Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Thank you, once again, to Dawn Raffel at the The Literarian - Center For Fiction for her fine presentation of my work!

Photograph by Gabriel Lehner
Lyndsay Faye
The historical novelist (and Center for Fiction reading group leader) talks withMaryAnne Kolton about playing dress-up, discovering "vivid particulars," and deciding what to cut

Following her remarkable debut, Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. WatsonLyndsay Faye entices us to enter the roiling streets of New York City in The Gods of Gotham. The year is 1845. Two seemingly unrelated events, the Irish potato famine and the creation of the “copper stars” are the basis for a riveting tale of desolation, crime, politics, and intrigue.   

I find that most people like to know something about the early background of the authors they read.  With that in mind, will you tell me what books you read as a child?  Did anyone specifically encourage you to read? What was your family life like?

I grew up with books. My mom read to me and my little brother continually, and my dad did too. I always adored stories, so a time without books doesn't really exist in my recollection. I'm very grateful to both my parents for that, for having a house where it was no question you loved reading. And I learned to read for myself quite early, I think. All the usual classics --The Secret Garden, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Peter Pan, Ferdinand the Bull. We loved the Narnia books, my brother and I. I'd an early mind to be a playwright/director, so I outfitted my brother in a pair of khakis, paper cloven hooves, and some kind of horn headband, and then glued cotton balls all over his chest with Elmer's. He made a fabulous Mr. Tumnus.

When I started reading for myself, I was voracious about it. The Lord of the Rings series was a huge favorite. I pored over them. Something about the bravery and self-sacrifice enthralled me to the point that I read the entire thing aloud to my little brother (with a few canny deletions of endless descriptions of forests).  At about age ten, I discovered the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, and I've been obsessed with those ever since. It turned out that hero stories are my mojo.

We grew up in the Pacific Northwest, so we pretty much had free rein of the neighborhood. My parents were always careful, but the town was safe, so we put pennies on railroad tracks to flatten them and sailed Lego men through dyke tunnels and fostered families of mice we found in the meadow. If we weren't reading tales of adventure, then we were out running amok imagining our own.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


A big thank you to Linda Richards at January Magazine for her continued support!

The Lifeboat (Reagan Arthur Books) by Charlotte Rogan kept me awake at night.  The first night to read straight through to the end… unthinkable to drift off to sleep not knowing how the story plays out...The second night to read it again, focusing on the philosophical and ethical conundrums.  The harrowing tale of Grace and her fellow travelers will call to you again and again.

MaryAnne:   Readers always crave more knowledge about the personal side of the authors they read.  Can you tell us what books you read as a child?  Who encouraged you to read and what was your home life like?

CharlotteStory time was sacred when I was growing up. My family did not get our first television set until long past the time I was able to read for myself, and books represented the door to two magical kingdoms: the realm of the imagination and the world of education and ideas. My family cared about both. Part of the fun of visiting relatives was having an aunt or a grandmother read to whatever assortment of children she found piled on the couch or gathered at her feet. My grandmother, who was born in India, loved Rudyard Kipling; my mother, who was tough and adventurous, loved Robin Hood and The Call of the Wild; my father could recite “Jabbberwocky” from Through the Looking Glass and “Concord Hymn” by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I was excited by the stories, but I also loved the rhythm of the words and the distinct voices and interpretations brought to the texts by different readers.