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An Evening with Dan Brown

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How do you welcome an author who has sold 200 million books worldwide to New York’s Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center? Show the 2,000 fans in the audience where he lives, of course. At this launch event for Dan Brown's latest Robert Langdon thriller Inferno, Today Show host Matt Lauer introduced the author with a clip from an interview he conducted at Brown's home in Exeter, New Hampshire. This rare glimpse into Brown's life reveals that his house closely resembles his novels--full of beautiful old-world furnishings and secret passages hidden behind paintings and rotating bookshelves. (Imagine Tolkien creating a life-size replica of the Shire in his backyard.)

This turned out to be the perfect kick off to the evening, during which Brown opened up about his personal life and the road to his international success. Taking the podium, Brown talked about how his upbringing influenced the major theme of his novels: the conflict between religion and science. As it turns out, this tension manifested itself at a very young age. Brown's mother was the church organist and choir leader and his father was a math teacher. To illustrate their different beliefs, Brown held up the vanity license plates his parents had when he was a child: one read KYRIE (the Latin word for Lord) and the other said METRIC.

He thanked his parents for their lifelong support, noting that if you encourage your kids to pursue creative fields, you will either end up with a happy kid whose rent you'll be paying forever, or they will be popular enough to speak at Avery Fisher Hall and make fun of you.

Continue reading "An Evening with Dan Brown" »

2013 Edgar Award Winners Announced: "Live By Night" Gets Best Novel

Edgar "Some years later, on a tugboat in the Gulf of Mexico, Joe Coughlin's feet were placed in a tub of cement. Twelve gunmen stood waiting until they got far enough out to sea to throw him overboard, while Joe listened to the engine chug and watched the water churn white at the stern. And it occurred to him that almost everything of note that had ever happened in his life--good or bad-- had been set in motion the morning he first crossed paths with Emma Gould."

So begins Live by Night, the latest novel by Dennis Lehane, acclaimed author of Gone, Baby, Gone and Mystic River, and the recipient of the 2013 Edgar Award for Best Novel.

The annual dinner and ceremony celebrating the year's best writing (according to the Mystery Writers of America) took place Thursday night at the Grand Hyatt in New York City, where attendees were "Dressed to Kill" and nominees vied for the prize in Best First Novel, Best Fact Crime, Best Short Story, Best Television Episode Teleplay, and more. 

The full list of winners and nominees can be found here, including:

Best Novel

Live by Night

Best First Novel

The Expats

 

Best Paperback Original

The Last Policeman

 

 

Best Fact Crime

Midnight in Peking

Best Critical Biography

The Scientific Sherlock

Young Adult

Code Name Verity

 

Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees. Visit TheEdgars.com to see the contenders and outcomes all fifteen categories.

 

Marvelous Books on Marilyn Monroe

"It was a strange feeling, as if I were two people. One of them was Norma Jeane from the orphanage who belonged to nobody. The other was someone whose name I didn’t know. But I knew where she belonged. She belonged to the ocean and the sky and the whole world." –Marilyn Monroe

Metamorphosis-MMSince Marilyn Monroe’s death on August 5, 1962, at age 36, hundreds of books have emerged, some celebrating her legacy, others scrutinizing her life in obsessive detail. Controversies still swirl, but we know many of the facts: She grew up in foster homes, devoutly religious and shy. She married her first husband at age 15, and when he went off to war, she started modeling and found the power in a snug sweater to keep up troop morale. She worked her curves on and off camera, propelling herself from wholesome girl next door to ultimate platinum vamp—a transformation most stunningly depicted in David Willis’s Metamorphosis. We learn from Marilyn in Fashion that she often worked with designers to create looks to enhance the Marilyn image, defining sophisticated '50s style. She had dozens of affairs (some public, others deeply private), but Norman Mailer noted—in his seminal 1973 biography, Marilyn, later paired with Bern Stern’s photographs in a lavish Taschen tome—that her “greatest love affair was conceivably with the camera.”

Much of her life beyond her legend remains enigmatic. Marilyn famously said she didn’t want to be rich, she just wanted to be wonderful, and too often she didn't realize that she already was. On film, we saw Marilyn luminously at home in her body: Lawrence Schiller, who photographed her on the sets of Let's Make Love and Something's Got to Give, describes her in Marilyn & Me as a tough, ambitious agent in her own career and a self-assured model.

But her incandescent confidence was a veneer barely concealing her vulnerability and self-doubt, a conflict masterfully dramatized by Joyce Carol Oates in her novel Blonde. Marilyn grew to deeply resent and resist the prison of the sex symbol role in which she had cast herself. She longed to be taken seriously, and despite her stutter and deepening battles with addiction and depression, she devoted herself to becoming a great dramatic actress (beyond the comic genius so evident in Some Like It Hot), and she showed every sign of getting there.

MM-My-StoryShe made up for a missed education by devouring books, writing poetry, and developing intense friendships and affairs with artists, intellectuals, and, most (in)famously, politicians like the Kennedys. Some believe that her autobiography, My Story, was altered after her death to the point that it’s not entirely reliable, but her genuine wit and intelligence is undeniable. Lois Banner's MM—Personal offers the most revealing look inside her everyday life (photos and art and other objects that mattered to her), while we see the introspective, intellectually hungry Marilyn most directly in Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters, which culminates in a spread of her most cherished books.

 Many assert that Marilyn was coming into her own as an artist and learning to speak with her own voice just as her life ended. Adam Braver's new novel, Misfit, centering on her last weekend at Frank Sinatra's Lake Tahoe resort, brilliantly imagines her struggle to create an authentic identity and the tragic consequences.  Several writers and historians contend, citing convincing detail, that she was decisively silenced: Donald Wolfe makes a meticulously researched    homicide case in his nonfiction work, The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe, and J.I. Baker's The Empty Glass is a breathlessly paranoid noir thriller that draws on much of the same evidence.

MM-Passion-ParadoxI feel the full loss of her when I imagine how a well, vibrant Marilyn—a woman who pushed the cultural boundaries of the 1950s until they strained at their seams—might have expressed her creative and intellectual self over the course of a full lifetime. Her husband Arthur Miller observed that "to have survived,  she  would have had to be either more cynical or even further from reality than she was. Instead, she was a poet on a street corner trying to recite to a crowd pulling at her clothes.” Lois Banner describes in Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox how Marilyn's private funeral, arranged by Joe DiMaggio (whom Marilyn had planned to remarry that same week) ended with fans rushing her grave "in one big wave," tearing apart every floral tribute in their frenzied desire for souvenirs—much like people had tried to take pieces of her dress or hair when she was alive. Marilyn gave too much to deserve that. Books make much more marvelous souvenirs. –Mari Lynne Malcolm

See more of our favorite books about Marilyn Monroe.

Exclusive: "Road to Perdition" Writer on Going From Book to Screen, and Back Again

Lady, Go DieMax Allan Collins writes movies, graphic novels (Road to Perdition) and mysteries (Lady, Go Die, released last month). In this exclusive guest post, Collins talks about the challenges of writing for the screen vs. novels (and graphic novels), and how lessons of independent filmmaking help him make the transition.

I’m a storyteller.

That’s how I think of myself, and describe myself. Everything else is a compartment: mystery writer; screenwriter; comics writer; non-fiction writer; songwriter; and so on … almost always with “writer” part of the description, but “storyteller” at the heart of the beast.

Those various compartments grow out of two things: enthusiasm and necessity. Enthusiasm is what drives me — I get an idea for a story, and I want to pursue it. Necessity is the need to keep the writing projects flowing, because this is my profession and I need to make a living. You know, to keep the lights on in the joint.

That means I need to be flexible and versatile. Starting out, I thought of myself as a mystery writer, and writing mystery novels was the goal. But I was always a big fan of movies and comics, so when I’ve been given the chance to work in those fields, I’ve grabbed it.

On the other hand, a lot of writers can’t make the transition into another form. The list of novelists who are miserable screenwriters is a long one; and the list of screenwriters who become successful novelists is a short one.

The ability to write both novels and screenplays well requires developing an appreciation and an understanding of each form. The novelist who wanders blithely into screenwriting will inevitably write scenes that would work fine in a novel but are inappropriate for a film. A novelist will typically write a dialogue scene that is either too long, too short, or not necessary. Novelists have no budgetary restrictions in fashioning a novel, a freedom that is death on a screenplay, where every dollar — like every second — counts.

Having directed independent films, I know things most novelists don’t — like the need to minimize the number of actors and locations. These kind of basic technical concerns are a must in screenwriting.

But the most important factor is understanding that novels are interior and films are exterior. A novel is told from inside a character or characters, and a film is told from the outside of the characters, reporting their actions and reactions.

Read more at Hollywonk, the official blog of Amazon Studios.

Edgar Award Winners Announced, Including Best Novel: "Gone"

EdgarIn Mo Hayder's Gone, a carjacking is actually a kidnapping, potential clues lurk inside a tunnel, and almost nothing turns out to be what it seems to be. That's what the keepers of the Edgar Allen Poe spirit must be looking for each year when they (the Mystery Writers of America), in honor of Poe's birthday, dole out the prestigious Edgar Awards. Hayden's sinister and suspenseful Gone won the best novel award, and more than a dozen other winners were announced Thursday in New York, in such categories as best paperback original, best critical biographical, best short story, and best TV episode.

The full list of winners and nominees can be found here. Among them: 

GoneBest Novel

Best First Novel

Continue reading "Edgar Award Winners Announced, Including Best Novel: "Gone"" »

Exclusive Video from Author Patricia Cornwell

We at Amazon had the pleasure of receiving this exclusive video from Patricia Cornwell, author of the popular Scarpetta series--which, as a body of work has won just about every award available to mystery/thriller writers, as well as being a cult favorite among fans. In anticipation of the latest Kay Scarpetta installment, Red Mist, Cornwell offers a meta-perspective of her character's psyche as she delves into the past to solve an old murder.

Best Mystery and Thriller Books of the Year

This year's best Mystery & Thrillers span the genre, from psychological or technological thrillers to murder-mysteries. But they all have one thing in common: they kept us reading late into the night, desperate to find out what happens next.

S. J. Watson's debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, BeforeIGotoSleepgripped our imaginations back in June and has haunted us ever since. Christine forgets everything while she sleeps at night. When she wakes up, she depends on her husband, Ben, to fill in her memory for her. She keeps a daily journal in an attempt to jog her memory, and one morning she opens it to read: "Don't trust Ben." Equal parts fascinating and terrifying, Before I Go to Sleep is impossible to put down. The questions it raises (how can our past define us if we can't remember it? What happens if you can't trust anyone--not even yourself?) will linger long after the last page is turned.

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J.A. Konrath and Blake Crouch Review Barry Eisler's "The Detachment"

The_DetachmentBestselling authors J.A. Konrath and Blake Crouch are the co-writers of the thriller Stirred, available on Kindle November 22, 2011, and in paperback on February 21, 2012. We asked them to review Barry Eisler's latest thriller, The Detachment... and did they ever review it. Read on for one of the funniest guest reviews we've seen in a long time:

J.A. Konrath: I'm delighted to be the author asked to do a guest review of Barry Eisler's latest John Rain thriller, The Detachment. I really think this book--

Blake Crouch: Hold on. I thought I was the author asked to do a guest review.

J.A.: You were asked, too? Well, I'm pretty sure I was asked first.

Blake: I doubt that. You were probably the back-up in case I was too busy.

J.A.: I'm 100% positive you were the back-up, because I'm 100% sure I liked The Detachment more than you did. I think it's Eisler's best book, and I really liked the other eight, plus his Kindle short stories The Lost Coast and Paris Is A Bitch.

Blake: I agree The Detachment is his best, and that's not blowing smoke. I read this book on a 12-hour flight, after I'd already been up for 18 hours. Anything less than flat-out riveting and I would've instantly been asleep. It was like literary adrenaline.

J.A.: Well, I was invited to go to the White House to drink beer with Obama, but I said no because I was so engrossed in the story.

Blake: You were not invited to the White House.

J.A.: I was. And the President wanted to give me a medal. But I had to find out how The Detachment ended, so I was forced to decline. That's how much I liked the book.

Continue reading "J.A. Konrath and Blake Crouch Review Barry Eisler's "The Detachment"" »

Guest Essay: Jeff Abbott on Building a Hero

Jeff-abbott

Jeff Abbott is the international-bestselling, award-winning author of ten mystery and suspense novels, including Adrenaline, available tomorrow (July 1).

Writing a new crime or suspense series is a bit like getting married. You tie yourself and your future to your new creation. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your new series hero. Not to mention all the supporting cast (think of them as in-laws or your spouse’s close friends). You have to create with care when you start a new series, or you’ll quickly find yourself stuck in dead ends.

The key is in how you build the hero of your story. He or she must carry the world of your fiction. And in creating the hero for my new series, I probably invested more thought than I ever had before on fleshing him out before I started writing.

I had written four thrillers in a row when I got the idea for a new series. I’d thought of doing a series because readers often asked if the main characters from my thrillers would be returning for more adventures. I said, I’ll do a series if the right idea comes. And one day at my desk—I was doodling a picture of a globe, and for some odd reason drew a martini glass beneath it—Sam Capra came in a flash: an ex-CIA agent who ends up owning bars around the world.

Ex-CIA. Bars. All over the world.

The idea stopped me cold, and then I felt warm, because the idea felt so right. The very idea suggested intrigue, foreign locales, colorful characters. A man with the skills of a spy, but without the bureaucracy or the rules; and bars around the world, meaning I could let him find adventure (and a new supporting cast, if I liked) in locales both plain and exotic. The bars would be an entrée for him into danger, a reason to pull him into cases, a legitimate excuse to travel the world; the settings would be widely varied. At the same time I realized there would be a consistent backdrop: a dark underworld of crime and intrigue, one tied to the rise of global crime syndicates, some of whom wield more economic power than major corporations. (Did you know twenty percent of the world’s economy is illicit now? It means about 14 trillion dollars worth of illegal activity.) The cities would change, but that fact of underlying criminality would be a constant for Sam.

Continue reading "Guest Essay: Jeff Abbott on Building a Hero" »

The 2011 Edgar Award Winners

Forget the royal wedding news today--it's all about the Edgar Awards! Honoring the best in mystery fiction and nonfiction produced the previous year, the Edgars began in 1954 and are named in honor of Edgar Allan Poe. Here are the winners, as announced last night at the Mystery Writers of America banquet (sorry the hats weren't as good as those worn at Westminster Abbey, so we'll just stick to announcing the books):

Best Novel: The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton

Best First Novel (by an American): Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva

Best Paperback Original: Long Time Coming by Robert Goddard

Best Fact Crime: Scoreboard, Baby by Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry

Best Critical/Biographical: Charlie Chan by Yunte Huang

Best Young Adult: Interrogation of Gabriel James by Charlie Price

Best Juvenile: The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy by Dori Hillestad Butler

Best Short Story: "The Scent of Lilacs" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Doug Allyn

Grand Master Award: Sara Paretsky

See our full list of nominees and winners for this year and previous ones.

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