Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lee Child Interviews- Jack Reacher hits the big screen!

I went to see the new James Bond movie SKYFALL yesterday. I loved the movie. No one will ever replace Sean Connery as 007, but Daniel Craig is certainly adding depth and integrity to the franchise. The Bond series is 50 years old now, and I am 55; wow did those years go by quickly.

While sitting in my seat watching previews I was woken from the near-narcoleptic state of mind  the previews put me in, when the name Jack Reacher was uttered by the narrator of the preview. I looked up to see Tom Cruise staring down at me. " Wait a minute"I thought, "Jack Reacher is 6'5 and weights 250 pounds." I watched. In stunned silence as the preview played.

I thought back to a month ago when I saw Tyler Perry in a preview for ALEX CROSS. Enough said about that one.

I suddenly remembered an interview I did with Lee Child in 2007 when we discussed the film rights he had sold to the character of Jack Reacher. I am featuring that interview at the end of the post.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Child three times (all three are archived on my website). Mr. Child is a fine writer and a genuinely nice man. His passion for his work is impressive, and his work-ethic and talent are rarely found these days. Jack Reacher is a great character and a great series. The new Reacher novels always debut at #1 on the NYTBR list. Deservedly so.

I have read several reviews that say Tom Cruise plays a great Jack Reacher. I hope so, I really do. Do I expect James Bond? No. Do I expect Alex Cross? No. Somewhere in the middle would be nice. Lee Child and his readers deserve it.

So, listen to my 2007 interview with Lee Child and enjoy!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

James Lee Burke- Creole Belle

I'll keep this brief. CREOLE BELLE is James Lee Burke's 31st novel, the 19th featuring Dave Robicheaux. It is a brilliant novel featuring the characters readers have come to know and love. I have no adjectives left to describe Mr. Burke's work.

If you are a reader, an aspiring writer, or a person interested in the creative mind I urge you to listen to this, my ninth interview with Mr. Burke. The interview is 40 minutes long- the last 15 minutes are magical. Mr. Burke explains the nature of creativity in a way that I have never heard it discussed before.

This the chance for you, the listener, to hear James Lee Burke discuss his work. We also discuss Hemingway, Faulkner, Mozart, and Tennessee Williams. Burke is an important American writer. Technology allows me to bring his voice and thoughts to you in a longer format than we are accustomed to.

Do yourself a favor and turn off your cell phone, turn off the TV, and listen to a writer who at the of 75 is writing at the peak of his powers. LISTEN TO the interview.


Saturday, June 30, 2012


I am currently 50 pages into James Lee burke's new Dave Robicheaux novel, CREOLE BELLE (pub date July 17th). Once again he has penned a book that defies adjectives. As Michael Connelly states on the dust jacket, "James Lee Burke is the heavyweight champ, a great American novelist whose work, taken individually or as a whole, is unsurpassed."

I will interview Mr. Burke the week of publication and will post the live audio interview here the day after we record it. In anticipation of that interview I am featuring a few of the interviews I have done with Mr. Burke. Our interview is now an annual rite of summer for both of us (this will be the ninth time we have talked). I am often asked what he is like in person and I can tell you that he is one of the nicest, most humble writers I have ever met; a genuinely nice man. We have conducted interviews where he has had to pull over to the side of the road because of driving conditions; one summer the phone line to his home phone was severed that morning and he drove into town to call me. I have other stories I could tell, but won't, because they are of a personal nature.

I consider Jim Burke a friend I could call if I found myself needing to talk to someone- he is that kind of man. His generous spirit and his sense of morality shines through in everything he writes.

Here is the review and the replay of the interview I did with Mr. Burke in 2010 when we discussed THE GLASS RAINBOW.



James Lee Burke makes his seventh appearance on the show this week. We discuss his new novel, THE GLASS RAINBOW, published by Simon and Schuster.
This is the 18th novel in the Dave Robicheaux series. Mr. Burke published the first Robicheaux novel, THE NEON RAIN, in 1987. I remember reading THE NEON RAIN in two sittings.
There was something about Burke's writing that transcended the mystery genre. In that first book Dave adopts an orphan who is rescued from a helicopter accident, her name is Alafair.
Alafair has been an important character in the series. Burke's use of Alafair in THE GLASS RANIBOW shows the complex and loving bond between a father and his daughter. Their relationship has matured in the book, and Alafair plays a major role in the plot of the story. Mr. Burke's real life daughter Alafair has become a successful mystery writer as well, and during the interview Mr. Burke discusses their relationship.
THE GLASS RAINBOW also plumbs the depths of the relationship between Clete Purcell and Robicheaux. Clete is up to his normal tricks and vices in the novel, but Mr. Burke brilliantly begins to introduce mortality into their friendship and he shows the acceptance that true friends show each other as they continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. The last two pages of the novel brought me to tears. This is Mr. Burke's most powerful novel since PEGASUS DESCENDING and TIN ROOF BLOWDOWN.
Mr. Burke and I were fifteen minutes into the interview when the subject of the exploitation of his beloved Louisiana by the oil companies came up. As an interviewer you live for the moment when an author opens his mind and heart to you and trusts you with what he is about to say. Mr. Burke and I have had several of these moments over the years, particularly after Hurricane Katrina. James Lee Burke knows the oil business; he has worked on oil rigs and has had friends and family that were and are oil men.
I put my tongue between my incisors and wrote, "SHUT UP", on my note pad when Burke started discussing the BP Oil Explosion. I allowed him to give full vent to his knowledge and outrage of what is going on in the Gulf Coast. Please take the time to listen to what Mr. Burke has to say. It is powerful, and it is the truth.
He loves his native state and our country enough to tell us the truth about how the oil companies operate. I am honored that he chose our show to express his feelings about the explosion (vs. a spill).
James Lee Burke is an important American writer. To classify him as a crime writer is to sell him short. I've said it before and I'll say it again, he is the Dostoevsky of our generation. The depth of his characters, the lushness of his prose, and his command of language make his stories a privilege to read.
Read THE GLASS RAINBOW. And then read the rest of the series. Burke is quite simply the best!

Visit to listen to all eight of the interviews in the James Lee Burke series!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Michael Connelly's New Project

I received the following email last week from Jane Davis. I have known Jane for years and trust her instincts on projects and writers. We have worked together promoting several authors (including Stephen White). She also happens to be Michael Connelly's sister. I checked out The Frank Morgan project and watched the video of Mr. Connelly discussing his dream for a documetary on the life of Frank Morgan (he explains Morgan's influence on the evolution of Harry Bosch.) It's well worth watching and gives me hope that good people are still interested in the arts. I like the feel and focus of this project on many levels. I have walked the mean streets Frank Morgan walked. I am lucky- I survived. I am now a contributor and hope that you will give it a look and your consideration.

Here is the letter and the link:

 If you are receiving this from me it means I think of you as a pretty connected person and I need your help to spread news about something. Some of you may already know that Michael Connelly is producing a documentary film about Frank Morgan, the late jazz saxophone player that he mentions so often in his Harry Bosch novels.

Frank Morgan was a sax prodigy as a young man and played with many of the greats by the time he was 17. He was considered heir to Charlie Parker’s throne. Unfortunately, he fell into a life of drug use and crime to support his habit. He ended up in and out of prisons for almost 30 years of his life. Miraculously, he turned it all around, changed his life, and was able to have a successful comeback in his late years. Michael met Frank and they became friends. This documentary film, “Sound of Redemption,” will reflect Frank’s amazing comeback. It is really an inspirational story and shows how art can inspire and save people. Proceeds from the film will go to music programs for at-risk youth. It has already begun filming with a  very talented director, N.C. Heikin.  There is still more to film and lots of post production to do but the goal is to release the film in spring of 2013, hitting film festivals and getting the film distributed in theaters and on DVD.

We are trying to raise additional funds via KickStarter. It is a way for creative projects to raise money and build an early community and fan base around a project.  The whole idea behind KickStarter is to use our social networks to raise funds and awareness. We rely on friends and family for support and to spread the word. Hence, this email! If you are interested in supporting the film and being a backer, visit our KickStarter page and watch the videos. There are great thank you gifts at every funding level. If you think you know other people who would be interested in a documentary like this, please pass this on to them and post a link on Facebook, etc.  Jazz fans, music fans, documentary films fans, and anyone who likes inspiring stories will enjoy this! I am running the Kickstarter project and can answer any questions any one has.  This is something we are really excited to be involved in.  I hope you can understand why when you watch the video and the trailer. 

Jane Davis

Sunday, April 22, 2012

On the other side of the microphone- an interview with VoiceCorp

I had the pleasure this week of being interviewed by Kate Sniderman at VoiceCorp, a radio station for the visually impaired in Columbus, Ohio. All of my interviews with authors are recorded at their studio, and have been for the past eight years. Chuck Adkins, their engineer, has been my editor since the day the show began. Sandy Turner, the Executive Director, has been a supporter of the show as well. VoiceCorp's support of my show (and its mission) has been critical. I also discuss the role of Marilyn Knapp Litt, my webmaster/technical adviser, who convinced me three years ago that I had to start this blog. As always, she was right.

What follows is a look back at the genesis of the show, and a discussion of how and why I started it. Kate asked me the questions I am often asked by listeners. How did you come up with the idea? How do you get the authors to appear on your show? What are your favorite stories and interviews?

She also asked me some very good questions about teaching high school students to read critically and to write. For the past four years I have taught AP English Language and Composition at The First Academy in Orlando, Florida. I love teaching, and have learned a great deal about the craft of writing from my students.

I discuss, for the first time, how I came to interview Horton Foote, the author who won an Academy Award for his screenplay adaptation of How To Kill A Mockingbird. I also discuss my interview with Sidney Sheldon, which took place shortly before his death.

This labor of love started eight years ago, and is going strong. Chuck, Marilyn, and I decided we wanted to promote books and literacy around the world, and we have accomplished that. The show is listened to in over 75 countries- and we stopped counting hits to our website when they went over two million a few years ago.

I hope you enjoy the interview. It was fun to answer Kate's questions rather than ask them.

I would like to dedicate this interview to the 350 students at The First Academy who have allowed me the privilege of introducing them to the world of books and the magic of writing. Each and every one of you have taught me something and enriched my life. Follow your passion, reach for for the stars, and don't let anyone tell you you can't reach your dreams.

LISTEN TO the interview of Kacey Kowars by Kate Sniderman of VoiceCorp.


Monday, March 12, 2012


My guest this week is Lisa Lutz, author the highly entertaining Spellman series. We discuss her new novel, TRAIL OF THE SPELLMANS, which debuted at #15 on the NYTBR bestseller list this week. This is Document #5 (her words) in the series, and it is a fun romp through the dysfunctional Spellman family. Her first novel, THE SPELLMAN FILES, was nominated for an Edgar Award. She has also been nominated for the Macavity Award.

What makes Ms. Lutz such an interesting writer (and interview) is the genre she writes in. She writes humorous novels, which is not easy to do. She maintains her wit and worth while spinning interesting tales. They are mysteries, but no one gets murdered. I enjoy her style and attention to detail. I particularly liked TRAIL OF THE SPELLMANS for the depth of the plot and the character development.

If you enjoy Janet Evanovich and Sue Grafton you will love Lisa Lutz. We actually discuss one of these authors at the end of the interview (we both got a laugh out of it). I hope you pick up or download TRAIL OF THE SPELLMANS. Highly recommended!

LISTEN TO the interview


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Poetry Out Loud- Part Two (X J Kennedy)

Here is part two of Poetry Out Loud, featuring X J Kennedy. This is a rarity for me. I listened to Mr. Kennedy do a poetry reading at Sewanee in 2006. It was the most entertaining reading I have ever witnessed. The next he sat down and did the same performance for my audience- so this interview has a brief introduction by me, followed by a reading by X J Kennedy. It is one of my favorites!


Listen to the interview here:

Here is Mr. Kennedy's bibliography:

In the early 1970s Kennedy and his wife Dorothy co-edited the influential journal, Counter/Measures, a precursor in the New Formalist movement to The Reaper and The Formalist. He also served as poetry editor of The Paris Review. Kennedy's poetry has been published in The New Yorker, Poetry, and The Hudson Review. He became a freelance writer in 1978.
Kennedy is most recognized for his light verse, and was the first recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Michael Braude Award for Light Verse. His first book, Nude Descending a Staircase, won the 1961 Lamont Poetry Prize of the Academy of American Poets, and his dozens of books have won awards including Guggenheim and National Arts Council fellowships, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry magazine, and a Los Angeles Times Book Award for poetry (in 1985 for Cross Ties: Selected Poems), the 1969/70 Shelley Memorial Award, the Golden Rose of the New England Poetry Club, honorary degrees from Lawrence and Adelphi Universities and Westfield State College. Kennedy received the National Council of Teachers of English Year 2000 Award for Excellence in Children's Poetry. He received the 2004 Poets' Prize for his work, The Lords of Misrule: Poems 1992-2002.
Kennedy also wrote a series of children's poetry books ("Brats"), translated Aristophanes' Lysistrata into English and edited the anthology Tygers of Wrath: Poems of Hate, Anger, and Invective (University of Georgia Press, 1981). Kennedy edited several editions of the textbook anthology Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. With his wife Dorothy and scholar Jane E. Aaron he is the editor of The Bedford Reader, a collegiate literature textbook also used for teaching to the AP English Language and Composition test.
Kennedy and his wife Dorothy have five children and six grandchildren, and reside in Lexington, Massachusetts

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Poetry Out Loud- Part One (Philip Schultz)

This month kicks off Poetry Out Loud, a nationwide program sponsored by the NEA, that features high school students from across the country reciting poetry in their classrooms. Each class selects a winner and then has a school-wide competition that must fit within the program's guidelines. The website is The school winner then moves on to the state competition. Each state selects a winner, who receives an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C. for the national competition.

The program, which began in 2006, was the brainchild of Dana Gioia, the former director of the NEA. I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Gioia on several occasions, and he has been a guest on my website. Mr. Gioia has done more than anyone else I have met to promote poetry in the United States. The goal of Poetry Out Loud is to create a national competition that has similar goals as the National Spelling Bee.

I have the privilege of teaching juniors at a high school at The First Academy, a high school located in Orlando, Florida. My classes, and my school, have participated in this program for three years now. It is amazing to see the look on students faces as they watch their classmates stand alone at the front of the classroom and read and interpret a poem from memory. It prepared from them for real-life presentations and gives them confidence to stand in front of a group. They also understand the importance of hearing 'poetry out loud'.

Over the years I have interviewed several of our country's finest living poets. I will post a new blog each week over the next month featuring a poetry interview I have done. One of my goals with my website was to create a forum for poets to read their work to a large audience. It brings me great joy to bring these interviews to you. Teachers are welcome to use any of these interview without my permission. Just spread the word. Poetry is still alive! Enjoy.

My first guest will be Philip Schultz. This interview features Mr. Schultz reading and discussing FAILURE, a book of poems that won the Pulitzer Prize.

Here is what I wrote when the interview was first broadcast in 2008:

FAILURE is a brilliant new book of poetry by Philip Schultz; his first new collection in fifteen years. Failure is something we don't like to talk about, yet it is something that most of us know a lot about. 
There is nothing wrong with failure (hopefully we learn from it). Mr. Schultz's collection is thought provoking and wise. During the interview he reads four poems aloud. 
One of my goals when I started this venture was to offer poets a venue where listeners could listen to them read their work. I believe it is the best way to experience a poem.