Remembering a batch of authors

When we use traditional collective nouns for groups of animals, we speak of a congregation of alligators, a colony of ants, a swarm of bees, a herd of buffalo, a clutter of cats, a murder of crows, a pod of dolphins, a flock of geese, a charm of hummingbirds and a pandemonium of parrots.

batchHumorous collective nouns have been suggested for writers, including an absurdity of, an allegory of, a gallery of and scribble of. Some of the funnier suggestions are less than flattering. When I was interviewed for a regional magazine along with other authors from the county, the article was titled “A Truck Load of Authors.” We were all packed into a vintage pickup truck, a picture was taken, and the magazine had a great illustration.

Since I had no viable way of getting all the authors together who have appeared on this blog directly through guests posts and interviews or indirectly through reviews together and posing them on a raft, railcar or a team of wild horses, I’ve settled for the word “batch.”

The Batch at Malcolm’s Round Table

GoldfinchIf this blog has a niche–or a partial niche–it’s books and writers. Since I read a lot, the batch of writers here has included a lot of reviews. Some of those were BIG PUBLISHING BESTSELLERS but most were not.

So yes, I reviewed Dan Brown’s Inferno and talked about Donna Tarrt’s The Goldfinch. I liked The Night Circus, The Tiger’s Wife, and Long Man a lot and you probably heard about those more than once. Of course I talked about my own books but, well, that’s because I can’t help it and I try not to go on and on about them even though I might be going on and on anyway.

But, to move on. . .

However, it was much more fun talking (in reviews or notes) about books by some wonderful authors you weren’t hearing about everywhere else, L. S. Bassen, Seth Mullins and Smoky Zeidel (who has a new edition coming out soon).

Guest Posts and Interviews

Sara Ann grave in PA. Bob Salerni photo.
Sara Ann grave in PA. Bob Salerni photo.

When an author has delved deeply into a subject while researching a book, it’s fun to have them to stop by and do a guest post. The most unusual guest post was author Dianne K. Salerni’s (“We Hear the Dead,” “The Caged Graves”) Mortsafes: Protection FROM the Dead or FOR the Dead? Spooky stuff.

Interviews are something special because even though they are conducted via e-mail, my guests and I try to make they read very much like conversations.

Most recently, Marietta Rodgers stopped by to talk about her debut book The Bill. Laura Cowan has been here twice, most recently to talk about her magical Music of Sacred Lakes. Nora Caron, a Canadian author lured into Mexico and the American southwest has written a wonderful trilogy that includes New Dimensions of Being. Melinda Clayton, a psychologist who’s now focusing her observational skills on fictional characters spoke about her novel Blessed Are the Wholly Broken.  Two audio book narrators, R. Scott Adams and Kelley Hazen stopped by do tell me how they do what they do. Adams brought his talents as a dialects specialist to my novel Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire. Hazen brought her experience as an actress to narrate my three-story set Emily’s Stories.

row1Diane Salerni’s research into Mortsafes made for a wonderful book in Caged Graves. Novelist Robert Hays used his background as a journalist and journalism educator to write the well-received nonfiction book Patton’s Oracle: Gen. Oscar Koch, as I Knew Him. Laura Cowan (“The Little Seer”) contributed a close-to-my-heart guest post Speculative Supernatural Novels and the Growing Fantasy Genre. Novelist Pat Bertram (“Light Bringer,” “Daughter I Am”) also wrote the nonfiction Grief the Great Yearning which brings together her experiences with loss in an guest post called The Messy Spiral of Grief. Beth Sorensen (“Crush at Thomas Hall”) wrote a sparkling thriller/romance in her novel Divorcing a Dead Man.

row2Helen Osterman worked as a nurse for 45 years. During her training, her rotation she witnessed hydrotherapy, Insulin coma therapy and electroshock. Her background served her well when when she turned to fiction writing in  Notes in a Mirror. Vila SpiderHawk’s Forest Song novels are magical. She stopped by to talk about Finding Home. I thoroughly enjoyed Deborah J. Ledford’s Staccato, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch’s Dance of the Banished and Rhett DeVane’s Suicide Supper Club.

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Memory Lane

As you see, memory lane is a long street. It would be even longer if I kept better records, so I’m sure I didn’t find all of my interviews and guest posts. I’m planning to bring you some more new posts in the coming months. I hope you’ll stay tuned and, from time to time, sample the authors’ stories.

–Malcolm

KIndle cover 200x300(1)Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: ‘Dance of the Banished,’ a story of WWI Turkish ethnic cleansing and Canadian hysteria

Dance of the Banished, by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, Pajama Press (February 1, 2015), young adult, 288 pages. In her sixth book set during the Armenian Genocide, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch’s Dance of the Banished brings young adult readers a heartbreaking account of the World War I-era ethnic cleansing in the Anatolia region of Turkey and the Canadian paranoia that sent thousands of purportedly dangerous immigrants to internment camps.

banishedArmenians, who are traditionally Christian, and Alevi Kurds, whose religious views differ from those of Sunni Kurds, predate the arrival of the Turks in Anatolia. The discord brought into the region by the Turks is a centuries-old fight. “Dance of the Banished” begins in 1913 on the brink of Turkey’s entry into World War I on the side of the Central Powers with the story of two betrothed Alevi Kurds who are soon separated by hard times and a very wide ocean.

Ali chooses to go to Ontario, Canada where jobs are available. He plans to send money home to his family and to save enough to ultimately pay for Zeynep’s passage to Ontario. She views his departure as a betrayal, as practical as it may be, and wonders if they will ever see each other again.

Subsequently, Zeynep also leaves town to work in a hospital in a Harput, a city between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, where she is swept up into the horror of revolution, war and poverty. Ali begins work in Canada only to find himself rounded up on trumped up charges and sent to a prison camp where he’s pressed into service at a minimal age. Both wonder why they don’t hear from each other.

The book’s sections, which alternate between Zeynep’s and Ali’s stories, are presented as journal entries written in the form of letters to each other. In time, she learns that the Armenians who have been allegedly drafted to fight in World War I are being exterminated and he learns that he is part a growing group of imprisoned Ukrainians, Turks and others who came to Canada for freedom only to end up without it.

The power of this novel comes in part from the age of its two protagonists and how their view of the world is forced to change. Young and in love, they see life through a different lens than their parents and grandparents. While their focus is on being reunited with each other, their journal entries begin with typical day-to-day activities and then change from initial disbelief at the persecution around them into grim accounts of their own involvement and means of survival.

Their growing horror and their continuing hope and perseverance during the cruel years of 1913 to 1917 combine for a poignant love story and a stark account of genocide close up and very personal.

The book is enhanced by the inclusion of internment camp pictures and an author’s note about the story’s historical background.

–Malcolm Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the upcoming novella “Conjure Woman’s Cat.”