Peter Stark – Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire

Astoria coverPeter-StarkPeter Stark, author of Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire – A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survivalwill be visiting Klindt’s Booksellers on TuesdayAugust 19th at 5pm.

Here’s the way the book’s press release puts it:In 1810, John Jacob Astor sent out two advanced parties to settle the wild, unclaimed western coast of North America. More than half of his men died violent deaths. The others survived starvation, madness, and greed to shape the destiny of a continent.

Astoria is a harrowing tale of the quest to settle a Jamestown-like colony on the Pacific Coast. Though the colony itself would be short-lived, its founders opened provincial American eyes to the remarkable potential of the Western coast, discovered the route that became the Oregon Trail, and permanently altered the nation’s landscape and global standing. 

That description doesn’t begin to cover the skill with which author Peter Stark has laid out this absorbing true story. Backed by two and a half years of research with access to recently discovered journals of some of the adventurers on the trips, Stark ‘s propulsive narrative glues the reader to the tale. Whether you’re  a scholar or a casual reader, Astoria will engross, entertain and enlighten simultaneously. To hear our interview with Peter Stark, click on the grey podcast bar below.

Gillian McCain and Legs McNeil – Dear Nobody: The true diary of Mary Rose

Gillian McCain Legs McNeil, editors of Dear Nobody photo credit Annie WattDear Nobody coverYou will recognize authors Jillian McCain and Legs McNeil from a host of individual publications and as the co-authors of Please Kill Me,The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, which was translated into 12 languages and became a worldwide best seller in 1996. Their latest, Dear Nobody: the True Diary of Mary Rose, is a work of extraordinary intensity and insight and it comes from a surprising source – the journals of a teenage girl in the late 1990s.

In them, she recorded her ferocious thoughts against the circumstance of her life: abandonment by her father, her mother’s abusive live-in boyfriend, her terminal disease, cystic fibrosis, addictions to alcohol and drugs, problems at school and with the law, treatment in rehab centers, and all of that between the ages of 15 and 17.

The first half of the book deals with Mary Rose’s tumultuous life, additions, abuse and more. The language is harsh, but also incredibly powerful. 

“Every time I drank, I would feel the little beads of precipitation on the bottle and think of it as the only friend that would ever cry for me. I’d peel off the label like I was unwrapping a present.

“I felt secure with alcohol, like I had finally found my home. Alcohol had become my mother, my father, my boyfriend, my best friend and my religion. I drank with a passion. I was always done first and always drunk first—but still wanting more—and if I didn’t get it I felt like I was going to die.

“It didn’t matter how drunk I already was, or how much I had thrown up, or how I couldn’t remember what had happened three minutes ago, or where I even was. With alcohol, I was my own role model. I was never alone…….and she never hurt me. I was obsessed and in love with her. I would lie, steal, beg, and cry for her. I did time for her; I was dying for her. I hated life, unless I was drunk. I didn’t even want to go to heaven—because I thought I’d have to leave alcohol behind on earth.”

Her mom reveals in the afterword that McCain and McNeil are the authors of one of Mary Rose’s favorite books, Please Kill Me,The Uncensored Oral History of Punk.

The second half brings more and more of her fight against cystic fibrosis into the picture.

“In the hospital, we wear our IV scabs and scars like they are badges of bravery. We flaunt our paleness as one would flaunt beauty. In the hospital, each coughing fit is like a dutiful performance by the orchestra of viruses in our lungs—and we are obligated to do encores. Our frailness and weakness are signs of beauty—and suffering. In the hospital the machines and IV poles that you wheel along are like the status symbols the popular girls in high school wear around their necks.

“In the hospital—the closer to death you are—the closer you are to sainthood.”


“Yes, after a while—those cards and flowers and phone calls fade away, much like your health. And the other lonely, sickly freaks become your new family because to the rest of the healthy people we know, we have already died.

“It’s haunting to think that my family members will not drive an hour to come and visit me while I am in the hospital and yet I know they would drive two hours to attend my funeral.”

Mary Rose, even with just this assembled collection in her slim portfolio, is already one of the finest, most insightful authors of the 21st Century. It is stunning to have the editors note they did not change one word of the writing – it’s all original with Mary Rose.

To listen to our interview with the editors, click on the grey podcast bar below. Author photo by Annie Watt.

A.R. Torre – The Girl in 6E

The Girl in 6E coverAlessandra Torre author of The Girl in 6EAlessandra Torre writes under the open pen name of A.R. Torre. Hers is a success story born of the age of digital publishing. Her first book, Blindfolded Innocence, was self-published on Amazon and became such a hit that it attracted mainstream publishers and inspired a pair of sequels. Her latest, The Girl in 6E, is available in hardcover, Kindle and audiobook editions. It has received justifiably rave reviews. The elevator pitch for the book is just 6 words – What if 50 Shades met Dexter? Here’s the publisher’s descripton: Deanna Madden (aka Jessica Reilly) hasn’t touched another person in three years, but her anonymous clients spend thousands of dollars to watch her take her clothes off for the camera. Fearing she may be dangerous to the outside world, she keeps herself isolated in a penthouse apartment. Her clients can expose their deepest desires and fearlessly fantastic to her, and she keeps all of their secrets – until she discovers that one client’s fantasies are bleeding over into the real world, and may threaten a young girl. Can Deanna face the world again in order to save a child? That summation does not begin to describe the emotional intensity of the connection between the character and the reader, drawn into chapter after chapter with the desperate desire to find out What Happens Next. Deanna/Jessica hasn’t just kept from touching another person for three years; she literally hasn’t been past the front door outside her apartment for those three years. All her food, clothing and supplies are delivered to her door. At night, she bribes the building’s pill-addicted super to lock her in from the outside so she couldn’t get out even if there was a fire. And that’s not to protect her from someone coming in; it’s to protect the world from what she’s afraid she would do if she allowed herself to leave the apartment. Now she has to leave. Can she? And if so, what will happen? This is an extraordinary book, dealing with the huge forces of sex and violence in our culture. It’s not for the squeamish, but it will wonderfully reward the adventurous.

Daniel Silva – The Heist

Daniel Silva author of The HeistThe Heist by Daniel Silva coverA fallen British spy has been murdered in Lake Como, and Gabriel must cease his work repairing an altarpiece by Veronese and agree to hunt down the killers—and the world’s most iconic missing masterpiece: Caravaggio’s Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence. The investigation will lead him and his remarkable team of operatives to a brave woman who survived one of the worst massacres of the twentieth century and give her a chance to strike a blow against the dynasty that destroyed her family.

From the shimmering boulevards of Paris and London, to the gritty criminal underworlds of Marseilles and Corsica, and finally to a small private bank in Austria where a dangerous man stands guard over the ill-gotten wealth of one of the world’s most brutal dictators, Gabriel’s search will take him on one of the most intricate and perilous missions of his long career and force him to confront a final, heart-stopping choice.

About the Author: Daniel Silva is the award-winning, number #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Unlikely Spy, The Mark of the Assassin, The Marching Season, The Kill Artist, The English Assassin, The Confessor, A Death in Vienna, Prince of Fire, The Messenger, The Secret Servant, Moscow Rules, The Defector, The Rembrandt Affair, Portrait of a Spy, The Fallen Angel, and The English Girl. He lives in Florida with his wife, Jamie Gangel, and their two children, Lily and Nicholas. In 2009 Silva was appointed to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. Before becoming a writer Silva was the chief Middle East correspondent for UPI in Egypt and the Executive Producer of CNN’s Crossfire.

To hear our interview with Daniel Silva, click the grey podcast button below:

Karin Slaughter – Cop Town

Karin-Slaughter author of Cop Town 300Cop-Town by Karin Slaughter 300Karin Slaughter is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of 15 thrillers, with over 30 million books in print, translated into 32 languages and seven titles in the top 10 on The New York Times bestseller list.  That success has been built on two series characters: Will Trent works for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for stories set in Atlanta, and Sara Linton is a pediatrician who serves as  medical examiner for the town of Heartsdale in Grant County. Her new book Cop Town is her first stand-alone novel. It is more than a thriller: Slaughter also casts a critical eye on social issues such as racism, feminism, and poverty in America. The novel is a powerful story about two young policewoman who is trying to succeed in the macho world of law enforcement in Atlanta in the 1970’s from very different perspectives.   Maggie Lawson is from a police family; she has a brother and an uncle on the force, not that either one of them gives her much respect. Kate Murphy is brand new on the job, brought up on the genteel side of town as the daughter of a wealthy psychiatrist. She is totally unprepared for the harassment she and other female officers get from a department that is openly hostile to women. The novel works because Slaughter is able to integrate a fast-moving external narrative seamlessly with the internal troubles faced by the two women.

To hear our interview with Karin Slaughter, click on the grey podcast button below.

Edward Castronova: Wildcat Currency

castronova - headshotwildcat currency - jacket coverEdward Castronova is a professor of telecommunications and cognitive science at Indiana University. He is also a gamer, someone who actively plays and is familiar with the games of virtual reality. His interest, other than having a good time and  crushing his enemies and hearing the lamentations of their women, is in the virtual money used in these games. In fact, he’s interested in any type of nonstandard medium of exchange, and he has written a fascinating book about it, Wildcat Currency, subtitled, How the Virtual Money Revolution is Transforming the Economy Are frequent flier miles money? They can be. So were the old S&H Green Stamps in some senses. How virtual is virtual money. and what really counts as money? This book answers these and many more provocative questions in a clear, easy text, with fascinating examples. It’s a book about an aspect of economics that won’t cause your eyes to glaze over, and that is a rare event worth celebrating. Check out the interview by clicking on the grey podcast bar below. We were so intrigued, that we asked to schedule a follow-up interview in a couple of weeks.

Edgar Harrell with David Harrell: Out of the Depths

Out of the Depths cover 300

Edgar and David Harrell comboImagine being left in the Pacific Ocean, without food or water, surrounded by sharks, with friends suffering unimaginable injuries drifting beside you, many of whom would die over the course of five days of extremely adverse conditions. Your ship was just attacked by a Japanese torpedo and you’re left in darkness, with the risk of hypothermia, starvation and dehydration, and with the desperate fear of an enemy ship coming back to finish the job. Hundreds of your friends and fellow Marines are injured, dead or missing.

These are the unfathomable conditions that Edgar Harrell confronted when he served on the USS Indianapolis during World War II. He delivers a poignant story of courage and faith in his new book, Out of the Depths as he retells what happened during a historic and fatal mission, sharing a tale of inner strength and faith in God that stirs the reader like few war memoirs never have.

This is a read-it-in-one-sitting book, which is just what I did. This is the tale of the worst Navy disaster in the history of the United States. Some 879 Sailors and Marines died, more than two-thirds of them after the ship sank.  Harrell makes a case that much of that was caused by incompetence and and a cover-up by high-ranking Navy officials.

Harrell’s son, David Harrell, an ordained minister, helped with the book, but it certainly wasn’t because his farther was having any problems with mental acuity. Though the senior Harrell will be 90 this fall, his descriptions of these desperate events in our interview are strong and clear.

Click on the grey podcast button below for the interview that was so compelling our listeners requested that it be repeated.