A chorus of encouraging voices that mix do-this instruction with companionable inspiration.



Everything you wanted to know about how to plan, draft, write, revise, publish, and market a mystery, courtesy of the cheerleaders from the Mystery Writers of America.

In a marketplace crowded with how-to-write titles, the big selling point of this one is the variety of voices behind more than 30 full-length chapters covering everything from mystery subgenres (Neil Nyren) to publishing law (Daniel Stevens), punctuated with a variety of shorter interpolations. A few of them are more pointed than the longer chapters—e.g., when Rob Hart advises, “Allow yourself the space to forget things,” Tim Maleeny says, “Love your characters, but treat them like dirt,” or C.M. Surrisi notes, “If you’re writing a mystery for kids, remember that your protagonist can’t drive and has a curfew, and no one will believe them or let them be involved.” The contributors vary in their approaches, from businesslike (Dale W. Berry and Gary Phillips on the process of creating graphic novels, Liliana Hart on self-publishing, Maddee James on cultivating an online presence) to personal (Frankie Y. Bailey on creating diverse characters, Chris Grabenstein on writing for middle schoolers, Catriona McPherson on deploying humor) to autobiographical (Rachel Howzell Hall on creating a Black female detective, Louise Penny on building a community of followers) to frankly self-promoting (T. Jefferson Parker on creating villains, Max Allan Collins on continuing someone else’s franchise). Although many familiar bromides are recycled—“All stories are character-driven,” writes Allison Brennan, and Jacqueline Winspear, Gayle Lynds, and Daniel Stashower all urge the paramount importance of research—the most entertaining moments are the inevitable disagreements that crop up, especially between Jeffery Deaver (“Always Outline!”) and editor Child (“Never Outline!”), with Deaver getting the better of the argument. Other contributors include Alex Segura, William Kent Krueger, Tess Gerritsen, and Hallie Ephron.

A chorus of encouraging voices that mix do-this instruction with companionable inspiration.

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982149-43-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.



The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A scrupulously honest and consistently thoughtful love letter to “the most intense form of reading…there is.”


The acclaimed author and translator offers thoughts on the latter art and craft.

A Pulitzer Prize–winning author of fiction in English, Lahiri moved to Rome in 2012 to immerse herself in Italian. Since then, she has published both a memoir and fiction in Italian and translated several works from Italian to English. This volume collects several pieces written over the past seven years—her translators’ notes to the novels Ties (2017), Trick (2018), and Trust (2021) by Italian writer (and friend) Domenico Starnone; stand-alone essays; and lectures and addresses—as well as an original introduction and afterword. A few themes emerge: Lahiri frequently returns to Ovid and Metamorphoses, most notably in her lecture “In Praise of Echo” and her moving afterword, which recounts her process of translating Ovid as her mother declined and died; metaphors of immigration and migration—Lahiri is both the daughter of Bengali-speaking Indian immigrants and an immigrant herself, twice over—ground other musings. Possibly the most provocative piece is “Where I Find Myself”—on the process of translating her own novel Dove mi trovo, from the original Italian into English as Whereabouts (2021)—an essay that finds her first questioning the ethics of self-translation (probed with a surgical metaphor) and then impelled to make revisions for a second Italian edition. The weakest essay is “Traduzione (stra)ordinaria / (Extra)ordinary Translation,” an appreciation of Italian revolutionary and thinker Antonio Gramsci, whose Letters From Prison reveal a linguist as ferociously compelled to investigate the process of translation as Lahiri herself. Composed originally as remarks for a panel, it reads like an elegantly annotated list of bullet points that will have readers wishing Lahiri had revised it into a cohesive essay. Readers may also find themselves envious of the author’s students of translation at Princeton, but this sharp collection will have to do. Two essays originally composed in Italian are printed in the original in an appendix.

A scrupulously honest and consistently thoughtful love letter to “the most intense form of reading…there is.”

Pub Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-691-23116-7

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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