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03-06-09 : Agony Column Broadcast Radio Show from January 11, 2009 : Chris Cleave : 'Little Bee'

It's not too late to catch up with Chris Cleave in the United States; he's on tour talking about his new book, 'Little Bee'. Cleave is a great speaker; he's so heartfelt and genuine that you don’t really notice how much new information you're getting.

I spoke with Chris Cleave about the book late last year, and podcast the interview earlier. But I wanted to run the broadcast version of the interview to help alert readers that the book is now available stateside, and to give readers another nudge to go see Cleave if he swings through your town. 'Little Bee' is an astonishingly powerful book on its own, but Cleave did a lot of legwork to make it that way. The book is built on a fascinating combination of research and personal experience. Here's the link to the broadcast version of the interview.

03-05-09 : Agony Column Podcast News Report : Deborah Grabien Interviewed at SF in SF on February 21, 2009 : Child Ballads

There's an old saw in the interview biz that suggests one should never ask a question to which one does not know or at least have a pretty good idea about, the answer. While I understand the thinking behind that, for me one of the thrills of interviewing writers like Deborah Grabien, is the opportunity to learn something new.

Talking to Deborah Grabien at SF in SF, I asked about her "Haunted Ballads" series, which she described as "supernatural police procedurals." This is a description often applied to one of my favorite writers, Phil Rickman, so my ears perked up, especially when she referred to "Child Ballads." This gave me the opportunity to ask a question to which I had no idea about the answer — and to learn about Francis James Child, who collected ballads. Grabien is a fascinating writer with lots of interesting angles and approaches both in her "Haunted Ballads" series, and in her JP Kinkaid "Rock and Roll" mysteries. You can hear the questions and the answers by following this link.

03-04-09 : Agony Column Podcast News Report : Michael Boatman Interviewed at SF in SF on February 21, 2009 : The Good Swearer

The reason we’re still reading anything is simple — literally. Reading is a pastime that requires one element: language. All you need is words on a page and you’re set. NO further technological or artistic innovation is required. That said, language itself is infinitely complex, but within that infinity there is for a certain segment of readers, and I count myself among them, a form of language that stands out: swearing.

Now, Michael Boatman is a funny guy no matter how you slice it. He's got a lot of wit, he knows how to cunningly pair words for a nice twist, and he can surprise you with insights that make you laugh. But the fact that he knows how to sling a good swear word matters to me almost as much as his interest in monsters. But I have to say, he has an impressive vision of monsters as well, and you know, he's got some funny insights there as well, such as the vampire from Trinidad ... I'll let him tell that story in this linked audio interview.

03-03-09 : Agony Column Podcast Interview : A 2009 Interview with Dan Simmons, Part 2 : "Many are optioned, few are made"

One of the reasons I like to talk about mesmerism is because it fits into the whole spectrum of "invisible energies" that were "discovered" in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that made the progression electricity to ectoplasm so plausible. (Of course, to be fair, ectoplasm was eventually rendered "visible," but only in the form of silken scarves and other ruses hidden up the sleeves of the so-called spiritualists.)

But I know readers really want to know about the movies based on Simmons' book, and yes, we get there as well. It's hard not to speculate when one of the blurbs on the cover of 'Drood' is from Guillermo Del Toro. You can find the story on his involvement in 'Drood' — and what's up with the perennially-in-development 'Hyperion' movie, by following this link.

03-02-09 : Agony Column Podcast Interview : A 2009 Interview with Dan Simmons : 'Drood'

I've been looking forward to speaking with Dan Simmons in person — after having read 'Drood' — since I spoke with him late last year about reading prep for his novel. Frankly, you really don’t need to prep for it. If you have a passing knowledge of Dickens, then 'Drood' will fill you in all the details you need to enjoy it and much more. But Dan and I managed to talk about his book for close to an hour without ever really touching on spoiler plot-points.

Forget any childhood traumas incurred when middle-schools teachers tried to make you enjoy a thick slab of Dickens when all you wanted was Philip K. Dick. 'Drood' partakes of the latter's writing as much as the former's. It is, after all, told in the voice of opium-addled Wilkie Collins, and Collins is just a hoot to be with. You never know when he's going to start talking quite seriously about (or to, for that matter) his hallucinations. But 'Drood' is Simmons' most humorous — and his most "literary" work yet. You can hear Dan and I talk about the thoughts behind 'Drood', and his forthcoming movies and books, by following this link.

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