Books
Live Talks Los Angeles: Literary conversations with popular authors

Live Talks Los Angeles: Literary conversations with popular authors

Ever wonder how novelists are treated at the Oscars? At a Live Talks Los Angeles event on Monday, Colm Tóibín dished on his experience attending an Academy Award after his novel Brooklyn was made into a film. “If you’re a star up for an Oscar, you go in one door, and if you’re a just a novelist … you go in another door. And it’s not just the red carpet. There’s no carpet!” Colm Tóibín was paired with arts and cultures writer Scott Timberg for a wide-ranging conversation that covered everything from Brexit to Miro to Irish history to Elizabeth Bishop to Colm’s own latest novel, House of Names. It was a pretty inspiring time — and my first time at a Live Talks Los Angeles event, a speaker series that’s been bringing authors and other thought leaders to L.A. for seven years. And conveniently for me, most of the events happen on the westside; Colm’s event was at the Ann and Jerry Moss Theatre at New Roads School. Sadly I learned of the series only recently — or I would have gone to the conversation between Jami Attenberg and Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney earlier this year! Founded and produced by […]

Five firsts: Rob Roberge on on binge writing, craft, and realistic expectations

Five firsts: Rob Roberge on on binge writing, craft, and realistic expectations

Every month, I interview an author I admire on his literary firsts. April’s featured author is Rob Roberge, author of The Cost of Living, a wild ride of a novel starring Bud Barrett — guitarist of an indie rock band — who goes from reckless days of touring and partying with strangers and hiding his drug addiction to getting sober and confronting the traumas and mistakes of the past. Rob’s most recent book is Liar, a memoir with many similarities to The Cost of Living. He’s also authored three other works of fiction: Working Backwards from the Worst Moment of My Life, More Than They Could Chew, and Drive. In this interview, Rob talks about the vital role played by indie publishers in the literary marketplace, binge writing, and the difference between memoir and fiction drawn from life. Sign up with your email below to be entered to win a copy of The Cost of Living — and to get notified of future interviews! Enter to win! ____ Siel: We have one thing in common as writers: We both have books with Red Hen Press! Yours, a short story collection called Working Backwards From the Worst Moment of My Life, came out […]

May giveaway: Rob Roberge's The Cost of Living

May giveaway: Rob Roberge’s The Cost of Living

I was first introduced to The Cost of Living when I heard Rob Roberge read at Roar Shack. The excerpt — about an addict called Bud Barrett whose friend talks him into digging up a relative’s grave to steal jewelry to hawk for drug money — was disturbing and intense and sad and unexpectedly hilarious! “She was dead,” the reluctant Bud rationalizes — So of course, I had to read the novel. Every page of The Cost of Living is an entertaining ride: Reckless musicians on tour, hooking up with strangers and going on drug binges. Recovering addicts going to all the uncomfortable places in search of redemption. The heady ecstatic highs of mania, the soul-wrenching lows of depression. The characters go all over the place — geographically and emotionally — and take you with them — Get a copy of The Cost of Living now, or sign up with your email below to be entered to win a free copy! Already signed up for my newsletter? Then you’re already entered! Enter to win! ____ Come back mid-month to read a Five Firsts interview with Rob Roberge.

April book reviews: Childhood romances and other adventures

April book reviews: Childhood romances and other adventures

Brief reviews of books by contemporary authors I read this month — along with photos of what I ate while reading. The list is ordered by the level my enjoyment: Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here by Angela Palm (Graywolf, 2016) “I was well acquainted with the sensation of exterior isolation and interior energy, of the power in that juxtaposition.” * A girl grows up in a poor rural Indiana town, in love with the sweet boy next door — who ends up killing two people while strung out on heroin and gets sentenced to life in prison. Two kids, a childhood romance, two divergent paths, a lifetime of desire, unanswered questions, longing — This memoir gave me all the feels! I’m so honored to have gotten the chance to read with Angela Palm at Book Soup earlier this month! There’s So Much They Haven’t Told You by Michelle Ross (Moon City, 2017) “There is a part of me that knows I probably won’t feel so good about this in the morning, but for now I’m spinning with desire. It’s like I’m all tentacles, a giant squid. Give me, give me, give me.” * My full review of Michelle […]

Come celebrate Cake Time in April: LA, Oakland, Portland, Seattle

Come celebrate Cake Time in April: LA, Oakland, Portland, Seattle

Friends — My debut novel-in-stories, Cake Time, is almost here! April 6, 2017, is the official publication date — and I hope you’ll celebrate with me at one or many of the cakey events next month, the biggest of which is the Los Angeles launch event: Siel Ju reads from her novel-in-stories CAKE TIME with special guests Janice Lee, Victoria Patterson, and Jim Ruland Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at 7:30 pm Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles FREE! (Facebook event page) It’ll be really cake time because there’ll be cupcakes, and wine, and other fantastic writers who’ll be reading short pieces about Los Angeles. Please come — whether you plan to get Cake Time from Skylight Books or have already preordered it elsewhere or plan to borrow it from the library or win it on Goodreads — and say hello and eat sweet things. I really, really hope to see you there! I’m also coming to Oakland / San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle — All events are FREE; most will have cake! Oakland / San Francisco Siel Ju reads from CAKE TIME with fellow Red Hen Press authors Andrew Lam and Brynn Saito Friday, April 7, 2017 at […]

Current Events Reading Group: Passionate discussions over complex books

Current Events Reading Group: Passionate discussions over complex books

If recent political developments have made you want to tackle deep, heavy books and engage in meaningful dialogue with other concerned citizens, come join Skylight Books’s Current Events Reading Group. I made a new year’s resolution to be more politically engaged — which is why I decided to go to my first meeting of this book club last month. And I’m so glad I did! The conversation at this event was one of the most wide-ranging, passionate, and smart discussions I’d had about socio-political issues in a long time!