Carrie Runnals

The Piano Teacher, Janice Y. K. Lee

The Piano Teacher

by Janice Y. K. Lee

Piano

In 1942, Will Truesdale, an Englishman newly arrived in Hong Kong, falls headlong into a passionate relationship with Trudy Liang, a beautiful Eurasian socialite. But their love affair is soon threatened by the invasion of the Japanese, with terrible consequences for both of them, and for members of their fragile community who will betray each other in the darkest days of the war.

Ten years later, Claire Pendleton comes to Hong Kong and is hired by the wealthy Chen family as their daughter’s piano teacher. A provincial English newlywed, Claire is seduced by the colony’s heady social life. She soon begins an affair, only to discover that her lover’s enigmatic demeanor hides a devastating past. As the threads of this spellbinding novel intertwine and converge, a landscape of impossible choices emerges—between love and safety, courage and survival, the present and, above all, the past.

Carrie’s Conversation with Janice:

Carrie:  In general, how does an idea for a book come to you ~ does it perk slowly in your mind or does it come in a flash?

Janice: Percolation is definitely my process.  Sometimes, I feel like I am waiting for the story to rise up from the depths of my subconscious.  It can be very frustrating because I don’t feel like there’s a lot I can do to hurry the process along, that I’m not the driver of the process—that it is my subconscious.  I hear of writers who have their books mapped out before they start writing, and I cannot imagine being able to do that.  I wish I could.  It would make my life a lot easier. So I wait, and when something comes along, a sentence, an image, a particular word, and it resonates with me, I know that it has come to drive the story forward.  In this way, I accumulate the story.

Carrie:  Give us an idea of the plot/subject without giving too much away.

Janice: The Piano Teacher is a historical novel set in WWII Hong Kong about an Englishman and the affairs he has with two very different women before and after the war.

Carrie:  What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from this book?

Janice: I don’t write with a message in mind, when I’m in process but, upon reflection (and having been asked this question many times), I think that the book might make you think about the decisions one makes in excruciating times and how those decisions may come to define you in a way that is not at all characteristic with who one is in more normal times.

Nanny Returns, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Nanny Returns
Just as fresh, biting, and funny as The Nanny Diaries, but with the extra heart and wisdom of a few years’ experience, NANNY RETURNS brings both heroine and readers back to the exotic world of the Upper East Side—a community where appearances are everything, friendships can dissolve with the disappearance of a bank account, and children are often the casualties in the war between wealth and family.

Carrie:  What inspired you to write this book?
Emma & Nicola:
For years readers would ask us what happened to the characters from our first novel, but we had kind of drawn a hazy veil over them in our minds. We pictured a vague happy sunset for Nan, but didn’t let ourselves think about the little boy, Grayer, too much because we weren’t optimistic about his chances.  Then last Spring we had a series of A-ha moments back-to-back and before we knew it a story had unspooled before us.  We were inspired by articles we read about New York City private schools being taken over by parents who wanted to buy their children a world without consequences.  Then we read about the Astor trial and something about a son turning his father in for embezzling from his mother really struck us.  Of course the Madoff story was rife with gripping family dynamics, from the sons turning in their father to the father/son accounting firm that had enabled the fraud in the first place.  It all got our minds churning about pulling back to look at the larger societal impact of the Upper East Side community we satirized in the first book.

Carrie:  In general, how does an idea for a book come to you ~ does it perk slowly in your mind or does it come in a flash?
Emma & Nicola:
We have lunch together every day before we start working and we chew over the topics of the day, paying special attention to angles of stories that aren’t being addressed. For example in 2000 we were obsessed that endless stories were running in New York City media about how hard it was for the newly rich to find decent household help, but the help was never interviewed.  So if there’s a side of the story that is being underserved we’ll puzzle over that.  Then we have a-ha moments when one of us will crystallize one of these topics we’ve been mulling over into a fictional story.  Then Nicki gets teary and the hair on Emma’s neck stands on end and we know we’ve found our next book.

Carrie:  Give us an idea of the plot/subject without giving too much away.
Emma & Nicola:
In Nanny Returns we are revisiting ALL the characters from the Diaries twelve years later and re-embroiling Nan back in the lives of the Xes.

Carrie:  What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from this book?
Emma & Nicola:
Money can’t buy it.

Carrie: What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?

The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold

Win a Words To Mouth QUICKIE!!

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Enter to Win a FREE Copy of Alice Sebold’s THE LOVELY BONES (Soon to be a major motion picture)

  • Before Halloween Eve (10/31st) at MIDNIGHT (EDT)
  • Leave a thoughtful comment below
  • No P.O. Boxes Please & U.S. and Canadian residents only

From Hachette’s Website:
Once in a generation a novel comes along that taps a vein of universal human experience, resonating with readers of all ages. THE LOVELY BONES is such a book — a #1 bestseller celebrated at once for its artistry, for its luminous clarity of emotion, and for its astonishing power to lay claim to the hearts of millions of readers around the world.

“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.”
So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her — her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling. Out of unspeakable tragedy and loss, THE LOVELY BONES succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy.

The major motion picture version of THE LOVELY BONES, directed by Peter Jackson and starring Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, and Saoirse Ronan is scheduled for release on December 11, 2009.

Traveling with Pomegranates, Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd Taylor

Pomegrantes

So sorry that our conversation couldn’t transpire, but as a conciliation prize Sue’s publicist is providing FIVE copies of the wonderful mother-daughter memoir, Traveling with Pomegranates for five lucky winners.

Here’s a great written interview for you.

To Enter to Win:

  • Subscribe to the Words To Mouth e-newsletter
  • Leave a comment below sharing something about motherhood, being a daughter, the complicated relationship dynamics, etc.
  • U.S. & Canada residents only; No P.O. Boxes, please
  • Deadline: October 15th, 2009 ~ midnight, EDT

What are you reading right now? Hachette has your next book!

If you’re searching for the next best book, why not enter to win FOUR?!

Our friends at Hachette Book Group are offering the following four books. Enter to win, simply by leaving a comment below sharing your favorite book of all time, why it’s your favorite, and how it touched your life. We want to hear from you!

  1. How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World: The Art of Living with Style, Class, and Grace By Jordan Christy
  2. The Love Revolution By Joyce Meyer
  3. Role of a Lifetime: Reflections on Faith, Family, and Significant Living By James Brown , Nathan Whitaker , Tony Dungy
  4. Loved: Stories of Forgiveness By Rebecca St. James

Contest Guidelines:

  • Deadline-October15th, 2009, midnight, EDT
  • Canada & US Residents Only: No P.O. Boxes please
  • Make sure you’re subscribed to the Words To Mouth newsletter to receive winner announcement (not posted on website)

Sue Monk Kidd Coming to Words To Mouth!!

Are you a big fan of Sue Monk Kidd like me?

Sue Monk Kidd Books

When I started Words To Mouth, one of my earliest blog posts talked about the excitement of one of my favorite authors/books coming to the big screen—Sue Monk Kidd’s THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES.  Well, now that same author and her daughter, Anna Kidd Taylor, are coming to Words To Mouth. Sue and Anna, wrote a mother-daugher memoir called TRAVELING WITH POMEGRANATES and have agreed to take a few moments out of their busy book tour to chat with me on SEPTEMBER 10th. I’m beyond thrilled ~ what an honor!

ROSEMARY AND RUE, Seanan McGuire (Release Date: Sept. 1st)

Rosemary_and_Rue_sm

Carrie’s Conversation with Seanan McGuire

Carrie:  What inspired you to write ROSEMARY AND RUE?
Seanan:
I’ve always loved folklore and the old fairy tales — the ones that were around before Grimm came along and “cleaned them up” to turn them into children’s stories.  I was visiting the Japanese Tea Gardens in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park one day, and suddenly everything clicked together.  I knew who Toby was, I knew what her problem was, and I really, really wanted to know how she was going to get out of it.  Everything followed from there.

Carrie:  In general, how does an idea for a book come to you? Does it perk slowly in your mind or does it come in a flash?
Seanan:
It depends on the book, really.  ROSEMARY AND RUE came slowly.  The second book in the series, A LOCAL HABITATION, came to me all at once, and just had to be refined from there. It’s very situational for me.

Best Friends Forever, Jennifer Weiner

Best Friends Forever

Excerpt from Jennifer Weiner’s BEST FRIENDS FOREVER, Chapter 2 (from Simon and Schuster website)

Looking back, the knock on the door should have scared me. It should at least have come as a surprise. My house — the same one I grew up in — is set at the farthest curve of a culde- sac in Pleasant Ridge, Illinois, a Chicago suburb of fourteen thousand souls with quiet streets, neatly kept lawns, and well-regarded public schools. There are rarely pedestrians or passersby on Crescent Drive. Most weeks, the only signs of life after ten p.m. are the flash of headlights on my bedroom wall on the nights that my next-door neighbor Mrs. Bass has her Shakespeare Society meeting. I live alone, and I’m generally asleep by ten-thirty. But even so. When I heard the knock, my heartbeat didn’t quicken; my palms did not sweat. At some level underneath conscious thought, a place down in my cells where, the scientists tell us, memories reside, I’d been waiting years for that knock, waiting for the feel of my feet moving across the floor and my hand on the cool brass knob.

I pulled open the door and felt my eyes get big and my breath catch in my chest. There was my old best friend, Valerie Adler, whom I hadn’t spoken to since I was seventeen and hadn’t seen in person since high school ended, standing underneath the porch light; Valerie with her heart-shaped face and Cupid’s-bow lips and lashes heavy and dark as moth’s wings. She stood with her hands clasped at her waist, as if in prayer. There was something dark staining the sleeve of her belted trench coat.

For a minute, we stood in the cold, in the cone of light, staring at each other, and the thought that rose to my mind had the warmth of sunshine and the sweet density of honey. My friend, I thought as I looked at Val. My friend has come back to me.

EASY ON THE EYES, Jane Porter

Listen NowTo enter to win a FREE copy of EASY ON THE EYES:

EASY

Easy on the Eyes (from Jane’s Website)
At 38, Tiana Tomlinson has made it. America adores her as one of the anchors of America Tonight, a top-rated nightly entertainment and news program. But even with the trappings that come with her elite lifestyle, she feels empty. Tiana desperately misses her late husband Keith, who died several years before. And in a business that thrives on youth, Tiana is getting the message that her age is starting to show and certain measures must be taken if she wants to remain in the spotlight. It doesn’t help that at every turn she has to deal with her adversary—the devilishly handsome, plastic surgeon to the stars, Michael O’Sullivan. But a trip away from the Hollywood madness has consequences that could affect the rest of her life.

About Jane (from Jane’s Website)
Born in Visalia, California, I’m a small town girl at heart. I love central California’s golden foothills, oak trees, and the miles of farmland. In my mind, there’s nothing sweeter in the world than the heady fragrance of orange blossoms on a sultry summer night. As a little girl I spent hours on my bed, staring out the window, dreaming of far off places, fearless knights, and happy-ever-after endings. In my imagination I was never the geeky bookworm with the thick coke-bottle glasses, but a princess, a magical fairy, a Joan-of-Arc crusader. My parents fed my imagination by taking our family to Europe for a year when I was thirteen. The year away changed me (I wasn’t a geek for once!) and overseas I discovered a huge and wonderful world with different cultures and customs. I loved everything about Europe, but felt especially passionate about Italy and those gorgeous Italian men (no wonder my very first Presents hero was Italian). I confess, after that incredible year in Europe, the travel bug bit, and bit hard. I spent much of my high school and college years abroad, studying in South Africa, Japan and Ireland. South Africa remains a country of my heart, the people, the land and politics complex and heart-wrenching. After my years of traveling and studying I had to settle down and earn a living. With my Bachelors degree from UCLA in American Studies, a program that combines American literature and American history, I’ve worked in sales and marketing, as well as a director of a non-profit foundation. Later I earned my Masters in Writing from the University of San Francisco and taught jr. high and high school English. I now live in rugged Seattle, Washington with my two young sons. I never mind a rainy day, either, because that’s when I sit at my desk and write stories about far-away places, fascinating people, and most importantly of all, love. I like a story with a happy ending. We all do.

Book-Giveaway Contest Winners (June 30th Quick Picks)

Postpartum Depression DummiesMacMillan Contest 2AdversityPregnant on prozac

I know I usually list winners in the e-newsletter, but I won’t be putting out another one for a few weeks and I don’t want to make you wait for a good summer read.

  • The Adversity Paradox: Sharon Walling
  • Postpartum Depression for Dummies OR Pregnant on Prozac: Kristin
  • MacMillan Audio Books (Hope in a Jar, Come Sunday, Something Borrowed): Janet Faye, Mary Kay, and Rashmi (A Mommy Reviewer)

CONGRATULATIONS WINNERS ~ Email me your mailing address immediately and I’ll make sure you get your books.

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  • About WordstoMouth

    Carrie created Words-to-Mouth—a blog & companion Internet talk show introducing new book releases and their authors to a community interested in excellent writing that may not  necessarily top the New York Times Bestseller List—Yet! To learn more about Carrie, click here