Books


An illuminating melding of narrative and inspiring practical guidance, this is both the extraordinary true story of a family’s survival in Stalinist Siberia and a guide to becoming a person who can give to others. Purchase at Allen & Unwin’s Inspired Living Imprint

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Okay, so I was a little bit intimidated, interviewing one of my very favorite authors, but Tony Doerr turned out to be gracious and generous and wise. Here’s a link to his outstanding interview at the r.kv.r.y. blog: Clicky Mary Akers: Thanks for agreeing to talk with me today. I loved your short story “Oranges” that appears in our July issue. It’s such a beautiful, wistful story and I really admire how you grapple with decades of time in what is quite a short story. The next-to-last paragraph reads: “In the morning he’ll stand up in front of his seventh-graders. ‘History is memory,’ he’ll say. ‘It’s knowing that the birds who come coursing over your backyard are traveling paths ten thousand years older than you. It’s knowing that the clouds coming over the desert today will come over this desert a thousand years from now. It’s knowing that the eyes of the ones who have gone before us will someday reappear as the eyes of our children.’” This idea of history-as-memory is lovely. It’s also what I’d like to focus on today, if you’re game, and since your most recent book is titled MEMORY WALL, I’m going to go ahead and assume that you are. In your writing, you often travel freely through time–forward, backward, into the future, and even into the pre-human past. This gives your stories such a sweeping feel, such a massive, monolithic presence. Does this style come naturally to you, or do you have to give yourself permission to take those leaps? Do you do it confidently? Or only with sweaty palms and trembling? Anthony Doerr: Thank you, Mary!  Thanks even more so for being a promoter and protector of literary work. Okay, time-travel in fiction.  Let’s see.  I do everything with sweaty palms and trembling, unfortunately.  But I take heart from the folks who have risked failure before me. The first Alice Munro short story I ever read was “Walker Brothers Cowboy” and it includes these lines: “He tells me how the Great Lakes came to be. All where Lake Huron is now, he says, used to be flat land, a wide flat plain. Then came the ice, creeping down from the North, pushing deep into the low places … And then the ice went back, shrank back towards the North Pole where it came from, and left its fingers of ice in the deep places it had gouged, and ice turned to lakes and there they were today. They were new, as time went … The tiny share we have of time appalls me, though my father seems to regard it with tranquility.”...

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Well, my reading at Floyd was fantastic. The library helped to publicize the event, provided refreshments, and had already set up the room when we got there a half-hour early. Very organized, they were. We had about 30 people attend (my mom did a lot of advance promotion, god bless her), which wasn’t bad considering it was Floyd Fest weekend. I read my two shortest stories, then answered questions, then signed books. I got to hang with some great peeps from my high school years (see photo), and so many wonderful surprise guests, too. Two of my HS English teachers came (Clara Martin and Joyce Hall)! Clara brought copies of the school magazine from 1982 and 1983 that had work of mine in it! What a gift–she had to dig around in her basement in boxes to find those and bring them to me. I was thrilled and very touched. So many people I hadn’t seen in years showed up–really just to support me. It was truly a wonderful afternoon. A big thank you to all who...

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I leave tomorrow, to head to my favorite spot on the planet. I’ll be at Floyd Fest on Friday, reading at the Floyd Library on Saturday (please come by at 2PM if you’re in the area!), catching up with old friends, and soaking up enough Floyd vibes to last until my next visit, which can’t come soon enough. In the meantime, I’ve been meaning to mention that you can friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter–neither of which I will be doing much with over the next few weeks (after Floyd, I’ll be on my glorious annual backpacking trip with my hubby), but you can follow just the same. 🙂 Oh, and will be doing a live interview on Blog Talk Radio’s Garden of the Soul at 1PM today (6PM UK time) with my co-author about our book The Greatest Gift. Tune in if you get the...

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I am thrilled to have a most excellent review (my first!) appear in the Winston-Salem Journal for my short story collection Women Up On Blocks. You can read it (pretty please?) here. Yippee!!

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