiple creative endeavors of Fay Rapaport DesPres as she juggles essays, poetry, children’s fiction and—yes—paid work. You have managed to balance a life of professional writing for a variety of clients with yo
Foodies are at their best this time of year, when the Thanksgiving leftovers are still taking up too much space in the fridge and the figgy pudding lies just ahead. What better time for 5DP authors to ask themselves this question: What is the most unusual food you’ve eaten (or failed to eat) and did it wind up in any of your books? Denise Allan Steele: As Scotland’s first vegetarian (not really, but I’m claiming it!) I have never ever and never will eat a haggis! A haggis is
You’ve stated that you were inspired to write Rewind when your kids asked you about “the olden days.” What made you decide to write about Karen? When my oldest two children were at high school, they were excited about getting tickets to see The Red-Hot Chili Peppers in Oakland, and I called the band "The Red-Hot Chili Peas." They thought that was hysterical. Then my youngest, who was at middle school, asked if she could go snowboarding with her friend’s family, and I thought
When did you start writing, and how does it tie into your “regular life”?
Oh my… I started writing fiction when my oldest child was born, and she is now 31 and going to have her first child herself! I wrote the world’s worst romance novel, and a publisher called me and asked if I could rewrite it as a Regency…I didn’t do it but I was hooked on writing.
Since that day, back in the mists of time, I’ve written 5 published “women’s erotic fiction” books under a pen name, a m
Where did you get the idea for Precious Pawn? At Mount Holyoke one of my best friends taught in the French Department and used the unpublished memoir of the Comtesse de L... in her translation and stylistics course. From time to time I would check the accuracy of her students’ translations (my colleague was French, and handling English was some difficulty) for her, and it was in this way that I came to know the story of this eighteenth-century provincial aristocrat. I found i
You previously worked as an arson investigator and a PI. What inspired you to turn to writing? Actually, it was the other way around. I decided to be a writer when I was seventeen years old. Being a P.I. came later. Initially, I just wrote general fiction; I didn’t read a single crime novel until I was in my twenties. Then I discovered Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Coyle, and I was hooked. At that time, I hadn’t been having any luck selling short stories – which was my fir
Anjali Mitter Duva, Faint Promise of Rain (She Writes Press, 2014) A rare rainstorm greets the birth of a girl into the family of the dancing master who serves Lord Krishna’s temple in Rajasthan, northwest India, in 1554. This child’s fate unfolds in an atmosphere of political, social, and religious conflict as the Mughal emperor Akbar expands his power into the region, and both she and the dance are changed by the experience. But the real beauty of this book lies in its comp
What first drew you to the royal court of France? The roots of my love of French history lie in two things. First, when I was young I got hooked on Alexandre Dumas (père), one of the grandfathers of historical fiction. I read everything he wrote. Then when I was nineteen I had the chance to study French abroad and to travel extensively in France. The Chateaux of the Loire—which I’ve revisited several times since—and the royals who inhabited them got into my blood during those
Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale (St. Martin’s Press, 2015) The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah’s moving story of the French Resistance during World War II, for me was ultimately about choice. Two sisters with conflicting natures shaped by childhood traumas continually impact one another. Each sister takes a different tack; each is profoundly brave. The story ends with a secret unrevealed, coming down strongly for making the loving choice. The vividness of rural France resonated w
Where did you get the idea for the Bone Angel Trilogy?
The idea for the first in the series, Spirit of Lost Angels, came to me on a Sunday walk around the French village in which I live. On the riverbank, I came across a small stone cross (croix à gros ventre, or "cross with the big belly") commemorating the drowning of two peasant children in the 18th century. Intrigued, I wanted to know more about them; to give them names, a family, a village. An identity. The children ha
How does your second novel, West End Quartet, relate to Seeking Sophia, your debut novel? WEQ is actually four related novellas about young women in the 1980s who lived together in Manhattan as members of a feminist commune housed in a West End Avenue pre-war building with many bedrooms. (Use Woody Allen’s Hannah and her Sisters apartment as your visual.) Though connected through their politics, Mallory, Kleio, Gwen and Mina take different trajectories when the group splits u
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