TCR Daily

Not a Chance by Brenda Salinas Baker

My calendar’s automated alerts remind me to check up on my enemies. Once, twice, three times a year, depending on the severity of their insults. I occasionally come across a detail that brings me satisfaction, but generally, my enemies seem to be doing pretty well for themselves. Everyone seems more accomplished online. I know that even at knifepoint they couldn’t recall the humiliations seared into my memory. If pressed, they might wave their hands and apologize, saying they were working through their own trauma at the time, trauma a self-help podcast had helped them see. Or worse, they might invert…

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Interview: Andee Reilly, Author of A Christmas Love Song

by Kristi Daune-Edwards Rabe Each December, the world slowly turns to sparkles and hope as well as stress and the special holiday anxiety that requires strong eggnog. Holiday romances become havens of joy and wonder that we revisit like old friends each year. Beyond classic films and made-for-TV movies we binge watch while wrapping gifts and making cookies, holiday romance novels offer a quiet retreat during the busy buzz of the season. This year, Andee Reilly’s new novel, A Christmas Love Song, plays with all the traditional romance we see and spins it with a bit of Christmas spirit. With…

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Interview: Dan Hallagan on Game Design and Writing

by Boaz Dror During our recent global pandemic, with so much indoor quarantining with family, I inadvertently developed an addiction to boardgames. I blame this on my screenwriter’s love for format constraints and creative limitations. After all, there is no better representation of a tight cognitive frame than a literal rectangular piece of cardboard into which story must fit. My newfound enjoyment soon sent me down a wormhole that gobbled up shelf-space and time. Fortunately, this tabletop tailspin led to Obsession, a boardgame in which players take on the roles of Victorian-era families vying for reputation and prestige. The game’s…

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Voice to Books: Horror Screams Our Truth

When most people think of horror, they may think of Stephen King or the bloody slasher movies from the ’80s. While these movies and books have made a lasting impression on the genre, they are often dominated by a straight white male view—demonizing and objectifying not only marginalized communities but cis het white women as well. But horror has many authors and storylines to share with readers beyond the straight white male. From those stories, horror is used to reflect on and discuss sensitive social and cultural issues. These reviews highlight women—POC and white—and their personal horrors that are intensified…

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Interview: TCR Talks with Liska Jacobs

by Leanne Phillips Early 2020 found author Liska Jacobs in Pasadena, California, hard at work on her third novel, a story about a group of people confined to the Beverly Hills Hotel amid unprecedented wildfires and social unrest. She’s been called a method writer—Jacobs normally travels to the locations where her books take place to soak in the settings and immerse herself in her characters’ lives. But for this book, she thought she’d be able to stay home. “It’s a Los Angeles story that takes place at a hotel, and I’ve lived here all my life, so it was pretty…

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Food for Thought – Hard to Swallow: Savage Motherhood—and Eggs

by Tara Stevenson Ideas Are Food Eggs Are Motherhood in Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward Medea is the epitome of savage motherhood: upon hearing that her husband, Jason (of the Golden Fleece/Argonauts), is going to marry another woman—despite saving his life many times over and using her magic to help him defeat many enemies—Medea kills their sons in revenge. Chapter one of Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones not only introduces the allusion of Medea; it immediately establishes three additional parallel stories concerning motherhood and birth: the death of Esch’s mother in childbirth; China, a pit bull, giving birth to…

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Interview: Finding Time with Flynn Berry

by Betty-Jo Tilley Flynn Berry is busy: Three novels in less than five years and two children in less than three. Also, she accomplished a whirlwind promotion for her latest thriller, Northern Spy, and a move from West to East Coast with her family during the pandemic. Northern Spy is set amidst IRA activities in Belfast. When a single working mother discovers her sister has been a terrorist for seven years, sides must be taken, threatening both their family ideals and commitment. Berry’s Edgar Award-winning debut Under the Harrow challenges a woman, Tessa, with her sister’s dark secrets and grisly murder.…

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Voice to Books: See It, Read It, Love It

Graphic novels intertwine words and illustrations to allow their authors to say what they need to without descriptions. Their audiences don’t need to imagine their worlds; they can see them. Art and words are used strategically to tell stories. Simplicity and silence, lavish details, and verbose prose, or vice versa, tell these histories. The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History by David F. Walker Reviewed by Pallavi Yetur Graphic novels contain multitudes. Comic book writer Alan Moore, who penned the groundbreaking Watchmen series-turned-graphic novel from 1986 to 1987, has lamented the term “graphic novel” as a marketing ploy devised…

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Interview: Matt Bell and the Thrills of Appleseed

by Adam Zemel Matt Bell’s third novel, Appleseed, follows three protagonists in three different time periods: At the end of the eighteenth century, Chapman and his brother travel the Ohio territories, planting apple orchards in the wilderness. At the close of the twenty-first, John seeks to infiltrate a corporation he helped found that has grown far too powerful––or perhaps just powerful enough to save humanity. And one thousand years into the future, C scratches out a meager existence on the icy expanse of glacial North America and dares to believe that he is not the last living organism on the…

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Interview: Ajit Dutta and the Art of Urdu Love Poetry

by Sara Grimes Ajit Dutta is a poet and graduate of UC Riverside-Palm Desert’s low-residency MFA program. His book, A Lover’s Sigh, is a translation of Urdu love poetry in a form called the “ghazal,” comprised of five-15 thematically autonomous couplets. It is Dutta’s work of the heart, combining classical and modern influences ranging from Indian and Pakistani songwriters to historical political figures. Dutta’s translation approach included listening to a wide range of singers performing ghazals. He fell in love with the form at sixteen, after purchasing a stack of ghazal poetry at a bookstore before a train ride to…

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Book Review: We Two Alone by Jack Wang

by Yennie Cheung If the saying holds true that readers discover books at the right time in their lives, perhaps now is the right time to discover Jack Wang’s We Two Alone. Each short story in the collection focuses on Chinese migrants and their children, living around the globe—the United States, South Africa, and Canada (Wang’s home country). Spanning about a century, the seven stories chronicle just a fragment of global anti-Chinese racism and serve as a reminder that the anti-Chinese animosity currently plaguing the Western world is far from new. Through them, Wang shows us that members of the…

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Interview: Candid Conversation with Author and Actor James Sie

by Becky Lauer Author James Sie’s second novel, All Kinds of Other, tells the story of two teen boys who fall in love in a Los Angeles high school. Sie offers an escape for readers through the perspective of Jack Davies, a trans boy who moves to Los Angeles from Pittsburgh, and Jules Westman, a gay boy who’s lived there his whole life. When he’s not writing, Sie lends his voice to animation and video games, with a long list of acting credits including Curious George, Kung Fu Panda: The Paws, and, most recently, The Simpsons. We met via Zoom,…

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