Interview Other

An Interview with Karl Ove Knausgård

As many of you know I’m a fan of Karl Ove Knausgård’s writing. Judith from Leeswammes blog kindly pointed out this interview with the author. The introduction is in Dutch, but the interview is all in English.

It was interesting to see the author’s home and to hear his thoughts on his controversial books. If you appreciate good writing then I highly recommend A Death in the Family: My Struggle Book 

Interview Nobel Prize Other Weekly Geeks

Some interesting things about José Saramago

This week’s Weekly Geek task is to find out some interesting facts about your favourite author. I wasn’t sure whether I’d participate, but once I started looking up José Saramago I couldn’t stop – he is such an interesting man!


Portuguese author José Saramago was born in 1922 into a family of landless peasants. Their surname was De Sousa, but an error in registering his birth meant that his father’s nickname ‘Saramago’ was accidentally added to his birth certificate. The drunken registrar also wrote his birth date wrong on the form  – meaning his official birth date is two days after his real one!

Saramago is proud of his impoverished background:

“If my grandfather had been a rich landowner and not an illiterate pig breeder, I wouldn’t be the man I am today,”

At the age of 2 Saramago’s family moved from their small village to the city of Lisbon where his father became a policeman. This failed to improve their financial situation and the family had to pawn their warm blankets to have enough money to survive.

At 13, Saramago started at a vocational school, where he trained to be a car mechanic. He didn’t own any books, but his love of reading meant that he often went to the library after studying.

In 1947 his first book The Land of Sin was published, but it wasn’t until 1982 that he finally acheived critical acclaim for his book Baltasar and Blimunda.

Saramago is a member of the communist party and a proclaimed atheist. His views have caused controversy in the strongly Catholic country of Portugal and on the publication of The Gospel According to Jesus Christ in 1991 he was forced to move to the Canary Islands.

He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998, but described winning as not being very important.

He is often described as being cold,” “arrogant,” and “unsympathetic.” but when questioned about his attitude Saramago replied:

“I am not a bad person,”  “I hurt only with my tongue!”

I love Saramago’s writing. If you haven’t read any of his books then I highly recommend you try Blindness.

Do you love Saramago’s books?

Interview Other

What makes author interviews good?

I would love to invite some big authors to answer questions on my blog, but I am put off doing so as I find almost all author interviews boring. Even the most interesting interviews will only have one or two questions that grab my attention. I have noticed that interviews on other blogs often get less comments than other posts.


  • Does anyone know the secret of a successful author interview?
  • Which questions normally provoke good answers?
  • Can you point out any fantastic interviews?
  • Or, are all author interviews going to be dull to some extent?
  • Should book bloggers avoid author interviews?

I’d love to know your thoughts!

Interview Other

Silvio Sirias and Latino Literature


Silvio Sirias is the author of Meet Me Under the Ceiba, which won the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize in 2009. I have read a saddeningly small amount of Latino Literature, so am really pleased that Silvio has agreed to participate in a guest post on my blog today.


Welcome Silvio! 

First off, Jackie, I wish to congratulate you on having recently surpassed 10,000 comments on your blog.  That’s quite an achievement, as I can attest from experience—I closed the comment-feature early in my blogging career because I couldn’t bear to see 0 Comments any longer.

Thank you! While we’re sharing nice words I should congratulate you on winning the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize!  What was it like to win the award?

Upon receiving the news that the manuscript of MEET ME UNDER THE CEIBA had won the 2007 Chicano/Latino Literary Prize—a award whose legacy now spans over four decades and that the University of California-Irvine sponsors—after ascertaining that the email message wasn’t a hoax, I ran across the campus of the school where my wife and I both work, in the Republic of Panama, to share the news with her.

The celebration has continued ever since.

But the festivities haven’t consisted of merriment, cork-popping, and champagne guzzling.  Rather, the true nature of my satisfaction has been a prolonged, serene reflection on the joy of having fulfilled what once seemed like a far-fetched wish: to produce a narrative that could grab and hold the imagination of intelligent readers.  The achievement of this dream was confirmed when I learned that the judge of that year’s contest, Rolando Hinojosa-Smith—a writer I’ve long-admired andthe first U.S. author to receive Cuba’s prestigious literary award, the Premio Casa de las Américas—had headed the committee that chose MEET ME UNDER THE CEIBA as the winner of the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize.  What’s more, my thrill increased when I read Hinojosa Smith’s succinct verdict: “A fascinating read—very well-written, with a delightful, lively pace.”

That phrase alone—pronounced by one of the pioneers of Latino and Latina literature in the United States—made my decade.

Winning the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize also opened the doors to Arte Público Press—the legendary publisher of U.S. Latino and Latina literature.  Nicolas Kanellos, founder and director of Arte Público, read the manuscript within a week of receiving it and, after a brief exchange of emails, offered me a contract.   My experience regarding the publication of my first novel, BERNARDO AND THE VIRGIN, had taught me that the book industry moves at a pace that would make snails impatient.  But now events were happening at lightning speed—all thanks to the prize.

As you can see, Jackie, the rewards have been emotional as well as tangible.

Still, what I enjoy most about having won the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize, what still generates a warm feeling in my chest, is when I take the time to study the roster of past participants who have either won or placed in the contest.  Many of these names are already guaranteed a place in the pantheon of writers of Latin American heritage who write in English and publish their work in the United States.  For my name to be now among theirs makes me feel as if I have acquired an infinitesimal grasp on literary immortality.  As a reader, student, and teacher of U.S. Latino and Latina literature, I have admired the following authors for years: Ron Arias, Gary Soto, Helena Maria Viramontes, Luis Rodriguez, Lucha Corpi, Francisco X Alarcon, Cherrie Moraga, Demetria Martinez, Benjamin Alire-Saenz, Mary Helen Ponce, and Alberto Rios, among many others.  Their names may not ring a bell among most readers, but for those of us who have followed the trials, sacrifices, and toils it took for U.S. Latinos and Latinas to get their work published regularly, they are gigantic, heroic figures.

I have fantasized of a reunion of Chicano/Latino Literary Prize contestants.  And when, in my mind, we assemble for the group photograph, you better believe that I will be grinning—like the Cheshire Cat.  And when I received my blow-up of the photograph, it will be framed and placed in the most prominent spot of my living-room wall.

That image, where I’m standing shoulder-to-shoulder with these literary stalwarts, albeit existing only in my imagination, is what means the most to me when it comes to having won the prize.

What are your favourite books?

My list of favorite books is so long that it would soon bore your readers. Nevertheless, allow me to touch on the ones that make me green with envy; that is, the ones I wish I’d written:

Don Quixote de la Mancha, by Miguel de Cervantes; One Hundred Years of Solitude and Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Twenty Poems of Love by Pablo Neruda; The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene; The Feast of the Goat and The Language of Passion by Mario Vargas Llosa; In Cold Blood by Truman Capote; The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien; The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell; and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

Can you recommend some other great Latino books?

The books on this list are also ones I wished I had penned.  Because of my love for these novels, I recommend them without hesitation:

In the Time of the Butterflies and ¡Yo! by Julia Alvarez; The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos; Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina García; The House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferre; Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya; The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros; So Far from God by Ana Castillo; The Ordinary Seaman by Francisco Goldman; and Latin Jazz by Virgil Suarez—and, of course, there are many other inspiring novels by Latinos that I’m leaving out—so I beg the understanding of my fellow authors.

Do you follow the Latino prize? Have you read any of the other winners? Can you recommend any of the other winners?

I have followed the contest’s history, and I’ve read many of the works of past participants, which I also highly recommend:

The Road to Tamazunchale by Ron Arias; Baseball in April and Other Stories by Gary Soto; Soft Chaos by Alma Villanueva; The Moth and Other Stories by Helena Maria Viramontes; Always Running by Luis Rodriguez; Cactus Blood by Lucha Corpi; From the Other Side of Night/Del otro lado de la noche: New and Selected Poems by Francisco X. Alarcón; and Loving in the War Years by Cherrie Moraga.  

Thank you Silvio! That is a fantastic list of books!  I am going to try to make an effort to read more Latino books in the next year and will be referring back to your list frequently.

Silvio has generously agreed to give away a copy of his award winning book. For a chance to win, just ask Silvio a question below.

The giveaway is open internationally until 5am GMT on 20th January, when a winner will be selected at random. Good luck!

• Paperback: 256 pages
• Publisher: Arte Publico Pr (September 30, 2009)
• Language: English
• ISBN-13: 978-1558855922

Link to author’s website:


This post is part of a blog tour, arranged by Latino Book Tours.

Silvio Sirias Blog Tour Dates:
Monday 11th: Book Lover Carol
Tuesday Jan 12th: Brown Girl Speaks
Wed Jan 13th: Regular Ruminations
Thursday Jan 14th: The Tranquilo Traveler
Friday Jan 15th: Pisti Totol
Monday, January 18 at Mama XXI
Wednesday, January 20th at Sandra’s Book Club
Thursday, January 21st at Latino Books Examiner
Friday, January 22nd at Una In A Million

Blogging Interview Other

Interview with Sarah from GreenBeanTeenQueen

As part of Book Blogger Appreciation Week I was lucky enough to be paired for an interview with Sarah from GreenBeanTeenQueen.


GreenBeanTeenQueen has been shortlisted for best YA blog blog at this year’s BBAW Awards and I can see why. I hadn’t visited her blog before our interview pairing, but I have added it to my reader – I love it!

Her site is packed with well written reviews and is so easy to navigate. I recommend that you go and take a look!

If you’d like to find out more about Sarah, then keep reading….

I love your blog’s name. Where did GreenBean Teen Queen come from?

GreenBeanTeenQueen is a mix up of all sorts of names! My maiden name is Bean, and I work with Teens and my library system is Springfield Greene, so everyone at work would joke around with my rhyming name. I’m also called by my manager the “teen queen” at work, so the name evolved from that.

I see that you have been blogging for just over a year now. What inspired you to start?

I started blogging because I wanted a place to store my reviews for for myself, and also to post any reviews of books I read for fun. It’s been a great resource to have reviews to come back to when I have teens asking for books! I also have my co-workers tell me they read my blog and use it for suggestions, which is still a little weird to me!

Your blog focuses on YA fiction. Do you like to read books from any other genres?

Haha-that question made me smile. I really skipped over most of YA when I was a teen (there wasn’t much there and I never found anything I really enjoyed). I never found anything in the adult section either and stopped reading as much in college. Since I’ve re-discovered YA, it’s like I’ve come home. I’ve found the exact books I was always searching for! I love YA, but yes, sometimes I take a break for an adult book. I read mostly chick-lit in adult-I’m a sucker for romance-but I’ll try just about anything-except horror, it would give me nightmares! I also read a decent amount of tween books.

What is the best book you have read so far in 2009?

Catching Fire right now. I’ve also loved Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, and The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams.

Working in a library must mean that you spend your whole day surrounded by books. What is the best thing about being a librarian?

The best thing about being a librarian, aside from being around books all day of course, is interacting with readers. My favorite moments are when I can talk to a patron about books they’ve read and share books I’ve read. I love sending them away with new books to read and discovering books to add to my TBR pile. Programming is fun too and I love that part, but sending a patron away with a book is always the highlight of my day.

I love YA fiction, but do you think more adults should read it? If so which books would make a great introduction for them?

I of course think adults should read more YA! People have this misconception of YA being “easy reads” and “fluff” which is so not true! On my recent trip to my master’s class institute, I would tell people I work with teens and they would say “teens have the best books!” like it’s a big secret they just discovered.

For adults wanting to start on YA, I would suggest Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones, Looking for Alaska by John Green – there are so many others, but those are some that I think will get readers interested in reading more.

Thank you so much for answering my questions! I’m going to try to read a few of your YA suggestions soon.

Congratulations on being shortlisted for the BBAW awards! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

Interview Other

An Interview with Chris Tusa, author of ‘Dirty Little Angels’



Chris Tusa is the author of Dirty Little Angels, which is set in the slums of New Orleans, and follows 16-year-old Hailey as she deals with problems within her family, and the dark world of drugs and violence that surround her. You can read my review here. 

After reading his debut novel, Chris kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions.

 Congratulations on getting your first novel published! What is the best thing about having your book in print?
It’s very exciting to know that people all over the world are reading a book I’ve written. Specifically, it’s rewarding to know that people (assuming the book impacts them) are being drawn into a world (and toward characters) that I created.
When you started writing the book did you have the whole plot in your mind, or did it develop as you went along?
I had a general plot in mind, but the interesting thing about writing is that the characters (once developed) often have their own ideas of where the story should go.

Did you do any special research before writing the book?
Occasionally, I did have to locate bits of information I wasn’t familiar with-the location of a street, a song title, etc. In general, though, there wasn’t much research.

What thoughts would you like readers to have on finishing Dirty Little Angels?
I want readers to be impacted on an emotional level, and I want them, as a result of reading the book, to contemplate their own lives. This is primarily why I choose to write about such desperate and downtrodden people. In my opinion, readers learn more about themselves when they read about desperate people. Desperation and tragedy truly transform us, primarily by forcing us to contemplate our own lives. It may sound strange, but I don’t have any desire to write safe, happy little books filled with characters that readers grow to admire. Of course, I want readers to experience a gamut of emotions while reading, but I’m happiest when a reader tells me they hate one of my characters. When they hate a character (like Moses) I know I’ve impacted them on an emotional level, mostly because when readers begin to hate a character, they begin to truly learn about themselves.

Your first book, Haunted Bones, is a collection of poetry. Do you prefer writing novels or poetry?
I like writing poetry, but it is not nearly as rewarding as writing fiction. I can sit and down and spend a day writing, and when I’m done (on a good day), I’ll have a poem I’m happy with. Novels take years to write, and there are so may things that can go wrong. It’s very daunting, which makes it more rewarding when you’re done. Poems are sprints. Novels are marathons. And to be honest, now that I’ve run the marathon, I want to run as many as a I can.

How did you get published? Did you have an agent?
Initially, my agent sent the ms out to a number of large NY publishers. Two of them liked the ms and asked for revisions, but neither was happy with the changes. A friend of mine recommended the University of West Alabama, and I decided to send it to them. They liked it, and the rest is history.

Who are your favourite authors?
My favorite writers are Kurt Vonnegut, Chuck Palahniuk, Harry Crews, Daniel Woodrell, Flannery O’Connnor, Tennessee Williams, and George Orwell.

Are you planning to write more books in the future?
Definitely. Currently, I’m working on a novel involving a very dysfunctional family. Essentially, it’s a dark tragicomedy/satire that focuses on a man named Walter Piggert who, after having visions of the Virgin Mary, becomes convinced he’s the Second Coming of Christ.

Thank you Chris, for taking the time to answer my questions. Good luck with your next novel!