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JM: Hi Leonard,
The last time I interviewed you Grant Park had just been released and was receiving rave reviews. And speaking of that blog post, you gave me one of the most thought out and earnest answers to my "Time Travel" question that I have ever received from any author. For readers who haven't had that pleasure you can find it here.
Let's talk a bit about The Last Thing You Surrender, releasing in this month: This book is set during WWII and makes reference to a number of real places and events. Can you talk about what your research process looked like?
LP: If I had known how much research this book would require before I started it, I don't think I would have started it. The Second World War was such a traumatic experience for the generation that lived through it that I felt an overwhelming responsibility to get it right - and to not sugarcoat its horrors. I read, re-read or consulted dozens of books, pestered the Army and Navy about picayune historical details (would the deck of the USS Oklahoma have been made of steel?), downloaded a playlist of World War II era music, haunted a number of museums, including the World War II museum in New Orleans, talked to my doctor about the anatomical challenges of cutting off a human head, spent days at the Library of Congress poring over maps and reading old copies of the Mobile Register and drove down to Mobile, where I spent a few days poking around trying to get a sense of the city.
JM: George Simon, one of the main characters, was pulled from a ship that was severely damaged in the attack at Pearl Harbor. What ship was it?
LP: I purposely didn't name the ship, so as to spare myself grief from historians about any liberties I took, but it's based on the USS Oklahoma, which was struck that morning and capsized in about half an hour. The scene of the men trapped in steering aft is based on fact.
JM: What was the genesis of the book? Where did the idea first come from and why did you want to write about WWII?
LP: I've always been fascinated by that era - I consider it the hinge point of the 20th century. I watch the Ken Burns documentary, "The War" every few years, I found myself reading a lot of histories. At some point, I guess, I figured that if my fascination was that intense, there might be a story hiding in there.
JM: Can you tell us about your trip to Mobile during your research? What did you do there, and how did it influence what went into the book? Did you learn anything surprising about the city?
LP: Had it been feasible, I'd have also gone to Japan and Australia, maybe even Guadalcanal. Couldn't swing those, but Mobile is just down the highway. I went to get a sense of the layout of the city, so I did a lot of walking and driving around. While there, I discovered Bienville Square, which I'd never heard of, and which became a sort of minor character in the book. What I came to appreciate about the city - and George speaks to this once or twice - is that it has a self-image as a very genteel place, a bastion of Southern refinement. Of course, as history shows, beneath all that gentility and refinement, the same old hatreds simmered.
JM: In your own words, how would you describe the book?
LP: I think of "Surrender" as a novel of race, faith and war. It follows two families - one black, one white - from the Jim Crow South through the turmoil of the Second World War and traces the fighting that went on in Europe, the Pacific, and right here at home.
Read the full interview
Libro.fm is excited to share not just a campaign, but a movement that is intended to encourage, motivate, and reward customers for making the switch to Libro.fm. The encouragement comes from listeners everywhere via #AudiobookSwitch; the motivation is YOU (our partner booksellers and bookstores) and the reward is 3 audiobooks for the price of 1. Here is a simple guide that explains how it works and assets can be found here.
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NEWS IN BRIEF
2019 Willie Morris Award for Southern Poetry seeks submissions: A prize of $2,500 will be awarded for an original, unpublished poem that evokes the American South, in spirit, history, landscape, or experience. Poets may enter only one poem in any style no longer than three pages (12 point font, one inch margins). A cover letter with your name, address, phone number, e-mail address, and the title of your submission must be included. Poems must be submitted to the address below by regular mail and postmarked between February 1 and March 31, 2019. Details
Seeking nominations for 2019 WNBA Pannell Award: The WNBA Pannell Award recognizes bookstores that enhance their communities by bringing exceptional creativity to foster a love of reading and books in children and young adults. Every year a panel of publishing professionals selects two award winners: one general bookstore and one children’s specialty bookstore. Nominations come from customers, sales reps, bookstore employees, or anyone who has been impressed with the work of a particular independent bookstore.
There are two easy ways to nominate a bookstore for the WNBA Pannell Award.
- Complete the Online Nomination Form
- Email WNBAPannell@gmail.com and include the following:
- Name, email address, and phone number of person making the nomination
- That person’s connection to the nominated bookstore
- Bookstore name, address, and contact information for the bookstore owner/manager
- A brief statement outlining the reasons for nominating the bookstore
Nominations must be received by February 21, 2019. (more here)
THE BOOKS YOUR COLLEAGUES ARE TALKING ABOUT
Submitted this week on Edelweiss+ using the "send to SIBA" option. Thanks to Avid Bookshop, Bookmarks, Bookmiser, Fiction Addiction, Flyleaf Books, Fountain Bookstore, M Judson, Bookseller, McIntyre's Books, Oxford Exchange, Page 158 Books, Quail Ridge Books, Sunrise Bookshop, The Country Bookshop, Turnrow Books, Underground Bookshop.
9781338143867 What Is Inside THIS Box? (A Monkey & Cake Book) 2/26/2019
"Mo Willems meets Schrodinger in this genius early reader by Drew Daywalt."
9780062699763 A Woman Is No Man 3/5/2019
"I just read the final words of A Woman Is no Man. Here is my vow: I will read everything Etaf Rum writes."
9781982102357 Stay Up with Hugo Best 4/2/2019
"I laughed at least once every few pages."
9781982102807 I Miss You When I Blink 4/2/2019
"What this book is not: whiny, self-aggrandizing, know-it-all, boring. What this book IS is a masterfully written memoir about finding a way to live in our modern whirlwind."
9780385543897 Southern Lady Code 4/16/2019
"Bright, bubbly, charming, and just the right amount of naughty."
More bookseller reviews
If your store does not have an Edelweiss+ account and need help setting one up, contact Linda-Marie
Thank you for your interest in SIBA,
Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance
51 Pleasant Ridge Drive, Asheville, NC 28805