On August 10th, we’ll be publishing TRIPLE CROSSING by celebrated journalist and investigative reporter Sebastian Rotella. Continue reading the novel Michael Connelly calls “one of the most accomplished first novels I have ever read,” and which Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, called “unflinching and provocative … a superb debut.”
Pescatore pulled up alongside two Wranglers sitting side by side on the north riverbank. He got out to talk to Garrison and an agent named Dillard, a boyish and reedy cowpoke who was telling the supervisor: “Them old boys wouldn’t pull over, so I cut on my lights and sy-reen.”
And they all rag on me, Pescatore groused to himself, because supposedly I’m the one who talks funny. He caught a glimpse of his reflection in the window of a vehicle: Pescatore was twenty-five, bantam, built low to the ground with sturdy corded arms and legs, thick black curls. He had big wary eyes and flared nostrils. He liked to play with his appearance as if he were on undercover assignments. He cultivated mustaches that made him look like a Turk, a Hells Angel, a bandit. Back in Chicago before he joined The Patrol, he had on occasion grown out his hair like the Mexican soccer players in the parks near Taylor Street. But now he was close-cropped and clean-shaven. Trying to tone it down, play the role and, as Garrison would say, get with the program.
“There’s my buddy,” Garrison said. He engaged Pescatore in a palm-smacking, knuckle-crushing handshake and let it linger with Pescatore off-balance, as if he were going to yank him forward and shove him down the concrete embankment. “You need anything, Valentine? Coffee? Water? Oxygen? We wanna keep you awake. Don’t want you running that government vehicle into a tree.”
DJS: How about some insight into your working method? For example, how long do your novels generally take, from start to finish?
DS: Every book is different, but the process is close to pregnancy — I brood for a bunch of months, and then it’s usually three months of labor pains (the actual writing). Sometimes I’m brain-pregnant for years; Expiration Date, published last year, was something I’ve been kicking around for at least a decade before I wrote the first word. Sometimes, I’m knocked up quick and the next thing I know somebody’s handing me a cigar—which was the case with Hell and Gone (the sequel to Fun and Games). The Wheelman was written between semesters of teaching college journalism 101, and just for fun, not to sell — I wrote it to convince myself that I could write a “straight” crime novel in the vein of Richard Stark and Dan J. Marlowe.
Fun and Games was a fairly easy birth: I was playing around with the idea for about six months before Mulholland bought it on a partial manuscript (50 pages), and then I spent a few months simultaneously writing and researching. (This was last summer, when you gave me that amazing tour of the Hills and — what else? — Bronson Cavern.) I knew where the story was headed, but I mostly winged it. As I drove back across the country that August, Fun and Games started to just gush out of me and delivered by mid-September.
To start getting a feel for the up and down challenge of mountain hiking, some gentle hills close to Boston, including Moose Hill in Sharon, MA (part of the Moose Hill Audubon Center) and Noanet Peak, part of Noanet Woodlands in Dover, MA, make for good practice. For a flatter, but still challenging hike, try Blueberry Hill and the Discover Hamilton Trail, both in Bradley Palmer State Park. An extra perk for novice hikers in New England: almost all of Cape Cod and Rhode Island, with their relatively flat terrain, are perfect for beginners.
2. Is Walden Pond worth a visit for literature enthusiasts?
For literature enthusiasts, yes. Fans of Walden can see a replica of Thoreau’s original cabin (located near the state park’s parking area) and then, while out on the hike, visit the actual site, marked by a sign and a giant pile of rocks. It can be a thrill to hear the same types of birdcall, smell the same scent of pine, and see the same shimmering water Thoreau did almost two centuries ago. Because the place is often packed on summer weekends (thanks to the eternal draw of Thoreau and the fact that there is a very nice swimming beach at Walden Pond), try visiting early in the morning in order to avoid the crowds.
3. Where can hikers find the most striking view?
For breathtaking views back towards Boston, nothing beats the Blue Hills Reservation’s Skyline Trail in Milton. For stunning water views, try Great Island Trail and Province Lands Trail on Cape Cod. For both water and city, take the ferry out to the Boston Harbor Islands, home to some unusual hiking opportunities and uniquely stunning vistas. For that traditional mountaintop view of rolling countryside, visit Bauneg Beg Mountain and Mount Agamenticus, both in southern Maine. From these two hills, views stretch all the way to Mount Washington!
4. What hikes do you recommend with historical significance?
Boston is known for its history and hikes that take you to significant places from the past are in no short supply. One of the highlights is Battle Road in Concord and Lexington, a gravel path that winds along the original route the Minutemen and Redcoats took during the opening battle of the American Revolution in April 1775. You can even visit the spot where Paul Revere was captured during his famous midnight ride.
5. What trail do you consider a best-kept secret?
Again and again, I’m drawn to Dogtown Woods in Gloucester, Mass. It’s a rambling woods walk that takes you past the remains of an old Colonial settlement that was abruptly abandoned in the 1700s. The people left in such a rush, so the legend goes, that they left their dogs behind, giving the place its moniker. The other curiosity of Dogtown is the Babson Boulders, a series of massive glacial erratics that an eccentric millionaire carved inspirational sayings into during the Great Depression. Short spur trails lead you to read such phrases as, “Get a Job” and “Never Try, Never Win”. Some say Dogtown is haunted. I’ve never seen any ghosts there (or many people, for that matter), but agree that the woods possess a very spooky, haunted feel.
6. Name two trails that are good for hiking with kids.
I have two kids and on most weekends you can find us out on the trail, exploring interesting terrain in places like the critter-filled woods of Beaver Brook Reservation in Hollis, NH and seaside Odiorne Point in Rye, NH. Kids will keep hiking when they know the pay-off is experiencing something unique and exciting. For my kids, these two places fit the bill—over and over and over again.
7. What kind of wildlife might hikers encounter?
Moose and bear call the woods of northern New England home, meaning that for “big animal” sighting, try forest hikes in New Hampshire and Maine. Throughout all of New England, you might come in contact with any one of a number of critters, including opossum, woodchuck, chipmunk, fisher cat, beaver, muskrat, bobcat, red fox, and white-tailed deer. Closer to the coast, look for harbor seals (especially off the coast of Maine). Notable bird species in the region include great blue heron, wild turkey, red tailed hawk, peregrine falcon, bald eagle, screech owl, barn owl, Baltimore oriole, grackle, black-capped chickadee, and northern cardinal.
8. Is it easy for city-dwelling Bostonians to escape the urban landscape and find a hiking spot close to home?
Absolutely! When I first moved to Boston, I didn’t own a car, but still managed to get out on the trail most weekends. If you’re savvy with MBTA and Commuter Rail scheduling, you can get yourself to World’s End in Hingham, Walden Woods in Concord, Battle Road in Concord and Lexington, Eastern Prom in Portland, ME, points on Cape Cod and Block Island and Newport in Rhode Island.
9. What hike do you consider the most challenging?
The trip up 5260-ft. Mount Lafayette, part of the Franconia Ridge in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, is pure, rugged mountain adventure. Climbing into a true alpine zone, the views down into Franconia Notch and beyond and unforgettable. If you’re in good shape, go for it! Truly hardy souls can combine Mount Lafayette with a visit to neighboring Mount Lincoln (another 5,000-footer) for a truly advanced loop hike.
10. What’s the best time to plan an extended hiking trip in the Boston area?
The end of June is just about perfect in New England. The days are pleasant, the mud season has dried up, and the mosquito population has yet to peak (though black flies can be heavy in June). For those combining camping and hiking, June is also perfect for having your pick of campgrounds that are booked solid in July and August. If you’re coming to New England for the fall color, try the weekend BEFORE Columbus Day for the same brilliant hues, without the crowds.
‘YOU HAVE A LOT OF SCARS, SON,’ SHE SAYS, HER ANCIENT BRIGHT EYES SCANNING MY FLESH.
‘MA’AM’, I TELL HER, ‘ I RODE A FRISKY HORSE THROUGH LIFE AND I RODE HARD. SOMETIMES I DIDN’T HOLD ON TO THE SADDLE HORN AND MY FEET WEREN’T EVEN IN THE STIRRUPS. SOMETIMES I FELL OFF, BUT EACH TIME I PULLED MYSELF UP, CLIMBED BACK ON AND RODE AGAIN. THE SCARS ARE MY MEMORIES.’
‘THE RIVER LESS RUN.’
TIM MC LAURIN.
How the Wolf knew Jimmy Page is worthy of a whole serendipitous tome. The infamous Led Zep manager, would –be thug-bruiser-coke –walking blitzkrieg, was related to one of the Wolf’s wives.
Page was still part time living in The great Beast’s lair, Aleaister Crowley’s rapidly crumbling home.
The Wolf, adrenalized on the coming Ransom gig, literally turned up on Jimmy’s doorstep. The Zep front man was still in thrall to all kinds of alchemy and the Wolf had brought along a new kid on the block, no less a 1st edition of
It’s no secret that temperatures can rise to sizzling in the South. Need proof? The current heat wave has temps topping 100 degrees in Charlotte! However, there’s no need to sit in front of a fan until fall. Here are a few creative ways to beat the heat:
Race down the waterslides or challenge the kids to a soaker gun shootout at Ray’s Splash Planet where there is no shortage of H2O to keep things cool. Operated by the parks and recreation department, Ray’s Splash Planet was the first indoor waterpark in the state. The massive indoor complex boasts a three-story waterslide, lazy river and a quick current pool called The Vortex as well as lap lanes for swimming and water basketball and volleyball.
For a faster paced adventure, the U.S. National Whitewater Center is the place to be. Strap on a lifejacket and race down the rapids in the manmade river or rent a kayak or and glide across the Catawba River (abandoning ship for a swim is highly recommended)! This summer, the Whitewater Center started renting standup paddleboards for more wet and wild fun. After you’re sufficiently waterlogged, grab with a cold one at the River’s Edge Bar and Grill.
See how much of a splash you can create on the bumper boats at NASCAR SpeedPark. If you’re still sweating after bumping tubes, head into the air conditioned laser tag arena.
When the mercury rises, the most popular spot in Charlotte is Boomerang Bay, the 20-acre waterpark at Carowinds. Slather on some sunscreen and spend the day playing in the Australian-themed waterpark. Take a dip in Bondi Beach, a 600,000-gallon wave pool, float along Crocodile Run, the lazy river, or speeding down one of four waterslides in the park, including Platypus Plunge and Sydney Sidewinder.
Just because it’s 100 degrees outside doesn’t mean you can’t go ice skating. Extreme Ice Center has two rinks for hours of public skating fun. Carolina Broomball and The Charlotte Centre Curling Club also call the rink home; call ahead to see if there is a pickup game going on and try your hand at a cool new sport.
If it’s truly too hot to be moving around, grab a box of popcorn and spend the afternoon watching the latest Hollywood blockbusters at the EpiCentre Theaters where the only thing colder than the draft beer served in the concession stand, is the a/c.
DJS: Fun and Games. One of my favorite Outer Limits episode titles, by the way. But it begs the question: How are you with titles? Are they an afterthought, a nuisance, or essential? Do you nail them before or after the process of writing a book?
DS: I obsess over titles long before an editor (or even my agent) see anything. I pretty much have to have the right title on a novel before it’ll flow; I’ve never started one with TK Title at the top.
Something I’ve never, ever done in all my 40-something years of traveling.
I missed my flight.
Not just any old flight.
But my flight back home to Salvador
– which, actually entailed three flights:
1) New York-Charlotte
2) Charlotte-Rio de Janeiro
3) Rio de Janeiro-Salvador
(all of which works out to around 14 hours in the air and 20 hours in limbo).
Amazingly, I have absolutely no great excuse for having missed this flight – beyond the fact that I was completely and utterly convinced that I was departing NYC on July 19 and arriving in Brazil on July 20.
Although I had no paper ticket, or even a print-out of my e-ticket, a great, bold 19, accompanied by a great, bold 20, had installed themselves in my brain and had been living there for quite some time. So indelibly were they tattooed upon my mind’s agenda that not even for a split second did I entertain the thought that I was perhaps not flying out of La Guardia airport on the 19th of July.
My only doubt was the time of my departure. As such, on the 18th of July, after a leisurely farewell lunch with a friend in Manhattan, followed by some even more leisurely browsing for last-minute reading material at The Strand bookstore, I leisurely returned home to my sister’s house in Astoria, where I opened my e-mail, and was horrified to discover that my flight from New York to Charlotte was about to take off in 13 minutes!
My first reaction was shock and utter disbelief; my trust in a July 19th departure date was so absolute that I considered the “18” staring up at me to be some hacker’s hoax.
I didn’t freak out until I called the US Airways reservation number and an agent robotically informed me that, aside from paying a $200 change fee, I’d also have to fork out the difference between my original fare and the current fare. She then proceeded to nonchalantly tell me that if I wanted to board a flight the following day this “difference” would amount to 3,000 dollars!!!!
While inwardly imploding, I had the presence of mind to ask about other possible departure dates. Although most of the rest of the week and all of the week after were booked solid, there was a lone flight available on the 21rst of July that I could have for just $600….
After hanging up the phone, $800 poorer, I was shell-shocked (not to mention filled with self-loathing). To help alleviate the pain (and shame), my sister gently led me out of her house and around the corner to the Astor Bake Shop, her local sanctuary, where she ministered to me by ordering a glass of red wine and a big platter of delicious garlic and herb French fries.
One of the waiters at Astor Bake Shop is Luiz, a Brazilian from the state of Minas Gerais, with whom my sister and I always speak in Portuguese. Luiz was working that fateful night and immediately approached us to inquire about the “I-can’t-believe-what-a jerk-I-am” expression that was obviously plastered all over my face.
Luiz expressed his sympathy by making sure that my wine glass was extra full and that the garlic fries were extra crisp and garlicky. He also generously confessed to having missed two flights in his lifetime as well. However, the most interesting thing Luiz had to say about my missing my flight was this:
“Isto é seu inconsciente querendo ficar.”
i.e. he placed the blame for my missed flight squarely upon the shoulders of my unconscious, whose desire was, obviously, to stay in New York.
As I let the wine do its work, I had to admit that Luiz perhaps had a point – although, at the same time, I didn’t like to think that my unconscious was irresponsible enough to cause me (us?) to part with $800.
Things got even more interesting the next morning when I woke up and checked my e-mails . The previous night, I had written a quick e-mail to my ex, also named Luiz, in São Paulo, informing him of my changed arrival dates and of what an idiot I was.
In his reply, Luiz, who is also from Minas Gerais, cut right to the chase. Without wasting time on the usual “Oi”s, “Ola”s, or “Tudo bem”s, his e-mail began with the following line:
“Isto é seu inconsciente querendo ficar…”
Which was, word for word, the exact same morsel of psycho-philosophical wisdom that the other Luiz from Minas, at the other end of the continent, had bestowed upon me only hours earlier.
Which seemed to me to be the most amazing coincidence.
And which made me laugh my guts out.
And actually made both me – and my rebellious unconscious – look forward to returning home to Brazil.
(Where I am now – yes, I made it!)
Moral of the Story: Don’t be ruled by your unconscious; always check your departure date days in advance. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to have a Luiz or two (from Minas) in your life.
(Read this post on the Reagan Arthur Books blog here.)
Sara: The End of Everythingshares common themes with your previous four novels, yet stands out as a departure—it takes place in the 1980s (your other novels took place before you were born), the narrator is 13 years old (your previous narrators were adult women), and it takes place in the suburbs (as opposed to the urban settings of your other books). How is The End of Everythingthe same? How is it different?
Megan: I wanted to try something new, to shake things up for myself. To move out of the world of nightclubs, racetracks, movie studios and, most of all, to move out of the past, worlds I never knew. When I first started writing, though, everything felt foreign, puzzling. I didn’t know if I could adapt my style to this new setting and time period. My past books were so influenced by Golden Age Hollywood movies and that heightened style. And I’d done this foolish thing, giving myself a 13-year-old girl as my narrator. But as I wrote, I just had this revelation that, for most 13-year-old girls, life is dramatic and the stakes feel dramatically high. It’s all desire and fear and longing and disillusion. Everything feels big and terrifying and thrilling. And my past books, I see now, are so much about women feeling trapped and seeking a way out, at any cost. And feeling trapped, and wanting out, is very much the state of being 13. Continue reading “Megan Abbott Interviewed by Sara Gran”→