Welcome to the May edition of Book Talk! Many of you who are on Instagram are already familiar with this month's guest, Corinne Noel Cunningham. Corinne's writing has been published in magazines such as Kindred and Mamalode and featured on numerous blogs. She is currently working on her first novel and sharing her progress on her website. Welcome, Corinne!
1. What books are currently on your nightstand?
At the moment there’s quite a few! American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers by Nancy Jo Sales, Honey from Stone by Chet Raymo, Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller, The Cows by Dawn O’Porter, and Eat Up by Ruby Tandoh. I love having a stack of books at the ready. Often times I’ll pick up different ones depending on my mood and the time of day.
2. What’s the last really good book you read?
The last book I read, actually! Louisiana Catch by Sweta Srivastava Vikram. I read the first half over the course of two days, and then when I tried to put it down and go to sleep on that second night, I had to sit up and finish the whole thing! I didn’t get to sleep until well after midnight, but I had to know how it ended. Louisiana Catch is an ambitious book, full of complex characters and timely sub plots. I absolutely recommend it.
3. How do you choose what to read?
If I have anything out from the library, I automatically read that first, but otherwise it depends on my mood. Sometimes I want a good novel, other times a nonfiction title fits the bill. That being said, I love a good new release and that, combined with the fact that I’m not terribly patient or good at waiting, if a novel I’ve pre-ordered shows up on my doorstep or on my Kindle, I’ll toss everything else aside and dive in!
4. Do you finish every book that you start? If you don’t, how do you decide when to stop reading?
No, I don’t. There’s too many books out there, and we’re only here for a finite amount of time. Generally I know within the first quarter of a book if I’m going to stick it out or not. And if not… I’ll peek at the last few chapters so I know what happened. The red flags for me are if I’m rolling my eyes at the quality of writing (which has to be really bad, because I appreciate most efforts, being a writer myself and knowing how much work it takes to write a book), or if there’s too much gratuitous violence, or if it’s just way too suspenseful.
5. Are there any authors whose work you have read completely?
There’s a few: JoJo Moyes, Sarah Addison Allen, Susanna Kearsley, Anne Lamott, and Kelly Corrigan.
6. Do you remember the first ‘grown-up’ book you read?
I don’t remember a specific one, but I do remember reading a lot of Agatha Christie novels as a pre-teen, as well as The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun. They seemed very grown up at the time, and I remember feeling so sophisticated while reading them, and then discussing them with my crime novel loving grandmother!
7. Are there any books from your childhood that you introduced to your own children?
Loads! Charlotte’s Web, The BFG, Stuart Little, Make Way for Ducklings, Blueberries for Sal, Madeline, A Light in the Attic, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and The Random House Book of Poetry for Children are only the first bunch that come to mind. It’s been one of the great joys of my life to share written words with my children and to foster a love of books and reading.
8. If you could hang out with a literary character for the day, who would it be?
It’s a toss up between Anne of Green Gables and Nancy Drew. I’d love to hang out with Anne to explore and take in Prince Edward Island and to bask in the glow of her imagination… and Nancy Drew was not only fashionable, but smart as a whip and had all sorts of adventures, so I’d love a little of that to rub off on me after spending time with her.
9. Which three authors (living or dead) would you invite to join you for dinner and why?
I’d invite Kate DiCamillo, Anne Lamott, and JoJo Moyes because the combination the of these three power house writers, who write with such humanity, grace, and humor, would make for an unforgettable dinner.
10. When you are working on a novel is there a writer whose work you turn to for inspiration? Any books on writing that you would recommend to other aspiring novelists?
I’d have to say, having JoJo Moyes and Sarah Addison Allen’s books on hand to turn to when I forgot how to write (which does happen… some days you sit down at the computer and poof, all of your knowledge about writing disappears!) was a huge help. Not that I wanted to write exactly like either of them, but their books remind me what I love about novels, how a writer can bring the reader into a story effortlessly and immediately, and how they carry a story along. As for books on writing, I’ve read more than my share! Favorites are Still Writing by Dani Shapiro, How to Make a Literary Life by Caroline See, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, Stop Worrying Start Writing by Sarah Painter, and last but not least, If You Want to Write by Brenda Uleand. For novelists in particular, I found Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland to be insightful, posed the right questions for a novelist to ask of his or her work in progress, and just the thing I needed to read at just the right time - which is half the battle when it comes to books on writing.
Corinne Cunningham is a homeschooling mother, writer, knitter, avid reader and beach enthusiast. She is currently in the process of completing her first novel, and looks forward to the road ahead to publication. Corinne lives on the coast of Massachusetts with her husband and two children.
Thank you, Corinne, for being this month's special guest! I know I am not the only one jotting down all of your book recommendations! I have a special guest lined up for next month, someone dear to my heart. My daughter, Mary Van Akin, Assistant Director of Publicity for MacMillan Kids, will be sharing her thoughts on books and living a readerly life. Stay tuned!