Friday, November 21, 2008

Interview with Kathleen Kent, author of The Heretic's Daughter

Recently I read and reviewed The HERetic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent. I liked her work immensely. When I asked to do an interview with her, she was kind enough to agree despite a busy schedule. So here I go, without much ado!


1. How much time did it take to write The Heretic's Daughter? Did you have stumbling blocks in the way? If so, what?

It took me about five years to do the research and writing of the novel. I studied every bit of historical source material on the Salem witch trials I could find as well as family genealogical records. I visited historical societies throughout New England and read quite a few letters and sermons from 17th century Massachussetts to get the rhythm and cadence of the language right. English today in the U.S. is quite a bit different than the way the colonists spoke in the 1690's, so my most difficult task was getting the narratives to sound authentic, without making it too cumbersome for the modern reader. I went through four major drafts of the original manuscript before I started sending it out to agents and publishers.

2. Do you have any favourite spot that you like to write in (i.e. sitting on the bed, in a comfortable chair or out in the open, etc.)?

I actually wrote "The Heretic's Daughter" at a little desk in my kitchen. My husband traveled for business most of the week, and my son was in school, so the house was quiet. Now my husband works from home, so I have moved my desk up to my bedroom where I can close the door, turn off the phone and write. I usually try to work from 9:00 in the morning until 1:00 in the afternoon.

3. What was the process you went through to find a publisher for you book? Was it dificult?

I had no contacts in publishing and didn't have a clue how to publish my work---so I went to the book store and bought a book, "How to find an agent." I made a list of agents in the U.S. whose clients wrote historical fiction and sent out cover letters saying, in effect, "Please read my book because. . . ." I got a lot of very nice (and some not so nice) rejection letters before getting interest from my present agent. She had done her master's thesis in college about the Salem witch trials and loved my novel. It was she who approached the publishers and, though her help, I was able to get a deal. It took about a year from the time I started looking for an agent to the time I was signed to a publisher.

4. Are you writing full-time? If yes, do you think it is a good decision?

I am writing full time, working on my second novel which is a prequel to "The Heretic's Daughter." It too is historical fiction and will explore the life of Thomas Carrier who, legend says, was one of the executioner's of King Charles I of England. I have always wanted to be a full time novelist but, because of family obligations, I worked full time in various commerical enterprises. It wasn't until I moved with my family from New York City to Texas, and after years of saving up for this purpose, that I was able to write full time. It is a dream come true to be published and I'm filled every day with gratitude that I have the opportunity to have a second book published.

5. What were you doing before you decided to be writer? Did that help in your writing career in any way?

I worked for ten years as an Operations Manager in commodity trading in New York, and then for another ten years as a defense conversion contractor, traveling to Russia for the U.S. Department of Defense--in essence turning swords into ploughshares. So my work was completely unrelated to publishing, but I always secretly wanted to be a wrtier.

6. Can you please describe you writing style and the various influences you have had or having?

My biggest influences, I believe, were from reading Charles Dickens, Edgar A. Poe, and Nathaniel Hawthorne as a child. I had no formal training in writing other than English classes in college, so I had to develop my own writing style over the five years I researched the novel. Many of the stories in the book were told to me by my mother and grandmother about the Carrier family and the Salem witch trials, but the actual narration was either influenced by the actual court transcripts or from the contemporary language of theologians writing about the events surrounding the witch hysteria of 1692.

7. When is your next book coming out and about what?

I am now writing the prequel to "The Heretic's Daughter" which will hopefully be finished by the spring. It will also be published by Little Brown and will explore the life of my 9 times great-grandfather, Thomas Carrier, who lived to 109 years of age, was over 7 feet tall, and was, by family accounts, a soldier for Cromwell during the English civil wars.

8. Do you have any favourite authors?

Can you tell us why you like them? I love historical fiction. Some of my favorite contemporary authors are Iain Pears and Charles Palliser because of the way they capture time and place in the details of their writing. I also love Annie Dillard for her gorgeous writing style; "Pilgrim at Tinker's Creek" takes my breath away. I also love Cormac McCarthy---his "border trilogy" is, to me, one of the most brilliant depictions of the fortitude, courage, and violence, of the American experience of the new west.

9. What are you reading now?

I just finished "The Witch's Trinity" by Erika Mailman which is about the witch hysteria in a small village in Germany in the 16th century. The similarities to the witch trials in New England are very sobering. The usual suspects were women who were brought to trial and executed because they were mentally unstable, midwives and "healers", or very outspoken and challenging to the society in which they lived.

10. Do you have any book recommendations for my readers?

I recently finished "The Good Thief" by Hannah Tinti, which is about an orphan adopted by thieves who take the child on a strange and dangerous journey towards the discovery of his parentage and family history. It is very "Dickensian"---dark and, at times, scary. Great fun.


Thanks Kathleen! It was fun doing the interview.

Check out

Kathleen's site

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Artificial Imagination by Kalpanik S.

Title: Artificial Imagination
Author: Kalpanik S.
ISBN: 9780981476216
Publisher: Center of Artificia Imagination/2008
Pages: 163

I received this book from I had read this book long time back but got to write a review only now. Frankly speaking, this book is not easy to review. That is not to say, I didn't enjoy reading it. On the contrary.

Kalpanik S. is an artificial imagination software program who lives with his wife and two daughters in the United States. Despite being a software programme, he has been solely created to be different, to feel and be like a real human. This book takes the reader through adventures of Kalpanik.
Artificial Imagination is a humorous and well-written book. It has some great photographs. I enjoyed the book although it is written very differently from what I usually read. I would recommend it for all science lovers! However, it is not a book meant to be read by all.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The HERetic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

Title: The Heretic's Daughter
Author: Kathleen Kent
ISBN: 9780316024488
Publisher: Little Brown/2008
Pages: 331
Rating: 5/5

I read this a while back. It had such an impact in my mind that I couldn't write a review right away. Kathleen Kent has written that part of history, which makes us uneasy. Which we want to wish away or simply not remember. But it happened and we ought to remember it so as not to repeat anything like this. Or prevent it if we can.

Writing about witch trials is not easy. Kathleen has handled it with sensitivity. The book starts with Sarah writing a letter to her grand daughter telling her of a family secret, where she accounts the witch trials in a New England town, Salem. Sarah's mother Martha Carrier, asks her to tell a lie in order to save her family. And Sarah does so.

Here we see mass hysteria, where a few girls could accuse another female of witchcraft and condemn her for life. Any one wanting to settle a score could do that. And this resulted in the deaths of hundreds of men, women and children. Superstition and fear ruled and many took advantage of it to jail their enemies.

This book speaks of a woman's courage in the face of adversity. It speaks of a family, which sticks together no matter what even after facing indignity, torture, and death.

This book touched me because there have been cases of woman taken for witches and killed in a few parts of India even now. This has more to do with property rights than anything else. Declare a woman as a witch, get her killed and acquire her property. Mostly females who speak their minds are condemned thus.

BTW, Kathleen Kent is a direct descendent of Martha Carrier.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Dead Room by Heather Graham

Title: The Dead Room
Author: Heather Graham
ISBN: 9780778325208
Publisher: Mira/2007
Pages: 379

The book opens with an explosion where Leslie's fiance Matt Connolly is killed and she is injured. Even a year later, she can't get over it. She is an archaeologist and immerses herself in work to forget him. However, now she is capable of seeing and talking to ghosts after that explosion.

On the behest of her boss Brad, she returns to lower Manhattan, the site of explosion to investigate a newly discovered burial ground. She finds restless spirit roaming the site, who are trapped there in time. Leslie stays in the Hasting House, the place where the explosion had taken place killing Matt with three others. She is not afraid of the dead. She can see ghosts but she can't see Matt. Yet he visits her in her dreams, giving her clues of the explosion and trying to protect her from harm.

Joe, Matt's cousin is investigating the disappearance of a very famous social worker. Their paths cross and both sense that is something sinister going on. Leslie can feel the evil in her bones. By the day, Joe protects her and at nights Matt comes in her dream. She does feel a pull towards Joe, who looks so much like Matt. Are they able to save her from the evil?

The Dead Room is fast paced, has that element of mystery and undying love which is beyond comprehension. The world of living and dead merges here at one point. Very suited to the story. The ending might disappoint a few but I thought it was perfect.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Interview with Darrell King, author of Mo'Dirty Still Stuntin'

Two days back I posted a book review of Mo'Dirty Still Stuntin' by Darrell King. This book is pegged as a street-lit. Do check it out by clicking on the title. Today I take to opportunity to present an interview with the author.

Interview With Darrell King

Q 1.) When and why did you begin writing?

A) I've been writing ever since i've been able to read. I'd say I seriously
started writing at about eight years old. I've always had a very active
imagination, which seem to take flight whenever i put pen to paper . Writing
gave mean outlet for my imagination to soar.

Q 2.) When did you first consider yourself a writer?

A) I'd say as early as six when I first began penning my very own comic
books. I'd draw crude looking panels,with illustrations of my favorite
superheroes and fill in the dialogue in word balloons above their
heads. Though this early creative past time gave me hours of fun it often
landed me into hot water with my great grandparents who did'nt take kindly
to having their living room walls resemble the funny pages of the Sunday

Q 3.) What inspired you to write your first book?

A) My first published work a street lit novel entitled "Mackdaddy:Legacy of
a gangsta"(*Publisheamerica, 2004), was inspired by 1988's motion picture
"Colors" starring Robert Duvall, and Sean Penn as well as N.W.A.'s hit
single "Boyz In The Hood". The Gang culture of South Central,Los Angeles
was virtually unknown to east coast of the United States back then. That
one movie as well as The controversial lyrics of Compton's infamous
gangsta rap troupe (N.W.A.) came on the scene and introduced the entire
country to the cold harsh reality of life in the hood, and inspired me to
pen my first tale of ghetto drama.
Q 4.) What was the hardest part of writing your book?

A) I'd have to say dealing with the editing and proofreading part which is
altogether necessary, but man is it ever tedious and irritating, I hate
that part, it's the worst.

Q 5.) What do you see as the influences on your writing, outside, inside, whatever?

A) I'll always give mad props to hip hop in general and gangsta rap in
particular, as the major influences on my literary work. Movies such
"Scarface","Goodfellas", and "New Jack City" also influenced my writing
style with their darkly sinister themes.

Q 6.) Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

A) I have many favorites but if I had to choose from those among my very
own genre of writing it would have to be a toss up between past and
present,the late, great,Donald Goines and K'Wan Foye, simply known to fans
of street lit affectionately as 'K'Wan. Donald Goines is the pioneer of the
genre who captivated his readers with stories so gritty, hardcore and
realistically compelling that in it catapulted him to the status as the #1
bestselling Black author of any genre in the world! (a title he still holds
posthumously today) and prompted Hollywood to begin producing the wildly
popular Blaxploitation films of the early 1970's. I loved reading his works
and I still from time to time pick up one of his old novels from off of my
shelf. K'Wan on the other hand brings the heat with each and every novel he
pens.Everything from his debut work "Gangsta", to his current street
sensation "Gutter" is fiyah! His characters are unforgettable, the story
lines flawlessly raw and unforgiving. He is arguably one of the very best
in the industry right now.

Q 7.) Can you share a little of your current work with us and how do you envisage it in future?

A) "Mo'Dirty" is pretty much a second helping of my novel "Dirty
South" (Triple Crown Publications,2005).It chronicles the rise of Whiskey
Battle,a ruthless young enforcer for Peola, Georgia's Bad Boyz II
syndicate .He is also the illigimate son of Marion "Snookey" Lake,drug lord
of New Orleans who wreaked havoc throughout the pages of Dirty
South. Whiskey has a drama filled life which becomes all the more
complicated after he's asked to take out the chief of police by his
underworld superiors. I've received rave reviews of both street lit works
and I will continue with several of the best loved charaters of each novel
in future titles.

Q 8.) What book(s) are you reading now?

A) Well I just finished "Dreams from my father" from President elect Barack
Obama,which was an excellant read! Very insightful and reflective. And now
I'm reading "Eclipse" by Stephenie Meyer.

Q 9.) Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

A) Yes.There is a local street lit novelist and indie film maker, James
Tanner from right here in Washington, DC whose debut "Diary of a thug" was
quite interesting. Filled with violent men and lustful, conniving women it
has all the elements a street lit novel needs to keep one's interest. A fun
read for any urban lit fan. And then there's Stephenie Meyer. I came across
her novel "Twilight" one day while fishing around for an umbrella in my
daughter's closet. I thumbed through it and it got my attention right
away, ever since i'm a horror buff and partial to werewolves and
vampires.After the first two chapters I was hooked! I've read all four
vampire novels of Meyer's Twilight series. "Breaking Dawn" was so good that
I finished it in one weekend! Hell, I might even visit the town of Forks, WA
my damn self.

Q 10.) Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers?

A) I'd like to say that i'm so very blessed to have the fans that I have
who have supported me from day one with Mackdaddy:Legacy of a gangsta up
until now. You guys are the absolute best and without you, I would not have
had the privilege to be where I am today. So it is both a joy and an honor
to write the type of gritty, treetwise stories that you love so much and
with you support and the higher self's guidance I shall continue to give
the people what they want! Love, Peace and Hair grease! YOUU KNOWWW!

Darrell King


Thanks Darrell, for the answers!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mo'Dirty Still Stuntin' by Darrell King

Title: Mo'Dirty Still Stuntin'
Author: Darrell King
ISBN: 9781601620682
Publisher: Urban Books/2008
Pages: 220

I received this copy from Tracee Gleichner of Pump up Your Book Promotion to read and review. I seldom read this genre. This book deals with drugs, gang wars, killings and of course, sex. Not much to elaborate about it.

Narcotics dealers want to finish off the law enforcers so as to run their business smoothly. Whiskey Battle is a Hustler who wants to get rid of the police chief, who is creating havoc for them. It all falls apart when a girl gets killed.

This book is not as fast paced as it ought to be but it has all the right ingredients to hold interest for the street smart generation. Almost everyone is playing dirty here. However, it did nothing for me. Maybe because, I did no like the street language. Good for one time read and pass it on...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Short Story: The Tattoo Woman by Mark Richardson

I read Tattoo Woman by Mark Richardson online on the author's behest.

“You have five tattoos?”

“Yes, I know, crazy. I thought I was immortal. I have to wear these long sleeves at work,” she said, lifting both arms.

She had none when he had known her 10 years back. Now she seemed to have many. Was Stacy the same woman he had known? Andreas was not very sure. When he went to her apartment and saw her fiancee's photo, he felt rage and smashed it with his hand. She had left him 10 years ago and he still did not why. She had written letters to him without posting any of those. Now he looked at those yellowed letters and ha confuse feelings.

In this short story, we see conflict in both their minds. Regret mixed with lost love. Can they rekindle it?

Richardson's writing holds interest. It might not be a perfect story but it is not trash. One can look forward to read more short fiction from him.

The Witness by Sandra Brown

Title: The Witness
Author: Sandra Brown
ISBN: 9780446191548
Publisher: Warner Books/2006
Pages: 438

I have read a few Sandra Brown books. Mostly romances. I do find her writing much better than many romance writers.

The Witness is different from her usual novels. It is about a laywer and her infant son. Kendell Deaton is the best public defender in Prosper, South Carolina. However, with no fault of hers, she gets enbroiled in ugly dealings in the town. She knows she has to get away from it to save herself and her son. She can go to any limits to do that. Even if it means to skip the law. She is trying to escape and her car has a nasty accident. She saves herself and her baby from the wreck along with the driver of the car, who loses his memory in the accident. She claims he is John, her husband and one night escapes from the hospital along with him and her baby. John is sceptical of her claim but he can't do a thing about it as he has lost his memory.

She is a consummate liar. She tells it with ease and at the drop of a hat. John does not believe her and also he is very scared of the infant. Still he is not ready to let her go out of her sight. He senses that she is in some sort of trouble. He is also aware that she is capable of looking ater herself.

This novel has all the ingredients for holding our interest-- guns, federal officers, mystery, secrets, and evil men chasing. The pace is good and that means I finished at one go after I started it. Not a heavy read but good for a change. I liked it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ariel by Sylvia Plath

Title: Ariel
Author: Sylvia Plath
ISBN: 9780060931728
Publisher: HarperPerennial Modern Classics
Pages: 105
Genre: Poetry
Rating: 5/5

I won Ariel, a book of poems by Sylvia Plath from Serena of Savvy Verse and Wit in a book giveaway. No other win has given me as pleasure as this one. Plath is one of my favourite poets of all times. Her poetry borders on the dark. How does one review it, other than saying I liked it and will read it again and again.

Plath has taken poetry to new heights. These impassioned pieces touch our soul to the core. They speak of turbulent emotions with a brilliancy bordering on the raw side of life. Starknes of her poems enhances the austerity beautifully. The imaginary word comes alive out of her poetry.

Her poetry is so deeply personal yet I connected with it. Her female essence marvellously comes out of the depth of her imagination. All aspects of a woman..charming, witty, acerbic, playful, girlish, sour, fanciful and muh more can be found here. She does get a bit repetitive but which great poet doesn't.

Each and every poem in this collection is work of greatness. To be read, savoured and read again. A must read for poetry lovers and all those who ought to read poery.

A Dog Among Diplomats by J F Englert

Title: A Dog Among Diplomats
Author: J F Englert
ISBN: 9780440243649
Publisher: Dell Book
Pages: 305

This is second book by J F Englert concerning the dog, Randolph. He and his master, Harry are now sought to solve a murder in Manhattan. Randolph does not like it one bit becos he senses that Imogen, Harry's fiancee who had disappeared a year back, is somehow involved in all this. She is implicated for the murder.

Randloph tries to solve it in his own way. He surfs the net, reads books, and also acts as a therapy dog for a mentally depressed diplomat. He misses Harry but can't do a thing about it. However, he utilizes his time by exploring for clues in the diplomatic circles. Randolph has a tough task. Of protecting Harry, clearing his mistress' name and catch the murderers. He does it all with great aplomb.

I liked it as much as I had like A Dog About Town. The very thought of a dog solving mysteries appeals to me. These books make good light reads.