The Biblio File Hosted by Nigel Beale
Twenty - forty minute interviews with accomplished authors, publishers, biblio people, conducted by an excitable bibliophile.

Jason Webster is an Anglo-American crime novelist, travel writer and critic. Born in California he now lives in Valencia, Spain. Webster was educated in England, Egypt and Italy. In 1993 he graduated from Oxford University (St John's College) with a degree in Arabic and Islamic History. His books all involve Spain, and include Duende: A journey in search of Flamenco (2003), which recounts his move here, and his quest to learn flamenco guitar, (itwas long-listed for the Guardian First Book Award); Andalus: Unlocking the secrets of Moorish Spain (2004)  and Sacred Sierra: A year on a Spanish mountain (2009) which describes a year that Webster and his Spanish wife spent living on their mountain farm in eastern Spain working on the land and planting trees with the help of a 12th century Moorish gardening manual.

Or the Bull Kills You (2011) is a crime novel set in Valencia, and the world of bullfighting. It is the first in a  series of detective stories featuring Chief Inspector Max Cámara of the Spanish National Police. It was long-listed for the Crime Writers' Association John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger.  Death in Valencia (2012), is the second book in the series.

I caught up with Jason recently in Valencia. We met at a sidewalk cafe in the Cabanyal - the real neighbourhood in which his fictional action takes place -  to talk about how those who read and love his novels can get more out of them by visiting this great, colourful Spanish city.

Direct download: Jason_Webster_ZOOM0003_2.mp3
Category:Literary Destinations -- posted at: 8:32am EDT

Shared Inquiry is a discussion method employed by the Great Books Foundation, which, according to its website provides " a teaching and learning environment, and a way for individuals to achieve a more thorough understanding of a text by discussing questions, responses, and insights with fellow readers. Shared Inquiry combines a sound theoretical base with proven strategies to engage all readers in higher-order thinking and collaborative problem solving. In Shared Inquiry, participants come together to help each other explore the meaning of a work of literature. Each participant brings a unique perspective that influences how he or she understands the work. Sharing their interpretations, participants gain new insights and deepen or even change their initial understanding."

I caught up with Eric Timmreck, President of the Houston Great Books Council recently in Toronto at an annual event called Toronto Pursuits, to talk about his experience using the Shared Inquiry technique.

Direct download: Eric_Timmerick_Shared_Inquiry120720_001_40.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:43am EDT

While researching an article on Literary Tourism for an upcoming issue of Ontario magazine, I got to meet and greet some stellar Canadian authors at sites across the province that feature, variously, in their works. Here, it's Terry Fallis, and his novel The Best Laid Plans. I got together with Terry on Parliament Hill, right next to the newly refurbished parliamentary library to talk about how its 'hallowed hallways' informed the writing of his book; about how readers might gain insight into its characters and plot by visiting the 'Hill', and how these buildings play an important role in Canadian political life, stabilizing democracy and inspiring hope for a better future. 

Direct download: Terry_Fallis120821_001_2.mp3
Category:Literary Destinations -- posted at: 5:00pm EDT

I met recently with Kristi Beer from Inprint Houston, a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring readers and writers in Houston, Texas. Founded in 1983, Inprint fulfills its mission through the nationally renowned Margarett Root Brown Reading Series, the Cool Brains! Reading Series for Young People, literary and educational activities in the community that demonstrate the value and impact of creative writing, and support for the Univeristy of Houston Creative Writing Program.  These programs and events play a vital role contributing to Houston's rich and diverse cultural life.

Who better then to question about how the Literary Tourist might best spend his or her time in Houston.

Direct download: Beer_Houston_things_to_do_ZOOM0013.mp3
Category:Literary Destinations -- posted at: 2:54pm EDT

Randall Speller was for 29 years a librarian in the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. Combining his career in art librarianship with an interest in Canadian literature and book collecting, he has done extensive research into the history of Canadian book illustration and design, especially in the years following World War II. Randall is a contributing editor to the DA: a Journal of the Printing Arts, where he has written several influential articles on book illustration and design.

Randall is also an accomplished painter. His work focuses largely on Victoria County, part of his longstanding interest in representing an area of Ontario that his family has had connections to since the 1840s. As his website puts it: "Capturing the essential qualities of this landscape has engaged him for more than 30 years. His subjects are the constructed elements of landscape and buildings that are shaped by people, by weather, by light and by time."

Please listen here as we engage in a conversation about the history of Canadian book design, and the importance of book collecting to Canadian, and indeed all cultures.

Direct download: Randall_Speller120718_003_22hz.mp3
Category:Book Designer -- posted at: 5:03pm EDT

Houston's Museum of Printing History was founded in 1979 by Raoul Beasley, Vernon P. Hearn, Don Piercy, and J. V. Burnham, four printers with a passion  for preserving their various printing-related collections and sharing them with the community.  Chartered in 1981 the Museum had its official opening in 1982 with Dr. Hans Halaby, Director of the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany, cutting the ribbon.  The mission of the Museum is to promote, preserve, and share the knowledge of printed communication and art as the greatest contributors to the development of the civilized world and the continuing advancement of freedom and literacy. It does this through an active, on-going exhibitions program, and a series of book arts workshops.

I met with Musuem Curator Amanda Stevenson this past summer to talk about the collection. During our conversation she delivers a very informative thumb-nail sketch of how relief and intaglio printing techniques work.

Direct download: Stephenson_Houston_Printing_History_Musuem_ZOOM0011.mp3
Category:Literary Destinations -- posted at: 11:53am EDT

In 1927, Ben Bass opened Strand Book Store on Fourth Avenue, home of New York’s legendary Book Row. Named after the famous publishing street in London, the Strand was one of 48 bookstores on Book Row, which started in the 1890’s and ran from Union Square to Astor Place. Today, the Strand is the sole survivor.  I recently asked current owner Nancy Bass Wyden why.

Direct download: Nancy_Bass_Strand.mp3
Category:Booksellers -- posted at: 9:52am EDT


Project Bookmark Canada is a national charitable organization that marks places where real and imagined landscapes meet. It does this by installing poster sized ceramic plaques - called Bookmarks - in the exact physical locations where literary scenes are set.

Its mission is to develope a network of hundreds of Bookmarks in cities, towns and other areas across the country, allowing Canadians and visitors the chance to read their way across Canada. Its mandate is to promote Canadian writers and writing, to invite readers to Canadian spaces and to encourage reading and literacy through a permanent, prominent exhibit of stories and poems set in Canada. I caught up with its founder Miranda Hill recently at what has developed into one the most exciting literary destinations/activities in Canada: the Kingston Writers Festival.

Please listen here to the story of Bookmark Canada, and how you can participate.

Direct download: Miranda_Hill_120930_002.mp3
Category:Literary Destinations -- posted at: 1:15pm EDT

1