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

Canada Council: Photo: Danny Palmerlee

Patrick deWitt was born on Vancouver Island in 1975. He has also lived in California, Washington, and Oregon, where he currently lives with his wife and son. He is the author of two novels, Ablutions and The Sisters Brothers, which recently won Canada's Governor General's Literary Award for fiction. Here's how the jury described it: "Brothers Eli and Charlie Sisters are at the centre of this “great greedy heart” of a book. A rollicking tale of hired guns, faithful horses and alchemy. The ingenious prose of Patrick DeWitt conveys a dark and gentle touch."

I met recently with Patrick in Ottawa to discuss his award winning novel. Please listen here as we talk, among other things, about mannered language, the Coen Brothers,  Charles Portis, horses, psychopaths, masturbation, arts funding and being Canadian.

Copyright © 2011 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Patrick_de_Witt_56__121409-134126.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 10:21am EDT

Johanna Skibsrud

Johanna Skibsrud's debut novel The Sentimentalists won the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the 2009 Alcuin Award for best designed work of prose fiction, the first book ever to achieve this double win. Skibsrud has also published two books of poetry, including Late Nights with Wild Cowboys in 2008. The Sentimentalists was written for her Master's thesis at Concordia University.She is currently pursuing a Ph.D.  and lives in Tuscon Arizona. 

The Sentimentalists was first published by Gaspereau Press, a highly regarded small press based in Kentiville Nova Scotia, in a print run of 800 copies. The firm had difficulty filling demand for the book after it won the Giller. Chapters-Indigo, Canada's dominant bookstore chain, claimed not to have any of the books in stock anywhere in Canada during the week the Giller was announced. One result was a significant increase in ebook sales; the novel quickly became the top-selling title in the Kobo ebookstore. Within about two weeks Gaspereau announced that it had sold trade paperback rights to Douglas & McIntyre; at the same time it continued to print small runs of the novel in its original format.

As if this weren't enough, Giller juror Ali Smith, a British writer, spoke to literary agent and friend, Tracy Bohan, about the book before it was longlisted. Just days before the longlist was announced, Bohan secured a deal for the rights to distribute the book internationally. She subsequently sold the book to her boyfriend, Jason Arthur, a director of Random House UK imprint William Heinemann.

According to The National Post, Andrew Steeves, co-owner of Gaspereau Press, says he received an email from Skibsrud in which “She told me that Tracy Bohan had contacted her and that an author, Ali Smith, had recommended that Tracy read The Sentimentalists.” Before the longlist was revealed in September, “Tracy was very interested in making a deal with me that morning.” After the longlist was revealed, Steeves admitted, “it looked a little funny to me.”

I met recently with Skibsrud in Ottawa. We talked about all of the events surrounding publication of  The Sentimentalists (surly already despite its short life, one of the most storied books in Canadian history) and about the book itself as object. Please listen here:

Direct download: Joanna_Skibsrud_R09_0007.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 8:22am EDT

Etgar Keret is an Israeli writer known for his short stories, graphic novels, and scriptwriting for film and television. His first work, a collection of short stories, was largely ignored when it was published in 1992. His second book, Missing Kissinger, a collection of fifty very short stories, was a hit. The story "Siren", which deals with paradoxes in modern Israeli society, is included in the curriculum for the Israeli matriculation exam in literature. Keret has co-authored several comic books, written a children's book (Dad Runs Away with the Circus) and served as a writer for the popular TV show The Cameri Quintet . He and his wife Shira directed the 2007 film Jellyfish, based on a story written by Shira. This is what we talked about when we met earlier this year in Ottawa. Please listen here:

Direct download: Etgar_Keret042309-101846.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 10:30pm EDT

Alex Ross, Music Critic, The New Yorker

According to Wikipedia: Alex Ross  was born in 1968 and has been the music critic at The New Yorker magazine since 1996.

He graduated from Harvard University in English summa cum laude for a thesis on James Joyce, and was a DJ at college radio station, WHRB.

His first book, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, a cultural history of music since 1900, was released in the U.S. in 2007. The book was a National Book Critics Circle Award winner, and placed on the New York Times list of the ten best books of 2007, 

He has received a MacArthur Fellowship, three ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards for music writing, and a Holtzbrinck fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin. In 2011 he will receive the Belmont Prize for Contemporary Music at the pèlerinages Art Festival in Weimar.

His second book, Listen to This, was released in the U.S. in September 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. We met recently in Ottawa to talk about his approach to criticism, why he writes about music, and the connections he makes between classical, modern and popular music. Please listen here:

Direct download: Alex_Ross_040425_01.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 9:48pm EDT


"Dianne Warren is best known for her short stories and plays. One of her three published plays, Serpent in the Night Sky, was a GG finalist in 1992, and she has written several radio dramas for CBC. She has published three short story collections – one of which, Bad Luck Dog (1993), won three Saskatchewan Book Awards. Her stories can also be found in numerous anthologies, journals and magazines. A long-time resident of Saskatchewan, she brings to her writing an honest portrayal of people in rural communities, conveying their subtle complexities and deep attachments to family farmland. Dianne Warren was born in Ottawa, and is currently living in Regina."

So says the Canada Council. Here’s what Dianne has to say about her 2010 Governor General’s Literary Award winning novel Cool Water:

Direct download: Dianne_Warren_040205_01.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 8:19am EDT

Alexander MacLeod was born in Inverness, Cape Breton

Alexander MacLeod was born in Inverness, Cape Breton and raised in Windsor, Ontario. His award-winning stories have appeared in a variety of leading journals, some have been selected for The Journey Prize Anthology. He holds degrees from the University of Windsor, the University of Notre Dame, and McGill. He currently lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and teaches at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. Light Lifting, his first book, a collection of short stories, has been shortlisted for Canada's Giller Prize.

We met recently to discuss the work, specifically 'Miracle Mile', the collection's first story. Our conversation touches on technique and themes, the search for significance and meaning, disciplines, how, why and what people care about, and the use of metaphor and pace.

Please listen here (and tune in for the Giller announcement November 7th to see if Alexander wins!)

Direct download: Alexander_Macleod_040106_01_2.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 6:26pm EDT

Photo: Nigel Beale.

Richard Holloway is a Scottish writer/broadcaster  and former Bishop of Edinburgh in the Scottish Episcopal Church who was educated at Kelham Theological College and the Union Theological Seminary, New York City. Between 1959 and 1986 he was curate, vicar and rector at parishes in England, Scotland and the United States, at which point he became the Bishop of Edinburgh, a position he resigned from in 2000. Now an outspoken commentator on religious belief in the modern world, he is author of more than 20 books, well-known for his support of liberal causes, including human rights for gays and lesbians in and outside of the church. Holloway lives in Edinburgh with his American-born wife Jean. They have three adult children.

We talk here about one of his most recent books, Between the Monster and the Saint, as he puts it: ‘a gradual plea for self awareness and forgiveness, and through this, tolerance and compassion toward others.

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 Copyright © 2010 by Nigel Beale.
Direct download: Richard_Holloway.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 11:27am EDT


Poet, playwright and novelist Adam Thorpe was born in Paris in 1956 and grew up in India, Cameroon and England. After graduating from Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1979, he started a theatre company and toured villages and schools before moving to London where he taught Drama and English Literature. Thorpe lives in France with his wife and three children. His most recent books are a collection of short stories, Is This The Way You Said? (2006); a poetry collection, Birds with a Broken Wing (2007); and the novels  The Standing Pool (2008) and Hodd (2009) in which he depicts Robin Hood as a glorified 13th century gangster surrounded by a group of psychopathic thugs, desperate men preying on the innocent.

We talked recently in Toronto at the IFOA, about the Robin Hood myth, and our apparent need to create heroes to address injustice, to express indignation, and right the wrongs of an unjust world. In the conversation we riff off William Flesch’s contention that fiction satisfies our desire to see the good vindicated and the wicked get their ‘comeuppance.’

Listen here

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Direct download: Adam_Thorpe.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 11:22am EDT

Direct download: Jane_Urquhart_Literary_Club111207-195704.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 3:41pm EDT

Photo: Nigel Beale.

Nicholson Baker (born January 7, 1957) is an American writer of fiction and non-fiction. As a novelist he often focuses on describing the minute physical detail of our surroundings, straws and escalators for example, writing on provocative topics such as voyeurism, phone sex  and planned assassination.  Enthusiasts laud his ability to explore and illuminate the human psyche, critics call him a boring gadfly. Much of his non-fiction deals with the printed word, how it’s presented, stored, consumed. 

We talk here about the future of the book, ebooks, the ipad, the Kindle, brodart dust jacket covers, Daniel Dafoe, bloggers, CIA, weapons scientists at the Library of Congress, letterpress printing and the pulling of books off shelves.

Please listen here:

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Direct download: Nicholson_Baker1.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 11:55am EDT