Martha Woodroof has only recently added “author” to her resume. In her other past lives, she was a teacher’s aide, a restaurateur, a TV news anchor… and then there was the time she spent in public radio.
At WMRA in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Woodroof was the local host for NPR’s All Things Considered. “I was mainly a reporter,” Woodroof said. “And the whole time I was sort of a small emergency backup for Lynn Neary reporting on books for NPR. It was the best gig in the world.”
It’s not surprising that such a book lover would eventually write a novel.
It's the first day of school at Hall Fletcher Elementary in Asheville, N.C. Principal Gordon Grant stands outside in a white suit and bow tie, greeting students. The kids arrive sporting fresh haircuts and new shoes. One even wears a tutu.
Sean Michaels’ first novel, Us Conductors, is loosely based on the life of Russian inventor Leon Theremin.
Theremin’s story spans continents and cultures, beginning in the laboratories of Russia, then corssing the Atlantic and dipping into Harlem speakeasies of the late 1920’s, only to end up back in Russia, in the brutal isolation of a Siberian gulag.
The story of Leon Theremin even has a connection to Asheville through electronic music pioneer Bob Moog.
Durham-based playwright Monica Byrne's first novel, The Girl in the Road, is incredibly difficult to describe. But it’s one of those books that you read and immediately have to shove into someone else’s hands, saying, 'Here, read this so we can talk about it.'
“I’m sort of glad that it defies categorization and description,” Byrne said,.
The Girl in the Road is futuristic, but not quite sci-fi; it’s suspenseful but introspective, one of those books where the way the story is told is almost more interesting than the plot itself.
Author Francine prose has written seven nonfiction books, three short story collections, and 17 novels. But she says her most recent book, Lovers at the Chameleon Club Paris 1932, was one of the most difficult stories she's ever written.
“The book really began when I saw a photograph by the great Hungarian French photographer Brassai," Prose said. "It was a picture of two women in a bar. I had seen this photo before-- it’s an iconic photo, but I had never known anything about it.”