Mon, 20 September 2010
(Coming soon, Claudia Cragg's interview - just recorded - with Barack Obama's Presidential Campaign Manager in 2008, David Plouffe, on his book The Audacity to Win - The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama's Historic Victory).
In this radio interview with Claudia Cragg, Newsweek Senior Editor, Jonathan Alter, discusses his latest book which takes a close look at President Barack Obama's first year in office. He even goes so far as to grade the President's achievements, overall and specifically, on economic policy. Alter also answers questions as to perhaps why the President has not achieved all he set out to do, the stumbling blocks in his way, the tussle with General McChrystal and the question of the Afghan war, and the outcome, as Alter sees it, if disenchanted Democrats fail to turn out in this November's mid-term congressional elections.
Finally, the sale of Newsweek to new owners was being concluded, at almost exactly the time this interview took place. Some readers may wonder if a change of proprietor may lead to a change of tone and timbre in the content.
The following is an extract from the publisher of 'The Promise' on Simon & Schuster's website:
"Barack Obama's inauguration as president on January 20, 2009, inspired the world. But the great promise of "Change We Can Believe In" was immediately tested by the threat of another Great Depression, a worsening war in Afghanistan, and an entrenched and deeply partisan system of business as usual in Washington. Despite all the coverage, the backstory of Obama's historic first year in office has until now remained a mystery." "What happened in 2009 inside the Oval Office? What worked and what failed? What is the president really like on the job and off-hours, using what his best friend called "a Rubik's Cube in his brain?" These questions are answered here for the first time. We see how a surprisingly cunning Obama took effective charge in Washington several weeks before his election, made trillion-dollar decisions on the stimulus and budget before he was inaugurated, engineered colossally unpopular bailouts of the banking and auto sectors, and escalated a treacherous war not long after settling into office." The Promise is a fast-paced and incisive narrative of a young risk-taking president carving his own path amid sky-high expectations and surging joblessness. Alter reveals that it was Obama alone—"feeling lucky"—who insisted on pushing major health care reform over the objections of his vice president and top advisors, including his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who admitted that "I begged him not to do this."
Apart from being made universally available, free, in this podcast, many of these interviews are conducted for and are broadcast on KGNU Denver-Boulder. This is a public radio station, like all public radio stations in these hard economic times, in need of listener funding and support. Kindly consider making a donation to KGNU, however small, to the station (NOT to Claudia Cragg) to continue to make the broadcast of this work possible.
Sat, 18 September 2010
This is Part Two of a Kate Mosse interview special each half conducted two years apart (in Part One she discussed in detail with Claudia Cragg her first novel 'Labyrinth' in detail. In this interview, we hear Kate discussing her next novel with Claudia and, as she points out, several of the major characters in the first work make cameo appearances in the second.
'Sepulchre' is set in 1891 and Léonie Vernier is a young girl living in Paris until an invitation from her uncle's widow Isolde prompts a journey to the Carcassonne region with her brother, Anatole. Unknown to her, her brother and Isolde have been carrying on an affair, and he is being pursued by Isolde's jealous former lover, Victor Constant. For a while, they live an idyllic lifestyle in the country. However, Constant discovers where they are staying and sets out to exact his revenge.
In the present day, an American, Meredith Martin, is in France to research the life of Claude Debussy for a biography she is writing. She is also trying to find out more about her biological mother. During the visit, she uncovers information that links her lineage to that of Léonie Vernier and discovers the truth about the events in Carcassonne during that period in history.
Most of the action takes place in the Domaine de la Cade, a stately home in Rennes-les-Bains, which in 1891 is owned by Léonie's deceased uncle Jules and his wife Isolde of whom Anatole later marries. The house in Meredith's timeline has been repurposed as an upmarket hotel. There are also parts of the book that are situated in Paris at the same time as well as neighbouring towns and villages in the Carcassonne and the City of Carcassonne.
The story features heavy reference to the occult and tarot readings, and the stories of Léonie and Meredith are brought together by a series of visions that are related to the tarot and a small church, known as a Sepulchre in the grounds of the Domaine de la Cade.
There are current talks with producers of making both Labyrinth and Sepulchre into films.
As of of September 2010, Kate Mosse is taking part on BBC1 in 'My Story, as a judge on a panel with other writers, Fergal Keane, Jenny Colgan, who have chosen 15 finalists from 7,500 entries. The winners will have their stories published.
Sat, 18 September 2010
This interview was conducted a few years ago with Kate Mosse not long after her first bestselling novel, Labyrinth was published. It became a New York Times bestseller and a popular and critical success on an international scale. It won the 'Best Read' category at the British Book Awards 2006, was #1 in UK paperback for six months — selling nearly two million copies — and was the biggest selling title of 2006. In 2007, it was named as one of the Top 25 books of the past 25 years by the bookselling chain Waterstone’s. It also hit the bestseller charts in various countries throughout the world, including the United States, Germany, Italy, France, Holland, Norway, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Translation rights to Labyrinth have been sold in thirty-eight languages, including Japanese, Chinese, and Hebrew.
In this feature, Kate discusses how she became an author (having started her literary career on the other side, as a commissioning editor in a major UK publishing house), the establishment of the Orange Prize for Fiction and how and why she became a writer. She descries the dominance of old, white, males as author in the English canon. She discusses why she took lessons in fencing that she took to understand a 16 year old medieval Cathar girl, the female hero (sic.) of 'Labyrinth'. To those who would consider 'Labyrinth' a clone in Brown 'Grail' novel style, Mosse has a counter: the subject is as old as time and found in almost every post-Christian culture.
Be sure, also, to listen to Part II (sequetial to this in the podcast series) in which Kate discusses her second best selling novel, Sepulchre.