Next BookBanter Episode

The new BookBanter episode that I should be uploading to the site right now will unfortunately be somewhat delayed as most of my morning was spent setting up my new phone and then playing around with said new phone. It did feel weird to be completely incommunicado for a little while, at least via phone; we have no landline. I eventually had to contact T Mobile customer care via Skype on my computer.

And then a long day of work followed by exhaustion.

The episode should be up some time tomorrow morning and I’ll try my best to get it up as soon as possible.

In other news, I’m making this post via the WordPress app on said new phone, a Cliq. So far it’s going great and I’m sure I’ll get faster with the keyboard. And, of course, I now have the ability to blog and post from anywhere; so long as there is a decent signal, naturally.

David Grann

Lost City of Z

This morning I got to interview David Grann for BookBanter.  David Grann is a staff writer for the New Yorker and last year released his first book, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, which just came out in paperback.  We had fun talking about the interesting path Grann took, first getting into writing, and then ending up as a writer for the New Yorker and writing unusual articles, such as the search for the elusive giant squid, or uncovering the mystery behind the enigmatic death of the world’s foremost expert on Sherlock Holmes.  Grann also talked about how he stumbled upon the story of The Lost City of Z and what an experience it was to not only write the book, but all the traveling and research involved.  Grann also talked a little about the movie currently being made of The Lost City of Z starring Brad Pitt.

Devil and Sherlock Holmes

David Grann also has another book coming out, in March, collecting many of his unusual articles: The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession.  You may have noticed the term “obsession” cropping up in the titles of both of Grann’s books, which is what he tends to write about: the mysterious and the obsessed; a fascinating subject.

The interview with David Grann will be appearing in Episode 26 of BookBanter which will be airing on February 15th.

Thanks again to Sarah Cantor at Vintage & Anchor for setting up the interview, and of course, to David Grann, for doing the interview.

01/28 On the Bookshelf . . .


Today I received a copy of Elves in Anglo-Saxon England by Alaric Hall.  I know, I know.  This is not your usual book to exist, let alone want a copy of.  But it does not assume by any means that elves were alive and well in Anglo-Saxon times, but explores the meaning and reason for the concept of elves existing, more as a pre-Christian concept, as well as comparing it medieval Irish and Scandinavian sources .  Plus, the author’s name — Alaric — is wonderfully medieval in its own right.

So, thank you to Boydell & Brewer for sending a copy and I look forward to reviewing it.

Medieval history is one of my passions (I’m even writing a book within this period!) and so every once in a while I’ll review a very unusual book on this period.  The last one that I can bring to memory is The Age of Sutton Hoo (from the same publisher), though I have reviewed a number of medieval history and nonfiction books in the past, including: Vikings, Saxons, and Celts, God’s Crucible, Mysteries of the Middle Ages, Barbarians to Angels, and The Inheritance of Rome.

Writers With Drinks

Looks like I should be attending Writers With Drinks on February 13th.  Now at the moment I only have vague connotations of what this event will exactly be about, but the name of it has me both hopeful and intrigued.  The website doesn’t give me a lot info to go on, but the following people will be in attendance:

Vikram Chandra (Sacred Games)
Cherie Priest (Boneshaker)
James Rollins (The Doomsday Key)
Andrew Porter (The Theory Of Light And Matter)
Derek Powazek (Fray Magazine)

While I haven’t read Sacred Games, I’ve been kind of curious and interested in it since it came out in 2006.  So it’ll be interesting to hear some of this author’s work.  Cherie Priest will be a delight to meet, having interviewed her for the next episode of BookBanter, which will be up on February 1st.  James Rollins is now a good friend and a past interviewee on BookBanter and it will be great to see him again and perhaps hear some of his new book, Altar of Eden.

And then of course, there should be drinks.

Perhaps I’ll see some other familiar faces too . . .

In the Pipeline for BookBanter

And to think for a little while I was wondering who I was going to be interviewing this year . . .

With the Cherie Priest interview set to go in Episode 25 next week on February 1st, and an interview with Kim Stanley Robinson in the bag . . .

Will be scheduling soon for my Seth Grahame-Smith interview, where we’ll be talking about his new forthcoming book, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter . . .

I also have set for this Friday an interview with David Grann, author of the fantastic book Lost City of Z (and you can read a little about what I thought of it here) . . .

And finally, today I had a publicist contacting me about possibly interviewing the great author, Peter Straub, for his forthcoming book, A Dark Matter.  I don’t think I was even aware Straub had a new book coming out . . .

So far 2010 is turning out to be a great year for BookBanter!

Kim Stanley Robinson

Kim Stanley Robinson
Had great fun interviewing Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the award-winning Mars trilogy, which began with Red Mars.  We talked a lot about his new novel, Galileo’s Dream, which is all about Galileo’s life and his fight for the truth and science against the Church, and how he occasionally gets sucked up through his telescope and transported to the year 3020 to help some tall, strange looking people on the moons of Jupiter — yes, those Galilean moons.

Stan (which is the name he goes by) also talked a lot about writing and how he got started and what sort of science fiction writer he considers himself, who his influences are, and what he hopes readers get out of reading his books.  After the interview we also talked a little about Hollywood, movies, and optioning books.  Stan talked about his conversations with James Cameron, who was one of the first people to option Red Mars, and how apparently Cameron had his own “Mars” story he wanted to tell, which is why he returned the option.

Stan then did a reading and had a great Q&A session, going into entertaining and at times hilarious detail about the life of Galileo Galilei, and providing some rare and unknown secrets about the scientist’s life that he discovered while researching him and passed along to us.

The interview is recorded and should be appearing in Episode 26 of BookBanter on February 15th.  Thanks go to Sunny Baadkar and the Avid Reader in Davis for help setting up and hosting the interview.

Kim Stanley Robinson

01/22 On the Bookshelf . . .

A trio of Bernard Cornwell received today!  A Crowning Mercy and The Fallen Angels, coauthored with Susannah Kells, were actually published some time ago, but have been reissued in these beautiful trade paperback editions.  And then there’s The Burning Land, the next in Cornwell’s Saxon Tales series.

Fallen Angels Crowning Mercy Burning Land

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Just finished up Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which is the unique story of Abraham Lincoln’s life from birth to assassination.  As a young boy his mother was taken from him . . . by a vampire, and from then on he swore to kill every vampire in America.  With his trusty ax, he set about doing just this, traveling the country, gaining allies (some even vampires no less!), and doing his best to rid the country of the blood-sucking fiends.

Seth Grahame-Smith, author of the bestselling Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, does a great job of weaving Lincoln’s life in with killing vampires, chronicling his political career and using the vampire population as an impetus for starting the Civil War.  One could almost read a biography on Lincoln, and be reading Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter alongside it, as told from Lincoln’s journal entries.  And then there are the hilarious photographs from the period!

I’ll be interviewing Seth Grahame-Smith in the near future for Episode 27 of BookBanter, which will be up March 1st, magically coinciding with the publication of the book on March 2nd.  (Funny how that works . . . almost like it’s planned or something!)

Indiana Jones and the Lost Explorer . . . or “The Lost City of Z” by David Grann

Lost City of Z

In 1925, renowned explorer Percy Fawcett launched his final expedition that was recorded and watched by the world, as he journeyed into the deepest jungles of the Amazon in search of a hidden civilization that has been thought to exist and has been searched for for centuries.  The messages continued coming to the outside world of the incredible things he saw and the unique people he met.  Then the messages suddenly stopped and Percy Fawcett was never heard from again; all members of the expedition were silenced, even Percy’s son, who was with them.

The Lost City of Z is the incredible story of Percy Fawcett’s life in becoming the last great explorer to search one of the world’s last, relatively unexplored regions.  It is also the story of the history of “El Dorado” and this lost civilization in Brazil that has been searched for for so long, for centuries, since the days of Columbus.  It is also the story of the human driving streak to search and discover and learn and to always be pushing further and harder, and never giving up.  Finally, it is the story of a talented author, David Grann, a writer for the New Yorker, who with this book traveled around the world, and even began his own small expedition to retrace Fawcett’s steps and finally get to the bottom of whether there is a hidden civilization within the jungles of Brazil.  While I won’t give it away, I will say that Grann certainly finds something in the Amazon.

And you’ll have to read my eventual review to find out more about the incredible book, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (the book comes out in paperback on January 26th).  I am also currently working on securing an interview with the author in the near future, as I would love to hear some of his thoughts and ideas in traveling into the Amazon.

Watch this blog for updates.