Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Three Bookish Women

 Kaye Wilkinson Barley who blogs at Meanderings and Muses had a marvelous idea a couple weeks ago. She and Jen Forbus (http://www.jensbookthoughts.com/) and I are all friends, although Jen's the only one who has met both of us. But, we share a mutual admiration, and a mutual love of our blogs. And, we're all mystery fans. Definitely "Three Bookish Women" with a fondness for books and each other.

Kaye suggested we hold a round robin conversation. We asked questions, and passed the questions and answers around. To see the entire conversation today, you'll have to visit all three blogs. I'd suggest you start with Kaye's. She has the first part.As Kaye says on her blog, pull up a comfortable chair, have a cup of tea, and join us. I have the second part of the conversation. And, Jen finished the conersation.

Thanks for taking time to visit with us.

Left to right - Jen Forbus and Kaye Wilkinson Barley

Lesa - what a TERRIFIC crew you have coming for your Authors @ The Teague Program!  Wow! Very impressive and I always look forward to reading your blog to hear all about it, along with seeing the pictures.

Okay.  So Jen has already finished the newest Craig Johnson book AND is about to finish the newest Alafair Burke.  Green.  I am totally green with envy.  I've pre-ordered both those (no ARCs for either of those showed up in my mailbox - boo hoo).

The books I'm most looking forward to over the next few months, besides those I've mentioned, are Louise Penny's A TRICK OF LIGHT, Laura Lippman's THE MOST DANGEROUS THING, S. J. Rozan's GHOST HERO, Laurie King's PIRATE KING, Vicki Lane's UNDER THE SKIN, and Margaret Maron's THREE DAY TOWN.  Isn't it fun knowing there's a new book coming soon from our favorite writers?!  I love that! Wish I could include Deborah Crombie and Carol O'Connell in this list too, but I "think" their next books won't be coming till next year.  dang.

From all the books and writers we're mentioning here, so far we've only touched on our favorite mystery/crime-fiction writers.  I know we're all huge fans of the genre and prefer it over all others, but do either of you have two or three faves outside the genre you might want to recommend?  I know one of Jen's favorites is also a favorite of mine.  Pat Conroy, right, Jen?  AND I have one who I've also seen Lesa recommend, although I'm not sure she'd be at the tippy top of your faves list, Lesa - Sarah Addison Allen.  I love her!  And Anne Rivers Siddons.  Hmmmm - all southern, imagine that!


Oh, I can imagine that, Kaye, that they're all southern. And, I have another favorite to add to that list. I loved Beth Hoffman's Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. Beth's working on her next book now, tentatively called Looking for Me, "about a woman who leaves her hardscrabble Kentucky farm life behind for the seductive world of antiques dealing in Charleston, SC, but is drawn home after her brother’s disappearance." The quote from an online summary, says it's scheduled for winter 2012. I can't wait. She even has some mystery in that one.

I review women's fiction for Library Journal, so I read quite a bit of that. As I said, Sandra Dallas is a big favorite. I do like Sarah Addison Allen's books. And, I've read almost all of Barbara O'Neal's books, both under that name, and Barbara Samuel. I've read almost all of Bob Greene's nonfiction books (the columnist, not Oprah's chef). Bob Greene is from Ohio, and I love his writing. And, I like urban fantasy. I'm waiting for the next book in Jim Butcher's Dresden File series since I love Harry Dresden.

What do all those books have in common? Great characters, even Bob Greene's nonfiction. I'm hooked by good characters. I don't care what the setting is. And, I'm turned off by flowery writing. Give me characters that come to life on the page.

I do read quite a bit outside the mystery genre. But, now I'm curious. I honestly don't know what Jen reads outside of crime fiction. Tell us, Jen.


Well, as I think you both know, my life before blogging involved teaching high school English. I grew up loving to read, and in college my area of concentration was Early Brit Lit up through the 19th century. I've always loved Dickens, Austen, the Brontes. I've also always been fascinated by the Arthurian works.

It wasn't until later that I started to appreciate more American literature and fell in love with the likes of Twain, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Hughes. While I've read a lot of these classic works, there are still quite a few on my "reading bucket list."

I don't just read dead authors, though. I also enjoy, as Kaye mentioned - Pat Conroy, Toni Morrison, Garth Stein. Sometimes a book idea just strikes me as very cool and I want to check it out. ELLA MINNOW PEA was one such book. Recently I got ATTACHMENTS. So, it isn't always an author per se so much as the books themselves that attract me when when it comes to reading outside the genre.


ooooh - Lesa, Beth Hoffman!  I "might" have discovered CeeCee Honeycutt without your help - maybe.  But I am so thankful to you for "introducing" me to her work.  I have sent that book to a few girlfriends - all of whom love it - and have recommended it to practically everyone else on God's green earth.  And I am so glad to hear there's a new Beth Hoffman in the works - Yay!

And now, here you both go - mentioning names I'm not familiar with and I'm busily scratching them into my ever-present VERY expensive journal I carry with me everywhere to make notes in.  My Mead Composition notebook with the black & white speckled cover - remember those?  LOL!

I've only recently become aware of Barbara O'Neal and have downloaded 2 of her books to my iPad. Didn't know she also wrote under a second name.

Jen - I had no idea you were such a literature scholar (I love learning new things like this about my friends!).  I'm dying, please, to hear what you think of Gatsby.    I'm also dying to hear more about your transition from the classics to crime fiction, please!  Was there one particular author, or a
particular book, that captured your interest?  And if so - how did you hear about them/it?

not familiar with ATTACHMENTS - off to check that out . . . .   along with all these authors Lesa mentioned . . .

y'all, carry on without me for a bit . . .


So, while Kaye's off looking at books to add to her TBR pile, I'll just have to come up with something to talk about. I know it's Jen's turn to throw out a question. So, I'll just mention that I was lucky enough to get the chance to go a mystery conference this year, Left Coast Crime in Santa Fe. I'd always wanted to see that city, so it was the perfect chance to meet more mystery authors and visit Santa Fe.

So, what to do next year? Jen wants me to go to Bouchercon, which is in Cleveland, and Kaye wants me to meet her at Malice Domestic in Bethesda, Maryland. Malice is much less intimidating, and I went to grad school in Washington, D.C., and I'd love to get back. We'll see what happens.

But, I do have one more conference this year. Jen and I are both going to Book Expo America, the publishing trade show in New York City, but I don't think our time there is going to overlap. I'm going in for the two days for librarians at the beginning of the week. And, I'm on a panel called The Great Readalike, where I'm going to talk about mysteries!

So, I'm passing it on to Jen so she can ask the next question.


Yes, I'll also be attending BEA this year. This is my first experience with BEA and while I'll be in NYC all week, my panel is part of the Book Bloggers Conference that takes place on Friday. Definitely looking forward it all.

One of my favorite things about conferences has been the discovery of new authors. While I certainly don't have a shortage of authors to read, I still look for new ones - I have no one to blame for my TBR list but myself. Conferences are a great place to find new authors; recommendations from others are a great way, too.

This year I've already read quite a few "new-to-me" authors. One of the standouts is Julia Spencer-Fleming who was recommended to me by Brad Parks who I met at a conference - see, full circle! I also read Trevanian and Caleb Carr for the first time this year.

So, ladies, I'd like to know what great new-to-you authors you've discovered this year.


It's a crying shame I don't have some very wealthy old great auntie I've never met or even knew existed who might kick the bucket and leave me millions 'cause her cat pre-deceased her  (just like in one of those wonderful old Gothic novels I'm so partial to) .  Then I too could go to BEA.  And feel a little less guilty about these books I just bought . . .  big sigh (thanks, guys).

I've never been to BEA, and it sounds like Heaven!  I can not wait to hear all about it from the two of you.

Mystery Cons.  Oh my.  Love 'em.  I love Bouchercon.  LOVE LOVE LOVE Bouchercon. And, I might be going to Cleveland next year too - I hope so!!!  I do know I'm going to Malice next year simply because that's one I've never been to.  Some of my favorite writers are there practically every year, including women I love hanging out with,  And its one that will be fairly easy for me to get to on the train.  I have grown to hate flying.  I used to work for the airlines and remember how much fun it was to fly back then.  But.  No matter.  Even though I hate it, I'm still willing to do it to get to a mystery con.  It is worth every minute of time and effort it takes to get there, and worth every penny it costs.

Lesa, if you haven't been to Bouchercon, and you decide to go next year, I promise you will love it.  You will be welcomed with arms wide open, tons of love, you will have a LOT of giggles, at least ONE (as Hank Phillippi Ryan promises) magical moment, and you will leave knowing you've just had a visit "home"

And, as Jen says - you'll discover at least one "new to you" author.

The one outstanding author that pops into mind that I discovered this year is Susan Hill.  She writes the Simon Serraillier series, along with several stand-alones (including the wonderful THE WOMAN IN BLACK).  She also wrote the delightful HOWARD'S END IS ON THE LANDING, a Year of Reading From Home.  And I discovered  Tana French after purposely avoiding her because I didn't think IN THE WOODS was a novel I would enjoy.  But.  I love it.  And now I'm hooked on Tana French and wish she had another one coming out tomorrow.  And actually, I only discovered Sarah Addison Allen this year.

Funny you should mention Susan Hill, Kaye.  Author Vicki Delany just recommended her Simon Serraillier series to me yesterday. I took home the first in that series, but I'm afraid it's on a library TBR pile, and I'm not sure when I'll get to it.
I did discover three mystery authors this year. Carol Carr had a debut historical mystery called India Black. India Black is a madam at a brothel in Victorian England, and the amateur sleuth in the book. I really liked Tina Whittle's debut, The Dangerous Edge of Things. I met her at a Poisoned Pen Press
release party. It features a woman who inherits a gunshop in Atlanta, and just after she moves there, discovers a body in a car at the end of her brother's driveway. She gets involved with a very dangerous ex-cop in order to investigate. I hadn't read Ellery Adams' Books By the Bay cozy mystery series until this year, and I liked the one I read enough to pass it on to my mother.
Who did I really discover this year? A number of authors who write women's fiction. Eleanor Brown's debut, The Weird Sisters, featured three sisters named after Shakespeare's heroines, who all return home. Jael McHenry's debut, The Kitchen Daughter is about an adult woman with Asperger's Syndrome. I had never read Susan Mallery's books, or Luanne Rice's or Donna Ball's, although they all have a large number of them. I picked up books by all of them for the first time this year.
And, then there was one more mystery author, but I'm saving that for later, with one of my other questions. Right now, I'm passing this off to Jen.

So, I really am passing this off to Jen. Check out her blog at http://www.jensbookthoughts.com to read the conclusion of our Three Bookish Women conversation. And, thanks for joining us to eavesdrop on our conversation.

Kaye Barley's blog is http://www.meanderingsandmuses.blogspot.com

Jen Forbus' website is www.jensbookthoughts.com


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Love this roundtable with such a great group!

Hope you'll go to Malice next year, Lesa...I'm planning to make it then (I think I need to try for every *other* year.) :)

Lesa said...

I'm afraid Jen's blog won't be up until later, Elizabeth, but I hope you stop by and read it. We had fun doing it.

My heart is tending toward Malice. If I do anything, I think I'm going there.

Kaye Barley said...

I'm going to be at Malice next year too. (I love having things all planned a year ahead - it's fun to look forward to something, isn't it?). It'll be my first one.

Lesa - I can't believe how many more books I've added to my list because of this little chat! wow.

Vicki Lane said...

Frantically taking notes... what a fun idea this was!

Lesa said...

I'm seriously thinking about Malice, Kaye. I know Bouchercon is in Cleveland, nothing easier for me. But, Malice is calling to me.

Great idea, Kaye. I had fun with it!

Lesa said...

Slow down, Vicki! There's no hurry to get all those notes. Kaye had a great idea, didn't she?

Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog and todays 3-way was great! Your last question really made me think....as some of my earliest memories were walking to the public library, reading and anxiously waiting to be 12 (I am now 70) so I could go into the "adult" section. Mysteries of course were Nancy Drew....but I did not return to them until after I was married with little children and a friend gave me a copy of a mystery by Patricia Moyes. I enjoyed it so much that I found all of hers and read them from the beginning. And that started me on my long long love of mysteries and of course now have hundreds in my list. Many are no longer with us but added much....such as Arthur Upfield, Charlotte MacLeod,Dorothy Gilman, Dorothy Simpson....we can never run out of wonderful mysteries and authors to read, both old and new. Thanks for your wonderful blog. Pat

Lesa said...


One week, my parents house and babysat for 3 boys, and we moved into their house, a block from the library. I was in heaven! Walked every day and then went back and laid on the hammock on the screened in porch and read. Naturally, after we all married and moved away, my mother bought a house a street away from the library. (smile)

Thanks for saying you enjoy my blog. And, I'm even happier the conversation stirred memories of books you read. Thanks, Pat.

Debbie said...

OMG! This is so fun...hopping around following your conversation.
there is a 'armchair" BEA, that I've signed up for.
and...hmmmm...I'm going to check out a few of these new authors too.
I---being a little nerdy---have a notebook with mystery writers books, in order. I want to read a series from the beginning! I have a lot of catching up to do.
Margaret Maron has a new book??!! YAHOO! She's my favorite.

Anonymous said...

This was very good, Lesa. I think you three had too much fun! LOL

You all listed some great books outside of the mystery sphere and also some additional ones within it. I'm excited about a new Margaret Maron book too. And, I'll be interested in hearing what you think about the Susan Hill series. I tried #1 and had a hard time getting into it. It got put aside for another time.

Lesa said...

Oh, Debbie. Have you ever been to the website www.stopyourekillingme.com? Great tool for us mystery readers! Keeps those series in order.

I'm glad you enjoyed our conversation today. We really enjoyed it!

Lesa said...


I'll have to pick up the Susan Hill later. I took almost everything back to the library since I'm leaving for NYC tomorrow for a week. When I get a chance to read it, I'll let you know.