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

Photo by Sari Ginsberg

André Alexis was born in 1957 in Trinidad and Tobago. His parents left for Canada when he was a baby. The family reunited in Ottawa when Alexis was four years old. He still remembers the trauma of this separation; it has coloured much of his writing since. Themes of absence, displacement, belonging and home animate his work. His debut novel, Childhood (1997), won the Books in Canada First Novel Award, and was a co-winner of the Trillium Award.

Direct download: Andre_Alexis.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 10:10pm EDT

Andrew O’Hagan’s most recent novel, Be Near Me, has just won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It is the story of an English priest who takes over a small Scottish parish in a post-industrial town by the sea; a story of art and politics, love and faith, and the way we live now, which pretty well summarizes the conversation we had this past weekend at The Blue Met International Literary Festival in Montreal. 

More specifically we talked about tragedy, escape, the determination not to be determined, fathers, the blurred boundaries between fiction, memoir and journalism, the United States, the role of writer in society, Martin Amis and Islamism, parents, writing ones own life, and coloured doors in social housing projects.

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: Andrew_OHagan.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 10:22pm EDT

William Deverell, has been widely hailed as Canada’s greatest ‘literary mystery’ writer. This from his website:

"Deverell worked as a journalist for seven years, with Canadian Press Montreal, the Vancouver Sun and the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, where he was night city editor while at the University of Saskatchewan law school and editor of the student newspaper.

As a member of the British Columbia, Alberta and Yukon Bars, he was counsel in more than a thousand criminal cases, including thirty murder trials, either as defender or prosecutor. He is a founding director, former president, now honorary director of the B. C. Civil Liberties Association.

His first novel, Needles, won the $50,000 Seal Prize in l979 and the Book of the Year Award in l98l. His subsequent novels include High Crimes, Mecca,The Dance of Shiva, Platinum Blues, Mindfield, Kill All the Lawyers, Street Legal – the Betrayal, and he is author of the true crime book A Life on Trial – The Case of Robert Frisbee, based on a notorious murder trial which he defended…Trial of Passion won Canada’s 1997 Arthur Ellis prize in crime writing, and the Dashiell Hammett award for literary excellence in crime writing in North America. "

Our conversation explores Deverell’s oeuvre in light of the question: How to write a great crime novel? Humour, complex characters, contentious relationships and appropriate use of ‘the clock’ all feature prominently in Deverell’s work, and contribute to what makes it award winning.  

Twenty odd years ago my wife and I rented a cottage perched at the edge of the Rideau River for a weekend getaway. I cracked Deverell’s Dance of the Shiva shortly after arriving. Couldn’t getaway from it. Couldn’t put it down. After finishing it, couldn’t understand why Deverell wasn’t as popular as Turow, Cornwell, Ellroy or Rendell. Still can’t. 

Direct download: William_Deverell_Literary_Mystery.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 8:16pm EDT

Sally Cooper’s second novel, Tell Everything,delves into the darkest regions of the human soul, and lends credence to Kipling’s line: "The female of the species is deadlier than the male."

During our conversation about Tell Everything we discuss topics including: the media and murder, Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo,

body parts in ponds,  Rapunsil and crime plays, three way sex, the blurred, complicated lines of consent, the fear of self revelation, and love, self protection, shame and acceptance, boxes and cameras, novel writing as catharsis, iguanas in snow drifts, crime scene photographs, facing moral issues, true crime magazines, Michael Redhill’s short story The Victim, and women being every bit as predatory as men.

Sally Cooper grew up in Inglewood, Ontario, population 400. She has an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Guelph, and has published in such places as Shift, Blood & Aphorisms, Carousel, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and eye weekly. Her first novel, Love Object, came out in 2002 to critical acclaim. She currently teaches creative writing at Humber College and lives and writes in Hamilton, Ontario.

Listen here:

Direct download: Sally_Cooper.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 5:44pm EDT

Novelist, screenwriter and essayist Larry McMurtry is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1985 novel Lonesome Dove, a sweeping historical epic that follows ex-Texas Rangers as they drive cattle from the Rio Grande to Montana.

He grew up on a ranch outside of Archer City, Texas, which is the model for his fictional town of Thalia. A book collector, McMurtry purchased a rare book store in Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood in 1970 and named it Booked Up. In 1988he opened a second Booked Up in Archer City, establishing the town as a "Book City." This store is arguably the largest single used bookstore in the United States, carrying somewhere between 400,000 and 450,000 titles.

McMurtry is well-known for the film adaptations of his work, especially Hud (from the novel Horseman, Pass By), The Last Picture Show; James L. Brooks’s Terms of Endearment, and Lonesome Dove, which became an enormously popular television mini-series. In 2006, he was co-winner (with Diana Ossana) of both the Best Screenplay Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Brokeback Mountain.

I interviewed him as part of a project I’m doing for the Canadian Booksellers Association. We talk about his latest book Untitled Fiction, his life as a book rancher, having the right books, junk, the fun of the hunt, book scouting, catalogues, bookstores and cultural vitality, keeping stock fresh, burning out on fiction and movies, the declining number of used book stores, and optimism for the future. For more interviews and book reviews

Direct download: Larry_McMurtry.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 11:20pm EDT

Elias Khoury is author of eleven novels including Little Mountain and Gates of the City. He is currently professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies at New York University, and editor in chief of the literary supplement of Beirut’s daily newspaper, An-Nahar. We talk here, at the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival, about his latest novel in English Gate of the Sun, of how great literature speaks to what is human and how religion doesn’t; of how telling stories helps us to overcome death, and how knowledge helps to overcome power; of keys, loss, hatred and love; of how important the right to story, memory and language is to the existence of a people; of the double tragedy of Palestine in 1948, the real one and the fact that the telling of this catastrophe has not been permitted; of how reading literature helps us discover ourselves and of how literature attempts to give meaning to the meaninglessness of life.

Direct download: Elias_Khoury_Interview_Montreal_April_07.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 12:27pm EDT

Peter Behrens’ short stories and essays have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Tin House, Saturday Night, and The National Post and have been anthologized in Best Canadian Stories and Best Canadian Essays. He was born in Montreal and lives on the coast of Maine with his wife and son.

We talk here, at the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival, among other things about voice and poetry in his debut novel The Law of Dreams, Winner of The 2006 Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction. It tells the story of a young man’s struggle to survive the Great Famine in Ireland of 1847. On his odyssey through Ireland and Britain, and across the Atlantic to Canada Fergus O’brien encounters death, violence, sexual heat, ‘boy soldiers, brigands, street toughs and charming, willful girls – all struggling for survival in the aftermath of natural catastrophe magnified by political callousness and brutal neglect. ‘ Think Dickens meets J.M. Coetzee.

The book has been hailed by many reputable media outlets including The New York Times and The New Yorker.

Direct download: Peter_Behrens_The_Law_of_Dreams_Interview_April_07_.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 12:41pm EDT

Lydia Davis is a contemporary American author and translator of French. From 1974 to 1978 she was married to Paul Auster, with whom she has a son. She has published six collections of short stories, including The Thirteenth Woman and Other Stories (1976) and Break It Down (1986). Her most recent collection is not Samuel Johnson Is Indignant, but rather Varieties of Disturbance, published by Farrar, Strauss & Giroux. Her stories are acclaimed for their brevity, poetry, philosophy and humour. Many are only one or two sentences long.

We talk here, at the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival, about the role of the translator, her Swann’s Way, measuring rooms three inches at a time, becoming Proust as an actor might a character, dialogue being more of a translation challenge than description because speech is born of environment and times, and the goal of creating living language that’s timeless.

Copyright © 2007 by Nigel Beale

Direct download: Lydia_Davis_Proust_Translator_Interview_April_2007.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 11:46am EDT

Amanda Earl writes erotic fiction in Ottawa, Canada, as much for her own pleasure as anything else. Her stories have consistently been selected for publication in Carroll and Graf’s annual Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica. Amanda publishes and writes poetry, is managing editor of the Bywords Quarterly Journal, and hosts, a website invaluable to Ottawanians interested in local literary events.

We talk here about the definitions of erotica and pornography (a common joke: “Erotica is when you use a feather. Pornography is when you use the whole chicken.�?), red wine versus white, connecting with and arousing readers, giving pleasure, the act, golden showers, being bad, the Erotica Readers and Writers Association, S&M, compelling characters and work as prostitution.


Direct download: Amanda_Earl_Erotica_Ottawa_Sept_2006.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 1:36am EDT

Ronald Cohen is author of the Bibliography of the Writings of Sir Winston Churchill 3 Volume Set (ISBN: 0826472354) published in 2006: a ‘richly annotated work’ containing thousands of entries, with detailed descriptions of each work by Churchill, including information on content, typography,paper, illustrations, maps, facsimiles, bindings, dust jackets, publication and printing history, translations, and library/collection locations, plus circumstances of publication.

Cohen’s fascination with Churchill began during his time with The Economist in London, shortly after his graduation from Harvard University. He began collecting Churchilliana in 1969. The publication of this major work is the culmination of 25 years’ dedicated research. Cohen is the National Chair of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, a lawyer, founding Chairman of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, a Genie award-winning film producer, and President of the Friends of Library and Archives Canada.

We talk here generally about the art of bibliography, specifically about binding and centriod colour charts, altruism, accessibility, building road-maps, how many bibliographers start off as disgruntled collectors, experiencing the thrill and joy of collecting without having to lay out the dough, bibliography as storytelling, innovative periodical entry descriptions, errata, when to stop, how Cohen always got it wrong, surrendering, and uncharted works bolting from the undergrowth.


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

Direct download: Ron_Cohen_Churchill_Bibliography_Ottawa_Sept_2006_1.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 2:10pm EDT