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Better World Books Podcast with Dana Barrett

Better World Books Dana Barrett sits down with the current and upcoming stars of the literary world.
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THE WELL AND THE MINE is the story of a family living in an Alabama coal mining town in the 1930s. The story begins when nine-year-old Tess watches from the darkness of her back porch as an unknown woman lifts the cover off the family well and tosses a baby in without a word.

As Tess struggles at first to be believed and then later to find the “Well Woman” the family and the town struggle to survive the difficult and complex time they live in.

The book tackles the racism and sexism of the time period as well as the immensely difficult lives of coal miners and their families. It does all this with a grace and fluidity that make it feel like more of a classic than a debut novel.

Gin Phillips is as thoughtful in person as she is in her writing. She came by our offices while on tour for the book and we had a great conversation about how the story came about and why she chose to tell it from multiple perspectives. I picked up on some dualities in the book that Gin had not even realized were there but was pleased to discover. You’ll have to give it a read and see if you saw what I did!

— Dana Barrett, Podcast Host

Like this interview? Subscribe to the podcast today!
Want more of the Better World Books Podcast now? Click here to check out the rest of the great authors who stopped by or called in for a chat!

Comments or questions about the podcast? Feel free to comment here on the blog, or email me at podcast AT betterworldbooks.com.

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NY Times Bestselling author Eric Jerome Dickey and I are kindred spirits. While I am not a NY Times Bestselling author, we both started out in IT and ended up in books and we both had stops along the way that included acting and stand-up comedy. A couple of years ago I actually interviewed Eric on the phone for the radio show I was doing at the time, but this was the first time I was going to meet Eric in person, so I was pretty excited to meet him.

And I was not the only one. Eric had some adoring fans in our office who were happy to get to meet him too (and unhappy with me – because I gave them no advance warning so they didn’t have their books with them to get an autograph!)

From Left: Kimeke Armstrong, Eric Jerome Dickey and Curtis Hoosier

When we sat down to chat, we talked about everything from Eric’s stand-up comedy days to his summer vacation and of course we also got around to talking about his latest book, TEMPTED BY TROUBLE.

The book is the story of a couple who lose their jobs and lifestyle during the current economic crisis and who are pushed (and pulled) into some (very) bad choices out of desperation. It’s a dark tale about good people who do bad and bad people who do worse. The book has all the shadows and grit of a classic black and white movie up to an including the mysterious man in the fedora. It will keep you turning pages until the very end.

I hope you enjoy the interview – and pick up a copy of the book! It’s a great discussion book for book clubs too.

— Dana Barrett, Podcast Host

Like this interview? Subscribe to the podcast today!
Want more of the Better World Books Podcast now? Click here to check out the rest of the great authors who stopped by or called in for a chat!

Comments or questions about the podcast? Feel free to comment here on the blog, or email me at podcast AT betterworldbooks.com.

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You know how you and your sister talk to each other in a way that is completely different from the way you talk to anyone else? Well guess what... that would still be true if you were both famous, successful authors! Meet sisters and authors Lauren Myracle and Susan Rebecca White.

Lauren, the just slightly older sister is known for her hugely popular YA books TTYL and TTFN and her new series for younger readers that starts with LUV YA BUNCHES. And Susan, whose second book A SOFT PLACE TO LAND was recently released, is well on her way to being a favorite among book clubs and critics alike. You may remember my earlier interview with Susan about her first book, BOUND SOUTH.

A while back, I had a chance to sit down with the sisters in their first ever joint interview and they were not shy! We talked about what it was like growing up together and how their relationship has shaped their writing.

This was actually one of my favorite interviews to record. It was like hanging with a couple of my girlfriends over a glass of wine. Of course instead of wine, we had microphones, but you get the idea. And I have to admit something else here too: this interview has been in post-production for a long time. Long enough for the title of Susan’s new book to actually change! You’ll have to listen to the interview to hear what the title was originally going to be.

So, without further ado... enjoy the interview! I know I did.

— Dana Barrett, Podcast Host

Like this interview? Subscribe today!
Want more of the Better World Books Podcast now? Click here to check out the rest of the great authors who stopped by or called in for a chat!

Comments or questions about the podcast? Feel free to comment here on the blog, or email me at podcast AT betterworldbooks.com.

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When an author hits the New York Times Bestseller List things change. He or she can become intoxicated by their new found fame... begin to demand a special kind of bottled water in his or her dressing room, and... oh wait... that doesn’t usually happen with authors. In fact, they rarely have dressing rooms.

But one thing that does happen is that all the new found readers rush right back to the bookstore looking for everything this writer had previously written. And that is exactly what is happening with Garth Stein. THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN has been a smash hit and has practically made Garth a household name. (Well, he might not be as well known as Kleenex, but he’s close.) Anyway, the point is all of this hub-bub has brought about the re-release of Garth’s first book, RAVEN STOLE THE MOON.

As with RACING, RAVEN STOLE THE MOON examines some complex themes and emotions like the death of a child, religious and mystical beliefs and more. The book was written in the dark ages – you know, the 90s, before cell phones were everywhere and Garth opted to keep it that way. But you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out what other changes he made!

Enjoy the interview!

Like this interview? Subscribe today!
Want more of the Better World Books Podcast now? Click here to check out the rest of the great authors who stopped by or called in for a chat!

Comments or questions about the podcast? Feel free to comment here on the blog, or email me at podcast AT betterworldbooks.com.

— Dana Barrett, Podcast Host

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When 14 year old Hannah Salwen saw a homeless man begging for food on the side of the road she knew something wasn’t right and she knew she wanted to do something to fix it. The Salwen’s were well off and already heavily involved in some local charities but for Hannah that just wasn’t enough. After much discussion, her mother Joan finally said “What do you want to do Hannah, sell the house?” To which Hannah replied, “Yes.”

This began a journey for the entire Salwen family in which they decided to sell their house and give half the sales price to a worthy cause. And so THE POWER OF HALF was born.

Hannah and her co-author, (a.k.a. Dad) Kevin came by our offices a couple of weeks ago to chat about the book, the project, and what it means to them. They explain that not everyone has to sell their house. They know that’s not possible. But they do believe there are things you could do with less of and that every little bit counts. The idea of giving up half of something is that it’s measurable and easy to get your head around.

Who are these people, you ask? Well, after meeting the Salwens I can tell you... they are regular people just like you and me. Hannah is now 17 and wants to be a nurse someday. She and her Dad are close, but they still have the normal dad/daughter stuff about being home on time, etc.

I’m sure you’ll enjoy meeting the Salwens in today’s podcast and maybe you’ll even be inspired to start a Power of Half project of your own.

Enjoy the interview!

Like this interview? Subscribe today!
Want more of the Better World Books Podcast now? Click here to check out the rest of the great authors who stopped by or called in for a chat!

Comments or questions about the podcast? Feel free to comment here on the blog, or email me at podcast AT betterworldbooks.com.

— Dana Barrett, Podcast Host

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Juliet Gael is living a life that most of us can only dream about. She lives in Florence, Italy where she researches her favorite topics and writes novels about them. Pretty great, right? I know I’m all sorts of jealous. That said, Juliet works hard. Her debut novel ROMANCING MISS BRONTË is incredibly well researched and as close to the real thing as humanly possible.

The book is the story of the lives of the Brontë sisters, whose novels have made them famous characters in history. The novel brings to life early nineteenth century England where life for women was far different than it is today and the kind of success Charlotte and her sisters achieved was quite rare. In fact, their books were originally published under male pseudonyms.

As the title implies, not only is the book about the sisters but about the love or loves of Charlotte’s life. Since not much information remained about her husband, Arthur Bell Nicholls, Juliet took on the task of writing their story.

When Juliet came by our offices last month we chatted about her life and where the line between fiction and fact falls in the book.

I’m far from an expert on the Brontë sisters, though I feel like more of one now and after reading the book and I am inspired to go back and re-read JANE EYRE and WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Maybe you will be too. (Coincidentally, both books are available as part of our summer sale!)

Enjoy the interview!

Like this interview? Subscribe today!
Want more of the Better World Books Podcast now? Click here to check out the rest of the great authors who stopped by or called in for a chat!

Comments or questions about the podcast? Feel free to comment here on the blog, or email me at podcast AT betterworldbooks.com.

— Dana Barrett, Podcast Host

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Holly LeCraw is the real life hero of book nerds everywhere. Her dad founded Oxford Books in Atlanta and she grew up with her nose in a book. Now she’s a writer herself and her brand new book THE SWIMMING POOL is really making waves (pun fully intended).

Though it may look like a beach book, it’s really much more than that. THE SWIMMING POOL is at the surface (yup – I’m punning again) about a young man who falls in love with a woman who was once his late father’s mistress. But the book also includes an unsolved murder, postpartum depression, and a pivotal cocktail party around (you guessed it) a swimming pool. Alas, that still doesn’t cover it entirely. After talking with Holly in depth (ha ha ha), I’d say the book is really about the choices we make either because of or in spite of the people we care deeply about.

When Holly and I sat down to chat we hit it off right away. It turns out we have a few things in common and got to laughing pretty easily. You’ll appreciate Holly’s insight into her work and her totally cringe-worthy pun towards the end!

Like this interview? Subscribe today!
Want more of the Better World Books Podcast now? Click here to check out the rest of the great authors who stopped by or called in for a chat!

Comments or questions about the podcast? Feel free to comment here on the blog, or email me at podcast@betterworldbooks.com.

— Dana Barrett, Podcast Host

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Norris Church Mailer is a real person. That may seem like an odd way to start a blog post but her memoir and her life could be the stuff of great fiction. A beautiful girl, a much older famous man, his former wives, his large brood of children, a modeling career, famous friends, attendance at historical events, and the list goes on. But what makes A TICKET TO THE CIRCUS so readable is that it’s real and Norris doesn’t hold back.

She shares the good, the bad and the ugly. There were affairs, there were arguments, there was sickness and death – but there was also love and family and art and humor. After reading A TICKET TO THE CIRCUS, meeting Norris was like meeting someone I’ve always known. She was unapologetic about her life choices (as she should be) not in the least bit braggy and totally brave. She admits her health is not good (she’s living with a cancer that should’ve killed her years ago) and yet she is still living her life to the fullest.

My favorite moment in the interview came when I asked Norris if she ever felt out of place when hanging out with people like Muhammad Ali or Fidel Castro... and she said “No. I looked around at the other people there and I thought ‘Why not me?'” I totally love that. I’m going to make it my new mantra.

Enjoy the interview, and click here to check out the rest of the great authors talking about their books on our podcast!

— Dana Barrett, Podcast Host

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THE SWEET BY AND BY is one of those books that stays with you long after you’ve put it down. Debut author Todd Johnson has drawn the characters so vividly and with so much love that, for me, they have become woven into the fabric of my own memories. I know when I think of a true caretaker, the person I’ll imagine is Lorraine, and when I am talking about women in their twilight years, I’ll think not only of my own grandmothers, but of Margaret and Bernice.

Now, I’m not usually someone who signs up for books (or movies) that are meant to make me cry, but I think I’ve actually had an epiphany here about the difference between a tear-jerker and a genuinely touching and emotional story. Todd Johnson achieves the latter with THE SWEET BY AND BY because he didn’t set out to jerk your tears, he set out to tell a story about people who are often marginalized or ignored. At first glance this book seems to be about aging and dying, but when you get to the heart of the matter it’s really about living and love.

Read it. You’ll be glad you did. But first, check out my talk with Todd, where I can barely hold back the tears!

Enjoy the interview, and click here to check out the rest of the great authors talking about their books on our podcast!

— Dana Barrett, Podcast Host

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Daniel Pinchbeck is out there. Maybe even way out there, depending on where you are, but he is also most definitely a man of action. As a young man living in New York City and working as a journalist, Daniel faced what he calls a spiritual crisis. Many people in his situation might have just weathered the storm, maybe taken up yoga or found a hobby like bungee jumping. But not Daniel. He wanted answers.

So he went on a journey – both physically and psychically. The journey led him to Shamanism, psychedelic drugs, Mayan culture and more – and led him to believe (to know – in his words) that these things had meaning, were real and tangible and should and could be applied to the economic and environmental challenges of today .

His journey into Shamanism and psychedelics is chronicled in his first book: BREAKING OPEN THE HEAD. His second book 2012: THE RETURN OF QUETZALCOATL (which I was afraid to pronounce in the podcast – even though I really practiced ahead of time!) digs deep into the end of the Mayan Long Count calendar and what that really means in terms of the year 2012 and the immense change he believes is already underway.

His latest book NOTES FROM THE EDGE TIMES is a series of essays Daniel wrote since the publication of 2012. It touches on topics from the environment to the economy to monogamy and psychic ability.

As a man of action – Daniel is not afraid to call it like he sees it. Daniel quotes Einstein and others in the book who say “You don’t solve problems with the kind of thinking that created them” – and whether you buy into his solutions or not, you have to admit that sentiment rings true.

Interviewing Daniel was a challenge to be sure! He’s a smart guy who backs his thinking with lots of research. Give it a listen, then check out the books and form your own opinion.

— Dana Barrett, Podcast Host

PS – did I mention Daniel is the one of the creators of 2012: Time for Change, a documentary with stars like Sting, Ellen Page and David Lynch. It’s currently debuting in selected cities around the world.

Like this interview? Subscribe to the podcast today!
Want more of the Better World Books Podcast now? Click here to check out the rest of the great authors who stopped by or called in for a chat!

Comments or questions about the podcast? Feel free to comment here on the blog, or email me at podcast AT betterworldbooks.com.

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