Authors

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is our community-wide BIG READ selection this year and it was an excellent choice. The author came to Dayton for the kick-off of this year's BIG READ and when you listen to this interview you'll discover how she first found out about the orphan trains (they really existed) and why she decided to write the novel when she did. As it turned out her window of opportunity for conducting interviews with actual orphan train riders was closing fast. There are very few of them still living today.

Ian Rankin's series of crime novels featuring his sleuth John Rebus is one of my all-time favorites. His latest Rebus novel is one of the best ones yet. Here's my review that ran recently in the Cox Ohio newspapers:

Ian Rankin’s latest John Rebus detective novel, “Even Dogs in the Wild,” is out now and it is sensational.

The audience that obsesses over our media driven pop culture possesses an insatiable appetite. The celebrities who become the focus of all that attention are sometimes devoured in the process. The list of victims is long. The pressures of being a celebrity can be enormous. Say goodbye to your privacy. Guard your sanity. The paparazzi are lurking at every turn.

Paul Dickson returned to the program to discuss his nifty book about Prohibition and how the banning of liquor consumption in the United States ended up creating an alcoholic Renaissance of sorts as consumers of these illicit beverages were forced to go underground in a movement that created massive demand and the speakeasy culture of the Roaring Twenties.

Some young couples in rural areas of Bosnia in the former Yugoslavia still practice a custom which has been known in that region for centuries, they elope. These elopements are somewhat unique in the way that they are carried out and according to Keith Doubt the author of  "Through the Window - Kinship and Elopement in Bosnia-Herzegovina" the results are often empowering for the participants and their families.

Shortly after the Japanese made their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941 they invaded the Philippines. Those islands had been under American control since the Spanish American War and the US forces there were ill prepared to repel the invasion. The Philippines fell quickly to the Japanese.

Two of my favorite crime writers hail from Scotland. Ian Rankin lives in Edinburgh and his stories are mostly set there. Denise Mina lives in Glasgow and her stories are often set there. But her latest one, "Blood, Salt, Water," is set in another town entirely, a place called Helensburgh. This community is located in a beautiful spot right on the oceanfront. It was once the playground for millionaires. The mouldering ruins of their Victorian mansions are now rotting high up on the hillsides.

This surreal novel is set in a trailer park in the Mojave Desert. The author, R.A. Morean, is quite familiar with this locale. She used to live in the area. This is one of the most otherworldly and bizarre books that I have read in a long time. It defies genre. Fortunately I was able to interview the author about it and her insights and confessions really helped me to understand the story more clearly.

James Lee Burke returned to the program to talk about his latest novel "House of the Rising Sun." Burke turned 79 in December and while he may be slowing down ever so slightly he is still producing some of the greatest stories of our generation.

This latest book is the second one in a planned trilogy. The story was inspired in part by the escapades of one of Burke's ancestors on his mother's side of the family. But as he made clear in this interview; the story is fiction and all the characters are fictional.

Rita Gabis had fond memories of her Lithuanian grandfather. She knew that he had come to America as an adult and that he had lived in Lithuania during World War II. After he died she began to want to know more about his life. In particular, she was interested in what he had done during the war. Her grandfather had been a policeman and he had maintained his police duties during the German occupation of Lithuania.

Pages