CapRadio Reads

CapRadio Reads is a book club and online reading community, hosted by Capital Public Radio. Moderator Vicki Lorini and host Donna Apidone encourage you to participate in person or on the website.

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The Ophelia Cut

May 2013 book selection

The Ophelia Cut

by John Lescroart

Less Than A Week Until Our Party

May 1, 2013 | Vicki Lorini

Do You Have Your Ticket Yet? Well CapRadio Readers, have you signed up to be one of the lucky 100 with a reserved seat for the May 7th Launch Party for John Lescroart's new book The Ophelia Cut?

Don't wait a moment longer, since we are almost sold out for this great opportunity.  Wonderful wines from our friends at C. G. Diarie, fantastic appetizers and the chance to hear John Lescroart and Donna Apidone, the host of Morning Edition in conversation.  Join us at the Odd Fellows Hall in Davis just by signing up.

Thanks to those of you who have sent notes and comments this week.  From some of the notes I received I have a few book titles to recommend.  One of our regulars at our Face To Face meetings finished and loved Kate Atkinson's new book Life After Life, remarking on her experimentation with the structure of the novel.  I just finished a Jeffrey Archer book in preparation for his newest, Best Kept Secrets,which came out yesterday and now I am truly immersed in the newest from Edward Rutherford, Paris. 

And now, back to the man of the hour, or at least of the next week, John Lescroart and the final question and answer from my interview with him.  I hope to see all of you on May 7th in Davis.

V.L.:  Authors are often asked which of their books is their favorite, and also often respond that it's the current book.  I know The Ophelia Cut is my favorite, is it yours, and why or why not?

J.L.: The Lucky Seven Reasons why The Ophelia Cut is the favorite among my own books:

1.   It was fun and easy to write, and at the same time had a powerful and compelling theme.

2. It came in at over 500 pages, which for some reason is always a cool thing and an indication that I was throwing the whole "kitchen sink" at the book and a lot of it was sticking. After writing several of my past books about one or more of my characters, this time I gathered up characters from everywhere and all of them found a place in the narrative. Abe, Diz, Frannie, The Beck, Moses, Susan (Moses's wife), Brittany (Moses's daughter), Gina Roake, Wyatt Hunt . . . in short, just about everybody. I was almost tempted to bring David Freeman back from the dead.

3. I handed it in on time. (Even though I have handed every one of my books in on time, the thrill never goes away.)

4. I really, really put a lot of my folks into serious jeopardy in many different ways. The hearkening back to The First Law brought so much depth to the anguish people were going through. The drama just seemed never to give up.

5. The courtroom stuff was not just strategic, but entertaining as all get-out. And the final courtroom turnaround was just so beautifully unexpected and riveting that I almost couldn't believe when it showed up. I probably whooped aloud when it occurred to me.

6. I got to keep my own title!!! And I firmly believe that it is the perfect one.

7. I love the prologue, which I originally wrote as a stand-alone short story and then became an integral part of this book's fabric -- first time anything like that has ever happened.

In short, this was a book that simply started running on all cylinders quite early in the process, and whose many disparate parts all fell together rather perfectly. I think readers will truly love this book as a reading experience, and that is a wonderful feeling for an author to have.

Our Author Speaks - Questions Answered

April 24, 2013 | Vicki Lorini

Before we arrive at John Lescroart's Launch Party for his new book The Ophelia Cut, at the Odd Fellows Hall in Davis, Tuesday, May 7, at 6:30pm, I thought it would be fun to have him answer a few questions about his writing and about the new book.

While going over the questions and answers this week, I realized that sometimes, art imitates life, and sometimes it's the other way around.  With the news dominated by the bombings in Boston and the subsequent death and capture of the suspects, we are also seeing reactions from the alleged bomber's family.  I think we are all questioning, to what extent family will go to help one of their own? Can their public reactions be trusted to be the truth? Without giving you any spoilers, please enjoy the next part of my Q&A with John Lescroart and don't forget to sign up to come to this fantastic party.

V.L.: This novel, The Ophelia Cut, talks a lot about the difficult decisions families have to make to protect one another.  How did you come up with this idea andwas it difficult to write about your characters, knowing they would face difficult times?

J.L.: Basically, I'm always on the lookout for the next story, and the next story can't really just be adequate; it has to be great. I, at least, have to think that I'm starting to grapple with important issues and interesting people who are going to matter to my readers.

So when I started in on the book that became The Ophelia Cut, I didn't have much in the way of story. I liked the idea of having a kind of "wild card" guy in the person of a protected witness, and so the first scene I actually wrote was when Tony Solaia, the protected witness, says hi to Dismas Hardy at the Dolphin Club -- now this is around page 30 of the finished book, so you can see how things turned around somewhat. Then I liked the idea of Hardy spending more time with his daughter, who'd been away at college for the past few books. I missed Rebecca, and I thought my readers would like to see her on the page, too. Finally, I had to have some conflict in Hardy's life, and the history of The Dockside Massacre which I wrote about in The First Law seemed to provide a nice opening into something in Hardy's here-and-now that could cause grief to him and his pals Moses, Abe, and Gina. 

I knew I wanted to have Hardy and Tony Solaia become friends (I still didn't know why he was a protected witness -- was he essentially a good guy or a bad guy?), and that led to Tony being busted for serving drinks to minors -- hardly more than an administrative hiccup if the guy was not in the Federal Witness Protection program. Still, nothing was happening in terms of real plot. I just had some pieces moving around the chessboard. Then, purely fortuitously, I thought it would be nice to bring Moses McGuire's daughter Brittany back from college as well, and to have her be friends/confidants with Rebecca. And what would they be confidants about, as cousins, if not boyfriends/dating/etc.? And of course things on that level would need to be complicated and . . .

BAM! Rick Jessup enters the picture as a very bad force in Brittany's life.

And suddenly, probably close to a hundred pages into the actual writing, I found that I was at critical mass, and the celestial bodies started moving on their own. Really, it was a dramatic moment in the creation of this book. Suddenly, against my inclinations (and since they are so hard to get right), I realized that it was going to be a trial book, that the man on trial was going to be the unreliable alcoholic Moses McGuire, and that he was going to be charged with killing his daughter's rapist. This was a plot that would bring all of the elements I'd introduced into their point of greatest pressure, and both the balance and the heft of the actual story was more than going to compensate for what I was going to put my characters through. I didn't know how bad it would get for any of them, although I knew that by the end, it wasn't going to be pretty.

There comes a point in the best stories where the author isn't really directing events, and that's what happened in The Ophelia Cut. Your characters start to live and do what they're going to do, and all we poor scriveners can do is try to capture the moments as they unfold in front of us. I hope I caught most of 'em.

Parties and Prizes - Tickets Are Going Fast

April 16, 2013 | Vicki Lorini

Do you have your tickets for the big party in Davis? CapRadio Reads presents John Lescroart's The Ophelia Cut launch party is close to being sold out. I'm sure you don't want to be left out of this fun event.

Your reservation is the only way you will be able to have preferred seating for this bash on May 7, at 6:30 in the evening at the Odd Fellow's Hall in Davis, located at 415 2nd Street, Davis, CA. 95616, as well as scrumptious appetizers, wonderful wine from C.G. Di Arie and an evening with John Lescroart himself.  Don't delay.  Do it today!

Before we get to the second installment of my interview with Mr. Lescroart, I wanted to make sure you knew about the latest prize for literature.  This year, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction goes to Adam Johnson for The Orphan Master's Son.  It is an extremely timely novel of North Korea that "carries the reader on an adventuresome journey into the depths of totalitarian North Korea and into the most intimate spaces of the human heart", according to the Pulitzer judges.  The author is a professor of creative writing at Stanford.  Especially wonderful for him, since the judges did not give an award at all last year, stating that there wasn't a book worthy of the award.  Not sure I agree, but nonetheless, it is a great honor for Mr. Johnson.  And now, to the second question I asked John Lescroart....I hope you enjoy his response.

V.L.:  John, you write about San Francisco in all your books.  If you could design the perfect day in S.F. what would you do and would you bring any of your characters along?
J.L.:   It's interesting that in the many interviews I have given about my writing, no one ever asked this question before. And it's a great one. My perfect day in San Francisco?

Well, first thing, it would have to be in the Fall. I've had enough bone-chilling spring and summer days in the City that I never want to spend another one. Now, that said, and before I get to this particular day that you're asking me about, let me tell you a true story about just such a real day that I spent in San Francisco about thirty years ago with my former college roommate and (still) great friend Frank Seidl.

The occasion was a vacation Frank, up from Los Angeles, was taking in the City. I was unencumbered by relationships or by work, and we decided to take the whole day to just hang out. We met at about 9:00 a.m. in North Beach, at the current location of Firenze By Night, on Stockton near Columbus. Back then, this place housed a terrific Italian deli called Frank's Extra Espresso Bar (no relation to Frank, my companion). We sat outside in a recessed area, just off the sidewalk. We had perfect weather, and started with a couple of espressos and some sweet rolls. After a half hour catching up on our lives, we decided "what the heck," and each of us ordered a Peroni beer. By 11:00, we'd each had two beers, and it was getting near lunchtime. So we walked up a few blocks to the Washington Square Bar & Grill, where we had sand dabs and pasta and a bottle or two of good wine. Solving all the problems of the world over a six-pack of Coors Talls, we passed the warm and gorgeous afternoon in Golden Gate Park. Next, after a little doze on the warm grass, we moved on out to The Avenues for dinner at Yet Wah, a favorite Chinese spot. I believe we rounded out the evening (events at this remove are still a bit vague) with a cocktail or two over some darts at the Little Shamrock, and finally, though I can hardly believe it, I have some small memory of getting back to my apartment and making sardine sandwiches with, of course, another really unnecessary beer or two. Yikes. 

So . . . this is precisely what I would not do this time around. Although I would probably start again in North Beach, my wife Lisa and I walking there from wherever we were staying (let's say at the St. Francis on Union Square). After an espresso and croissant, just taking in the sights and scents and feel, we'd walk back on Columbus through downtown and then, since we're in the Fall, the Giants would be in the playoffs, and I would have good tickets at AT&T Park. We'd meet some pals, including Dismas and Frannie Hardy, at MoMo's for a quick beer before the game. After the win, we'd walk up to Chaya Brasserie for a bite, then cab it over to the Great American Music Hall where Boz Scaggs would be performing. The show would get out at around 10:30. We'd be back at the hotel by 11:00, an early night so that we'd be ready tomorrow morning for our ferry ride to Alcatraz for the tour, then lunch in Sausalito, then back to the City for the current exhibit at the De Young and a swing through the Aquarium before hitting the Little Shamrock for a cocktail, and then dinner at . . . well, it never really has to end. The City lives and breathes forever.

Thank you John Lescroart and thanks to CapRadio Readers for reading.

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