Summer Fiction Series

summer-ficiton-header (1)Summertime means barbecue, beach…..and New England Public Radio’s annual local fiction series. Every friday morning, we’ll feature an interview with an author from western New England who’s got a new novel out for those lazy days in the sun. As the season progresses, you can hear each interview archived here.

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

Cammie-McGovern-credit-Ellen-AugartenFor many people, summer brings lazier days …. and, at least in theory, more opportunities to read fiction. So for the past few years, we’ve tried to introduce local readers to local writers. Our annual summer fiction series starts today with Cammie McGovern, a mystery writer from Amherst who’s just published her first young adult novel. “Say What You Will” is about the relationship between Amy, a high schooler with cerebral palsy who can’t walk or talk, and Matthew, who has obsessive compulsive disorder. McGovern tells New England Public Radio’s Karen Brown that she’s long wanted to write about the intersection of love and disability.

Below, you can hear a section of the book, “Say What You Will.” McGovern reads an essay written by her character Amy about her disability — and it ends up sparking an interest in her classmate Matthew.

Foreign Gods Inc. by Okey Ndibe

Okey-Ndibe-photo-1The American Dream is perhaps the most powerful element of this nation’s mythology; drawing generations of immigrants from around the world to these shores in search of what they hope will be a better life. It also lies at the heart of “Foreign Gods, Inc.,” a new novel by Nigerian-born and Connecticut-based author Okey Ndibe.

The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart

rachelurquhartcreditsarahshatz_150x150In the 1840s, a religious revival was taking place in many Shaker communities. Members young and old were either adopted or joined through conversion. That’s the basis for writer Rachel Urquhart’s new novel, The Visionist. Urquhart – who splits her time between the Berkshires and Brooklyn – grew up in a former Shaker meeting house in Tyringham, Massachusetts. The Visionist tells the story of 15-year-old Polly Kimbell, whose way out of an abusive household was finding a brief safe haven in The City of Hope, a fictional western Massachusetts Shaker community.

The Kept by James Scott

James-Scott-150x150In 1897, a midwife returns to her isolated home in the depths of winter to find her family murdered. That’s the premise of “The Kept,” the next book in our Summer Fiction Series, from author James Scott of Whately, Massachusetts.

The book follows Elspeth, and her one surviving son Caleb, as they seek revenge on their family’s murderers. It’s set in upstate New York, where James Scott also grew up. He tells New England Public Radio’s Henry Epp why he chose to set his first novel in 1897.

Below, you can hear a section of the book, “The Kept” read by James Scott.

Acts of Contrition by Rita Bleiman

summerfiction4Guilt, religion, love and death. Northampton, Massachusetts, writer Rita Bleiman takes it all on in her latest novel. “Acts of Contrition” — the next book in NEPR’s Summer Fiction series — is set in Washington, D.C., in 1972, and it’s a follow-up to Bleiman’s first novel, “Dirty Tricks.” The main character, Gloria Warren, left her home in Dallas for the nation’s capitol, where she works in a Senate office. But Bleiman says politics is only the backdrop as Gloria’s personality leads her into a dangerous situation.

Finding the Last Hungry Heart by David K. Leff

David-K.-Leff-150x150The writer David K. Leff has published poetry and non-fiction, and now a novel using verse. “Finding the Last Hungry Heart” is the next book in our Summer Fiction series. In it, we meet Caleb Dempster, resident keeper of the landfill and dump in a small Connecticut town. He is a disillusioned idealist from the 60s. Many years later, a group of bored teenagers ask him to talk about what it was like to be around during Vietnam, JFK and Mrs. Robinson. Leff, who lives in Collinsville, Connecticut, says Caleb and the teens are inspired by what they learn.

Close your eyes hold hands by Chris Bohjalians

Chris-Bohjalian-150x150Vermont author Chris Bohjalian’s latest novel, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, is about a nuclear meltdown and a young girl. Emily Shephard has a deep love for the poetry of Amherst native Emily Dickinson, something she carries with her when catastrophe strikes and she becomes homeless.

Bohjalian tells New England Public Radio’s Susan Kaplan why he chose to revolve the entire story around a nuclear disaster. The reason, he says, goes back to 2011 when he was caring for his dying father.

All I Love and Know by Judith Frank

Judith-Frank-150x150A gay couple from Northampton, Massachusetts, gets caught in the cross-hairs of Middle Eastern politics in Judith Frank’s new novel, “All I Love and Know.” After one character’s brother and sister-in-law die suddenly in Israel, the two men – Matt and Daniel – are faced with bringing up the deceased couple’s orphaned children. In the final installment of our summer fiction series, Judith Frank tells New England Public Radio’s Karen Brown that the current war in Gaza makes her book especially relevant, even though she had no idea it would be published during an active conflict.