Author Stories Weekly Recap Feb 23 Edition

Is there really a bad week for author interviews? I am a big believer in studying the creative process from all sorts of people and authors from every genre. Check out some of these amazing authors and hear their stories and thoughts on story craft and the art of storytelling from the week of February 19-23, 2018.

This week’s author interviews

We started the week with author and actor Tina Alexis Allen talking about her new book Hiding Out: A Memoir of Drugs, Deception, and Double Lives.

“A writer candidly confronts her personal truth in her quest for transformation, transcendence, and redemption.” –Kirkus Review

Actress and playwright Tina Alexis Allen’s audacious memoir unravels her privileged suburban Catholic upbringing that was shaped by her formidable father—a man whose strict religious devotion and dedication to his large family hid his true nature and a life defined by deep secrets and dangerous lies.

The youngest of thirteen children in a devout Catholic family, Tina Alexis Allen grew up in 1980s suburban Maryland in a house ruled by her stern father, Sir John, an imposing, British-born authoritarian who had been knighted by the Pope. Sir John supported his large family running a successful travel agency that specialized in religious tours to the Holy Land and the Vatican for pious Catholics.

But his daughter, Tina, was no sweet and innocent Catholic girl. A smart-mouthed high school basketball prodigy, she harbored a painful secret: she liked girls. When Tina was eighteen her father discovered the truth about her sexuality. Instead of dragging her to the family priest and lecturing her with tearful sermons about sin and damnation, her father shocked her with his honest response. He, too, was gay.

The secret they shared about their sexuality brought father and daughter closer, and the two became trusted confidants and partners in a relationship that eventually spiraled out of control. Tina and Sir John spent nights dancing in gay clubs together, experimenting with drugs, and casual sex—all while keeping the rest of their family in the dark.

Outside of their wild clandestine escapades, Sir John made Tina his heir apparent at the travel agency. Drawn deeper into the business, Tina soon became suspicious of her father’s frequent business trips, his multiple passports and cache of documents, and the briefcases full of cash that mysteriously appeared and quickly vanished. Digging deeper, she uncovered a disturbing facet beyond the stunning double-life of the father she thought she knew.

A riveting and cinematic true tale stranger and twistier than fiction, Hiding Out is an astonishing story of self-discovery, family, secrets, and the power of the truth to set us free.

Tuesday Joseph Knox dropped by to talk about his new book Sirens: A Novel (An Aidan Waits Thriller).

“Razor-sharp urban noir…very special indeed.” — Lee Child

The breathtakingly propulsive and stunningly assured debut thriller, perfect for readers of Tana French, Don Winslow and Dennis Lehane

The mission is suicide.

Infiltrating the inner circle of enigmatic criminal Zain Carver is dangerous enough. Pulling it off while also rescuing Isabelle Rossiter, a runaway politician’s daughter, from Zain’s influence? Impossible. That’s why Aidan Waits is the perfect man for the job. Disgraced, emotionally damaged, and despised by his superiors. In other words, completely expendable.

But Aidan is a born survivor. And as he works his way deep into Zain’s shadowy world, he finds that nothing is as it seems. Zain is a mesmerizing, Gatsby-esque figure who lures young women into his orbit—women who have a bad habit of turning up dead. But is Zain really responsible? And will Isabelle be next?

Before long, Aidan finds himself in over his head, cut loose by his superiors, and dangerously attracted to the wrong woman.

How can he save the girl if he can’t even save himself?

Joseph Knox was born and raised in and around Stoke-On-Trent and Manchester, where he worked in bars and bookshops before moving to London. He runs, writes and reads compulsively.

Sirens is his debut novel.

Pam Jenoff stopped in Wednesday to talk about historical fiction.

New York Times bestseller!

“Readers who enjoyed Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants will embrace this novel. ” —Library Journal

“Secrets, lies, treachery, and passion…. I read this novel in a headlong rush.” —Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train

A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan’s Taleintroduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival 

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.

Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

Pam Jenoff is the author of several novels, including her most recent, The Orphan’s Tale, an instant New York Times bestseller, and The Kommandant’s Girl, which received widespread acclaim, earned her a nomination for the Quill Awards and became an international bestseller. She previously served as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. State Department in Europe, as the Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army at the Pentagon and as a practicing attorney at a large firm and in-house. She received her juris doctor from the University of Pennsylvania, her masters degree in history from Cambridge University and her bachelors degree in international affairs from The George Washington University. Pam Jenoff lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school. Pam would love to skype with your book club or library group!

Thursday was a great day as Christopher Potter and I talked about the space race and his career in publishing.

This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the first manned mission to the moon. It is also the fiftieth anniversary of the first time that human beings saw the whole Earth from the vantage point of space. “This must be what God sees,” Apollo 8’s commander, Frank Borman, said afterward: “It was an intensely emotional experience for all of us.” The new perspective revealed a world without borders, which continues to inspire hope and scientific curiosity.
Many Apollo astronauts believed—as the first aviators had believed before them—that the experience of seeing the earth from above has the power to change us, to make us realize that “the planet we share unites us in a way far more basic and far more important than differences in skin color or religion or economic system,” as astronaut Mike Collins put it. Or, as Potter asks, “Have we humans got what it takes to see ourselves from without, and so save our Earth home?” This is an urgent question for our time. Potter’s history of the people who made it possible to see our tiny blue planet helps us recognize the ways in which we were changed by that new perspective, and the radical potential that has thus far been left on the table.

Only twenty-four human beings have traveled far enough away from the Earth to experience our planet as a sphere falling through space. As evidence of what more than one astronaut would describe as an epiphany, the Apollo crews returned with beautiful photographs to share with the rest of us. The nine manned missions to the moon are neatly framed by the two most famous of those images: Earthrise, taken during the first mission; and The Blue Marble, taken during the last. They inspired a generation of scientists and environmentalists to think seriously about our responsibility for this tiny oasis in space, and have since reportedly become the most reproduced images of all time.

As well as telling the stories of those courageous pilots who became the first humans to escape Earth’s atmosphere, Potter interweaves the stories of those often-flawed visionaries who inspired the journey into space—Charles Lindbergh, Robert Goddard, and Wernher von Braun. The Earth Gazers is a book about the long road to that defining moment when we first saw ourselves from the outside. It is both a history of the space program and an account of the ways in which seeing the Earth from a new perspective transformed our view of our home planet.

“Potter delivers an enthralling account of the golden age of manned space travel that emphasizes the transcendent experiences of everyone involved, and he makes a convincing case that America lost something vital when it ended.”—Kirkus, Starred Review

“It takes a true master of literature to interweave history and science into one unified narrative….Potter uses his expert skills as researcher, writer, and publisher to bring to light the miraculous and often disastrous and heartbreaking process required for landing a man on the moon.”—Booklist

“In this sweeping chronology of human flight, British writer Potter traces aviation and rocketry from the WWI era into the space age….He shows the ingenuity and daring needed to go from The Spirit of Saint Louis’s transatlantic crossing to Apollo 8’s lunar orbit.”—Publishers Weekly

“Though modern history is intrinsically wrapped up with aeronautics, world wars, and the space race, The Earth Gazers is the first account I’ve read that integrates what happened in America, Britain, Germany, and the Soviet Union to change the way we view and travel the Earth today. In clear, eminently readable, and insightful prose Potter describes the technological advances, the culture, and the context that changed our relationship to the sky and to space, while all the time forcing us to reflect on our humanity and how much and how little these advances have influenced our perspective.”—Lisa Randall, the Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science at Harvard University and the author of Warped Passages, Knocking on Heaven’s Door, and Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs.

We capped off the week with Nancy Allen, and attorney turned prosecutor turned author.

McCown County assistant prosecutor Elsie Arnold is prepping an assault case when a girl is found beaten and bloodied at a roadside no-tell motel. Elsie tries to convince the teen to reveal who attacked her, but Mandy is too scared—and stubborn—to cooperate… and then she disappears. Elsie’s positive a predator is targeting the Ozark hills, yet the authorities refuse to believe their small town could be plagued by sex trafficking.

Then middle school student Desiree Wickham goes missing, but only Elsie suspects it could be connected to Mandy’s assault. As she digs deeper into the events leading up to Desiree’s disappearance, she stumbles upon an alarming discovery: local girls are falling prey to a dubious online modeling agency, and never seen again. Elsie shares her concerns with Detective Ashlock and the FBI, but they shut her out.

She takes matters into her own hands and lands an interview with the head of the modeling agency. But when she meets him face-to-face, she discovers the fate of Desiree and Mandy… and becomes his newest captive. Elsie’s desperate to free the girls—and save herself—before the unspeakable happens. And she’s in for the fight of her life.


Tune in next week for another packed roster of the best author interviews on the internet.

Find the full podcast archives here, and don’t forget to subscribe.

Hank Garner and the Author Stories Podcast

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