MysteryPeople Q&A with Alison Gaylin

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Alison Gaylin’s What Remains Of Me is one the year’s best novels. What Remains of Me follows protagonist Kelly Michelle Lund in two different timelines: an Eighties setting leading up to the murder of a director and Lund’s arrest; and a present-day setting wherein once again, Lund becomes the suspect in a murder following the death of her father-in-law, a famous actor and once the best friend of the murdered director.  The novel takes a fascinating and engaging look into celebrity and celebrity crime.

Alison will be joining William Boyle, Bill Loefhelm, and Megan Abbott tomorrow, Tuesday, August 2nd, at 7 PM, for a discussion of the new noir. We were able to get some answers out of her earlier.

MysteryPeople Scott: What drew you to celebrity crime and scandal?

Alison Gaylin: I’ve been drawn to both for pretty much my whole life! I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles called Arcadia. My parents had no connection to the movie industry, but my mom was a big pop culture follower and a huge reader of everything. She subscribed to Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, so I was reading Army Archerd’s column as a young kid, scanning for bold-faced names. I sneaked dishy books like Miss Rona, and loved celeb autobiographies (Lauren Bacall’s was a favorite)  At 10, I found and read a copy of Helter Skelter — in which the darkest of crimes occurs in the most glamorous of settings — and I was fascinated, terrified, hooked… That fascination has stuck with me as an entertainment journalist,  but even more so in the fiction I like to write.

Read More »

MysteryPeople Review: GOOD AS GONE by Amy Gentry

  • Review by Molly Odintz

9780544920958Journalist, novelist and long-time Austinite Amy Gentry joins us here at the store this Thursday, July 28th, at 7 PM to speak and sign her debut thriller, Good As GoneHer debut takes the reader into a torn family coping with the still-unsolved disappearance of their eldest, a decade before. When a young woman with a fantastical tale comes knocking on their door, they work to accept her as their long-lost daughter, yet holes quickly appear in her story, and questions remain as to her identity and her past.

Gentry splits her narrative between the matriarch of the family, Anna, and her reclaimed child, Julie, as they tip-toe around issues of trauma, identity, acceptance and return. Anna’s perspective follows a linear path through the novel; Julie’s perspective is told backwards, with a rotating cast of character names, teasing the reader through much of the novel as to who “Julie” might be, and what role, exactly, Julie played in her own kidnapping. While Gentry’s debut passes Alison Bechdel’s simple test for feminism in fiction (Does a named female character speak to another named female character about a subject other than men?), the many names of “Julie” bring out another side to the named female character – she can be named, over and over again, by those attempting to control her, and with each new name, the core of her identity becomes further separated from any marker as changeable as a name.

Read More »

MysteryPeople Q&A with Amy Gentry

 

  • Interview by Molly Odintz

 

 

Come by BookPeople Thursday, July 28th, at 7 PM, for Amy Gentry’s official launch of her debut thriller, Good as Gone. Gentry is a journalist, novelist and long-time Austinite. Her debut follows a family as they are reunited with their long-lost daughter, kidnapped at a young age. Happy to have their daughter returned, yet skeptical of her story, they try to form new bonds, heal old wounds and unearth painful truths.

Molly Odintz: Your story, to me, was reminiscent of the story of the changeling – did you set out to play with fairy-tale archetypes?

Amy Gentry: I didn’t set out thinking specifically about fairy tales, although in an early draft I did have a scene of the mom Anna, who is a professor, teaching the Keats’s poem “La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” not fairy tale exactly, but Arthurian legend type stuff. In the poem, a mysterious woman seduces knights and then disappears, leaving them to wander around looking for her for the rest of their lives. Keats is a great source for vanished ladies; I also thought about using “The Eve of St. Agnes.” I took all those scenes out because they were terrible, but they helped me think through some things. Princesses also kept popping up, especially the Frances Hodgson Burnett story The Little Princess, which I’ve always been obsessed with. Princess stories are often lost daughter stories.

Read More »

April is for Mystery Lovers: Tons of Upcoming Events!

As we all enjoy the brief Texas spring, come take shelter from the pollen counts and enjoy our full roster of mystery events coming up in April here at the store. On April 2nd, Philip Kerr started off our April events with a blast, speaking and signing his latest continuation of his Bernie Gunther series, The Other Side of SilenceIf you missed the event, signed copies of his latest, as well as many of the previous volumes in the series, are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.

This past Sunday, April 10th, at 2 PM, Laurie R. King, author of the beloved Russell and Holmes series, as well as the fantastic Kate Martinelli series, joined us to speak and sign her latest installment in her Mary Russell series, The Murder of Mary Russell. While I’ve been reading the Mary Russell novels for many years, King’s newest addition to the series, delving deep into Mrs. Hudson’s backstory, might be my favorite in the series to date!

For those who missed this event, library enthusiasts will be pleased to note that in support of Austin Public Library, 5% of sales of all Laurie R. King titles sold in store on Sunday April 10th and 5 % of sales of The Murder of Mary Russell the week of April 5th (ending April 12th) will be donated to the library. Come by today or tomorrow, grab a copy of King’s latest, and support Austin Public Library. Signed copies available!

Just one day after Laurie R. King’s visit, Stuart Woods and David C. Taylor will be speaking and signing their latest novels, Family Jewels and Night Work, respectively, today, Monday, April 11th, at 7 PM. This event is a wonderful opportunity to catch up with Stuart Woods on his large oeuvre of bestselling thrillers, while getting to know David C. Taylor, an up-and-coming crime novelist who started out in the film biz.

Next up, Jessica Knoll, author of the stunning debut, Luckiest Girl Alive, comes to speak and sign this amazing novel on Saturday, April 16th, at 3 PM. Knoll has worked as senior editor at Cosmopolitan. She draws on both life and fiction for her debut, an intense look at high school trauma and its lingering effects, even for those who manage to reinvent themselves in adulthood.

2016-04-1620pf20book20pfestival20authors20pftv

On Sunday, April 17th, Scott and Molly will reprise our panel discussion on how we compiled our MysteryPeople Top 100 Crime and Suspense Novels at the first ever Pflugerville Book Pfestival, happening Saturday the 16th and Sunday the 17th at the Pflugerville Library. The festival is sponsored by KAZI Austin, 88.7 FM, and put together by Hopeton Hay, host of Kazi Book Review with Hopeton Hay. Thanks to Hopeton and KAZI for putting this festival together and bringing the MysteryPeople Top 100 list out into world.

Then on Monday, April 18th, at 1 PM, the Murder in the Afternoon Book Club will discuss The Professionalsby Owen Laukkanen, with a call-in from the author. The Hard Word Book Club, meeting Wednesday, April 27th, at 7 PM, also has a special guest calling in to the discussion – Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire series, will call in to discuss his novel As The Crow Flies

Finally, we’ll finish out the month with a visit from Melissa Ginsburg on Saturday, April 30th at 3 PM. Ginsburg’s Houston-set debut, Sunset City, follows a barista on the hunt for her best friend’s murderer. Sunset City is our April Pick of the Month, and we’re glad to celebrate a powerful new voice in Texas crime fiction.

7% Solution Book Club to Discuss: MURDER MUST ADVERTISE by Dorothy Sayers

9780062341655

  • Review by Molly O.

On Monday, March 7th, the 7% Solution Book Club meets to discuss one of Dorothy Sayer’s many mysteries to feature Lord Peter Wimsey, Murder Must Advertise. April’s book is Murder on the Ballerat Trainby Kerry Greenwood. As always, book club selections are 10% off at the registers in the month of their selection. 

Advertising has taken on a glamorous sheen since Mad Men brilliantly depicted the industry at its hedonistic zenith, but advertising agencies themselves have been around for quite a bit longer. Murder Must Advertise, Dorothy Sayer’s masterful send-off of an industry she herself worked in for some time, takes place in an advertising agency in the early 30s, infiltrated by an undercover Lord Peter Wimsey on a quest to find out if a deceased copywriter’s fatal plunge down the agency’s curved iron staircase was caused by foul play.

Sayers’ copywriters are not glamorous, but gossipy; they write copy as pedantic hacks, not as avant-garde figures of capitalist design; they advertise sardines, corsets, and other mundane products. They feel the hypocrisy of their requests to the public to spend dwindling cash as the Great Depression settles around them. Many of the characters working at the agency come from aristocratic backgrounds, forced into finding gentlemanly work by the sudden loss of their assets.

Dorothy Sayers, like many authors of her time, mars her well-designed plot and clever repartee with the occasional bigoted remark. At best, these moments are distracting, and at worst, hurtful and offensive. Sayers takes a critical eye to each of her characters, however, no matter their background, and for the most part, any judgments come from characters’ mouths, rather than from an omniscient narrator, freeing the reader from any nauseating assumptions that they agree with characters’ judgement. As a reader, there is little need, or even encouragement, to emphasize with the characters in Murder Must Advertise – quite the opposite. The reader may instead feel an urge to laugh uproariously as the petty characters filling the novel’s ad agency sabotage themselves with pettiness and gossip.

The Seven Percent Solution Book Club meets Monday, March 7th, at 7 PM up on BookPeople’s 3rd floor to discuss this golden era classic. You can find copies of Murder Must Advertise on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.

MysteryPeople Q&A with Trudy Nan Boyce

  • Interview conducted via email by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

We are happy to be hosting Trudy Nan Boyce along with Minerva Koenig for our New Hard-boiled Voices panel this Friday, February 26th, at 7 PM. Miss Boyce’s debut novel, Out Of The Blues, follows newly minted Atlanta homicide detective Sarah Alt (nicknamed Salt) as she stumbles into a cold case that unlocks secrets involving race and city politics. We asked Miss Boyce a few questions about the book and how her dual professions of police officer and psychologist shaped it.


MysteryPeople Scott: Atlanta plays like a fascinating character itself. What did you want to explore about the city?

Trudy Nan Boyce: Atlanta is my home. I’ve lived here for more than fifty years. I went to undergrad and grad school at the downtown university. I policed the city for more than thirty years. And I’ve lived in my downtown neighborhood for at least thirty years. And I continue to be delighted by Atlanta, its sweet and tragic mysteries seem endless. It is a city without geographic gifts; no bays or oceans, no mountains, no river flows through it. It is a city built at a crossroads, built around the intersections of railroads which were built primarily by black people, slaves and those conscripted though the “justice system.” The more I learn about Atlanta the more I realize that as a white person much of the history and culture of the city has remained segregated. Atlanta is soulful and exemplifies much about the racial divide in the United States. Most white people have no idea about the importance of the blues to our culture. Atlanta was and is a crossroads for the blues and our nation.

Read More »

MysteryPeople Q&A with Minerva Koenig

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Minerva Koenig will be speaking and signing her second Julia Kalas book, South of Nowhere, on Friday, February 26th, at 7 PM. She is joined by Trudy Nan Boyce, speaking and signing her debut, Out of the Blues. You can find copies of Koenig’s latest on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.  

With her second Julia Kalas book, South Of Nowhere, the short, round, and tough heroine finds herself with a body in a barn she’s converting, her boyfriend stuck in Cuba, and a wild adventure south of the border. We caught up with her to ask her a few questions about the book.

MysteryPeople Scott: How do you think Julia has changed in your mind since Nine Days?

Minerva Koenig: If you mean how has she changed from my first book to the 2nd, I would say that she’s become more cautious. My intent was always to have my sleuth start out very ballsy and brash, and develop into someone softer as she matures throughout the series ~ she gets some hard edges knocked off in South of Nowhere, and I intend to continue that trend. Which is not to say that she’s going to turn into Miss Marple. I want to create a character who is tough in an unusual way ~ she can do the hard thing when necessary, but it costs her, and it makes her a wiser and more compassionate human being in the process.

Read More »