Lauren Redniss photographed by Abigail Pope
In the case of author-illustrator Lauren Redniss’ latest book, a joke precipitated a brainstorm.
“The story is that I finished my last book, Radioactive—I had to learn a lot of physics for it—and I was kind of feeling burnt out,” says Redniss. “I was just chatting with a friend and said, ‘Ugh, I’m exhausted, my next next book is going to be about clouds and rainbows.’ ”
“I was just being flip, but then I started to ...
Paul Murray photographed by Clíona O'Flaherty
What are the odds that an enterprising Irish novelist sees an everyman in a lonesome French investment banker?
“Idea for a novel: we have a banker rob his own bank,” Paul Murray writes in opening The Mark and the Void, the follow-up to his breakout comic novel Skippy Dies.
Ah! So, apparently, not good. And yet in the novel, Paul, author of the critically massacred literary fiction For Love of a Clown, convinces Claude, a junior analyst ...
Amy Ellis Nutt photographed by Eva Niles
Among Amy Ellis Nutt’s well-wishers in 2011, when she won the Pulitzer Prize, was Jennifer Levi, a long-lost grad-school friend.
While Nutt was becoming an award-winning investigative journalist, Levi had become a lawyer and director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) Transgender Rights Project. Levi legally represented the family of a transgender girl forced to use segregated bathrooms at school—the news item had gone national in the Boston Globe—and wanted to know if Nutt was interested ...
Susan Cheever photographed by Michael Falco
The Pilgrims may have been brave. According to Susan Cheever, they were definitely drunk.
“The Pilgrims landed the Mayflower at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on a cold November day in 1620 because they were running out of beer,” Cheever writes in Drinking in America: Our Secret History. “Their legal charter from King James was for a grant of land in Northern Virginia, but instead they anchored illegally and carved their first community from the sand, laying the foundation of ...
Paul Theroux photographed by Mifflin Harcourt
“What is very powerful in my mind is how much poverty in one country resembles poverty in another country,” says acclaimed novelist and travel writer Paul Theroux. “Disenfranchised people, people with no work, people with no hope, and also how exploited the poor are at times, and how abandoned they’ve been by the powers that be, by companies, by the government.”
The number of books to Theroux’s credit (Mr. Bones: Twenty Stories; The Lower River, etc.) is very ...
Lori Ostlund photographed by Dennis Hearne
Lori Ostlund doesn’t need to know authors’ lives to appreciate their fiction—but it won’t stop her from wondering.
“I don’t know that I want to know [their biography] beforehand,” Ostlund says, “but as I’m reading I might go to Google and wonder if they lived in a certain setting, what’s this about, what’s that about? Oh, I wonder.”
You don’t need to know Ostlund’s origins to appreciate the keen realism and legato prose of After the Parade ...
Carolyn Mackler photographed by Sarah Toretta
“What I love about saga novels is you can really sink your teeth into the characters,” says bestselling, award-winning YA author Carolyn Mackler (The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, Printz Honor 2004; etc.). “I love being in this alternate world, feeling that emotional heft. It’s transcendent for me.”
Mackler’s latest novel, Infinite in Between (13 & up), chronicles four eventful years in the lives of five students at Hankinson High School in New York state ...
David Lagercrantz photographed by Magnus Liam Karlsson.
To call David Lagercrantz a Lisbeth Salander “fan” would be an understatement.
“I’ve been obsessed, really,” Lagercrantz says of Stieg Larsson’s famous punk superhacker. “The genius of her is so fascinating, of course, but also the mythology: the girl against the world, the girl the world treated so exceptionally badly but she refused to be a victim....She’s a new crusader, of sorts, and I think she’s absolutely fantastic.”
Lagercrantz is the Swedish journalist and bestselling author (I ...