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Kitties in the Christmas Stocking: Local Author Connie Corcoran Wilson Releases a New Children's Book for the Holidays PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Literature
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 21 November 2011 06:00

Connie Corcoran Wilson with granddaughters Ava and Elise WilsonSome grandmas, during the holiday season, will give toys as presents. Others will give clothes.

Connie Corcoran Wilson, though, is giving her granddaughters a book ... that she wrote and published herself.

“It’s my Christmas gift to the girls,” says Wilson of her new children’s book Christmas Cats in Silly Hats, the second self-published work by the much-published local author. “I wrote it for them, and thought it would be a nice present.

“Of course,” she says with a laugh, “marketing-wise, I didn’t think it would be such a dumb thing, either. You might not rush out to buy it in July, but in December ... !”

 
“Go Back to China”: Bo Caldwell, November 30 at St. Ambrose University’s Rogalski Center PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Literature
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 17 November 2011 14:34

Bo CaldwellGiven that her November 30 lecture at St. Ambrose University is titled “Finding Faith & Fiction in China,” it seems odd that author Bo Caldwell has never actually been to the country.

Once you know her story, though, the title of the lecture (being presented as part of the school’s academic-year-long China Project) makes more sense. Caldwell might not have found faith and fiction in the physical China, but she did in a China that has disappeared – the place where her grandparents and uncle lived and worked in the first half of the 20th Century.

“I was writing about a China that was long ago,” Caldwell explained in an interview last month. “And the country and the city of Shanghai have changed so dramatically. ... I didn’t feel like it would help me that much to go there.”

She added that “China has a connection in a home-like way. That’s where my grandparents spent much of their lives. It’s where my mom and her siblings grew up. Chinese things when I was a kid felt like home in a weird way.”

The Distant Land of My Father was published in 2001 and follows the outline of her uncle’s life in Shanghai – how he lost his wealth and almost his life during a tumultuous time. Last year’s City of Tranquil Light is based on the experiences of her missionary grandparents in China.

That makes clear how Caldwell found fiction in China. But faith was a function of breast cancer and its treatment, both of which changed the nature of the book that would become City of Tranquil Light.

 
A Lifelong Commitment to Iowa: Zachary Michael Jack, July 21 at the Bettendorf Public Library PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Literature
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 14 July 2011 07:24

Zachary Michael Jack

Author Zachary Michael Jack is a seventh-generation Iowan – the son of a farmer – who lives in Jones County, and like many people with deep roots in the Hawkeye State, his identity is intertwined with his home.

“It’s a state that we imprint very strongly on where we’re from and [that] we consider a lifelong commitment,” he said in a phone interview this week. “Each person manifests that advocacy in different ways. ...

“If you do love a place, part of that love ultimately evolves into advocacy for that place. ... Kind of put your weight behind things that are homegrown.”

The 37-year-old Jack – who will speak and read from his creative-nonfiction book Native Soulmate (scheduled for September release) at the Bettendorf Public Library on July 21 – is throwing his weight around in writing. An associate professor of English at North Central College, he has edited Iowa: The Definitive Collection and Letters to a Young Iowan: Good Sense from the Good Folks of Iowa for Young People Everywhere.

But with last year’s What Cheer, Jack started on a new path. It was his first novel, and a mystery wrapped around a love story – in the conventional man-and-woman sense, but also reflecting a love of the Midwest and of traditions and things nearly lost to time.

 
A Voice for the Voiceless: Heather Gudenkauf, April 16 at the Bettendorf Public Library PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Literature
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 06 April 2011 21:55

Heather GudenkaufLike many people, Heather Gudenkauf thought she had a novel in her. But that’s where her story breaks from the usual.

She wrote that novel and got a literary agent. And then she found a publisher (Mira Books, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises) willing to give her an advance-against-royalties deal. And then The Weight of Slience sold more than 300,000 copies.

It’s rare enough for an aspiring author to actually finish that dreamed-of novel, but in the book world today, it’s virtually unheard of for a previously unpublished writer to have the success that Gudenkauf has found. “That’s what I’ve been told,” she said in a phone interview last week, promoting her April 16 appearance at the Bettendorf Public Library.

 
You’ve Had Your Six: James Bond Author Raymond Benson, March 30 at the Bettendorf Public Library PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Literature
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 09 March 2011 09:03

Raymond BensonWhen John Gardner retired from writing James Bond novels (after 15 years and 14 books) in 1996, the company that oversaw creator Ian Fleming’s literary estate chose as his successor somebody with impeccable credentials.

Despite being an American, Raymond Benson knew 007 – both the literary and cinematic character – backward and forward. In the mid-1980s, he had written and designed three Bond-based games: two computer titles and a role-playing adventure. More importantly, he had researched and authored The James Bond Bedside Companion, an unauthorized and exhaustive look at Fleming and the Bond books and movies that was originally published in 1984 and updated in 1988.

From 1997 to 2002, Benson wrote six original James Bond novels, three novelizations based on Bond movies, and three Bond short stories.

But it would be a disservice to pigeonhole the 55-year-old Benson – who lives in the Chicago suburbs – as merely a Bond writer. He has had a varied career in theatre, music, video games, and novels beyond his Bond output. His latest book, Homefront: The Voice of Freedom, is a prequel to the upcoming video game Homefront. (The book was co-written by John Milius, who also wrote the game.) And in September, Benson will publish the first of what he hopes to be a five-novel series of adventures aimed at women called The Black Stiletto. As he put it in a phone interview last week: “I’ve moved on from Bond.”

Well, mostly. Benson will be discussing the British super-spy at a March 30 lecture at the Bettendorf Public Library, and like the Bedside Companion, his lecture will cover all things Bond.

 
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