198: Imbolo Mbue

Steve chats with Imbolo Mbue, author of How Beautiful We Were and Behold the Dreamers, about how a library display helped inspire her to start writing, the characters and themes she tackles in her work, writing as catharsis, and what it’s like to get a phone call from Oprah.

IMBOLO MBUE is the author of the New York Times bestseller Behold the Dreamers, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and was an Oprah’s Book Club selection. The novel has been translated into eleven languages, adapted into an opera and a stage play, and optioned for a miniseries.

Her new novel, How Beautiful We Were, was published in March 2021.

A native of Limbe, Cameroon, and a graduate of Rutgers and Columbia Universities, Mbue lives in New York.

Today’s show is brought to you by Syndetics Unbound, from ProQuest and LibraryThing. Syndetics Unbound helps public and academic libraries enrich their catalogs and discovery systems with high-interest elements, including cover images, summaries, author profiles, similar books, reviews, and more. Syndetics Unbound encourages serendipitous discovery and higher collection usage, and was recently awarded Platinum distinction in the LibraryWorks 2021 Modern Library Awards. To learn more about Syndetics Unbound, visit Syndetics.com. While there, be sure to visit their “News” tab to check out the Syndetics Unbound Blog for news and analysis, including a break-down of 2020’s most popular titles in public and academic libraries.

189: Esther Safran Foer

Steve chats with Esther Safran Foer, the author of I Want You to Know We’re Still Here, about releasing a book during a pandemic, her time at Sixth & I, the exploration of her past leading to the writing of her memoir, and whether she sought writing advice from her sons.

Photo by Laura Ashbrook Photography

Esther Safran Foer was the CEO of Sixth & I, a center for arts, ideas, and religion. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Bert. They are the parents of Franklin, Jonathan, and Joshua, and the grandparents of six.


I Want You to Know We’re Still Here
Interview with Jonathan Safran Foer
Interview with Franklin Foer
Yizkor Books at NYPL
Library of Congress digital map collection
Sixth & I

183: January LaVoy

Steve chats with January LaVoy, actress and audiobook narrator, about her experience with libraries, how she finds the right voice for each audiobook she narrates, the care she takes in translating an author’s story in audio, and working with a little-known actress named Meryl Streep to bring Charlotte’s Web to life.

An Audiofile Magazine “Golden Voice” since May 2019, January LaVoy has an extensive body of work in both narration and commercial voiceover.  With hundreds of audiobook titles to her credit, she has received more than two dozen Earphones Awards, sixteen Audie Award nominations (including four wins), and was named Publishers Weekly’s “Audiobook Narrator of the Year” for 2013. Her voice has been heard in national campaigns for products such as Revlon, Toll House, United Health Care, Dannon, Asthma.com, Home Depot, and Obama for America.

181: Susan Elia MacNeal

Steve chats with Susan Elia MacNeal, New York Times bestselling author of the Maggie Hope series; the newest book in the series The King’s Justice is out now. Susan discusses how libraries inspired her career, how the Maggie Hope series came to be, and why she writes historical fiction.

Read the transcript!

Susan Elia MacNeal is the New York Times bestselling author of the Maggie Hope mysteries. MacNeal won the Barry Award and has been nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, Agatha, Left Coast Crime, Dilys, and ITW Thriller awards. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and son.


Susan Elia MacNeal – Books

177: PLA 2020

Recorded at the Public Library Association 2020 conference, Steve chats with Sourcebooks authors Ashley Blooms, Emily Levesque, and Caroline B. Cooney about their new books and their interactions with – and love of – libraries. Then, Steve catches up with Megan Emery of the Healing Library and Becky Spratford of RA for All and RA for All: Horror.


Every Bone a Prayer
The Last Stargazers
Before She Was Helen

The Healing Library
NCompass Live: The Healing Library: Responding to Trauma in Your Community Through Nontraditional Lending – Recorded Online Session 

RA for All
RA for All: Horror
Summer Scares 2020
Becky’s PLA notes

Gwenda Bond – Librarians are ROCKSTARS!

Allison and I teamed up for an interview over at Authors are ROCKSTARS! with author Gwenda Bond to discuss her YA novels BLACKWOOD and THE WOKEN GODS, the overwhelming awesomeness of her first ALA conference, and her love of Christopher Pike.

Read the transcript.

This is the last of the interviews Allison and I did for the Librarians are ROCKSTARS! series at this summer’s ALA conference. We hope you enjoyed them, and we hope to be back with another round soon! Let us know if you have suggestions for authors you’d like to hear featured.
Previous entries in the series:

28: Cory Doctorow – Librarians are ROCKSTARS!

Steve, along with Allison from the Authors are ROCKSTARS! podcast, speak with Cory Doctorow, author, blogger, journalist, and activist. His newest book for young adults is HOMELAND and he is co-editor at Boing Boing

Read the transcript.

Around the time of the ALA Midwinter conference last year, I teamed up with Allison and Michelle from Authors are ROCKSTARS! to produce a series of interviews we called Librarians are ROCKSTARS!, where we spoke with authors about their experiences with libraries. Since Allison and I were both attending the ALA conference in Chicago this summer (Michelle couldn’t make it, sadly), we wanted to do some more interviews with authors.

Last week, you heard our chat with Gene Luen Yang and this week, we’re proud to let you hear our insightful interview with Cory Doctorow. Even though he had a busy conference, Cory graciously gave us his time and shared his thoughts on how librarians remain relevant in the 21st century, his support for fair ebook terms for libraries, and spoiled the end of Homeland (not really).

Stay tuned to Authors are ROCKSTARS! next week for our final joint interview from ALA.


Boing Boing
Authors for Library eBooks [ALA]

Cory’s talk at Library of Congress [Craphound]
Philip Pullman: ‘Authors must be paid fairly for ebook library loans’ [The Guardian];Libraries ‘have had their day’, says Horrible Histories author [The Guardian]

Gene Luen Yang – Librarians are ROCKSTARS!

Collaboration is one of my favorite things to do. I love working with other librarians to accomplish bigger and better things, and I’m happy to say that I was able to connect with Allison Tran from the Authors are ROCKSTARS! podcast once again for our semi-regular Librarians are ROCKSTARS series (we spoke with Kirby Larson and Tom Angleberger earlier, along with her regular co-host Michelle). When Allison wasn’t busy trying to recruit me into YALSA like Sam Jackson recruiting superheroes into the Avengers, we were chatting with a number of great authors.

Read the transcript.

First up in this series is Gene Luen Yang, Printz Award winning author and artist of AMERICAN BORN CHINESE and the new BOXERS & SAINTS. Visit the Authors are ROCKSTARS site for more info on this interview and stay tuned throughout August for more great author interviews!

Tom Angleberger – Librarians are ROCKSTARS!

Steve, in collaboration with Allison and Michelle from the Authors are ROCKSTARS! podcast, chats with author and illustrator Tom Angleberger about the awesomeness of libraries, librarians, and Star Wars!

Read the transcript.

Tom is the author and illustrator of the Origami Yoda series, in addition to many other great novels for young readers. His next book, Art2-D2’s Guide to Folding and Doodling, will be on bookstore shelves in March 2013.

It was a great pleasure to team up with Allison and Michelle for this special project. Be sure to check out the first part of this series over on their site, with author Kirby Larson and add their show to your podcast-listening queue today!

Kirby Larson – Librarians are ROCKSTARS!

Take a listen to the newest episode of the Authors are ROCKSTARS! podcast for a special collaboration we call Librarians are ROCKSTARS! We spoke with author Kirby Larson about her love of libraries and librarians, and got a sneak peek at her new book, Hattie Ever After, hitting bookshelves on February 12.

Read the transcript.

Allison and Michelle were a delight to work with, and you’ll see part two with another great author here on Thursday.