Last Christmas in Paris: An Interview with Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Bas Bleu’s December 2018 Book a Month pick, Last Christmas in Paris, is a heartfelt read any month of the year. But with Christmas only days away, and the multi-year commemoration of the World War I centennial drawing to a close, this historical novel by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb is a timely choice for your end-of-year reading. This week in the Bluestocking Salon, we’re talking with the authors about the technicalities of co-writing a novel (while living in different countries!), the importance of addressing PTSD when discussing WWI, and the unique benefits of old-fashioned letter writing. Continue reading

The Great Hibernation: An Interview with Tara Dairman

black and white photo of author Tara Dairman

Mystery and adventure blend with kid-friendly political suspense in The Great Hibernation by Tara Dairman, a Bas Bleu Young Readers Book A Month 2018 pick. This wonderful novel is set in St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord, a tiny coastal town with some bizarre traditions—like the eating of the sacred bear liver on every Founder’s Day, a practice that, due to a town ordinance, is mandatory for every citizen twelve and older. But when a mysterious slumber falls upon the town, it’s up to twelve-year-old Jean and the rest of St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord’s kids to keep the town running until they can solve the riddle of their parents’ slumber. In our exclusive interview with author Tara Dairman, she talks about why she chose to write for middle-grade readers, how traveling informs her writing, and how learning to cook from a book changed her life. Continue reading

Mrs. Houdini: An Interview with Victoria Kelly

Bas Bleu‘s October Book a Month 2018 pick, Mrs. Houdini, is eerie, haunting, melancholy, and magical—just the thing for Halloween! Author Victoria Kelly spins a gorgeous historical novel: In alternating timelines, the story follows a young Bess and Harry Houdini as their romance and careers blossom, and, after Harry’s death, traces Bess’s attempts to find her deceased husband’s promised hidden message from the “other side.” This wonderfully researched and mysterious love story is just the thing for a chilly fall evening! During a recent conversation, Victoria Kelly offered us insight into how poetry feeds her fiction (and vice versa), some fascinating tidbits uncovered during her research process, and more reading suggestions for fans of the Houdinis. Continue reading

All Things Cease to Appear: An Interview with Elizabeth Brundage

Some of the Bas Bleu editors’ favorite books are the ones we find the most difficult to write about, and that was certainly the case for our Mysteries Book a Month 2018 pick, All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage. Our reviewer praised the novel as “exquisitely written and genre-defying…as much a powerful character study as it as a thrilling mystery.” Today in the Bluestocking Salon, we caught up with Elizabeth Brundage to learn about how her early career as a screenwriter shaped her as a novelist, the parallels she sees between ghosts and faith, and the importance of being an adventurous reader. Continue reading

Odd Child Out: An Interview with Gilly Macmillan

As one of our Mysteries Book a Month 2018 selections, Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan transports readers to Bristol, England, where a prank gone wrong leaves one boy in the hospital and his best friend—a Somali refugee in a British community already simmering with tension—in the hot seat. As the suspenseful novel unfolds, both boys’ families are forced to take a hard look at long-suppressed secrets…and face hard truths. This week in the Bluestocking Salon, Gilly Macmillan took a break from her busy writing schedule to chat with us about narrative voice, the importance of fiction in placing readers in the minds of others, and being a visual writer. Continue reading

One Shadow on the Wall: An Interview with Leah Henderson

 

Bas Bleu’s July Book a Month 2018 selections transport readers around the world, including to Africa in our Young Readers pick, One Shadow on the Wall by Leah Henderson. Set in modern-day Senegal, the novel follows a young boy named Mor as he struggles to support himself and his two sisters after the death of their parents, endeavoring to honor his promise to his father to keep their little family together. With an endearing protagonist and a touch of magical realism, One Shadow on the Wall is a heartfelt story about perseverance, loyalty, and family. This week in the Bluestocking Salon, we’re chatting with author Leah Henderson about her literary inspiration, her globetrotting adventures, and the children’s books that influenced her. Continue reading

Design for Dying: An Interview with Renee Patrick

Film and fashion fans know Edith Head as the Academy Award-winning costume designer who dressed Grace Kelly, Ginger Rogers, Hedy Lamarr, and other silver-screen starlets. In Bas Bleu’s June Book a Month 2018 selection, Design for Dying, Edith is still an up-and-comer at Paramount Pictures when she meets Lillian Frost, the narrator of this “effervescent whodunit.” Together, the two women join forces to solve a murder in 1930s Hollywood, in a historical mystery penned by the husband-and-wife team of Rosemarie and Vince Keenan under the pseudonym Renee Patrick. This week in the Bluestocking Salon, we’re chatting with Rosemarie and Vince (referred to collectively as Renee) about the allure of Hollywood, the importance of Edith and Lillian’s friendship, and how they stay married while writing a novel together. Continue reading

The House at Lobster Cove: An Interview with Jane Goodrich

Selecting The House at Lobster Cove for Bas Bleu’s Book a Month 2018 program was an easy choice: Not only did our reviewer hail the novel as having “the grace, wit, language, and incisive character exploration of Edith Wharton’s work,” but Jane Goodrich’s debut novel features a beautiful letterpress-printed rendering of the titular house on its cover. Goodrich (co-owner of Saturn Press, a greeting card and stationery company whose holiday cards are Bas Bleu favorites) was a teenager when she fell in love with images of Kragsyde, a nineteenth-century Massachusetts shingle-style house, which was torn down in the 1920s. As an adult, she and her husband obtained the plans and spent fifteen years rebuilding the house on an island in Maine. Now she has written this marvelous novel about the unique life of philanthropist George Nixon Black, who commissioned the design and building of the original Kragsyde. Recently, Jane took a break during her long drive home to Maine to graciously answer our questions about rebuilding Kragsyde, the differences between writing novels and writing greeting cards, and the books that shaped her as a reader. Continue reading

Outside In: An Interview with Jennifer Bradbury

Selected for Bas Bleu’s Young Readers Book a Month 2018 package, Outside In by Jennifer Bradbury tells the story of a boy named Ram, living on the streets of Chandigarh, India, and his discovery of a magnificent garden of sculptures—created in secret by a factory worker named Nek. Inspired by the true story of Nek Chand, one of India’s most beloved artists, this enchanting novel entwines Ram and Nek’s story with a retelling of the Ramayana—the epic tale of two brothers, Rama and Lakshmana, and the beautiful princess Sita. A heartwarming tale of trust, healing, and family, Outside In provides an intriguing glimpse into life in India. Today in the Bluestocking Salon, Jennifer Bradbury talks to us about her own experience in India, how her high-school students help her write, and her claim to fame as a Jeopardy! contestant. Continue reading

The Last Castle: Q&A with Denise Kiernan

Biltmore Estate (by JcPollock)

If you’ve visited the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, and think you know everything there is to know about the magnificent house and those that built it…think again! Denise Kiernan’s The Last Castle, a Bas Bleu Book a Month 2018 selection, offers readers a deeper dive into the fascinating history of the the Vanderbilt family, the brilliant minds that conceived and created Biltmore, and the major events and figures in America’s past that shaped it. Recently, Denise took a break from her writing schedule to share her inspiration, the lessons she’s learned from her writing life, and Biltmore’s role in the preservation of America’s natural resources. Continue reading