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

Margaret Visser (born May 11, 1940) is a writer/broadcaster who lives in Toronto, Barcelona, and France. Her subject matter is the history, anthropology, and mythology of everyday life.

Born in South Africa, she attended school in Zambia, Zimbabwe, France (the Sorbonne) and Canada. She taught Greek and Latin at York University for 18 years.

Her books include Much Depends on Dinner, The Rituals of Dinner, The Way We Are, and The Geometry of Love; all have been best sellers. Many have won awards. Her most recent work is called The Gift of Thanks, published by HarperCollins. It asks: What do we really mean by Thank you? What are the implications of gratitude, and why are we so enraged when we meet its opposite?

In this conversation Visser tells us, among other things, that gratitude involves thinking, that gift giving takes the place of war, that apparently simple actions and behavior are in fact surprisingly complex, and that gratitude and gift giving is natural because humans beings are innate imitators. Oh yes. And we also talk about sexual gratification!

Please Listen here:

Direct download: Margaret_Visser_2.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 3:14pm EDT

This from Random House: "Miriam Toews…was born in 1964 in the small Mennonite town of Steinbach, Manitoba. She left Steinbach at eighteen, living in Montreal and London and touring Europe before coming back to Manitoba, where she earned a B.A. in film studies at the University of Manitoba. Later she packed up with her children and partner and moved to Halifax to attend the University of King’s College, where she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Upon returning to Winnipeg with her family in 1991, she freelanced at the CBC, making radio documentaries. When her youngest daughter started nursery school, Toews decided it was
time to try writing a novel."

She’s written four to date, including A Complicated Kindness which won the GG’s Award for Best Fiction in 2004.  We talk here about her latest The Flying Troutmans, about her father’s struggle with depression and the stigma that still surrounds the disease, about road trips and siblings, the definition of love, the film Little Miss Sunshine, writing novels with movie deals in mind, trust, abandonment and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Please listen:


Direct download: Miriam_Toews_2.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 11:04am EDT

Harlan Coben’s latest novel HOLD TIGHT debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list — and simultaneously debuted at #1 in the London Times.

Winner of the Edgar Award, Shamus Award and Anthony Award – the first author to win all three – international bestselling author Harlan Coben’s critically-acclaimed novels have been called "ingenious" (New York Times), "poignant and insightful" (Los Angeles Times), "consistently entertaining" (Houston Chronicle), "superb" (Chicago Tribune) and "must reading" (Philadelphia Inquirer). His most recent novels, THE WOODS, PROMISE ME, THE INNOCENT, JUST ONE LOOK, NO SECOND CHANCE, TELL NO ONE and GONE FOR GOOD have appeared on the top of all the major bestseller lists including the New York Times, London Times, Le Monde, Publishers Weekly, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and USA TODAY — and many others throughout the world. His books are published in thirty-seven languages around the globe and have been number one bestsellers in in nearly a dozen countries.

Harlan was born in Newark, New Jersey. After graduating from Amherst College a political science major, Harlan worked in the travel industry. He now lives in New Jersey with his wife, Anne Armstrong-Coben MD, a pediatrician, and their four children.


I try to mix it up by warning that popularity should not be confused with greatness. Harlan brushes me off by following the good Dr.’s line of argument: "The purpose of a writer is to be read, and the criticism which would destroy the power of pleasing must be blown aside. [Samuel Johnson: Pope (Lives of the Poets)].

We look at the author as brand, the feigned disinterest many authors hold for the business side of publishing books, Harlan’s New York Times Op-Ed pieces, his preference for the missing over the dead, suburban desperation, and 2.5 million books sold worldwide each year.  

Please listen here: 

Direct download: Harlan_Coben.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 1:51pm EDT

Lindsey Davis was born and raised in Birmingham, read English at Oxford, then joined the civil service, which she left in 1985.She started writing about Romans in The Course of Honour, the remarkable true love story of the Emperor Vespasian and his mistress Antonia Caenis. Her research into First Century Rome inspired The Silver Pigs, the first outing for Falco and Helena, which was published in 1989. Starting as a spoof using a Roman ‘informer’ as a classic, metropolitan private eye, the series has developed into a set of adventures in various styles which take place throughout the Roman world. The Silver Pigs won the Authors’ Club Best First Novel award in 1989; she has since won the Crimewriters’ Association Dagger in the Library and Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, while Falco has won the Sherlock Award for Best Comic Detective. She has been Chair of the UK Crimewriters’ Association and Honorary President of the Classical Association. Her Official Website is

We met recently at the Blue Met International Literary Festival in Montreal, and talked, among other things, about the historical mystery genre, Ellis Peters, Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone, foreshadowing, the treatment of women, killing characters off, good men, favourite plots and authors, and lessons that can be learned from the Romans,

Please listen here:

Direct download: Lindsey_Davis.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 9:07pm EDT

Rawi Hage was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and lived through nine years of that country’s civil war. He immigrated to Canada in 1992. He is a writer, a visual artist, and a curator whose debut novel, De Niro’s Game (2006), was shortlisted for the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the 2006 Governor General’s Award for English fiction. It has just won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. House of Anansi Press will publish Rawi’s eagerly anticipated second novel, Cockroach, in fall 2008. He lives in Montreal where I caught up with him at the Blue Met International Literary Festival.

We talk about living in war conditions, New York, Deer Hunter and Russian roulette, art as memory, the absurdity of war, the dangers of organized religion, fundamentalism, politics and the writer, canoing and moose, women’s clothing, Arabic poetry and the influence of fathers.

Please listen here:

Direct download: Rawi_Hage.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 7:58pm EDT

Photo of Ed and Edgar from here.

Edward Pettit is a freelance book reviewer and writes the Bibliothecary blog.  He also  pursues graduate studies in literature at bucolic Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and teaches writing at La Salle University in Philadelphia. After having spent the first twenty-seven years of his life in the same Philadelphia neighborhood (Olney), he now resides just outside the "Athens of America" in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania with his lovely wife, five daughters and lottsa books. Oh, and one other thing, he's a fanatical fan ...if this isn't redundant...of Edgar Alan Poe...and hosts a blog dedicated to all things Edgar at Ed and Edgar.

He is busy writing a book about Poe's years in Philadelphia, due out in 2009, the bicentenary of the author's birth.

We met recently at the Philadelphia Book Festival. In this interview Ed treats us to a thumbnail biography of Poe,  his childhood, where he lived, studied and worked, what he wrote, which relative he married, which street corner he collapsed on, who championed him and who wrote the best books about him.

Please listen here to this intriguing life story:

Direct download: Ed_Pettit_Edgar_Allan_Poe.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 3:50pm EDT

Donald Antrim is the author of three novels and a memoir entitled, The Afterlife, which is about the strained relationship he had with his mother, Louanne, an artist, teacher and alcoholic. In addition to receiving some of America’s most prestigious fellowships, he is a regular contributor to The New Yorker, a magazine that includes him amongst their "twenty writers for the new century."

We met at the Blue Met International Literary Festival in Montreal, and talk here about his mother’s death, Camus, writing on the edge, suffering and distraction, luxury beds, Donald Barthelme, anger, sarcasm, loss of humour, collecting books, and the appeal of first editions. Donald also treats us to a reading from The Afterlife, and as part of this, the dedication in Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia.

Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale.

(For more of Nigel Beale's Musings on the Book, Literature, Poetry, Literary Criticism, Collecting, Media, Life and the Arts...please visit

Please listen here:

Direct download: Donald_Antrim_2.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 3:41am EDT

"Margot Livesey grew up in a boys’ private school in the Scottish Highlands where her father taught, and her mother, Eva, was the school nurse. After taking a B.A. in English and philosophy at the University of York in England she spent most of her twenties [in Toronto] working in shops and restaurants and learning to write. Her first book, a collection of stories called Learning By Heart, was published by Penguin Canada in 1986. Since then Margot has published six novels: Homework, Criminals, The Missing World, Eva Moves the Furniture, Banishing Verona and The House on Fortune Street (May 2008)."

Margot has taught at numerous universities, and received many awards and fellowships. She is currently a distinguished writer in residence at Emerson College and the John F. and Dorothy H. Magee writer in residence at Bowdoin College. She lives with her husband, a painter, in Cambridge, MA.

We met at the Philadelphia Book Festival, and talk here mostly about Shakespeare, and how themes found in Hamlet wend their way through much of what she has written: trust, betrayal, how much you can push other people around, entering stories from different angles, exits as entrances; the Alexandria Quartet, cranberry sauce, pieces of stories, cubism, faulty fractured vision, authorial versus character-faithful metaphors, Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, Tolstoy's ability to inhabit a wide range of characters, apparitions, the tradition of ghosts being real, our relationship with the dead, stories within stories, the sin of irrelevancy, Keats's wish to be taller, and Margot's ambition to make her sentences ('ethical units') better.

Direct download: Margot_Livesey.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 4:48pm EDT

Glenn Patterson was born in Belfast in 1961 and studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia under Malcolm Bradbury. He is the author of seven novels. The first, Burning Your Own (1988), set in Northern Ireland in 1969, won a Betty Trask Award and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature.

We met at the Blue Met International Literary Festival in Montreal to talk about reassessing the past, the development and urban topography of his home town Belfast, cities versus nations, Disney, Tolstoy’s theory of history, human complexity, his latest novel The Third Party, apathy, public houses, the minor impact of books, and how happy he is with his oeuvre.

Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale

Direct download: Glen_Patterson.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 4:36pm EDT

Egyptian writer Alaa al Aswany was born in 1957 and studied dentistry in Egypt and Chicago. In addition to fiction, he writes on literature, politics, and social issues. His second novel, The Yacoubian Building, an ironic take on modern Egyptian society, was a significant best seller in and outside of the Arabic world. Chicago, a novel set in the city of that name was published in January 2007. The English translation is due out in bookstores this Fall.

We met at the Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival in Montreal recently, and talk here about the contamination of literature by politics, compartmentalizing the two, achieving artistic value, Martin Amis and Islamism, the fallacy of Mark Steyn’s fear mongering, the novel as life on paper but more profound, significant, beautiful than the ‘real’ thing, the writer’s need to listen to the sound of the heart, the difference between writing and fabricating, and why his novels have enjoyed such world-wide success.

Please listen here:

Direct download: Alla_El_Aswany.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 12:38pm EDT