Some Writer! – Hot Book of the Week


Did you recognize the phrasing of the title, Some Writer! as coming from Charlotte’s Web? Melissa Sweet’s account of E.B. White’s life is this week’s Hot Book of the Week. Here’s the description from the Web Store.

SOME PIG,” Charlotte the spider’s praise for Wilbur, is just one fondly remembered snippet from E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web . In Some Writer! , the two-time Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet mixes White’s personal letters, photos, and family ephemera with her own exquisite artwork to tell his story, from his birth in 1899 to his death in 1985. Budding young writers will be fascinated and inspired by the journalist, New Yorker contributor, and children’s book author who loved words his whole life. This authorized tribute is the first fully illustrated biography of E. B. White and includes an afterword by Martha White, E. B. White’s granddaughter.

Interested? If you’d like to buy a copy of Some Writer! for yourself, or as a gift, check out the Web Store.

Dana Stabenow – In the Hot Seat


Dana Stabenow will be joining Barbara Peters, the owner of The Poisoned Pen, for two live travelogue programs, one on Nov. 29 at 7 PM, the other Dec. 3 at 2 PM. They will be discussing Alaska, the Arctic, and the Northwest Passage. Dana will also be at the Small Business Saturday event on Nov. 26. It seemed to be the perfect time to ask Dana to sit In the Hot Seat for an interview.

Dana, would you introduce yourself to readers?

I’m the author of 32 novels, including historical novels, thrillers and science fiction, but I’m best known for the crime fiction novels featuring Liam Campbell and Kate Shugak.

Tell us about Kate Shugak.

She’s an Aleut living in a national park in Alaska and working as a private detective from Dutch Harbor to Prudhoe Bay.

You’re signing the first book in the Kate Shugak series at The Poisoned Pen. Tell us about A Cold Day for Murder, without spoilers.


A park ranger goes missing in the Park, and then so does the investigator who goes looking for him. Kate’s former boss, Jack Morgan, and the FBI hire her to find them both.

It seems odd to ask an author who was raised in Alaska about her connection to Hawaii. Would you tell us about it?

Back when I was a broke and homeless writer I housesat for a friend on the Big Island for two winters. During one of those winters I wrote A Cold Day for Murder on his lanai. I was jonesing for home big time.

You’re the Guest of Honor for Left Coast Crime in Hawaii in 2017. I know you have a couple plans for Author Connect events. Would you tell us about those events, and, if people can’t attend, what are your favorite suggestions for visitors?

On Thursday I’m sponsoring the 10 am outrigger canoe ride for fans. On Friday in my suite (they’re giving me a suite, squee!) I’m hosting a wine-and-cheese thingie for aspiring authors, during which we can talk about the business of writing. I think the canoe can hold eleven including me. I don’t know how many people I can fit into the suite yet. Other than that, I plan to reprise Laurie King’s Bouchercon GOH gig in SFO—be available to everyone everywhere all the time except when I’m actually asleep. I’m still in awe.

I like a quote from Neil Gaiman. “Trust your obsession.” Did you ever have an obsession that you had to turn into a story? What was it?

I read The Travels of Marco Polo, oh, must be twenty-five years ago. By his own account he loved the ladies and he was all over east Asia for twenty years in the employ of Kublai Khan. He had to have scattered some seed around and I obsessed over what happened to those kids. Took me this long to write the story of one of them, Silk and Song, an historical trilogy the third of which published last year.

Dana, what authors have inspired you?

Going all the way back? The first time I realized that books were actually written by actual human beings? Was when I read the Scholastic paperback edition of Robb White’s The Lion’s Paw. I loved and still love that book because it was about kids on a boat and so was I. It was also the first time I realized that if an author wrote one book he probably wrote more, and I could read them, too. And later, write my own.

Other than your own, name a couple books you would never part with.

Trustee from the Toolroom by Nevil Shute, A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer, The March of Folly by Barbara Tuchman, the collected letters of E.B. White and John Steinbeck. And of course The Lion’s Paw by Robb White.

What’s on your TBR pile?

[had to go look] Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters (everyone should read his Last Policeman trilogy), Jean Hersey’s The Shape of a Year, Marie Phillips’ Gods Behaving Badly, Before the Fall by Noah Hawley, Blue Madonna by James R. Benn, An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson, Skyfaring by Mark Vanhoenacker. There are about three times that many but I will be merciful and stop.

What are some novels by other authors you wish had gotten more attention?

Right now, Matthew Frank’s Joseph Stark mystery series, the second of which just published in the UK. He still doesn’t have a US publisher and that is just a gross injustice to American readers. Great characters, great plots, and he has given real thought to what happens when veterans try to transition from combat to back in the world. Wonderful reads, both of them.

Thank you, Dana. Dana’s books are available through the Web Store.  And, if you’re in town, stop in for one of the travelogues!


The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell

Have you ever heard of Brian Regan? Probably not. He’s the subject of Yudhijit Bhattacharjee’s true account, The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell: A Dyslexic Traitor, An Unbreakable Code And The FBI’s Hunt For America’s Stolen Secrets.


Here’s the summary from our Web Store. The thrilling, true-life account of the FBI’s hunt for the ingenious traitor Brian Regan—known as the Spy Who Couldn’t Spell.

Before Edward Snowden’s infamous data breach, the largest theft of government secrets was committed by an ingenious traitor whose intricate espionage scheme and complex system of coded messages were made even more baffling by his dyslexia. His name is Brian Regan, but he came to be known as The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell.

In December of 2000, FBI Special Agent Steven Carr of the bureau’s Washington, D.C., office received a package from FBI New York: a series of coded letters from an anonymous sender to the Libyan consulate, offering to sell classified United States intelligence. The offer, and the threat, were all too real. A self-proclaimed CIA analyst with top secret clearance had information about U.S. reconnaissance satellites, air defense systems, weapons depots, munitions factories, and underground bunkers throughout the Middle East.

Rooting out the traitor would not be easy, but certain clues suggested a government agent with a military background, a family, and a dire need for money. Leading a diligent team of investigators and code breakers, Carr spent years hunting down a dangerous spy and his cache of stolen secrets.

In this fast-paced true-life spy thriller, Yudhijit Bhattacharjee reveals how the FBI unraveled Regan’s strange web of codes to build a case against a man who nearly collapsed America’s military security.


Why bring this up now? Bhattacharjee was recently interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered. You can read the interview here.

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And, you can purchase a copy of The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell through the Web Store.

Jenn McKinlay – In the Hot Seat


Jenn McKinlay’s latest book, Better Late Than Never, is out, so it was the perfect time to catch up with the busy author and ask her to talk with me. Jenn will be at The Poisoned Pen to discuss her mystery on Saturday, November 26 at 2 PM. And, if you come a little earlier for Small Business Saturday, you might ask her to recommend a book.

Jenn, would you introduce yourself to readers?

Hi! This is the part where I wish I had a Marvel Comicesque sort of origin story. You know, like I was hit by lightning and could run really fast or I was born on an island of all women and had an invisible jet. Yeah, that’d be cool. Sadly, I do not have anything like that. Pity. Probably, this is exactly why I became a writer because after spending my childhood with my nose firmly wedged in between the pages of a book, I realized life is better in there. I read everything I could get my hands on as a kid and when I got older and it became harder and harder to find compelling reads, it occurred to me that writing might be the natural progression of this disorder, so in my twenties after working as a librarian for several years, I started writing. It took a while (read forever) to get published but once I did I knew it was exactly how I was meant to spend my life and I have never looked back.

Would you introduce us to Lindsey Norris?

Lindsey Norris is the librarian amateur sleuth in my Library Lover’s Mysteries. She began her career as an archivist but because of downsizing, she finds herself in a new position as the director of a small town library in Connecticut. This series brought me back to my roots as I became a librarian in Connecticut and lived and worked in small towns that I use as reference points for Briar Creek, the town in which the series is set and where they seem to have an inordinate amount of murders. There were no murders when I was a librarian, I swear.

Tell us about Better Late Than Never without spoilers, please.


The library is having a fine amnesty where residents can return long overdue items without having to pay their fines. One of the books that is returned was due twenty years ago. Lindsey, being curious, looks up the old record and discovers that the book was checked out to local English teacher Candice Whitley on the day that she was murdered. Now Lindsey has to find out who returned the book and determine whether that person is Candice’s killer.

How many series do you juggle at one time? Would you tell us about the ones other than the Library Lover’s Mysteries?

I write several mystery series. There is a Cupcake Bakery mystery series set in my current hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona. The intrepid bakers Melanie Cooper and Angie DeLaura bake cupcakes while solving mysteries because cupcakes and death go together better than you’d think. I’m kidding. No, I’m not! I also have a series set in a London Hat Shop (yes, mostly because I wanted to go to London to do research) where American Scarlett Parker owns a hat shop with her cousin Vivian Tremont and the twosome solve mysteries while selling hats to London’s finest. Makes perfect sense, I know. I’m also branching out into romantic comedies with a series debut in May of 2017 called About a Dog. Mackenzie Harris, the heroine, is going home after seven years away and nothing is quite as she expected it to be, including the puppy she finds abandoned in an alleyway.

Now that you’re no longer working in the public library, what do you miss most about the library?

I miss the books! There was something incredibly comforting about all those shelves and shelves and shelves full of knowledge and entertainment. I miss my co-workers. Librarians and library workers actually do have some of the most fascinating origin stories. And I miss working with the public and really making a difference in someone’s life, whether it was helping them with a book report for school or a job application or finding out whether the set of china grandma left them was worth anything ““ it was never ever dull.

Jenn, what authors have inspired you?

So many! Probably the top three that got me into writing mysteries are Robert Crais, Harlan Coben, and Janet Evanovich. Very distinctive styles but all very talented.

My favorite writing quote comes from Neil Gaiman. “Trust your obsession.” Did you ever have an obsession that you had to turn into a story? What was it?

The whole hat thing. Watching Will and Kate’s wedding, I was fascinated by the flattened squid on Princess Beatrice’s head and it really got me obsessed with the British obsession with hats. They are magnificent works of art and I really wish they’d catch on in the States. Sigh.

Other than your own, name several books that you would never part with.

My collections by Lucy Maud Montgomery and Louise May Alcott. I read everything they wrote when I was a teenager and they are still my touchstones for writing. I’m not nearly as prose driven but I do love they way they both turn a phrase. I’m a big series reader so I have everything from John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee to Suzanne Collins’s Gregor the Overlander. I love series. I love watching characters develop over several books. I would have a very hard time parting with any books in a beloved series.

What author would you like to push that you think is underappreciated?

That’s a tough one. I definitely feel as if women novelists do not get credit as readily as their male counterparts so I’d have to stick with the girls and say Denise Mina and Sara Gran. I think they both tell fascinating tales and I don’t think they get as much recognition as they deserve.

What’s on your TBR pile?

Oh, boy. It’s not so much a pile as it is a tower. The one downside to writing is that it severely cuts into your reading time! A glance at the top of the pile and the three I see are:

SLOW HORSES by Mick Herron

RUN by Andrew Grant

DEADLY SILENCE by Rebecca Zanetti

Thank you, Jenn! As I said, Jenn McKinlay will be at The Poisoned Pen on Saturday, Nov. 26 at 2 PM. (She’s bringing cupcakes!)


You can purchase a signed copy of Better Late Than Never through the Web Store.

The Highway Kind Event

When The Highway Kind was released, “thrilling crime stories about cars, driving, and the road from the world’s bestselling and critically acclaimed writers”, the parking lot at The Poisoned Pen seemed the perfect place for the book signing. After all, it’s all about cars. And, Patrick Millikin from The Poisoned Pen is the editor.


If you missed the event, you missed a stellar cast of authors. Here are the photos, though.

Before the event
Patrick Millikin and Poisoned Pen owner Barbara Peters welcome the audience.
Millikin and author C.J. Box
Left to right – Millikin, C.J. Box, Diana Gabaldon, Gary Phillips, James Sallis
Local author Steve Shadow with Hank Phillippi Ryan, in town for her Say No More book tour.
Book signing – Gabaldon, Box, Sallis, Phillips
Diana Gabaldon and C.J. Box signing The Highway Kind
James Sallis and Gary Phillips
Gary Phillips and Patrick Millikin
Diana Gabaldon and Patrick Millikin
Gary Phillips, C.J. Box, Diana Gabaldon, Patrick Millikin, James Sallis

Hard to beat this line-up unless you’re at a mystery conference. You can purchase a signed copy of The Highway Kind through the Web Store.

Linda Fairstein’s First Mystery

Linda Fairstein’s latest book is a juvenile book, the first in a series. Here’s the summary of Into the Lion’s Den.


Watch out, Nancy Drew—Devlin Quick is smart, strong, and she will DEFINITELY close the case in this thrilling new mystery series for girls and boys from New York Times bestselling author Linda Fairstein

Someone has stolen a page from a rare book in the New York Public Library. At least, that’s what Devlin’s friend Liza thinks she’s seen, but she can’t be sure. Any other kid might not see a crime here, but Devlin Quick is courageous and confident, and she knows she has to bring this man to justice—even if it means breathlessly racing around the city to collect evidence. But who is this thief? And what could the page—an old map—possibly lead to? With her wits, persistence, and the help of New York City’s finest (and, okay, a little bit of help from her police commissioner mother, too), Dev and her friends piece the clues together to uncover a mystery that’s bigger than anyone expected—and more fun, too.

With all of the heart-pounding excitement that made her internationally bestselling Alexandra Cooper series a hit, Linda Fairstein paves the way for another unstoppable heroine . . . even if she is only twelve.


But, Linda Fairstein has been writing mysteries since she was in fifth grade. And, now she has proof, as shown in this Author Short from Penguin Random House.

Interested in buying a signed copy of Into the Lion’s Den for yourself or as a present? The book can be purchased through the Web Store.

David Morrell & Ruler of the Night

David Morrell was recently at The Poisoned Pen to talk about his new book, Ruler of the Night. Here’s the summary as it appears in the Web Store.


The notorious Opium-Eater returns in the sensational climax to David Morrell’s acclaimed Victorian mystery trilogy.

1855. The railway has irrevocably altered English society, effectively changing geography and fueling the industrial revolution by shortening distances between cities: a whole day’s journey can now be covered in a matter of hours. People marvel at their new freedom.

But train travel brings new dangers as well, with England’s first death by train recorded on the very first day of railway operations in 1830. Twenty-five years later, England’s first train murder occurs, paralyzing London with the unthinkable when a gentleman is stabbed to death in a safely locked first-class passenger compartment.

In the next compartment, the brilliant opium-eater Thomas De Quincey and his quick-witted daughter, Emily, discover the homicide in a most gruesome manner. Key witnesses and also resourceful sleuths, they join forces with their allies in Scotland Yard, Detective Ryan and his partner-in-training, Becker, to pursue the killer back into the fogbound streets of London, where other baffling murders occur. Ultimately, De Quincey must confront two ruthless adversaries: this terrifying enemy, and his own opium addiction which endangers his life and his tormented soul.

Ruler of the Night is a riveting blend of fact and fiction which, like master storyteller David Morrell’s previous De Quincey novels, “evokes Victorian London with such finesse that you’ll hear the hooves clattering on cobblestones, the racket of dustmen, and the shrill calls of vendors” (Entertainment Weekly).


If you would like to see and hear the event, it’s available through Livestream.

Signed copies of Ruler of the Night are available through the Web Store.

The Making of Outlander Event – Photos

Diana Gabaldon recently hosted Tara Bennett, author of The Making of Outlander.


Here’s the description of the book, as it appears at the Web Store.

Get an exclusive look behind the scenes of the first two seasons of Outlander with this official, fully illustrated companion to the hit Starz television series based on the bestselling novels.

It was only a matter of time before Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling Outlander saga made the leap from book to hit TV series, and the millions of readers captivated by the epic romance of Claire Beauchamp Randall and Jamie Fraser have eagerly followed.

Now the must-watch drama has inspired this must-have guide, which reveals that it takes a village (or perhaps a Scottish isle) to bring the breathtaking world of Outlander to life in front of our eyes. Spanning the first two seasons of the Starz network sensation, The Making of Outlander leads readers behind the scenes and straight into the action as cast members, writers, producers, musicians, costume designers, set decorators, technicians, and more share the many adventures and challenges they face to make this sweeping saga come alive on the screen.

In exclusive interviews, the show’s stars, including Caitriona Balfe (Claire), Sam Heughan (Jamie), and Tobias Menzies (Frank Randall/Black Jack Randall), discuss the daunting task of embodying some of fiction’s most beloved characters—and satisfying the high expectations of devoted Outlander readers. Executive producer and showrunner Ronald D. Moore looks at the inner workings of the writers’ room, shares his crew’s travels to the authentic overseas locations, and chronicles the brainstorming, building, breakneck pacing, and boundless energy that make everything from the show’s architecture to its outfits period-perfect. In addition, the book examines all the Outlander episodes through exclusive interviews with their writers and directors, providing fascinating facts into the making of each hour.

Best of all, The Making of Outlander offers a veritable feast of lavish photographs—including an array of images spotlighting the stars in all their characters’ grandeur and up-close personal portraits. Featuring an introduction by Diana Gabaldon herself, this magnificent insider’s look at the world of the Outlander TV series is the companion all fans will want by their side.

We also have a few photos from the event.

The audience for the event
Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, introduces the authors
Left to right – Barbara Peters, Diana Gabaldon, Tara Bennett

Here are two photos of Diana Gabaldon and Tara Bennett.




You can see the event yourself, via Livestream.

If you’d like a signed copy of The Making of Outlander, you can buy it through the Web Store.