JoAnne Tompkins, author of What Comes After, had a career as a mediator and judicial officer before writing her debut book. In her first novel, she explores a familiar situation: an idyllic town turned upside down by a the shocking death of two teenage boys.
The book, however, is about more than the mystery. It’s about how the families can put their lives back together and how the town can trust again. It’s a meditation on optimism in the darkest of times.
Below, the author answers Debutiful‘s A Life of Books Questionnaire.
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The Elephant of Belfast, the debut novel from S. Kirk Walsh, was inspired by events that took place in Northern Ireland during World War II. Inspired by the true store of Denise Austin, the book follows twenty-year-old zookeeper Hettie Quin and three-year-old elephant Violet. The two share an immense bond and one night in 1941 when bombs start dropping, Hettie does everything she can to protect Violet.
Walsh writes with exquisite and tender prose throughout the book making Elephant an unforgettable read. Below, she answered the semi-regular “A Life of Books” questionnaire so readers can get to know her better.
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In her debut novel, Cherie Jones tells a cautionary tale set mostly in Barbados. A grandmother uses a story about one-armed sister. Her granddaughter Lala listens to what happens to girls who disobey their mothers but the question is, does she absorb the story?
Years later, Lala is married to a petty burglar and their seemingly cozy lives are upended in a spiral of violence, crime, and deceit. What unfolds is, How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House, a devastating debut that is a must-read. Be warned though: you’ll want to finish this in one sitting. So block out a lot of time one you start this.
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Below, Cherie Jones answers the A Life of Books Questionnaire for Debutiful.
In Black Buck, Mateo Askaripour uses a gregarious Black salesman in an all white company to satirically take down corporate America. Through sharp-witted humor and a lot of heart, Askaripour sheds light on the microaggressions and blatant racism Black men and women go through on a daily basis.
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The book has been praised by everyone from Publishers Weekly to The Today Show and was one of Debutiful‘s best debuts to read this month.
Below, Mateo Askaripour answered A Life of Books, Debutiful‘s ongoing questionnaire to better get to know writers and what inspires them.
In his multi-award winning (Winner of the Edgar Award and Louisiana Literary Award, shortlisted for the 2020 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing) debut book Tinderbox, writer Robert W. Fieseler explores the 1973 fire that devastated New Orleans’ queer community. The book chronicles what happened the night when 32 people lost their lives in one of the largest mass murders against gay and lesbian people in our country’s history.
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In her stunning, coming-of-age debut memoir, Alisson Wood details what happens after her senior year English teacher asks her if she ever read Lolita. An innocent question turns into a forbidden romance. As his hold on her grows, she begins to question everything.
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Lucie Britsch‘s Sad Janet follows the titular character as she works in a run down dog shelter. She’s an anxious cynic who has a passive-aggressive boyfriend and a nosy family. Her life changes when she discovers a pill that provides instant happiness. In all, Sad Janet is a hilarious look into depression. Fans of Miranda July and Melissa Broder will find comfort in Britsch’s writing and viewpoint.
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Emma Sloley‘s short fiction has been published in various journals like Catapult and collected in an anthology edited by Rebecca Makkai. She also is a seasoned travel writer where she has traveled the world writing essays for outlets like Coastal Living and Travel + Leisure.
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In her debut story collection, R.L. Maizes offers stories filled with quirky wit that explore the small tender moments of our lives. We Love Anderson Cooper brings outsiders into a warm embrace.
The stories have the same heart, but range in a deliciously diverse cast of characters. From a therapist’s couch to a boys Bar Mitzvah, we are welcomed in to relatable scenarios that will make readers feel connected.
Below, R.L. Maizes answered Debutiful‘s “A Life of Books” questionnaire.
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In A Philosophy of Ruin, the debut novel by Nicholas Mancusi, a philosophy professor questions his choices, what life is about, and reevaluates his own outlook on philosophy. The professor, named Oscar, is experiencing one of the roughest patches in his life. To add to everything, he is seduced by a student who gets him caught up in a drug ring that begins to upend everything he has worked for.
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