A Distant Mountain

  I’ve come to face the startling idea that my entire life may have been outlined by a movie back in 1963, and I’m not kidding. My Old Man didn’t go to the movies very often when we were kids, because he usually didn’t like the subject or actors, but he was a fan of drive-ins on occasion. That was especially true when one of his “players” appeared in the film. While Mom was away with Little Brother, visiting my maternal grandparents in Lamar County Continue reading →

Book Clubs: Love ’em or Hate ’em?

Sometimes I finish a book aching to talk about it. You know what I mean: The story has burrowed under your skin, the ideas keep ticking in your head, and you just can’t let it go. At times like these, rather than latch onto strangers on the street or corner them in elevators, it’s nice to belong to a book club. One friend of mine had a book club that left me envious. Not only did their reading list include literary masterpieces, but they had Continue reading →

Writing from Here to There

Most of us love the fact that books can take us out of our ordinary lives and transport us to distant lands. But how does an author create a story that can do that? Many novelists root their stories in places they’ve once lived. Barbara Kingsolver, for instance, spent part of her childhood in the Congo, which lends verisimilitude to her terrific novel, The Poisonwood Bible. And while The Stockholm Octavo is set in the 18th Century, the novel was doubtless inspired by the nine Continue reading →

Judging a Book by its Cover

A or B. Which of these two covers below best addresses the question, “What does an old stuffed bunny have to do with a missing three-year-old and a religious cult?” If your answer is “A” you agree with everyone I asked last Sunday while signing at the L.A. Times Festival of Books at USC. “A” is the fantastic new Suspense Publishing cover for Last Writes, which was the fourth book in my forensic handwriting series (2010). The first four books were published by Penguin, who Continue reading →