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Amazon Asks: Elizabeth Silver on 'The Execution of Noa P. Singleton'

Eliz-silverWhat's the elevator pitch for your book (which was selected as our Best Books of the Month Debut Spotlight)?

The Execution of Noa P. Singleton is the narrative of a young woman on death row in Pennsylvania and her relationship with her victim’s mother, an attorney, who initiates a clemency petition on her behalf six months before her execution date. It’s a character-driven story about guilt, punishment, remorse, and gradations of the truth.

Describe your book in 10 words?

A woman on death row chats with her victim’s mother.

What's on your nightstand/bedside table/Kindle?

Transatlantic by Colum McCann, The Son by Philipp Meyer, and on audio May We Be Forgiven by AM Homes.

Top 5 favorite books of all time?

Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Important book you never read?

War and Peace. My husband has read it and I haven’t. It’s a point of contention.

Book that changed your life?

I’m going to try to narrow it down: Bird by Bird changed my attitude and focus on writing, while Crime and Punishment taught me the psychological and moral power of literature, and We Need To Talk About Kevin inspired me, in part, to write The Execution of Noa P. Singleton, so it changed the last five years of my life.

Favorite book(s) as a child?

I devoured the Anne of Green Gable series. My parents gave me a special edition hardback copy with gold trim and a fancy spine and I thought it was the most astonishing gift in the world. In adolescence, I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

What's your most memorable author moment?

Can I have two? The first is standing outside on a street corner in Koreatown in Los Angeles hearing my agent tell me we have an offer. I might have hyperventilated and cried for an inordinate amount of time. A second was my first book signing at Book Expo this May. It went on for 90 minutes, which to me seemed like the longest signing I could have fantasized. To be able to celebrate the novel with everyone who had worked on it as a team was an extraordinary experience I don’t imagine will happen again.

What talent or superpower would you like to have (not including flight or invisibility)?

Time travel – forward and back. I’d love to be a voyeur in the past, sit in on cultural events and experience how we lived before electricity. I can vaguely remember my life before the internet, but it probably doesn’t take a superpower to revive those memories. It would also be fun to see where we stand in the future. I’d like to pop into a time with a woman as president and pray I don’t need a superpower for that.

What are you obsessed with now?

Photography. I absolutely adore it and am collecting lenses more than my wallet permits. Also Homeland. When does it come back?

What are you stressed about now?

Moving.  I’ve been living on a futon at my in-laws for over a year since I moved to Los Angeles and am about to move into my own place. Right now, I’m knee-deep in renovation and am stressed out about contractors and HOAs and weird things like dry wall and underlayment. This is a whole new world to me. 

NoaWhat are you psyched about now?

Sorry for the obvious--but the publication of Noa! I’ve been writing fiction for fifteen years and I’m still pinching myself that I’m here, getting to answer questions like this, and see my book on the shelves.

What's your most prized/treasured possession?

A gold ring with my grandmother’s initials that my grandfather gave to her after they were reunited following their separate, but equally miraculous survival from the Nazis in Poland. She gave her wedding ring away to save my infant father and he gifted her with this new ring years later. We have the same initials. 

Author crush?

I sort of have a permanent author crush on Jennifer Egan, but am cheating on her with Claire Messud and Ben Fountain.

What's next for you?

I’m working on some short pieces-short stories and essays--and am really enjoying the form. I’d also like to play around with a film script before jumping back into a new novel.

Favorite line?

This is my favorite first line to a novel: ''I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.'' – Middlesex, Geoffrey Eugenides

What's favorite method of procrastination?

At the moment, it’s Facebook and I’ve just discovered Twitter. I’m trying to learn how it works and I fear my learning curve is sucking up a bit too much time.

What do you collect?

Bookmarks from every city and country to which I’ve traveled. I feel that’s probably a bit cliché, but I’ll own it.

Best piece of fan mail you ever got?

Everything is still so new, so perhaps ask me again in a year. Thus far, I received a beautiful letter from my very first babysitter, which was so kind and thoughtful. She also went through her predictions for my future and my siblings’ future and some of them were hysterical.



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The Execution of Noa. P Singleton sounds like a great book. The reviews are wonderful too. Congrats to the author.

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