Interview: Kelli Stanley, author of The Curse-Maker. Upcoming: Angela Davis-Gardner, author of Butterfly’s Child

The Writer’s Center has recently asked me to begin hosting their new podcast series, which debuted in February and has already featured interviews with novelist Alice McDermott (here) and novelist and critic Alan Cheuse (here; neither conducted by me, incidentally). For my first interview, published here today, I chatted by phone with San Francisco-based mystery writer Kelli Stanley, the author of two highly praised historical mystery series. Her Roman Noir novels put a twist on that old French phrase: They’re actually set in first-century Britannia, what we know today as Roman Britain. The first book in that series, Nox Dormienda, introduced the amateur detective Arcturus and became a Writer’s Digest Notable Debut, won the Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award and was a Macavity Award finalist. A follow-up, The Curse-Maker, was published last month and is the focus of much of our conversation here. Stanley’s second series is set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1940. The first of those books, City of Dragons, has just recently been named a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and a second, City of Secrets, will be released later this year.

I had the great fortune to fall into conversation with Stanley at last year’s Bouchercon by the Bay in San Francisco — at a “black envelope” Litanies of Noir event that also featured readings by Megan Abbott, Cara BlackDavid Corbett, Eddie Muller, Domenic Stansberry, and more — and our chat proved one of the highlights of the entire trip, so I was glad to catch up with her again more officially this month. Check out the full interview here.

Angela Davis-Gardner’s Butterfly’s Child

For next month’s podcast for The Writer’s Center, I’ll be chatting with novelist Angela Davis-Gardner about her new novel Butterfly’s Child, which offers a literary twist on Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Kirkus Reviews has already heaped some lavish praise on the new book, noting that “the novel is told with control, precision and emotional understatement. In its way, it holds its own alongside the modern Western masterpieces of Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy. For all its melancholy and madness, it strikes themes of hope and renewal, and believing in the unbelievable.”

Davis-Gardner will be touring through North Carolina over the next month, beginning this Sunday, March 20, at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh. Check out the full schedule at her own website — and be sure to stay tuned for our podcast interview in mid-April. — Art Taylor