Valerie Plame photographed by Norah Levine.
I never dreamed I’d be talking sex with former CIA operative Valerie Plame. After all, she’s the covert operative whose name was leaked to the press by senior members of the George W. Bush administration, abruptly ending her CIA career, and who is married to former U.S. Ambassador Joe C. Wilson.
Let’s face it, in the world of government and politics, it’s not a good career move for a woman to talk about sex, especially her own sex life ...
Kate Shindle photographed by Russell Baer.
As Miss America 1998 Kate Shindle and I chat on the telephone, she mentions that the Miss America Organization has already expressed their displeasure with her book, Being Miss America: Behind the Rhinestone Curtain. That’s not surprising.
Based on what Shindle writes and documents in her debut book, which is part memoir and part expose, pageant management obviously isn’t open to criticism, not even constructive criticism by one who intimately knows the organization and loves it so passionately that she ...
Jessie Burton photographed by Wolf Marloh.
“But words are water in Amsterdam, they flood your ears and set the rot…” writes British author Jessie Burton in her debut novel, The Miniaturist.
I didn’t expect Burton, such a dark and serious writer, to burst into excited giggles and proclaim, “I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know,” at my very first question. Then, again, it was a rather silly query: “Where in the world did your talent come from?”
Though it may have been ...
Colleen McCullough photographed by Louise Donald.
Edda Latimer sits in the midst of a party full of chattering women, when she spots “a polished black wedge with vibrating tongue…followed by a polished black body as thick as a woman’s arm” slither out of a hole in the wooden floor. She draws in her breath, lifts herself and the chair a few inches, and brings down “the left front leg on the middle of the snake’s head.”
The snake’s seven-foot-long body whips, pounds, and crashes “against ...
Margaret Bradham Thornton photographed by Louise Field.
Margaret Bradham Thornton lives what appears to be a charmed life. She grew up in Charleston, a tennis playing daughter of a heart surgeon, was graduated from Princeton, went to Cambridge and worked on Wall Street. Some of that information you don't see in the publicity packets released by Ecco, the publisher of Thornton’s debut novel, Charleston.
Perhaps that’s because Bradham Thornton, an elegant, willowy and guarded woman who talks about the lessons her parents taught her—hard work ...
Jojo Moyes photographed by Charlotte Murphy.
“My dad is such an arsehole.”
That’s Chapter 5—in its entirety—of British romantic novelist Jojo Moyes’ latest book, One Plus One.
It’s also a standout chapter, as those six words are able to convey their speaker’s personality and a bit of his motivation. After all, Nicky is a mascara-wearing, pot-smoking 16-year-old who’s been abandoned by his deadbeat dad, Marty, and taken in by his stepmother, Jess.
Jess is a struggling young mum, who cleans houses in the daytime and ...
Jennifer Weiner photographed by Andrea Cipriani Mecchi.
These days, Jennifer Weiner seems to be known more for the rage she induces in authors, critics and readers of literary fiction; for her strong opinions about book critics and their focus on white, male authors; and for her tweets about The Bachelor and The Bachelorette than she is for her 11 successful novels.
Maybe that’s the result of author and media jealousy. Weiner’s books have spent nearly five years on the best-seller lists, her novel Good in Bed is ...
Laura McBride photographed by Michelle Adams.
Fifty-three-year-old Avis lies in bed next to her husband of 29 years, contemplating how long it’s been since they’ve had sex. “There was a year of no desire,” she admits, though she doesn’t know why she had no desire. One friend told her it was because she was depressed. Another told her it was because of “the change.” That one made Avis laugh.
She now imagines herself slipping into her black lace corset and kneeling over her husband ...