Tag Archives: Author Interviews

“Throwback” Interview with author T.C. Boyle by Frank Mundo

I’ve interviewed a lot of amazing writers over the years. Unfortunately, I never collected my interviews anywhere for safe keeping, and many of them (most of them) are lost forever. In January 2010, I interviewed author T.C. Boyle for a magazine that, more than eight years later, is no longer around, and I thought this was one of the interviews that was lost forever as well (since only a teaser version is recorded here on my blog) — which sucked a big one because I really liked what he had to say.

Luckily, I was cleaning out my emails the other day, and I found my correspondences with Mr. Boyle, one of which had the interview attached. So yay for being lazy and not cleaning out my email.

I’m posting the interview here as a throwback piece and to keep a record of it. I’m hoping to find some of my other interviews I really enjoyed as well. In the meantime, here is my interview with author TC Boyle from January 2010:

The Reviews:
Very few writers have had long-term success at writing both novels and collections of short stories. One of these writers is TC Boyle, distinguished professor at the prestigious creative writing program at USC and the prolific and long-renowned author of 12 novels and 9 short story collections.

On January 25th, 2010, both of these worlds will collide with the paperback release of Boyle’s newest bestselling novel, The Women, and the hardcover release of his latest collection of fiction, Wild Child – the perfect opportunity to see for yourself why TC Boyle has earned a solid reputation as one of our nation’s most humorous and entertaining storytellers in both genres.

In The Women, Boyle offers a mesmerizing fictional account of the life of architect Frank Lloyd Wright told in reverse chronology through the eyes of four beautiful, passionate, and tragic women who truly loved him. This is Boyle’s third turn at fictionalizing the life of an enormous historical American figure — a triumvirate of egomaniacal geniuses, including John Harvey Kellogg (The Road to Wellville) and Alfred Kinsey (The Inner Circle), whose passions and accomplishments still affect us all today in one way or another.

In Wild Child, Nature is the main tool Boyle calls on to showcase his intelligent humor, surreal style, and socially-conscious sensibility, the hallmarks of his best work, in this excellent collection of 14 stories that gleefully remind us, despite our best efforts, that human beings are just animals once-removed by civilization.

In the title story, likely the one that will get the most attention by critics, Boyle shares his unique version of the wild boy raised in the wilderness by animals. But for new readers of Boyle’s work, or his fans in California, there are a few must-read stories that specifically address our own unique relationship with nature: “Ash Monday” (which discusses the California wildfires); “La Conchita” (based on the 1995 mudslide that buried 9 homes in Ventura); and “Question 62” that details the lives of suburban Californians turned upside down by a rogue mountain lion. The rest of the collection displays the amazing range and talent of a storyteller who lives up to the hype and always delivers the goods.

I especially liked the disturbing story “The Lie” in which a man, who has already used up all of his sick and personal days, lies to his boss about his newborn child’s death as an excuse to get out of work. This story alone is worth the price of admission.

The paperback version of The Women and Boyle’s newest collection of short fiction, Wild Child, are available in bookstores on Monday, January 25th. To learn more about TC Boyle, visit his website.

The Interview:
I had the great opportunity to interview TC Boyle recently. Please take a few more minutes to read this insightful and revealing discussion about his work and his life (including a bit on his next novel now in the works).

Q: Wild Child is your ninth collection of short stories, which coincides with the paperback release of your 12th novel, The Women. What compels or inspires you to write, and how do maintain such a prolific pace?

A: Oh, lordy, at the risk of dragging out the old clichés, let me just say that writing is my life and I cannot address the world without it. (Of, course, Hemingway had a solution for that.) There is an excitement to making art that is like an addiction, a phenomenon I discuss in my essay (at tcboyle.com) called, “This Monkey, My Back.” I never know what a given story or even novel will be and the thrill is in discovering it, sentence by sentence, day by day.

Q: You were born in New York , studied in Iowa , and then made your way here to Los Angeles and Santa Barbara . As fans and students of yours, we Californians have sort of claimed you as one of our own – as one of our best writers. Where do you see yourself in all of this and does geography affect your writing? 

A: I humbly thank all my fellow Californians for embracing me.  It is a joy and an honor to be amongst you.  However, I should say that I’d never been west of the Hudson till I was twenty-one, and then I went all the way west to Buffalo because my inamorata was a Buffalo gal.  Now–and ever since I started at USC in 1978– California is my home, and I ain’t never going back.  As for how this works out in my writing: I guess I will always be something of an interloper here and so perhaps I see things–or saw them–in a slightly different way, as, for instance, in The Tortilla Curtain.  The environment here excites me and it seems strange and new (whoever thought we’d settle in so comfortably with our quakes, our mudslides and firestorms?).  Many of my recent stories and novels reflect this, like “Ash Monday,” which deals with our fires, and “La Conchita,” which is built around the mudslide there, both of which are part of Wild Child.

Q: When I think TC Boyle, I think first entertainment, then music, then craft – all of which combine together into an art form that I genuinely appreciate and admire. In my opinion, you’re one of the few writers who seem to understand that you’re competing with TV, film, music, video games, social media and a billion other fun wastes of time. Is this a conscious effort on your part? Do you worry about your potential audience and the challenge of entertaining today’s “busy” readers?

A: All art is entertainment, lest we forget and try to seal it all away behind the gates of the university. I do what I do unconsciously, making stories because it seems natural to me and allows me to try to sort things out for myself. I am glad that you and others find them engaging on all levels. And yes, I do try to carve out a little place for my work amidst the noise of society and I do believe in giving an entertaining stage performance, but I do not write in order to attract attention or to have pieces to perform.  I know what will work on stage and what will not. And so I select. I also have to admit to being a little tiny bit of a ham and an extrovert, who used to shake out with a little rock and roll band.

Q: Going back to question 3, how much does music influence or affect your writing process?

A: I have never written anything without musical accompaniment. The musicality of the language and the beauty of its construction is the foundation for any story. Beauty, that’s what we’re after. All of us.

Q: I hate the saying, “Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.” As a former high school teacher and current college professor, how do you address this statement?

A: I teach because it is a major part of my life. What makes it even better is that I have been fortunate for many years now to have an audience for my work, so that there is no economic necessity to teach. But I love the interaction with my students, I love their discipline and talent, and I love being privileged enough to be their coach. In my case, anyway, I can do and I can teach too. Further, most of the professors I know teach out of love of the subject and, as is also true for me, as a way of giving back to the system and to the people who inspired us.

Q: As a humanist, your writing addresses a lot of social issues, especially in regard to science and religion – but you don’t offer a lot of answers or preachy messages in response. As you’ve work out these concepts in your writing over the years, have you come close to finding answers for yourself, even if you don’t often share them in your work?

A: Yes, I am concerned with social and environmental issues. What rational person is not? But advocacy and art do not mix. Art is a seduction. Good art invites the reader to think and feel deeply and come to his/her own conclusions. As for myself: I am in despair, caught between a Darwin and a hard place (see the story “Bulletproof” from this collection). I have no hope, no answers. What I do have to counterbalance nihilism is art, family, friendship, usefulness. But then, what is useful when we live only to die?

Q: You’ve had great success in writing both short stories and novels. Which do you prefer and (maybe you can settle the age-old dispute) which is harder?

A: I am equally at home with both and feel lucky to be able to turn to stories after a long exhausting bout of novel-writing — and vice versa.

Q: Kids today (uh oh, I’m sounding like my parents) seem less interested in reading than ever. What do you think this means to the future of writing and publishing? Are we doomed?

A: Yes, we are doomed. While I am deeply grateful to be taught in the classrooms of this country and abroad too, I hate to see the subversive and interactive process of reading a novel relegated to an assignment, like trigonometry. How many of us graduate and do a little trig in our spare time? Here is the ray of hope: books provide an experience that neither film nor video game can fully duplicate, because books — of fiction and poetry in particular — ask so much of individual readers and take them so very deep inside themselves. Of course, this way madness lies, I understand that, but there you have it. Read and get well. Or maybe read and get sick.

Q: How do you feel about e-books and e-readers? Do you use any of these devices?

A: I do not have a Kindle, though my books are licensed for its use worldwide. Our work (that of we writers) would have been stolen long ago, as has happened with movies, music, video games, except that no one cares enough to steal it. Beyond that, the audience for books, even as it dwindles, still wants to embrace the object. A book is beautiful in itself. This is why I have always petitioned for inviting and representative covers–books should look like the rock and roll album covers of a bygone era. Hold the book, enjoy it, stroke it.

Q: What books are you reading right now? Are there any writers you feel who deserve more attention than they currently receive?

A: Just finished Carol Sklenica’s biography of Ray Carver, which was so rich it was like drinking whale’s blood. And I’m rediscovering the multifarious delights of Walter Kirn’s 2001 novel, Up in the Air, which inspired the superb Jason Reitman movie of the same name. Funny thing, too, even though we are doomed (see above), both literarily and literally, there are whole hosts of amazing writers, writing away, and they are far too numerous to name. Go to the bookstore and ask around. They’ll tell you. And definitely check out the L.A. writer, Richard Lange. He’s a great new novelist.

 

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Read Chapter One of One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper

If you haven’t read Jonathan Tropper’s books, you’re in for a wickedly funny treat. USA Today calls Tropper “a more sincere, insightful version of Nick Hornby, that other master of the male psyche,” and Entertainment Weekly exclaimed “It’s amazing what can happen in the hands of a casually brilliant author.”

An acclaimed screenwriter, Tropper has also written for Steven Spielberg and is currently writing a new Cinemax series, Banshee, that will debut in January. Tropper’s last novel, This Is Where I Leave You, was a phenomenal success named one of the best books of 2009 by NPR, Entertainment Weekly, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and Amazon, among others.

One Last Thing Before I Go demonstrates yet again Tropper’s deft touch with the darkest of materials and his ability to make readers laugh out loud in one paragraph and move them to tears in the next. You can meet Jonathan Tropper on Tuesday night at The Grove in LA where he’ll be reading and signing from his new novel. In the meantime, take a few minutes to read the first chapter of One Last Thing Before I Go, which the author has generously shared with readers at LA Books Examiner below. Enjoy!

When: Tuesday August 28 @ 7 pm
Where: Barnes & Noble (The Grove)
189 Grove Drive Suite K-30 Los Angeles
Get directions

Learn more about Jonathan Tropper and his work at his website: jonathantropper.com

About the book:
You don’t have to look very hard at Drew Silver to see that mistakes have been made. His fleeting fame as the drummer for a one-hit wonder rock band is nearly a decade behind him. He lives in the Versailles, an apartment building filled almost exclusively with divorced men like him, and makes a living playing in wedding bands. His ex-wife, Denise, is about to marry a guy Silver can’t quite bring himself to hate. And his Princeton-bound teenage daughter Casey has just confided in him that she’s pregnant—because Silver is the one she cares least about letting down.

So when he learns that his heart requires emergency, lifesaving surgery, Silver makes the radical decision to refuse the operation, choosing instead to use what little time he has left to repair his relationship with Casey, become a better man, and live in the moment, even if that moment isn’t destined to last very long. As his exasperated family looks on, Silver grapples with the ultimate question of whether or not his own life is worth saving.

With the wedding looming and both Silver and Casey in crisis, this broken family struggles to come together, only to risk damaging each other even more. One Last Thing Before I Go is Jonathan Tropper at his funny, insightful, heartbreaking best.

Read Chapter On at Frank Mundo’s LA Books Examiner.

Read Chapter One” is a special feature at Frank Mundo’s LA Books Examiner where authors, from emerging to bestsellers, share an excerpt of their newest books:

North of Hollywood by actor/playwright and local author Rick Lenz

The Sausage Maker’s Daughters by Los Angeles author A.G.S. Johnson

33 Days by LA author and former 80′s indie rocker Bill See

Girl in Translation, the bestselling debut novel by Jean Kwok

The Heights, the bestselling book by novelist, playwright, and filmmaker Peter Hedges

The Omega Theory by international bestselling author Mark Alpert

Fatal Error by bestselling author J.A. Jance

The Dark Side of Innocence by LA writer and bestselling author Terri Cheney

Golden State, the fresh and entertaining debut novel by local author David Prybil, Barnes and Noble Rising Star Award Winner

A Discovery of Witches by professor of history at the University of Southern California and bestselling author Deborah Harkness

The Meaning of Matthew by Judy Shepard, an activist and co-founder of the Matthew Shepard Foundation

The Ark, the bestselling Internet sensation by Boyd Morrison

The Insider by Reece Hirsch

Changes by Jim Butcher, bestselling author of The Dresden Files

Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne, former lead singer of The Talking Heads

Frank Mundo, LA Books Examiner, is the author of The Brubury Tales (foreword by Carolyn See) and Gary, the Four-Eyed Fairy and Other Stories (now available for Kindle and Nook). Don’t forget to subscribe to my emails and follow me on Twitter @LABooksExaminer for the latest updates.

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A Coupla Shades of Taupe by Court Burback: Read Chapter One

Love it or hate it, the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by former TV executive turned mega bestselling author E.L. James is a true publishing phenomenon. In fact, according to CBS News, these books are “among the fastest-selling series of all time” with more than 10 million copies sold and counting. Film versions of the books are almost certainly on the way, and so is the onslaught of copycats and parodies.

And that’s why we’re here. Before you’re inundated with Fifty Shades of Everything books, meet Court Burback, an LA writer and author of a new Fifty Shades parody A Coupla Shades of Taupe that’s been getting some buzz around town and some great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Court Burback has agreed to share the first chapter of A Coupla Shades of Taupe below, a wild and funny parody she describes as, “a romantic, tender tale of blossoming emotions and hardcore schtupping” for which “a Pulitzer is inevitable.” Enjoy!

About the author
Court Burback was a finalist for the Glass Woman Fiction Prize, and her nonfiction has appeared in publications that include Playgirl, Laguna Beach Magazine, and Hustler. A Coupla Shades of Taupe is available at Amazon, and you can learn more about Burback at her website onedumbbunny.com.

About the book:
Pagan Taupe is the wealthiest man in all of Arkansas. He’s got a home with a working refrigerator, a private rickshaw driver, and a respected empire of taxidermy/fro-yo chain stores. The only thing that’s missing is a whiny young codependent named Alexandra Aluminum. From the moment he sees her tripping over an angry raccoon, it’s clear that Alexandra dills his pickle. Pagan becomes obsessed with Alexandra at a level normally portrayed by Rob Lowe in Lifetime movies. But unlike Rob Lowe, Pagan doesn’t want to beat her with a tire iron and bury her beneath the town bridge—he wants to make her his live-in sex slave.

But if eager young Alexandra wants to feel the caress of Pagan’s ear hair against her cheek, she’s going to have to play by his rules. When Pagan reveals the special room he’s built to live out his sexual proclivities, Alexandra’s natural reaction is to cold cock him and call the police. But the clown chained to the wall assures Alexandra that Pagan is a stand-up guy, and if she gives him a chance he can introduce her to a world of unimaginable pleasure. Alexandra takes the leap and agrees to be Pagan’s unquestioning “submissive,” and the two embark on a sexual journey that would make Gloria Steinem put a loaded gun to her temple.

Read Chapter On at Frank Mundo’s LA Books Examiner.

 

Read Chapter One” is a special feature at Frank Mundo’s LA Books Examiner where authors, from emerging to bestsellers, share an excerpt of their newest books:

North of Hollywood by actor/playwright and local author Rick Lenz

The Sausage Maker’s Daughters by Los Angeles author A.G.S. Johnson

33 Days by LA author and former 80′s indie rocker Bill See

Girl in Translation, the bestselling debut novel by Jean Kwok

The Heights, the bestselling book by novelist, playwright, and filmmaker Peter Hedges

The Omega Theory by international bestselling author Mark Alpert

Fatal Error by bestselling author J.A. Jance

The Dark Side of Innocence by LA writer and bestselling author Terri Cheney

Golden State, the fresh and entertaining debut novel by local author David Prybil, Barnes and Noble Rising Star Award Winner

A Discovery of Witches by professor of history at the University of Southern California and bestselling author Deborah Harkness

The Meaning of Matthew by Judy Shepard, an activist and co-founder of the Matthew Shepard Foundation

The Ark, the bestselling Internet sensation by Boyd Morrison

The Insider by Reece Hirsch

Changes by Jim Butcher, bestselling author of The Dresden Files

Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne, former lead singer of The Talking Heads

Frank Mundo, LA Books Examiner, is the author of The Brubury Tales (foreword by Carolyn See) and Gary, the Four-Eyed Fairy and Other Stories (now available for Kindle and Nook). Don’t forget to subscribe to my emails and follow me on Twitter @LABooksExaminer for the latest updates.

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Sparring With Beatnik Ghosts Poetry Series

According to Sparring With Beatnik Ghosts poetry series producer and creator Daniel Yaryan, the idea for SWBG was “to channel the spirits of the deceased Beats through back-to-back poems and songs that seemed to flow continuously and colorfully like the spontaneous thoughts of Jack Kerouac being typed upon his scroll of teletype paper.” And, in August of 2008, Yaryan hosted a six-hour, non-stop marathon of music and poetry at the Li Po Lounge in San Francisco (stomping grounds for Beats Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Philip Lamantia and Philip Whalen) becoming the very first installment or Round One of this mystic poetry boxing match called Sparring With Beatnik Ghosts.

On Sunday, July 15, 2012, the SWBG poetry series comes to the LAst Bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles for Round 37 of this exciting spoken-word poetry event that’s sure to knock you out! Hosted by local hero Mike “The Poet” Sonksen, author of I Am Alive in Los Angeles!, the bygone beatniks will throw down with some of the best spoken-word champs LA has to offer.

The scorecard for Round 37 includes: Steve Abee, Jason Brain, Chiwan Choi, Sean Hill, Armond Kinard, Terry McCarty, Amy Uyematsu, plus some mystery poets and surprise ringers to help stack the deck for the living bards.

When:
Sunday, July 15, 2012 – 3 p.m.

Where:
The Last Bookstore – Downtown Los Angeles
453 S. Spring St. (main entrance around the corner on 5th)

Who:
Mike “The Poet” Sonksen is a 3rd-generation LA native acclaimed for poetry performances, published articles and legendary city tours. Poet, journalist, historian, tour guide, teacher, Sonksen graduated from U.C.L.A. and is the author of I Am Alive in Los Angeles, which is also available on iTunes and has been added to the curriculum of several universities. Mike has performed his poetry coast to coast at college campuses, museums, bookstores, nightclubs and just about any venue you can imagine. See Mike The Poet in action on YouTube.

Read about the rest of the contributors: Steve Abee, Jason Brain, Chiwan Choi, Sean Hill, Armond Kinard, Terry McCarty, Amy Uyematsu at Frank Mundo’s LA Books Examiner.

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Cypress Park Branch Library featuring author Jim Marquez

On Friday, May 18th, Cypress Park Branch Library’s open mic event for writers and musicians returns with special guest Jim “The Beast” Marquez. Participation is open to everyone, and teens are especially encouraged to share their poetry, writings and music during the event.

What: Open mic featuring author Jim “The Beast” Marquez

When: Friday, May 18th 3:30 pm to 5 pm

Where: Cypress Park Library, 1150 Cypress Ave. Los Angeles. 323-224-0039. Driving Directions. Follow them on twitter @CypressParkLAPL

Born and raised in East Los Angeles and a graduate of ELAC and Cal State L.A., Jim Marquez, known as The Beast to his friends and fans, is the author of more than a dozen independent, LA-centric books, including East Los, Pieces Of L.A. and East L.A. Collage.

The Beast will be reading from his new book, Beastly Bus Tales, a collection of stories that represent the author’s Beastly style, described in a recent interview with Cypress Park Branch Library as:

“..Rough-going, but elegant, I think. And most foul. Very Sexy. Over the top. Naive. Scatter-brained. Loving. Lonely. Erratic, Pulsing. Electric. Intense. Moody. First person narrative but lately switching to third person. Unafraid. Honest. Stories about bars, booze, broads, sex, death, memory, dreams, passion, adventures in foreign lands, dealing with the humanity of sketchy environs, race, class struggle, art, identity.”

Signed copies will available for purchase at the end of the program. For more information on Jim “The Beast” Marquez, follow him on Facebook.

Please come out and support Cypress Park Branch Library and this important community event, meet Jim Marquez, share your stories, poetry and music, and encourage writing and reading for teens and adults in Los Angeles and everywhere.

Frank Mundo is the author of The Brubury Tales and Gary, the Four-Eyed Fairy. Don’t forget to subscribe to my emails and follow me on Twitter @LABooksExaminer for the latest updates to LA Books Examiner.

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Two New Interviews

Very exciting! I was interviewed twice this week about my books and my life. I’ve posted links to both if you want to check them out

First, I had a Q and A with Jess C Scott about writing, my favorite poets and my novel in verse, The Brubury Tales, which is now available on kindle. (The Brubury Tales made Amazon’s bestseller list #81 in the UK, #40 in Italy, #99 in Spain!)

And, on April 28th I was interviewed by Laura Lme and Cecilia Francisquini on the Verses In Motion Show on GetYourz Radio | Blog Talk Radio. It was recorded live and you can listen to it now.  In the interview I read an excerpt from The Brubury Tales and discussed the book, its inspiration and origin.

Here’s a link to some previous interviews I did with the Cypress Park branch of the LA Public Library and author Susan Whitfield https://frankmundo.wordpress.com/category/author-interviews/

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Read Chapter One of The Sausage Maker’s Daughters by AGS Johnson

The 2011-2012 Los Angeles Book Festival awarded The Sausage Maker’s Daughters by Los Angeles author A.G.S. Johnson an Honorable Mention at its annual competition honoring the best of world publishing. If you missed this up-and-coming local author at the book festival earlier this month, don’t worry. You’ve got another chance next week.

On Wednesday, May 2 at 8 p.m., A.G.S. Johnson will be signing her debut novel, The Sausage Maker’s Daughters, at The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles at 453 South Spring Street.

In the meantime, learn more about A.G.S. Johnson and read the first chapter of The Sausage Maker’s Daughters below:

About the author
A.G.S. Johnson always intended to be a writer. But raised in a Midwestern family of five girls and no boys, she embarked on a career in the corporate world that would allow her to explore why men were treated differently than women. Armed with a business degree, for over 20 years she was a banker, most often working with international currencies.

Still, writing remained a dream, so she returned to school, earned a masters degree in fiction writing from the University of Southern California and proceeded to pursue her lifelong ambition. Her debut novel The Sausage Maker’s Daughters, 12 years in the making, releases Feb. 7, 2012.

In addition to her passion for reading, traveling and all things French, Johnson serves on the Board of the Council of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, and is a founding board member of The World is Just a Book Away. Proceeds from The Sausage Maker’s Daughters benefit this relatively young charity that builds libraries in developing countries.

Since the late 70’s Johnson has made her home first in Northern California, now in Los Angeles, where the author lives with her husband of 20 years and their menagerie of cats and dogs. She is currently working on her second novel, a medical murder mystery based on a true story of discovery and deceit.

Learn more about A.G.S. Johnson and her work at her official website: AGSJohnsonauthor.com.

About the book
It’s the era of the counterculture and Vietnam. Women’s consciousness is being raised and they’re beginning to find their places outside of the home.

But twenty-four-year-old Kip Czermanski is nowhere near her home in California. She’s in a jail cell in her hometown in Wisconsin awaiting a court appearance in the mysterious death of her ex-lover, who happened to be her brother-in-law.

Since her father is the small town’s leading citizen, Kip isn’t overly worried—at first. But the personal grudge the DA holds for all the Czermanskis is about to find a foil. Kip.

What follows is a wild ride through Kip’s present predicament and her past. Family dynamics and sibling rivalries, magnified by her counterculture attitudes and feminist beliefs, will lay bare Kip’s life before the crowded courtroom, right along with the self-important Czermanskis’ darkest secrets.

Excerpt of The Sausage Maker’s Daughters by A.G.S. Johnson

Read excerpt at Frank Mundo’s LA Books Examiner.

 
Frank Mundo is the author of The Brubury Tales (foreword by Carolyn See) and Gary, the Four-Eyed Fairy and Other Stories. Don’t forget to subscribe to my emails and follow me on Twitter @LABooksExaminer for the latest updates to LA Books Examiner.

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