Monday, April 30, 2007

Sunday Interview: Denise Mina

Yeah, yeah, I know, today's Monday and the title says Sunday Interview. What do you want, your money back?

Anyway, today's guest is Denise Mina. She has written a number of novels, including THE FIELD OF BLOOD and THE DEAD HOUR, the latter of which was nominated for an Edgar Award this year. Mina has also written short stories, plays and comics. Her stint on the long running Vertigo title HELLBLAZER ended earlier this year (and it was brilliant). She is currently working on another graphic novel along with the next book in her Paddy Meehan series.

Before she started her writing career, she taught criminology and criminal law while working on her PhD.

Denise lives in Scotland, which I hear is really nice.

She's also a horrible typist.

Noir Writer: When did you know you wanted to be a novelist?

Mina: I was in a damp bed sitting, listening to pigeons coo on the roof and reading Zola when I was struck by some phrase or turn of the story and thought what a wonderful thing it would be to do with your life, to touch another human being like that.

Noir Writer: How has your background in law influenced your work?

Mina: Well, I went into law to try and save the world and effect a social revolution. It made me see how much the workaday process knocks the passion out of people and made me want to do something else. Possibly bar maiding. I think the law is a thinking style and I am quite belligerent. Also, saves you from doing a lot of background research.

Noir Writer: In your latest series of novels you trace the true story of Paddy Meehan (also the name of your series protagonist), which is not well known in the States. What significance does the real Meehan serve in these novels?

Mina: He's the story she refers to to try and make sense of her life / find guidance / look for models. I think every human being has stories that operate that way: the Qu'uran, Jesus's life or whatever. We understand all of life through narrative. It was important that she was living according to different model than her family.

Noir Writer: Paddy Meehan, the fictional one, is a journalist. I think former reporters, which you are not, write almost all the books I've read with journalist protagonists. Why did you choose to make Paddy a reporter?

Mina: Because the nature of journalism has changed over here so much in the past few decades. They used to be really ferocious self-educated working class guys and now you need a degree to get a start. Also the industry is declining all the time. Plus of course she's looking for stories all the time, which is a gift.

Noir Writer: You've mentioned that your Paddy Meehan series has a finite number of books. Does this free you in anyway when you write?

Mina: Yeah, I was supposed to write one Paddy, then a free standing one-off then a Paddy and a one-off but because I know it's finite I find I've become carried away and can't stop writing about her. It gives you the freedom to make massive changes in her life without worrying about nine books ahead.

Noir Writer: [Note: This question and its response were both written weeks before the Edgar Awards ceremony last Thursday]You're up for an Edgar this year for THE DEAD HOUR. Do you already have your acceptance speech written?

Mina: Well, I won't win so to be honest no. However I'd like to take this opportunity to say thanks to no one, I did it all myself but the following is a list bastards who've held me back:

Noir Writer: I've told you this before, but I loved your run on HELLBLAZER. Do you think you'll ever return to writing a serialized comic?

Mina: Yeah I'd love to. Hopefully I'll be doing an original series soon for DC.

Noir Writer: When can we expect to see your graphic novel, A SICKNESS IN THE FAMILY?

Mina: I think this Fall but I'm not certain. Or Summer. Or next year.

Noir Writer: I stole this question, and I think you'll know where it came from: [Note: The following comes from Mina's own biography on her website.] "How does [Mina] do it all? Well, her personal grooming is shameful, her house is filthy and her children run wild in the fields. She found a mushroom in the shower the other day. What sort of woman is that?" Well?

Mina: A bad slovenly woman. My mum is a lady of the fifties and can’t understand how I can care so little about separating my whites and colours for laundry.

Noir Writer: You have two young children. As someone who also has two small ones, I really want to know how the Hell you get any writing done? Do you wait until after their bedtime? Please help me.

Mina: Well, I live in a big extended family of women and they look after the kids during the day. Also, I often don't leave the house for days at a time and sometimes work covered in baby sick (not literally). I think you loose all the messing about and wasting time worrying and so on and just get on with it. I used to worry a lot and go for walks to calm myself down and go to the gym and crap like that. Now I eat, sleep and work. Those are the things I get to do for myself. Although I don’t always get to sleep.

Noir Writer: In one of your HELLBLAZER stories you use scheudenfreude in a brilliant way. Are there times when you enjoy other's misfortunes? Do you have a wicked streak in you?

Mina: I’m a nasty piece of work. I couldn’t go on Big Brother because I'm so argumentative. Actually there should be a Scottish word for Scheudenfreude because ridicule is a national sport here.

Noir Writer: Let's talk about Scottish cuisine. How often do you eat haggis and cullen skink? And is it true that most Scottish cuisine is based on a dare?

Mina: Most Scottish food is highly dangerous. We batter and fry mars bars here (delicious!) Scotland has the highest rate of heart attacks in Europe and we’re second only the US in obesity. Hurrah! The sugar from plantations was imported through Greenock and we all eat insane amounts of sugar. And yet we're bad tempered. Go figure.

I love haggis. Lots of people here eat veggie haggis because it's delicious. Cullen skink is a big deal here too, lots of soup shops for lunch.

Noir Writer: As someone outside of the US, what do you think of the current American political situation, especially President Dumbass…er…I mean President Bush?

Mina: Yeah, I saw Bill Baily the other night, a great comic. He said Bush is the benign likeable face of something much more evil: the bobble hat on a leopard, a tank top on a scorpion. I think he's a pasty who's being worked from behind by the military industrial complex.

Noir Writer: Let's talk about Scottish culture. Can there be only one Highlander? And if so, why are there so many sequels?

Mina: My friend’s favourite line in all movies is 'I loov yei Moraigh' terrible Scottish accent (from Highlander One). Actually, Glasgow was famous for sword fighting in the seventies and eighties. Bad injuries. One night in casualty a doctor asked a guy what kind of sword he was hit with and he said 'Auch, just an ordinary sword'. That's how common it was. Someone wrote a thesis that the injuries in a Glasgow A&E dept were like those from a medieval battlefield.

I love the sequels. Especially 2.

I want to thank Denise for her time and sense of humor. I hope you've enjoyed the interview and are now inclined to read some of Denise's stuff. See ya next time.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Charity Work

I think I'll start a charity and call it FUCK YOU, CANCER. People would donate so they could have this WHO'S ON FIRST routine with their IRS auditor:

"What's the name of this charity?"
"Fuck you."
"Well that's no way to be. I just need to know the name."
"Read my lips. Fuck you."
"Third base!"

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sunday Interview

Due to extreme laziness, the intoxicating pull of two incredibly well-written books and car shopping; I didn't prepare this past weekend's Sunday interview. It will return this weekend, I promise.

If you want to know, the books were MEMORIES OF MY MELANCHOLY WHORES by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and AN ACCIDENTAL AMERICAN by Alex Carr. Some of the cars we looked at were the Nissan Murano, Nissan Quest, Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Pilot and the Dodge Charger (which is my personal favorite, especially with the Hemi engine - or I could wait for the new Challenger to come out sometime in the next year, but my wife reminds me that both of these are complete fantasies. Damn.)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Stumpy Strikes Again

It seems that Stumpy has been on a cross-country rampage.

It Was Only a Welterweight Slap

Girl #1: So he slapped you with his penis?
Girl #2: Well, yeah -- what else does he have?

--2 train

Overheard by: RetroSarcasm

via Overheard in New York, Apr 20, 2007

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Since THE LANDLORD automatically plays whenever you click here, I'm just linking to it. If you haven't seen it, hit the link - it's hilarious. "I need to get my drink on."

Monday, April 16, 2007

I'm a Winner!

I don't want anyone to get too excited, but I may be the winner of a huge lottery jackpot! I just got an e-mail telling me this. Forget that the syntax and spelling of the message is atrocious, or that it says it's from Yahoo!, but the reply e-mail isn't a Yahoo! address. Or that it comes from the Spanish Yahoo! office in Madrid. Or the lotto-coordinator is a "doctor", I mean that makes it sound legit to me, but he refers to himself by three different names throughout the award notification. His photo is even in the message. I mean, the guy doesn't look Spanish, but maybe they brought him in from another office. But 1 Million Pounds is mine! However, since I'm American and this is coming from Madrid, shouldn't the monetary amount be in dollars or Euros? They keep saying to look out for Nigerian scams, but this is coming from Spain, so I think it's OK.

Oops, it says that I have to keep this information confidential from the public or any official or I'll be disqualified, but you won't tell anybody, will you?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sunday Interview: Megan Abbott

Today's guest is the talented Megan Abbott, author of THE SONG IS YOU and the upcoming QUEENPIN. DIE A LITTLE, Abbott's first book, earned her nominations for an Edgar, a Barry and an Anthony Award. She also earned a Ph.D. in English and American literature from New York University - that means she's wicked smart.

She also the daughter of Patti Abbott, a gifted writer herself.

NoirWriter: THE SONG IS YOUis set in Hollywood. Why is tinsel town such a great setting for noir novels?

Abbott: Part of it is tradition. So much classic noir is set in LA that, by setting stories there, you can kind of write your way into that world. But I think a lot of is thematic. The whole concept of Hollywood as a dream factory, as celluloid fantasy, as a glossy scrim concealing a darker reality—that’s pretty perfect for noir, for all its themes of deception and betrayal. There’s also the tradition of California as the end of the frontier, as the land of milk and honey, the promised land. That works both ways for noir. You have the idea of all these desperate souls coming to this place to see their dreams realized, only to discover the dream is a lie. At the same time, though, located at the end of the frontier, there is this nihilistic quality to Los Angeles and Hollywood—it’s a dropping-off point. An awful terminus, like you see in Nathanael West, Horace McCoy. And of course there’s the glamour of Hollywood too. The famous nightclubs, the movie star scandals. That stuff is just fun to write about.

NoirWriter: Your PhD dissertation concerned hardboiled fiction and film noir. Do you find that even though crime fiction and crime films contain the same characters, stories and themes that the two media receive different
respectability from academia and/or the general public?

Cinema studies embraced film noir a long time ago, but English Departments have been a bit slower to accept hardboiled novels into the literary canon. While there’s been much progress, I did still see a tendency to ghettoize it as “genre fiction,” as disposable literature that is only significant for what it tells us about the culture rather than having an inherent literary value. But it is changing—Hammett and Chandler are pretty snugly perched in the canon and appear regularly on syllabi—and not just in classes focusing on detective or crime fiction but in basic American literature classes. Thompson, Cain, McCoy are moving their way in. The more attention paid to the span of their influence (e.g., Hammett’s influence on Hemingway, or Cain’s influence on French existentialists), the more you start to see serious considerations—it’s happening.

NoirWriter: Do you think that the lack of genre texts in high school and college literature classes lead to an artificial hierarchy of what is considered quality literature?

Abbott:That’s interesting. I know that high schools are using these books more too and maybe that will have a longer term impact. In many ways, it leads to the larger question of whether we can even speak of literary value as if it were something we could all agree on. But I think that, generationally, this whole issue is becoming moot. Not because teens and 20-somethings don’t read (which is something everyone likes to say), but because, in my teaching experiences at least, I found most don’t tend to think in terms of high and low culture the same way as previous generations. They’re all just texts, whether it’s SIN CITYor DOUBLE INDEMNITYor THE SUN ALSO RISESor BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER—some are clearly more complex and artful than others, but all are worthy of interpretation and discussion.

NoirWriter: What is your opinion on the constant clash between literary fiction and genre fiction?

Abbott:Others have said it better, but basically I feel that all fiction is genre fiction, or none of it is. “Literary fiction” can be broken down into pieces just like any other book: coming-of-age novels, family novels, relationship on the rocks novels, political novels, etc. Someone very wise just said to me, "the discussion about literary vs. genre is over. It’s all just one genre now. Called reading.”

NoirWriter: How much does a writer need to examine him/herself to pull off believable stories and characters? Can it be achieved without examination?

Abbott:Gosh, for me, I think it’s probably best achieved without examination. I try to turn off the analytical part of my mind when I write fiction. Paul Schrader once said that his brain had two parts: the part that makes movies and the part that writes about movies, e.g., for Film Comment. Making a movie, he said, you’re like a doctor performing risky surgery on a patient. So if the critic side of him comes over to the operating table and asks if he can see the patient, Schrader knows he can’t let him do it: “If I let that critic see my patient,” Schrader said, “he’ll look him over and say everything is great and I’ll look back down and, I promise you, my patient will be dead.”

NoirWriter: Your mom is also an excellent crime fiction writer. Did you always know she had this talent?

Abbott:Yes—she and my father are both writers and major inspirations. My mom used to write children’s stories when I was small and I loved them. Later, she turned to poetry and short stories and eventually to crime-theme fiction. She’s an amazing writer—darkly funny, deeply haunting.

NoirWriter: (This next question is from a guest interviewer: your mom) Patti: You've often commented on how you became interested in film noir long before you read crime fiction and indeed I remember you watching those movies at what was probably an inappropriate age. As an adult writer looking at these movies today, which classic film's ending would you change and why?

RED RIVER. A fantastic movie, transcendent. Howard Hawks, John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, John Ireland, all at their best, creating this fascinating study of masculinity, of relationships between men. And the ending nearly destroys everything that came before. Nearly.

NoirWriter: When I read your stuff there are moments when I can't help but think of certain films. Do you find that many people find a connection between your books and movies? How much has film influenced your writing?

Abbott:Film is my biggest influence, it’s true. I see movies playing when I write. I see old actors. I see sets. I wrote a scene in THE SONG IS YOU that I set in a bar from KISS ME DEADLY. A scene in DIE A LITTLE at motel courtyard from IN A LONELY PLACE. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m doing it until it’s pointed out to me. I love it when that happens. It’s a common language, those of us who love noir movies especially. Those movies have really utterly suffused my unconscious. All those years of dreaming about Ralph Meeker had to come to something.

NoirWriter: You write such dark stories. What did your mother do to you as a child? Are you planning a MOMMIE DEAREST like memoir?

Abbott:No memoir planned. I couldn't ask for a better upbringing. As for the darkness, I can only say my parents let me follow my interests wherever they took me. And, in my household, the harshest criticism you could lay at the feet of any a movie or book was that it was sentimental. It was years before I could admit to loving the end of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. But that’s a dark movie. The sentiment is earned, right?

NoirWriter: You worked for the RAND Corporation. How deep into government conspiracies were you? Was it difficult to thwart Mulder and Scully? Is the truth out there?

Abbott:Oh, the truth is out there, all right. Alas, I never made it past minimal security clearance (probably a wise choice on RAND’s part).

Of course, this is probably what I’d say if I had found the truth, too, isn’t it?

Mulder and Scully: Apparently, The Truth Is In Their Pants

NoirWriter: I usually like to ask a political question - makes me feel the poli sci degree is good for something. When you look at the potential candidates running for President do you feel like hiding somewhere and quietly crying yourself to sleep, or is there some hope?

Abbott:It’s easy to be depressed, but I choose life, Steve. Whenever I’ve been cynical, it’s just been out of laziness. This time, I got a couple of candidates I really like and only one who has disappointed me gravely. Plus, I like the whole cockeyed spirit of populism that seems to be brewing these days. Of course, rage and despair fire up the noir spirit, so either way, we’re good, right?

NoirWriter: OK, Barbara Walters question: If you could be a tree, what kind of tree would you be? Why?

Abbott: I live in New York City.

I want to thank Megan for her time. If you haven't read any of her books, head to your local bookstore or your favorite black market dealer, and grab one.

I hope you've enjoyed the interview. Next week my guest will be Denise Mina. Until then, have a good week.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hero Lost

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sunday Interview Clarification

It was brought to my attention that a sentence in my brief introduction to the Laura Lippman interview may be misread. In a paranthetical aside I was trying to make fun of my blog, but some could read it as I was insulting the company that maintains Lippman's website. This was not my intention at all.

The original sentence read as such:
"According to her unofficial biography (and who would want the official one - this isn't exactly the most professional site to visit)..."

It has been edited and now reads:
"According to her unofficial biography (and who would want the official one - my blog isn't exactly the most professional site to visit)..."

The differences in the sentences have been highlighted.

I want to apologize publically to both Laura and Cincinatti Media for this mistake. Sorry.

Sunday Interview: Laura Lippman

Today's guest is Laura Lippman, author of the recently published What the Dead Know, which debuted at Number 11 on the New York Times Best-seller List. Lippman is best known for her Tess Monaghan series, but has also written a couple of stand-alone novels, including Every Secret Thing and To the Power of Three. She's either won or been nominated for every mystery writing award ever invented.

Laura lives in Baltimore, which features in almost all of her novels. She was a journalist for the Baltimore Sun for many years before leaving to write fiction full-time. According to her blog, she has just filmed a cameo for the phenomonal HBO series The Wire.

According to her unofficial biography (and who would want the official one - my blog isn't exactly the most professional site to visit), Laura was born in Georgia and still "speaks with a slight drawl if [she has] too much to drink." So, let's get to this before she hits the booze.

Noir Writer: In your first novel, Baltimore Blues, Tess Monaghan mirrored some aspects of your personal and professional life and led some to regard it as somewhat loosely autobiographical, but your career and Tess's fictional career have definitely diverted over the years. Is there still some connection there, or were the similar qualities only a jumping point into the character?

Lippman: In the early 1990s, when Tess was conceived, I had two dead newspapers on my resume: the San Antonio Light and the Evening Sun. And, for a few heart-stopping weeks, I was about five people from the bottom of the seniority list at the Baltimore Sun, where the publisher was floating the idea of lay-offs. I thought long and hard about what I would do if I couldn't be a reporter. I never really figured it out for myself, but I did figure it out for Tess Monaghan.

My life is nothing like Tess's. But our brains and temperaments are very similar. Also, I'm not sure if people have picked up on this, but Tess and I have shared some similar experiences as time goes on. There are some small jokes in the later books about her local "celebrity" -- her inclusion as a "hot single" in Baltimore magazine, the fact that she gets more and more e-mail. Some PI novels never seem to acknowledge that a detective involved in high profile case after high profile case would become somewhat well-known. At least, that would be true in a town such as Baltimore.

For the record, I was never a "hot single." But I like to think that's because I've been pretty steadily coupled.

Noir Writer: For many struggling writers, teaching fiction seems to be a reluctant career choice to pay the bills, but you're very successful and have taken the time to teach in places like Writers in Paradise and Goucher College. What kind of satisfaction do you get from teaching? What are the benefits to you as the teacher?

Lippman: I like thinking about fiction -- what works,what doesn't, how to articulate those points. The more I think about other people's work and how it might be improved, the more I apply those lessons to my work. I also find, when I teach, that I often go running to the shelves to check out how the greatest writers did certain things. Truthfully I'm not going to pluck Ulysses off the shelf to while away the hours, but when I'm thinking about certain narrative challenges, I might do just that.

Noir Writer: Do you find it difficult to place Tess in troubling situations or have her make terrible decisions? Is there a part of you that wants to protect her from all danger?

Lippman: There's a part of me who wants to protect her from me. I am a huge fan of Edward Eager, a children's writer, and in his book Knight's Castle, four cousins find themselves transported at night to their own toy kingdom. There, one of the girls is confronted by a doll, which she has treated the way girls normally treat dolls -- loving her, vandalizing her, abandoning her. I feel like I treat Tess that way. I feel like I'm in the way of her having any normal life, and she is going to take her revenge on me

By the way, I think Stranger Than Fiction should be mandatory for anyone who writes about a series character.

Noir Writer: Supposedly, Elizabeth Taylor, Emma Thompson and Susan Sarandon keep their Oscars in the bathroom. Where do you keep all of your awards? Or are they just piling up in your garage?

Lippman: I had some office furniture custom-built a few years back, and there's a shelf above my computer that holds most of the awards, along with many odd things that are dear to me -- a Brooks Robinson card, a Wonder Woman doll, a rubber Donald Duck that I found in the street in Waco, Texas, artwork by children I know.

Noir Writer: You were a journalist for many years and you still comment on your former profession from time to time. What do you think about the future of print journalism?

Lippman: If I knew the future, I'd be acting as a consultant and making some money on the side. I only know that I am optimistic that trained journalists are vital to democracy and capitalism, and the latter will somehow figure out a new economic paradigm.

Noir Writer: As a reformed reporter myself, there are some aspects that I really miss, but a lot that I wouldn't wish on Karl Rove (well, that maybe taking it too far because I wish a lot of things for Rove - mainly involving the lower depths of Dante's Hell). For you, what was the best part of being a journalist? What was the worst part?

Lippman: Well, we all know the worst part -- calling on the next of kin. It was, in fact, one of the last things I ever did as a reporter. It wasn't my absolutely last shift, which I wrote about on my website back in December 2001 IIRC. But on one of my final nights, I was filling in on rewrite and there had been a taxi driver murdered and my night editor, rightfully, insisted that I go see the family, find out more. In this case, the family was adamant that they didn't want to talk to me; I later came to suspect that they might have had some immigration issues and didn't want any exposure. Over twenty years as a reporter, I became very, very, very good at talking to the bereaved, but I hated it and I seldom felt that I was providing comfort. (That's the great rationalization, right? That they might find comfort in talking about their loves ones.) The absolute nadir involved a family who lost their son in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. At the time, I was on double-secret probation at the Sun, I wasn't allowed to fail on any level, or I'd just end up in a bigger doghouse. (The top editor at the Sun during my last year was NOT fond of my outside career.) So I had to get the story and I -- politely, sweetly, but stubbornly -- stayed on their front lawn until they finally spoke to me. Their son's body hadn't been found and they were holding on to the slenderest hope that he had survived the bombing, but I knew there was no chance. I felt like such a ghoul.

The best part -- probably the camaraderie of the newsroom. Once, when I was a feature writer, we noticed that some of our counterparts on the news side were trying to pump up the importance of their own stories by insisting that they signified something huge was in the works. They kept using the phrase, "Signaling a widening probe." So I held a contest, in which my feature colleagues demonstrated how to signal a widening probe. My friend Arthur Hirsch won by pantomiming a proctology exam.

Noir Writer: A recent post on your blog became the catalyst for renewed discussion of literary versus genre fiction. Why do you think there is such a divide in respect? Do you think genre fiction is branded by the lowest common denominator?

Lippman: I think genre is a label that some people, usually those who want to play for the literary team, take too seriously. But you know, the cred, the reviews, the prizes -- that's the turf of literary fiction and I think some of what we're seeing is a backlash, a fear that some writers in popular genres are going to have it both ways, make money and enjoy respect. Which is funny, because I've never heard anyone in the crime genre grump when a literary writer sells extraordinarily well. Stephen King went out of his way to embrace the work of A.M. Homes, for example.

Noir Writer: Barry Levinson or John Waters?

Lippman: John Waters because he's an exquisite writer. Really, read the essays or the memoir. Top-notch stuff.

Noir Writer: In the movie The Sum of All Fears, Baltimore is hit with a nuclear bomb. Were you hurt in that explosion? Has there been any radioactive mutation?

Lippman: It would explain a lot. Especially some of the hairdos. We always call them beehives, but maybe their missile silos?

Noir Writer: How many copies of The Inn at Lake Devine have you signed?

Lippman: None, but I am confused with the "Laura Lippman" who writes about poverty, and the one who wrote a couple of Monarch Notes on Shakespeare.

Noir Writer: Which is the better song, "My Humps" or "Fergalicious"? Is either on your ipod? Be honest.

Lippman: Neither is on my iPod, but I am counting down the days until I can see Will Ferrell sing "My Humps" in BLADES OF GLORY.

Noir Writer: Bought any appliances from Sears lately?

Lippman: Ha! No, and I need a new oven.

Noir Writer: Political question: Do you think President Bush is over his head, or do you think everything that has happened during his presidency has been carefully orchestrated and gone exactly as planned?

Lippman: I will use this question to note that our current president is the only person, in my 20-year career as a reporter, with whom I ended up in a shouting match. He was wrong on the facts in 1988, and things don't seem to have improved much.

Seriously, I happen to agree with Dahlia Litwack of Slate, who believes that Bush and Cheney came into the White House with an agenda that included expanding the power of the executive branch, and they've been disturbingly successful at that.

Noir Writer: In the beginning of No Good Deeds you make an observation that I only realized recently from reading to my three-year-old son: the Whos in Horton Hears a Who are the same Whos in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Do you think the Grinch was yelling along with the Whos at the end of the Horton book, or was his hatred so great for the Whos that he was willing to sacrifice himself for their complete annihilation?

Lippman: I haven't checked the copyrights, but I think the Grinch might have threatened Whoville post-Horton. Or, if not, then he's just a peaceable Who at the end. Lord, those Whos were resilient. Did you know that Horton Hatches the Egg is used as pro-life propaganda? I find that really disturbing, and I can't imagine Dr. Seuss was thrilled when he was alive.

I want to thank Laura for taking time out of her busy schedule to do this interview. And I hope you, the readers, have enjoyed it. In the following weeks, look for interviews with Megan Abbott and Denise Mina. Have a good week.