Kirker Butler photographed by Lee Cherry.
As a high schooler, Kirker Butler once choreographed the opening number of a beauty pageant.
“I grew up in a small town in the South, and my mother and father were on the county fair board. My mother was put in charge of the pageant. We still don’t know why,” says Butler, who set the steps to Neil Diamond’s “America.”
When it comes to the perfect person to write a satirical sendup of kiddie pageants ...
Christian Kiefer photographed by Jessica Eger
Christian Kiefer is smart. He has a PhD in American literature and teaches at American River College in Sacramento. His mentors are T.C. Boyle, Richard Ford, Pam Houston and Denis Johnson, who he thanks in the acknowledgements for his second novel, The Animals.
The Animals is so good, it’s hard to be smart about it. It’s got the lyrical language of top-tier literary fiction with the compulsive readability of a blood-pumping crime novel. It makes you think and feel ...
Nova Ren Suma photographed by Erik Ryerson
One distinct descriptor adorns almost all Kirkus reviews of Nova Ren Suma’s intense, intelligent YA novels—and that’s “creepy.”
“I don’t necessarily realize how scary some of my books are,” Suma says. “I’ll get readers who say, ‘Oh, I had a nightmare,’ ‘I was so scared,’ ‘I was up late at night,’ and I’m like, really? I’m writing about what scares me, but in putting it on the page I’m facing it down. I don’t realize ...
Barney Frank photographed by Michael Halsband
Barney Frank is well known for being well spoken—even when he’s yelling.
“That’s one of the lucky things about me: I talk good. I don’t have to do a lot of preparation,” says Frank, who represented Massachusetts’s 4th Congressional District from 1981-2013.
Writing, however, is fraught with technical difficulties. “It is possible to type illegibly, it turns out,” says Frank, who employed a Dictaphone and transcriptionists to write official Congressional correspondence.
At 400 pages, his new memoir proved ...
James Grissom photographed by Michael Lionstar.
Most people who write to celebrities get an autographed 8 x 10. James Grissom got a vocation.
In 1982, as a college student, Grissom sent a letter soliciting advice on a writing career to fellow Louisianan Thomas Lanier “Tennessee” Williams III. The famous playwright responded by phone with an entreaty of his own.
“ ‘Perhaps you can be of some help to me.’ These were the first words Tennessee Williams spoke to me in that initial phone call to ...
Jamie Kornegay photographed by Matt Eich.
Jamie Kornegay has an Oxford education. He studied creative fiction under Barry Hannah at Ole Miss and learned the bookseller’s trade at famous indie retailer Square Books.
To ply it, Kornegay moved 80 miles southwest to Greenwood, a small city on the Mississippi Delta that proved fertile ground for both entrepreneurship and imagination. In 2006, he and his wife, Kelly, founded TurnRow Book Co. on Howard Street, and, today, Simon & Schuster publishes his debut novel, Soil.
“We’ve even more ...
Jill Ciment photographed by Arnold Mesches.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a phosphorescent fungus threatens the health and happiness of identical twin sexagenarian sisters, their Filipino-American Shakespearean actress landlord and the enterprising Russian girl squatting in her Brooklyn townhouse closet.
“Every writer I know wants one compliment,” says Jill Ciment, author of the aforementioned Act of God. “Some of my friends who are writers want you to say, ‘God, that was so intelligent!’ And others want you to say ...
Kelly Link photographed by Sharona Jacobs.
Unlike most story collections, Kelly Link’s Get in Trouble does not take its title from a short story therein. But that’s only the first way it’s unlike most collections.
Link (Magic for Beginners, 2005) is the celebrated author of wonder-filled short stories for adult and YA audiences. Her books have been categorized as fantasy, horror, mystery, magic realism, slipstream and science fiction. They’ve been creatively shelved at bookstores.
“Occasionally I get email from people that say that they’ve seen Magic ...