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E.J. Mellow


Sara Fujimura


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Leora Krygier Interview - Do Not Disclose

Photo Content from Leora Krygier 

Leora Krygier is a former Los Angeles Superior Court, Juvenile Division judge. She’s the author of When She Sleeps (Toby Press), which was lauded for its “luminous prose” (Newsweek) and praised by Booklist, Library Journal, and Kirkus. It was also a New York Public Library Selection for “Best Books for the Teen Age.” She’s also the author of Juvenile Court: A Judges Guide for Young Adults and their Parents (Rowan & Littlefield) and Keep Her (She Writes Press), a young adult novel reviewed as a “vibrantly dazzling literary cocktail on the restorative powers of love.” She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, David.


Where were you born and where do you call home? 
I was born in Tel-Aviv, Israel, grew up in Philadelphia, lived in Paris and Saint Tropez and now call Los Angeles home. 

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. 
I’ve had wonderful trade and reader reviews for all my books, but my most cherished review came from my daughter who also appears as a teen in my memoir, Do Not Disclose. With two kids of her own now, she said the mother-daughter relationships described in the book really spoke to her. It was the best review I could have received. 

What inspired you to pen your first novel? 
Even as a child, my favorite things were to read books, write little book reviews and write stories and poems. Life intervened and I ended up going to law school, becoming a lawyer and a judge. In my early forties and while still working, I decided I needed to go back to my first love, writing, finding a small space between a wall and the washing machine in my utility room and started writing.

Tell us your latest news. 
I was so honored to receive a Kirkus Starred Review for this memoir. 

Can you tell us when you started DO NOT DISCLOSE, how that came about? 
After I found a W.W. II postcard in a Los Angeles thrift store back in 2003, I started a journal chronicling my journey about trying to find the soldier who wrote it. It took me a year (and three journals) to find him and return the postcard to his family in 2004. I wrote a couple of fictionalized versions over the years, but never felt it was quite right as fiction. Three years ago I decided to write it as a non-fiction memoir, with a parallel story of my own family’s history, and although it was much harder to do so, including names of real people, I felt it was the right way to tell the story. 

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel? 
I hope my readers will find my personal journey universal to them. In every family, there are secrets buried away, but secrets always have a way of coming out. Today, with DNA testing such as 23 and Me, people are learning about family members long hidden away - brothers, sisters and biological parents they never knew existed. I’ve always felt that no matter how difficult the secret is to absorb, we become better with its discovery. 

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book? 
The single worst distraction was the worry that people included in the memoir and still alive might feel uncomfortable with the publication of this memoir. I wanted to tell my truth, but not hurt anyone in the process. One thing I learned during my years as an attorney and judge was that not everyone’s “truth” is the same

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives? 
Get in a car, train, or plane and not know your destination. Just go! 

Best date you've ever had? 
First date with the man who was to become my husband, a magical ride in a two seater car, driving up a narrow mountain path to Jerusalem. 

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go? 
I would go back to the time I lived in Saint Tropez and relive the sea, the sky, the vespas, the charm of the town (but not during tourist season ;-) 

First Heartbreak? 
First boyfriend. Aren’t they always? You are usually too young to realize he’s not for you. 

What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had
It was one summer job when I was a teen, working as a volunteer in a pediatric ward of a hospital. Eye-opening, heart-breaking, and uplifting. It’s a job that makes you count your blessings. 

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before? 
True love of course. Even with true love, there are always heart breaks, big and small alike.

Anytime I’m travelling, I’m inspired to write a book with that particular place as a setting. Some locations stay tucked away in my head for future reference. Others have appeared in my books: 
  • Paris, France - Avenue Mozart, Metro Jasmin, bakeries and busybody concierges. 
  • Venice, Italy - the Dorsoduro District, which is the University District, canals and stone bridges, watermarks on buildings 
  • Tel-Aviv, Israel - the area called “The White City,’ a world heritage site with rounded Bauhaus architecture 
  • Los Angeles, California - the San Fernando Valley (where I live now) , dry, fire prone, Santa Ana winds, bordered by two mountain ranges. 
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - (where I grew up) the western suburbs, green, full of creeks and American history. 
  • Barcelona, Spain - vibrant, motorcycles buzzing everywhere, the sea, Gaudi architecture, and the remnants of bull fights. 
  • London, England - a maze of intersecting streets, history, royalty, theater, museums and the snaking Thames River.
  • Somewhere in Scotland - castles, endless vistas of green, lochs, the North Sea and a wealth of history, folktales and ghosts. 
  • Jerusalem, Israel - the center of the earth, home to three religions, mystical, ancient, evolving. Savannah, Georgia - a succession of planned parks leading to the river and port, hundred years houses built to find any breeze that might arise in the humidity of the South. 
  • New Orlean, Louisiana - the flavor of a leftover French colony, street jazz, voodoo cemeteries, open-air markets and chicory coffees paired with beignets.
Writing Behind the Scenes 
My process is a bit eclectic. When I think of starting a book, typically a novel, I usually write one chapter out in long-hand, to see if it at all has any legs. If it does, I type it out as a Word Doc, and interestingly, that first chapter often becomes a mid-book chapter and not the first. 

I also don’t always have an ending in mind. I view the writing process as a journey and like having my characters and story lead me wherever they want to go. Only later, when the story is complete do I take a long and detailed overview, adding and subtracting. 

During the process, I use my iPhone to take notes and also to take a lot of photographs. Taking photographs helps me focus not only on locations but the “observational” nature of writing. Writers are essentially “photographers” of situations and people. I’ve written articles about how taking photos can help in making one a better writer. 

As to research - I’m afraid I’m a bit of a research geek, sometimes wasting too much time going down online rabbit holes. But in the end, every rabbit hole seems to add some unexpected detail to the process.

Leora, a juvenile court judge, wife, mother, and daughter, is caught in the routine of work, taking care of her family and aging parents. But she’s also a second-generation Holocaust survivor. It’s an identity she didn’t understand was hers until she accidentally discovered a secret file of handwritten notes addressed to her father. A further discovery of a seemingly random WWII postcard in a thrift store sets her on a collision course with the past in this lyrical memoir about secrets hidden within secrets, both present-day and buried deep within wartime Europe.

You can purchase Do Not Disclose at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you LEORA KRYGIER for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Do Not Disclose by Leora Krygier.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Jamie Beck Interview - The Happy Accidents

Photo Content from Jamie Beck

Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author Jamie Beck’s realistic and heartwarming stories have sold more than three million copies. She is a two-time Booksellers’ Best Award finalist, a National Readers’ Choice Award winner, and critics at Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist have respectively called her work “smart,” “uplifting,” and “entertaining.” In addition to writing novels, she enjoys dancing around the kitchen while cooking and hitting the slopes in Vermont and Utah. Above all, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family.


Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Storytelling is important because reading creates empathy. When you get invested in characters who are different from you, who are living different lives and facing different problems, it helps expand your perspective. At the same time, it also proves how universal most human experience can be, which also helps you connect to other people.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
While it is always nice to reach a milestone or receive an accolade from peers or trade reviews, my favorite thing is getting fan mail, particularly when they say that something I’ve written has helped them get through a difficult trial. I honestly live for those notes in my inbox. Writing is a lonely business, making it too easy to fall into a place of self-doubt, so those kind notes keep me going.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
I wrote this book from April 2020 through early October of that same year, so the pandemic and election cycle were extremely anxiety-producing and distracting. I was also diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had to have surgery (I’m completely fine now). But as a result of all that stress, THE HAPPY ACCIDENTS is a low-angst book. Not only did I not have it in me to write something more gut-wrenching, but I also felt certain that, by the time it released, people would prefer a light read.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’m getting ready to turn in the book that will be my fall 2022 release, entitled TAKE IT FROM ME. I really can’t say much about it yet except that it has been extremely fun to write and my beta reader feedback is mostly glowing. It’s set in my town (New Canaan, CT) and involves an empty-nester and her new neighbor, a young writer who is lying about her identity. It’s a story about a lot of things, including how what you try to control will end up controlling you.

Can you tell us when you started THE HAPPY ACCIDENTS, how that came about?
I have a core group of close friends who plan a girls’ trip every eighteen months or so. We all have very different personalities, mine being the most introverted and risk-averse. Many of my friends are much more willing to take chances. This book came about as a “what if”—as in, what if I let go and didn’t worry about the consequences. I also think about how much more confident I’ve become with each decade, so I wanted to write a story about being more authentic, and letting those choices become the foundation of a happy life.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
The three women in the book have different lives and different personalities, so when they experience a reversal of fortune, each has to address different challenges. I’m hopeful readers will identify with at least one of the characters, and if the reader is also struggling with a difficult choice, that the book might inspire them to be true to herself/himself.

What part of your characters did you enjoy writing the most?
I had the most fun writing Jess, the wild character, because I could live vicariously through her brazen ways. Chloe is probably the closest personality to mine (although I’ve got a bit of Liz in me too).

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Fun question! It would be fun to connect Jess (in this book) with Erin from If You Must Know. Those two would get along well and create something exciting together. Both are outside-the-box thinkers and tend to speak without thinking, yet both have big hearts and really love their family and friends.

Tell me about a favorite event of your childhood.
This is impossible to answer. I enjoyed a lot of excesses in my childhood, but one that permanently influenced me was my first ski trip. We went to Aspen, Colorado when I was ten. I immediately fell in love with that state and the Rockies. The trip spurred a lifelong love of skiing and of the mountains/nature.

When you looked in the mirror first thing this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
Ha! Can I get away without a shower today? The answer is usually no.

Best date you've ever had?
My husband and I used to go camping in West Virginia when we first started dating (we’re both originally from Pittsburgh, so WVA is a short drive from there). It was fun and romantic. We’d hike and swim all day, then cook hotdogs on the camp fire and lie beneath the starry sky. I loved not having to wear makeup!

What was the first job you had?
My first “summer job” as a teen was working in a department store. My first post-college/law school job was as a commercial real estate lawyer. Neither of those suited me very well, although lawyering is a great training ground for logical thinking and writing.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
There have been so many events that have changed me, but the first one was living through an extremely acrimonious divorce that affected my relationship with my father’s family and my brother (I was twelve at the time). It taught me to compartmentalize, to separate emotion from reasoning, and to forgive. I learned early that people you love can do selfish things without realizing how it affects you, but that you can still forgive and love other things about them. It also taught me that letting go of anger is the best thing for me—grudges make everything worse.

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home?
We once rented a vacation home that had a koi pond in the living room. This was on Red Mountain near Aspen. Very odd on its own, let alone in that setting!

First Heartbreak?
Excluding Jimmy Goldberg in kindergarten? Oh, I’ve got many thanks to a million unrequited crushes in my youth. But my first true heartbreak—real love that ended badly for me—was my law school boyfriend, Dave. He uttered those painful words: I love you but am not in love with you. OUCH! But we are still friendly thirty years later, and he knows my husband and kids. Looking back, I can see why we weren’t a good fit, but he will always be dear to me anyway.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
The former. Nothing is better than falling in love. I’ve survived heartbreak and found love again. You cannot close yourself off from pain in life, so enjoy the good. Good memories help get endure the bad ones.

Ten characteristics of a great friend:
My closest friends share these important traits: Honesty, thoughtfulness, trustworthiness, humor, adventurous spirits, helpfulness, supportiveness, intelligence, loyalty, and curiosity!

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from THE HAPPY ACCIDENTS
At the opening of the book, we learn that Jess encouraged her younger sister, Liz, and friend Chloe to “say yes” to anything that came their way on her birthday celebration. They wake up to Liz having been caught on tape badmouthing her show (she’s a morning TV host) and her co-host, a tape that ultimately gets Liz fired. This following excerpt is taken from a scene in which Jess goes to visit her sister to try to mend fences. Liz is angry with Jess about the pact, and she has also been tormenting herself by watching her former co-star and replacement on TV that morning while being told by her agent to lay low until the storm blows over. The chapter is longer, but this snippet gets to the heart of things and tells you a lot about the sisters and their relationship. We are in Liz’s point of view in this chapter:

“All jokes aside, Jessie, I know seeing Dennis and his son hurt you.” Witnessing my invincible big sister—a talented, bold adventurer—be reduced to a weepy divorcée this year has been disquieting. “Are you really okay?”

She averts her gaze. “I don’t know. I’m rather exhausted.” She frowns, taking another sip from her glass. “Seriously exhausted.”

“Are you still depressed?”

“I don’t think so. I’m stuck, though. I’ve tried painting and hiking, even browsed around looking for some place new to travel, but the idea of going alone . . .” She suddenly brightens. “We should take a trip. Someplace you’ve never been. Oh, please! I’m desperate for you to enjoy life while you’re young.”

I hesitate. She could use my support, and enjoying life—at least the way she means—hasn’t been my forte. But I also can’t be in the wilds of Africa if an opportunity comes up. “Timing’s bad.”

“Now’s the perfect time. Once you get a new job, you’ll never be free.” Her gaze is soft as she sets her glass aside.

“I won’t get a new job if I’m gallivanting around with you.” I sip the bubbly beverage, which tickles my nose.

“You don’t know that. You could even get a wonderful new job abroad—in London, perhaps—something different and exciting for reasons you can’t imagine now. Open yourself up to the possibilities.” Her bracelets jangle down her forearm with each animated gesture.

“I’m not like you. I know only one way to succeed—set a goal and work the steps toward accomplishing it.” Like most of the world.

She stands and walks toward the railing, peering out over it to the street below. “Well, that’s the problem. You need to learn to look at things with a new perspective.”

I cock my brow, having never understood hers.

“Quit focusing on the bad news—the firing. You’re free now—free to do anything you want. Create your own reality.” She spins around to face me, her back against the railing.

“Ha!” I can’t help but laugh, although her remark shouldn’t surprise me. She’s always been a proponent of creating one’s reality.

“I’m serious. What’s really changed for you, other than not having to wake up at four o’clock?”


“You honestly believe your job at The Dish was everything?”

“Not the job—my reputation. People welcomed me into their homes each morning because they believed me to be a sincere, genial, intelligent woman who befriended them and the guests. Now they think I’m an arrogant drunk who’s jealous of and cruel to an injured football hero. What cohost will want to work with me next? What producer will trust me not to make another public screwup? What viewer won’t be waiting for me to slip up?”

She waves a hand, frustrated. “Stop worrying about what other people think about you. What do you think about yourself? Who do you know yourself to be? What are you capable of, and how can that shape a future that will make you happy?”

“You can’t understand. You work alone. My career requires a universe of others.”

“If no one likes my work, my career dies, too. But I don’t let them tell me what to paint. I have faith that someone somewhere will like what I have to say and connect to how I express it on a canvas. Why don’t you have faith in yourself, Lizzie? You, the perfect Clarke daughter.”

Striving to be the best is not perfection. If anything, it’s a cover for the doubts that I could ever live up to our parents’ bar of personal excellence.

“Well, the illusion of perfection is surely shattered now.” Pulverized.

“Good. Perfect is boring. Perfect isn’t real. And imperfection doesn’t erase everything good about you—your experience, brains, and beauty.”

“So what, you think I can create a job out of thin air? Create a media company all by myself?” I gulp my mimosa.

“Now, that’s an interesting idea, isn’t it?” Her face lights with excitement.

I choke on my drink. “I’m kidding.”

“Or maybe your subconscious is nudging you. With technology, the landscape seems rife with opportunity for someone with the right experience and background.” She shrugs with a wry smile, as if she didn’t just hand me a parachute and push me from a plane. As if I’m the risk-taker in this duo.

I grunt. Start my own media company. A pipe dream. The competition is fierce. The capital needed to break out would be intense. And I would need a partner, at a minimum. Someone whose instincts I trust. Someone who knows the business and shares my vision.

Others would assume I couldn’t get hired. That it was an option of last resort, not a choice. I’d disappear from the landscape. More humiliation. More mockery. And Kenny’s trolls might eviscerate any attempt I made, too.

Jess is staring at me.

“What?” I ask.

“I recognize your thinking face when I see it.” She finishes her drink wearing a cat-who-ate-the-cream expression. “The seed is planted.”

“Was this your plan in coming here today? To stir me up?”

“Come on, Lizzie. Since when do I plan anything? All I’ve done is ask questions. You filled in the blanks all by yourself. But I have to say, I’m totally into the idea. Wouldn’t the best revenge be success on your own terms?” Her eyes twinkle.

It’s thrilling to imagine a victory of my own making. “I would love to wipe that smug look off Kenny’s face. But it’d be a huge risk, and I might never get back to where I was. What would people think?”

“Screw what other people think. Most of them are fools. Jesus, you’ve taken all of Dad’s edicts to heart but that one. Besides, will you care about commercial success if you’re happy with the work? You might love controlling the message. Following stories that mean something to you. Creating something from nothing. It’s amazing, Lizzie—that part. A blank canvas of your own.” Her voice is so full of hope. I feel myself rising to its call, until my insecurities flutter.

“You, of all people, know how hard that blank canvas is to face. What if I fail?”

“What if?” An insouciant shrug hardly slows her down. “Failing didn’t kill you this time. The sting eventually fades, and then you try something else. Honestly, nothing great was ever accomplished without some failure at the start.” Poof. Problem solved, in her mind anyway. She might be nonchalant about her career and reputation, but I’ve given up everything for mine, so without them I’ve got nothing.

I finish my drink, dabbing the perspiration from my forehead. “That’s big talk for someone who came here saying she’s stuck.”

She collapses back onto the outdoor sofa, chuckling. “I know. Jesus, I know it. I’m considering a major about-face to clear out my bad juju.”

Uh-oh. “I’m terrified to ask.”

Jess’s laughter peals through the air. “Nothing crazy. For starters, it’s time to rid my life of all traces of Dennis. Things I’ve held on to—items of clothing, even paintings inspired by him.”

“Wow. Are you sure?”

“Not at all. But maybe they’re blocking me. Weighing me down. He’s moved on faster than a comet. The fact he didn’t even acknowledge my birthday is proof.” Her eyes glisten, and her voice is tight. “I must love him much more dearly than he ever loved me.”

I rub her thigh. “I’m sorry you’re suffering.”

“I know you think I should’ve agreed to have a baby, but it’s not that easy. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t see myself living that life. I’m too much like Mom and Dad.”

I try not to laugh, but she could not be more different from them. “How so?”

“In their single-minded pursuit of their own goals.”

“But they had kids.” As if that weren’t obvious.

“Should they have?” She pins me with a doubtful stare.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m glad to be alive.”

“Not the point.”

“You’re so hard on them, but we’ve had an amazing life.” Her extreme take on parenthood isn’t healthy. Couples everywhere find a way to balance careers and kids. I might like the chance, although given my age, it’s looking unlikely. That prompts the tiniest pang. “No parent is perfect.”

Jess frowns, having no immediate retort. A second later, she says, “Anyway, what right did Dennis have to expect me to change something so fundamental—something we’d agreed to from the start?”

Fair enough. “Well, I’m sorry it’s been so hard. Do you need help packing up his things?”

“No, thanks.” Something about the glimmer in her eyes gives me pause, but I keep quiet rather than risk making things worse. “Let’s stop talking about me. I came here to help you. What about your love life—has Brian reached out at all?”

“No.” I sigh, absorbing the ache of more rejection. At least I hadn’t given him my whole heart, like Jess did with Dennis. “I can’t blame him for protecting his rep.”

“I can, but you’re better off without someone that weak. You deserve more.”

For some reason, Michael Saxton’s freckles flit through my mind.

“What’s that little smile? Are you holding out on me?” Jess asks.

“No . . . not at all.” My cheeks are hot, and not from the sun. “I’ll tell you what—I’ll start dating when you do.”

She throws an arm around my shoulders, which fills me with warmth. “Well, that cinches it. We’re doomed to be old maids who live and die together. It’s not so bad, really. There isn’t anyone I’d rather grow old with than you.”

Even though our differences could lead to us killing each other rather than dying of natural causes, the idea makes me feel better—less alone.

As suddenly as she arrived, she rises to leave. “Well, I’m off.”

“Where to?” I wish she’d stay longer, but won’t ask. She’s always been something of a butterfly—beautiful and pulsating, yet not to be captured for too long.

“To clean house.” She hugs me. “We’re both facing a blank canvas, Lizzie. Let’s make it count.”

Three women wake up to the consequences of one impulsive pact in an insightful novel about friendship, love, and fulfillment by Wall Street Journal bestselling author Jamie Beck.

While at a casino to celebrate her birthday, Jessie Clarke proposes a pact to her reserved sister, Liz, and their childhood friend Chloe: the three women will say yes to any adventure that comes their way. Jessie is mourning her recent divorce, so the other two reluctantly agree. Twelve hours later, they awaken to the shocking consequences of their behavior.

A viral video throws Liz’s career and reputation into question. A major loss at the craps table rocks the foundation of Chloe’s staid marriage. And Jessie’s desperate bid to unblock her artistic creativity results in a life-changing choice. Staring down the crossroads, each woman finds her relationships—with herself, with each other, and with loves both old and new—tested. At every turn, they struggle not to let fear decide their fates. Will they give in, or will their misadventures lead to the greatest fulfillment of all?

You can purchase The Happy Accidents at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JAMIE BECK for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Happy Accidents by Jamie Beck.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 20, 2021

Freya Sampson Interview - The Last Chance Library

Photo Content from Freya Sampson 

Freya Sampson works in TV as an executive producer. Her credits include two documentary series for the BBC about the British Royal Family, and a number of factual and entertainment series.

She studied History at Cambridge University and in 2018 was shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize.

She lives in London with her husband, two young children and an antisocial cat. The Last Chance Library is her debut novel.

The Last Chance Library is about a shy young woman who’s forced to emerge from her shell to save her beloved local library from closure. It’s a celebration of libraries and reading, and the importance of community and friendship.

What was the inspiration behind your novel?
The idea for the book came to me one day when I was in my local library in London. There was an older gentleman who I often saw there, reading the newspaper on his own. On this particular day, I watched as a library worker stopped by his table for a chat. I didn’t hear what they talked about and the conversation couldn’t have lasted more than two minutes. But when she walked away, I saw the man smile, and I realized that that brief moment of kindness from the librarian was possibly the only conversation he would have all day. That was when the idea for THE LAST CHANCE LIBRARY was born: a story about the unlikely friendships that can be made and found, and what a community can achieve when it comes together to fight to save their library from closure.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
For me, the power of storytelling is about giving us an insight into other people’s lives and experiences, and a new way of looking at the world. In the past eighteen months, more than ever, I’ve been grateful for novels that have allowed me to step outside my own life and travel around the world through the stories and characters I’ve read.

  • 1. You can tell a lot about a person from the library books they borrow.
  • 2. You are never alone when you have a good book.
  • 3. In times of stress, June found she always returned to the same books from her childhood . . . There was something comforting about getting lost in stories she knew so well.
  • 4. I think you need to ask yourself: what would Matilda do?
  • 5. Libraries aren’t made by books, they’re made by librarians.
  • 6. As a child, she used to believe that each book had its own smell, specific to its story, and the smell of a library was the combined scent of thousands of different tales.
  • 7. She understood implicitly what it felt like to be more at home with books than people, to prefer the adventures and travel within their pages to those in real life.
  • 8. Libraries are like a net, there to catch those of us in danger of falling through the cracks.
  • 9. Libraries aren’t just about books. They’re places where an eight-year-old boy can have his eyes opened up to the wonders of the world, and where a lonely eighty-year-old woman can come for some vital human contact.
  • 10. It’s never to late to find your voice, to stand up and shout from the top of your lungs about injustice.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Having readers contact me to tell me how libraries have helped them in their lives has been a huge privilege. So many people feel a deep connection to their library, and it’s been wonderful to hear these stories.

What are you working on next?
I’m writing a second novel, which is due to be published in 2022. The book is about a group of strangers aboard a London bus, who unite to help an elderly man find his missed love connection.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I hope that the novel will remind readers just how important libraries are, not simply as places to borrow books but as the heart of our communities. And I also hope it will makes readers smile and feel hopeful about the world.

Who was your favorite character to write and why?
Mrs Bransworth, who is a grumpy older lady who complains about every book she borrows from the library, but then leads the campaign to save it. I found it great fun writing someone so irascible, but she also allowed me to voice many of my own thoughts about why libraries are worth fighting for.

  • 1. Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny
  • 2. My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • 3. The Tiger Mom’s Tale by Lyn Liao Butler
  • 4. The Switch by Beth O’Leary
  • 5. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
  • 6. Dead, Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia
  • 7. Girl A by Abigail Dean
  • 8. The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
  • 9. Meet You in Paradise by Libby Hubscher
  • 10. My Sweet Girl by Amanda Jayatissa
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
June, my main character, loves re-reading childhood books that bring her comfort when she’s anxious. One of her absolute favorites is Roald Dahl’s MATILDA, and she becomes inspired by the young heroine in that book to step out of her comfort zone and fight against injustice. So I’d love to put June and Matilda in a room together and let them have a good old chat.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Just keep going. This is a piece of advice I come back to time and again when I’m writing, especially during the painful stages of the first draft when I inevitably lose confidence in what I’m doing. “Just keep going” reminds me that the doubts and fears are a natural part of the process and not to give up, just press on, sentence by sentence, and eventually it will all fall into place!

Where can readers find you? 
I’m @FreyaSampsonAuthor on Facebook and Instagram, and @SampsonF on Twitter. You can also sign up to my newsletter at

A Good Morning America Buzz Pick
A Library Reads Pick

June Jones emerges from her shell to fight for her beloved local library, and through the efforts and support of an eclectic group of library patrons, she discovers life-changing friendships along the way.

Lonely librarian June Jones has never left the sleepy English village where she grew up. Shy and reclusive, the thirty-year-old would rather spend her time buried in books than venture out into the world. But when her library is threatened with closure, June is forced to emerge from behind the shelves to save the heart of her community and the place that holds the dearest memories of her mother.

Joining a band of eccentric yet dedicated locals in a campaign to keep the library, June opens herself up to other people for the first time since her mother died. It just so happens that her old school friend Alex Chen is back in town and willing to lend a helping hand. The kindhearted lawyer's feelings for her are obvious to everyone but June, who won't believe that anyone could ever care for her in that way.

To save the place and the books that mean so much to her, June must finally make some changes to her life. For once, she's determined not to go down without a fight. And maybe, in fighting for her cherished library, June can save herself, too.
You can purchase The Last Chance Library at the following Retailers:

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Friday, September 17, 2021

Defne Suman Interview - The Silence of Scheherazade

Photo Content from Defne Suman 

Defne Suman was born in Istanbul and grew up on Prinkipo Island. She gained a Masters in sociology from the Bosphorus University and then worked as a teacher in Thailand and Laos, where she studied Far Eastern philosophy and mystic disciplines. She later continued her studies in Oregon, USA and now lives in Athens with her husband. The Silence of Scheherazade, translated from Turkish by Betsy Göksel, was first published in Turkey and Greece in 2016 and is her English language debut.


Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
I think it is only when we tell the story of something, anything, we understand the meaning of it. When we are in the midst of living, the experience is cloudy, the picture is flu. We need to take distance (in time) to realize what we went through. Storytelling gives us this perspective. We take a step away from our turbulent selves and only then we can weave a meaningful narrative about life. Storytelling is important to stay sane in an incredibly crazy world.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Connecting with the readers! Some authors say that they don’t think about the reader as they write. That is not the case for me. I don’t worry about if they’d like my story or not, but I’d like to imagine my readers entering the world of fiction that is created by me. Somehow it is like being able invite someone into your dream. A space that is alive in only my imagination suddenly becomes a familiar place for people who read my books. Chatting with my readers about the characters, inevitability of fate and about the process of writing the book are some of the most fulfilling experiences for me.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Housework! Whenever I tried to write at home, I heard the faint call of some domestic chore either from the kitchen cabinets (tidy us!) or from the laundry room (we are done!) that asked me to stop writing and pay attention to the house. This entire book I wrote outside. In coffeeshops.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I am working on a book on Istanbul. To narrow it down I can say it is about the destruction of Istanbul. In a broad sense it is the sad and inevitable disappearance of anything refined and deep from our lives and from our public spaces. The story is taking place in 2020, during the times of Covid19 but reaching all the way to the 1950’s thanks to our 75-year-old narrator. I am at the very beginning of this book. I wrote only 10% of it. So it is my current and future project! What comes after that I have no idea.

Can you tell us when you started THE SILENCE OF SCHEHERAZADE, how that came about?
I started writing The Silence of Scheherazade exactly seven years ago, after a traumatic miscarriage after which I poured all my creative energy into my writing, into writing The Silence of Scheherazade. No wonder the story opens with a birth scene our narrator, Scheherazade. Around the same time, I became curious about the stories of my ancestors and started interviewing older family members about their grandparents. I was shocked by how much I did not know about people with whom I spent my childhood with. That discovery led me to think about the silences we create in our families and secrets that go to grave with us. When I looked closely, I noticed that the stories of men are widely recounted in the family, but the things women experienced were silenced. The silence around unresolved loss was my starting point. I started from the pieces that were carefully extracted from official history of a family or of a nation.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
The Silence of Scheherazade is a story of losing home. I find it auspiciously meaningful that the release date of its English debut coincides with these very days of history when the refugee crisis in the world is at its peak. As my book is about to reach its global readers everywhere on the planet, people are being uprooted from their homeland and forced to move to foreign places away from home. I hope that when readers are turning the pages of The Silence of Scheherazade, they realise that they are not only taking a stroll through the past, but they are reading a story that is happening right now, right here in the present-day.

What part of your characters did you enjoy writing the most?
I like writing ball scenes. The idea of reserving a chapter for the New Year’s Ball was on my mind from the very beginning. Initially I planned to bring all my characters to the ball. Some as guests, some as help and some as teenagers who spy on the rich neighbors’ party from the windows. I believe that a fictive character becomes a character only in relationship. It is the same for us. I can talk about myself until the cows come home but the best impression you can get about me is when I am interacting with the world. Therefore, I enjoy writing chapters when most of my characters are together in one space; chatting, dancing, going into conflict with one another. Also I very much like reading party scenes in novels. Glorious ball scenes that we know from Anna Karenina, or from War and Peace and of course from The Great Gatsby were in my mind as I was writing the chapter named “Borrowed Time”.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would introduce Edith Lamarck to Anna Karenina. In their unique, individual selves they could have been good friends and understand each other. Anna would have taken Edith’s loneliness away and Edith could have helped Anna to remember her inner strength. They could have helped each other and maybe prevented the self-destructive ends of their lives.

Tell me about a favorite event of your childhood.
I was an only child and a very lonely child. We lived in a high-rise building at the center of Istanbul and both my parents worked all day. I was alone in my room most of the day with a babysitter or with my great-aunt. I dreamt of having a twin sister. Then I took the dream to the next level and told everyone at school that I did have a twin sister, but we were separated at birth. Then one day when I was ten years old my mother introduced me to the daughter of a friend of hers. She was my age, and looked a lot like me. She too was lonely and when we went for ice-cream, the shop owner asked us if we were sisters. Before I was able to answer she jumped in said “Yes we are. We are actually twins!” She is my best friend ever since.

When you looked in the mirror first thing this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
If I am going to FaceTime with my mom today and if she is going to like my face or if she will think I look too tired!

Best date you've ever had?
When social media became part of our lives for the first time in 2007, my first boyfriend from high school found me and we decided to have dinner. In high school I was madly in love with this boy, but he was not that into me. In 2007 we were both 33 and we were both single. We knew each other so well from our childhood and we were open to anything or nothing. It was late autumn and a chilly night in Istanbul. We walked by the dark waters of Bosphorus channel hand in hand, drank cognac in a romantic bar and then went to eat fish in a Greek taverna under a bridge. Everything I had dreamed as a young girl, I experienced that night. At the end of the night, he took me home. We said goodbye and never saw each other again.

What was the first job you had?
I worked at the Cumhuriyet (Republic) newspaper in Istanbul as an intern in the summer of 1993. Back then I wanted to be a journalist passionately. After that summer I changed my mind. Cumhuriyet was a progressive, leftwing newspaper but people who worked there were not very respectful of the young interns, especially young women. I was discouraged and decided to write books instead of news.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
After I finished university in Istanbul, I was admitted to a PhD program at UCLA. It was a very good offer including 8-year scholarship at the department of social anthropology. All my professors and everyone in my family was excited and proud. I was hesitant. I knew that that was a once in a lifetime opportunity, but my heart was somewhere else and I didn’t even know where it was. Finally, I turned down the scholarship and headed for South East Asia with a backpack. There I started learning traditional Hatha Yoga and it changed my life completely.

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home?
My father used to have contraption that allowed him to go upside down. He believed that his hair was going to come back if he stays upside down every day for sometime. When I went to visit him, I used to find him hanging upside down in midair and we were involved in small talk in that position. This was one of the weirdest scenes I have ever partaken.

First Heartbreak?
The same guy that I mentioned above. The first of a series of break ups to come for the next 3 years, happened when I was 14. I stayed in bed with high fever for the whole weekend.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
Of course the heart break! I am a novelist.

Where can readers find you?
At the coffeeshops in Athens, in Istanbul, in Portland Oregon or by the sea in some Greek island, Oregon coast or Prinkipo hills…. Until the coffeeshops are open again, I am here, at the other end of their online connection. 

Set in the ancient city of Smyrna, this powerful novel follows the intertwining fates of four families as their peaceful city is ripped apart by the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.

On an orange-tinted evening in September 1905, Scheherazade is born to an opium-dazed mother in the ancient city of Smyrna. At the very same moment, a dashing Indian spy arrives in the harbour with a secret mission from the British Empire. He sails in to golden-hued spires and minarets, scents of fig and sycamore, and the cries of street hawkers selling their wares. When he leaves, seventeen years later, it will be to the heavy smell of kerosene and smoke as the city, and its people, are engulfed in flames.

But let us not rush, for much will happen between then and now. Birth, death, romance and grief are all to come as these peaceful, cosmopolitan streets are used as bargaining chips in the wake of the First World War.

Told through the intertwining fates of a Levantine, a Greek, a Turkish and an Armenian family, this unforgettable novel reveals a city, and a culture, now lost to time.

You can purchase The Silence of Scheherazade at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you DEFNE SUMAN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Silence of Scheherazade by Defne Suman.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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