2013-14 Winter Book Series

This winter, WNIJ continues to curate the best literature from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Morning Edition host and Book Series editor Dan Klefstad invited five authors to our studios to discuss their fiction, poetry and memoirs.

New for this series was a community read of the novel Snakewoman of Little Egypt by Robert Hellenga. WNIJ invited listeners to obtain a copy  and on Nov. 16 they tweeted questions and comments to the author. We encourage you to follow WNIJ on Twitter (@wnijnews) and on Facebook and use #readwithWNIJ on both sites.

The other books in our December series are: Troy, Unincorporated by Francesca Abbate; Cabin Fever by Tom Montgomery Fate; And Then She Kissed El Paco's Lips Now! Or April in DeKalb, by Ricardo Mario Amezquita; and Cloudbreak, California by Kelly Daniels.

We hope you enjoy reading all the books in our Winter Series!

Florencia Mallon wrote several books and articles about the events preceding Chile's 1973 military coup and the subsequent dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. These were intended for her colleagues in the field of Latin American history.

"He will be unshaven, wear a battered borsalino, and nod a greeting to me, smiling slyly."

This is how poet John Bradley describes his character, Roberto Zingarello, a fictional poet writing about his native Italy under the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini.

The 2015 Summer Book Series wraps up next Friday -- have you read any of the books yet?

You'll find links to the previous author interviews at the bottom of this article. Before the series ends, we wanted to give you a chance to hear Florencia Mallon read an excerpt from her novel, Beyond the Ties of Blood.

The story is about love, loss and the search for the "disappeared" in Chile during, and after, the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

This week, the 2015 Summer Book Series features the newly reissued Love-In-Idleness: The Poetry of Roberto Zingarello.

Zingarello is a poet looking for truth, love and revenge in Fascist Italy.

His creator is John Bradley, a poet and faculty member at Northern Illinois University. Bradley will discuss these poems, and his fascination with Italy during the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini. That's Friday, June 19, during Morning Edition.

In 2000, dozens of U.S. Navy veterans arrived on the Greek island of Crete to restore a former American warship and sail it home. All were volunteers. Several served during World War II.

Their average age: 72.

One of the younger vets (at 61) was Robert Jornlin, who recounts the story in Bringing Back a Hero, a Summer Book Series selection for 2015.

The title, Annabelle and the Sandhog, introduces two of the book's main characters, so let's take them in order:

Annabelle is a nursing-home aide who befriends the sandhog, in the novel and in real life. We'll learn more about her in a bit.

"Sandhog" is American slang for a person who works underground at an urban construction site.

The sandhog in this story is John O'Malley, modeled after author Ray Paul's grandfather, who made a career of blasting bedrock to carve the foundations of tall buildings in the early 20th Century.

Maria Boynton

This weekend, WNIJ started airing 30-second promos for the Summer Book Series which runs Friday mornings in June. Here are links to the promos featuring clips of our selected authors (Ray Paul, Robert Jornlin, John Bradley and Florencia Mallon):

When you write a novel, how much of your life experience do you give to your characters? And how much of that experience do you fictionalize?

This question came up during two panel discussions with WNIJ Book Series authors last week. One panelist, Katie Andraski, described how she transferred her experience as a publicist to her protagonist in The River Caught Sunlight.

Performance artist. Visual artist. World's Best Dishwasher.

These are just a few of the things Jesus Correa lists on his website. He also ran for Mayor of Rockford, getting nearly 400 votes in 2009.

More recently, Correa released a book of poetry after a successful Kickstarter campaign. The collection, Iced Cream, is published by Zombie Logic, a firm that bills itself as "The most dangerous small press in America."

The latest book in our 2015 Winter Book Series is a novel set during a time when evangelical authors and publishers pushed for wider recognition of books with a Christian perspective.