Zane: The Theologian’s Daughter Who Rocked the Erotica World

As the saying goes, sex sells.Books about sex can sell very well, if they are well written. And in the early 2000s a powerful new voice in erotica emerged, and dominated bestseller lists.

She wrote under the pseudonym Zane. Her short erotic stories attracted a loyal following on the Internet, inspiring her to self-publish The Sex Chronicles Before long, she had a book deal with Simon and Schuster.

I met Zane in 2004, when she had just published her novel Nervous. And this soft spoken theologian’s daughter had a lot to say about writing, and publishing.

So here now, from 2004, Zane.

Zane – real name: Kristina Roberts – is about 57 now, She published Strebor Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, publishing as many as 60 books a year.


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Howard Fast’s Journey through the Red Scare

The Red Scare that engulfed the U.S. in the years immediately after World War II ruined many careers, and any affiliation with the Communist Party was enough to get you blacklisted.

So it was that popular novelist Howard fast found himself suddenly a pariah because of his membership in the Communist Party USA.

A contentious appearance before the house Un=American Activities Committee in 1950 resulted in a three month prison sentence for contempt of Congress. But it was while serving his sentence that Howard Fast began working on the novel that would turn out to be his most famous work: Spartacus.

By the end of the decade, Fast’s blacklist was over, And he departed from the Communist Party, disenchanted with its leadership.

In 1990 Fast published a memoir called Being Red. And that’s when I have a chance to meet him.

So here now, from 1990, Howard fast

Howard fast died in 2003. He was 88.


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Revolutionizing Femininity: Germaine Greer’s Pioneering Ideas

In the early 1970s many women had two books on their shelves: The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan and The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer.

That was the then-31-year-old’s first book and virtually overnight turned her into an international celebrity A leader of the feminist movement

Her ideas about femininity, Male-female relationships, and marriage You find those things For millions of readers

In the years that followed Greer was a prolific writer of essays and books Many of those essays were collected in a 1987 volume which she entitled The Madwoman’s Underclothes. And that’s when I had a chance to spend a few minutes with this iconic figure.

So here now, from 1987, Germaine Greer

Today, January 29, is Germaine Greer’s 85th birthday. She divides her time between England and Australia .


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Neil Gaiman’s Literary Multiverse

British born Neil Gaiman is nothing if not prolific and versatile. He’s written short stories, novels, screenplays, poetry, even comic books and graphic novels.

And his fiction has won an entire trophy case full of major awards.

As a child, Gaiman started reading at age 4, and devoured books throughout his youth.

I met him in the fall of 2006 when he published a book of short fiction called Fragile Things.

So here now, from 2006, Neil Gaiman.

Neil Gaiman is 63. He lives in Wisconsin and Massachusetts.


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From Political Thrillers to Christmas Romance: David Baldacci’s Uncommon Bestseller

Author David Baldacci is best known for Suspenseful political thrillers. But about 20 years ago he was inspired to write a very different kind of book.

It was a book inspired by his own experience on a long train trip

The Christmas Train is about a writer, not unlike Baldacci, who takes a train trip that will change his life. Hallmark turned it into a TV movie in 2017 starring Dermot Mulroney.

If you like Christmas, if you like trains, this may be just the book for you to read over the holidays.

So here now, from 2002, David Baldacci.

David Baldacci is 63, and lives in Virginia. He has written nearly four dozen books for adults and several for young readers.


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The Magic of Tomie dePaola: A Conversation

If you’ve had young children in your house anytime in the past 50 years, or if perhaps you were the young child, you know the work of children’s book author Tomie dePaola.

He turned a childhood fascination with drawing into a career in which he produced over 260 children’s books.

One of my interviews with dePaola occurred over 30 years ago, around this time of year, as we talked about his book called Jingle the Christmas Clown.

And he had some fascinating insights into what it takes to create a memorable children’s book.

So here now from 1992 Tomie dePaola

Tomie dePaola died in 2020. He was 85.


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Author Stephenie Meyer’s ‘Twilight’ Insights

Photo by Gage Skidmore

(Originally posted here in 2020)

When I was a kid, all my friends and I were into The Twilight Zone, the Rod Serling TV series.

But in the later 2000s, another “twilight” captured the world’s imagination: the “Twilight” series of novels by Stephenie Meyer.

Four, in all, chronicling the stories of teenager Bella, vampire Edward. and werewolf Jacob.

The third book in the series, “Eclipse,” was published in 2007. And that’s when I met the author — who, as you’ll hear, was still getting accustomed to the fact she had become more popular, book-sales-wise, than J.K. Rowling.

Here now, from 2007, Stephenie Meyer.

Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” books have been turned into popular movies. And her books continue to sell tens of millions of copies worldwide.


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Sister Souljah’s Tale of Urban Life

From her earliest days growing up in New York City and later in New Jersey, Sister Souljah was an activist.

Surrounded by the poverty and despair of an urban neighborhood, Sister Souljah made it her mission to try to change things.

She became a strong voice for change, through writing, film, and music.

In 1999,she wrote her first novel, a book called The Coldest Winter Ever. And that’s when I met her.

So here now, from 1999. Sister Souljah.

Sister Souljah will be 60 next month.


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Sidney Sheldon’s Secrets to Writing Page-Turning Novels

On just about any list of the best selling novelists of all time you’ll find the name Sidney Sheldon.

In a nearly 40 year writing career – which followed a nearly 30 year television, movie and Broadway career – Sheldon sold over 300 million copies of his books worldwide.

Oh, and about that earlier career? Sidney Sheldon is the one who created The Patty Duke Show, I Dream of Jeannie, and Hart To Hart.

He started writing novels at age 50.

And if you’re a Sidney Sheldon fan, you know that once you start reading one of his novels, it’s really hard to put it down.

And he made it look so easy! If you ever wondered what makes his books so captivating, well, it may be a once in a generation confluence of skill, talent, and luck.

In my several interviews with him, I tried to draw out his secrets of writing. In 1988, for example, we talked about his novel The Sands of Time. And I got some fascinating insights.

So here now, from 1988, Sidney Sheldon.

Sidney Sheldon died in 2007, just days before his 90th birthday./


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Janet Evanovich

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Over the last three decades, millions of people around the world have enjoyed a series of novels about a fictional amateur bounty hunter from New Jersey named Stephanie Plum.

Stephanie is the creation of writer Janet Evanovich. In the 1980s, she was a stay-at-home mom, but when her kids were nearing the age at which they would be leaving for college, she decided to try something new — like, writing.

She started out as a romance writer, and achieved considerable success in that genre.

But after several years, she realized that what she liked best about writing was the action sequences in her books, and their humor.

So in 1994, Evanovich wrote her first mystery, a book called One For the Money . It introduced Stephanie Plum and her offbeat circle of friends and family.

It was an almost instant hit, and gave rise to a series that continues to this day. There are now 30 books in the Stephanie Plum series.

And this is where it all began. So here now, from 1994, my interview with the newly published Janet Evanovich.

Janet Evanovich celebrated her 80th birthady in April. Her most recent Stephanie Plum book, the 30th in the series, was published this year.


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