woofatthedoorI’ve always loved wild things.

Even when I was a little girl I was fascinated by the beauty and wonder of the natural world. I blame my early upbringing in Central America. My family moved to Costa Rica when I was a few months old, so I grew up on a coffee farm in the rain forest. Such a lush vibrant setting wasn’t wasted on me.

When I was three, sitting in the backyard near a blooming bush that had attracted a swarm of swallowtail butterflies, I held my pudgy little finger up in the air. My mom asked me what I was doing. I told her I was waiting for a butterfly to land on my finger.

“Laura, sweetheart, a butterfly isn’t going to land on your finger,” she said, sorry to spoil the moment.

“Yes, it will,” I told her.  And it did.

As a young teenager in Florida, I learned there was more to nature than just delicate beauty. I spent countless hours on the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. This might not sound like the most treacherous place on earth compared to the Costa Rican jungle, but when the undertow current of those calm Gulf waters claimed the life of a friend’s mother, I understood.  Nature is beautiful, but she mustn’t be underestimated.

Working at a zoo gave me another perspective. Wild things are truly wild. No matter the time spent raised by and cared for by humans, they are not ours. The animals I worked with had a depth and intelligence so different than the pets I’d grown accustomed to. I knew I could never forget that.

I’m honored to have the opportunity to write a mystery series that allows me to include domestic animals but also walks a little bit on the wild side.


Excerpt (25)
Excerpt Neptune’s Brood Charles Stross (Ace)
Excerpt Cold CopperDevon Monk (Roc)
Excerpt Storm Surge Taylor Anderson (Roc)
Excerpt The Thousand Names Django Wexler (Roc)
Excerpt My Education Susan Choi (Viking)
Excerpt The Universe in the Rearview Mirror Dave Goldberg (Dutton)
Excerpt Real Talk for Real Teachers Rafe Esquith (Viking)
Excerpt The Never List Koethi Zan (Viking)
Excerpt The Widow’s Strike Brad Taylor (Dutton)
Excerpt Blade Reforged Kelly McCullough (Ace)
Excerpt Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures Emma Straub (Riverhead)
Excerpt The Dark Road Ma Jian (Penguin Press)
Excerpt Bombshell Catherine Coulter (Putnam)
Excerpt The Warriors Tom Young (Putnam)
Excerpt The Mediterranean Caper Clive Cussler (Putnam)
Excerpt Elisha Barber E.C. Ambrose (DAW)
Excerpt Death Angel Linda Fairstein (Dutton)
Excerpt Earthbound Aprilynne Pike (Razorbill)
Excerpt Going Home A. American (Plume)
Excerpt Surviving Home A. American (Plume)
Excerpt Biting Bad Chloe Neill (NAL)
Excerpt The Cleaner of Chartres Salley Vickers (Viking)
Excerpt Return to Oakpine Ron Carlson (Viking)
Excerpt Up to Me M. Leighton (Berkley)
Excerpt Down to You M. Leighton (Berkley)

Notes on Text (1)
Notes on Text Death Angel Linda Fairstein (Dutton Adult)

Podcast (1)
Podcast A Good Birth Anne Lyerly (Avery)

Q&A (5)
Q&A The Thousand Names Django Wexler (Roc)
Q&A Headhunters on My Doorstep J. Maarten Troost (Gotham)
Q&A A Good Birth Anne Lyerly (Avery)
Q&A Handling the Truth Beth Kephart (Gotham)
Q&A Duke Terry Teachout (Gotham)

Reading Group Guide (4)
Reading Group Guide Archipelago Monique Roffey (Penguin)
Reading Group Guide The Queen’s Lover Francine du Plessix Gray (Penguin)
Reading Group Guide East of Denver Gregory Hill (Plume)
Reading Group Guide Demian Hermann Hesse (Penguin Classics)

Video (5)
Video Eve in Hollywood Amor Towles (Penguin)
Video The Family Tonino Benacquista (Penguin)
Video The Signature of All Things Elizabeth Gilbert (Viking Adult)
Video Haldol and Hyacinths Melody Moezzi (Avery)
Video The Mask Carver’s Son Alyson Richman (Berkley)

When I told a friend of mine recently that I was really looking forward to working San Diego Comic-Con for Penguin this year, she was surprised. She asked, “Why would a book publisher have a booth at a comic book convention?”

Ten years ago, some of my snootier colleagues at various publishing houses might have asked the same question. My answer has always been the same: Why would a book publisher not want to promote their products to 150,000 rabid pop culture fans with disposable income, all of whom love to read? Especially a publisher with a list as strong in science fiction, fantasy, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, crime fiction and young adult fiction as Penguin’s?

Large pop culture conventions like New York Comic Con (125,000 attendees) and San Diego Comic-Con (150,000 attendees) long ago moved past the “comic book convention” label and have now become an extraordinary way for content creators across all mediums – film, television, digital, gaming, comics and books – to engage fans and promote new products. In the United States, all of the Big Six publishers and dozens of smaller ones now routinely run booths, host book and swag giveaways, and set up author signings and panels at major pop culture conventions, all in an effort to connect directly with our most valued asset: our readers.

dark_lycanThis week, Penguin’s adult marketing and publicity folk will once again team up with their geeky counterparts from Penguin’s Young Readers division to host one giant booth at San Diego Comic-Con. We’ll be giving away thousands of books, advance reading copies, postcards, buttons, posters, masks, and tote bags. And, over the course of the con, Penguin authors and staff will speak on 19 panels, and Penguin authors will meet fans at 43 separate post-panel and in-booth autographings. We’re also beyond thrilled that two of our authors are also Special Guests of Honor this year: New York marblesTimes bestselling paranormal fantasy author Christine Feehan (Dark Lycan)  and critically-acclaimed graphic novelist Ellen Forney, whose latest book Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me  is up for an Eisner Award!

So if you’re coming to San Diego Comic-Con this week, be sure to swing by the Penguin booth (#1028/1030) and say hello to our staff, meet our great authors, and pick up a LOT of free books! For a full list of all the Penguin panels and autographings, head over to www.penguin.com/comiccon. (And be sure to follow the hashtag #PenguinCon for SDCC updates at the con!)

See you in San Diego!

- Colleen Lindsay

This July Fourth my family traveled to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina for a vacation. Getting there was no easy trip. We traveled during the astrological period called Mercury Retrograde: a thrice-yearly phase when the planet Mercury appears to move backwards – and travel, communication, and commerce (all things associated with the ancient god Mercury) are thought to go awry. And so they did. But there were deeper lessons in store.

We began our travels just a few days after the current cycle began on June 26 (it ends July 20). As astrological tradition holds, it is an especially ill-fated time for travel. True to lore, my wife and our sons, ages 6 and 9, discovered that our outbound flight from New York was severely delayed, causing us to miss our connection in D.C. and leaving us stranded overnight. For added measure, our luggage got lost in transfer limbo.

“Now do you believe in Mercury Retrograde?” I asked my wife. She fixed me with a don’t-even-ask look.

This kind of travel snafu is considered typical during Mercury Retrograde. But an interesting wrinkle occurred – the type of thing that gets overlooked when people speak with trepidation of Mercury Retrograde. When we returned to New York, upon deplaning we re-encountered the same (very humorous) gate attendant who had seen us off at the start of our trip. He not only remembered us but resumed a joke with our youngest son, Tobias, which he had made at the start of our trip days earlier. This minor light on our journey points toward an under-appreciated facet of Mercury Retrograde: We get the chance to repeat things. People can surprisingly re-merge from our past. Old projects can get revived. Relationships and endeavors we were certain we had left behind, or lost items (and not just lost luggage), can reappear.

Mercury Retrograde cycles last about three to four weeks and occur when the planet Mercury traverses furthest from the sun in its highly elliptical orbit. At its point of curvature Mercury visually appears to be moving backwards when viewed from Earth. Optically this is somewhat like when you’re on a train and another train on a parallel track slows, but does not stop, and from your seat appears to be reversing.

Everything has its hour and Mercury Retrograde is not just a cycle of missed flights and botched transit: it can also become a time of revisiting, revising, and reconsidering. During this year’s first Mercury Retrograde cycle early in 2013 I heard from a network television executive who had been discussing a show with me the previous year, but talks had dropped off. Now she wanted to talk anew.

Signing contracts and selling homes is considered a big no-no during Mercury Retrograde. But even in this area interesting developments can occur. About six years ago, my wife and I reluctantly committed to selling a lake house we own in upstate New York. We were uncertain it was the right move. But we went ahead and signed a deal with a local real-estate agent. I knew that signing deals was considered verboten during Mercury Retrograde, but the agent was understandably eager – and I didn’t feel that I could tell him: “Well, you see Mike, in about four weeks the god Mercury will be more inclined to shine favorably upon our undertaking, so…” One weekend we went to prepare the house for sale and unexpectedly found that our three-year-old son was enchanted with the place. Seeing his newfound excitement, we reversed our decision and decided to keep the house – later to our great relief. This was a decision that had needed reconsidering. Enter Mercury Retrograde.

Western astrology has ancient roots extending to the Babylonian and Hellenic civilizations. Yet in its contemporary practice, astrology (as with many aspects of modern life) takes on forms that are actually more recent than we realize. The earliest references to Mercury Retrograde as an astrological phenomenon began in the mid-1700s in British agricultural almanacs read by farmers who believed that the motions of the stars affected planting seasons. “Mercury is turn’d retrograde in Sagittarius, which brings him back to meet the Sun in Conjunction,” went a reading for December 9, 1754 in Vox Stellarum: Or, a Loyal Alamack. In the twentieth century, Franklin Roosevelt’s agricultural secretary and second vice president, Henry A. Wallace, himself a farmer and almanac publisher, felt that the study of zodiacal cycles could aid scientific agriculture. Even today zodiacal charts remain a regular feature of planting almanacs.

Mercury Retrograde has currency among many people who don’t follow astrology. Although you won’t find Mercury’s cycles tacked up on the bulletin boards of air-traffic control centers or search-engine offices, lots of people in those fields and others talk or (often uneasily) joke about it. Anecdotally, Mercury Retrograde is considered prime time for internet crashes and travel mishaps, or even disasters.

But we cannot sit things out during Mercury Retrograde. Contemporary life is fast moving, and certain things, including signing contracts and taking trips, cannot be placed on hold during Mercury’s thrice-yearly visual reversal. My advice is: Don’t even attempt to hunker down during its cycle. Depending on your outlook, you might have to brace for a few reversals and snafus. But there is another dimension to the matter. You might also find that Mercury Retrograde – contrary to the apprehension it stirs online and in coffee-break rooms – is a period of revisiting or happily reversing situations that you had once imagined set in stone. Mercury Retrograde may place a speed bump into your plans, but it can also loosen things up and unwind knots. So sit back for the ride. It will be an unexpected one.

# # #


Mitch Grand Central Web ResMitch Horowitz is vice-president and editor-in-chief at Tarcher/Penguin. He is the author of Occult America (Bantam), which received the 2010 PEN Oakland/ Josephine Miles Award for literary excellence. His new book, One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life, is forthcoming from Crown in January 2014. Horowitz frequently writes about and discusses alternative spirituality in the national media, including CBS Sunday Morning, Dateline NBC, All Things Considered, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and CNN.com. He is online at: www.MitchHorowitz.com.

venus_in_winterBess of Hardwick, who was born in 1527 and died in 1608, lived through the greatest period of religious turbulence in the history of England. One of the biggest changes to take place during the English Reformation was the introduction of the Book of Common Prayer, which set forth for the first time the complete forms of service for daily and Sunday worship in English. It contained Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, the Litany, Holy Communion, and the orders for baptism, confirmation, marriage, “prayers to be said with the sick,” and funerals.

Much of the language of the Book of Common Prayer is so familiar that it seems that it must have existed forever:

“Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name…Give us this day our daily bread…forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.”

“Wilt thou have this woman to thy wedded wife?”

“With this ring I thee wed.”

Yet before the first edition of the Book of Common Prayer was published in 1549, none of these words had been spoken before, and for centuries, people in England had worshipped and been christened, married, and buried with services in Latin.

Writing Venus in Winter, my novel about Bess of Hardwick, made me think about how striking it must have been to hear as new the words we know so well.

Bess was married for the first time in 1543 and for the second time in 1547. It was only with her third marriage, to Sir William St. Loe, in 1559, that she would have spoken the vows that are still used today:  “I take thee to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and obey, til death us depart.”

It’s hard to imagine now that the simple and beautiful language of the prayer services could have been contentious, but on the very day that Bess was giving birth to her second child, Temperance, June 10, 1549, riots were breaking out across England, partly as the result of the introduction of the Book of Common Prayer, which was such a radical break from centuries of tradition.

Not until Bess buried her third husband would she have heard, and perhaps drawn some comfort from the powerful words, “I am the resurrection and the life, sayeth the Lord. He that believeth in me, yea, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” I have Bess reflect that just as the Book of Common Prayer reminds us that “In the midst of life, we be in death,” so too in the midst of death we are in life.

When Mary Tudor succeeded to the throne, she returned England to Catholicism, and services were once more in Latin. But in 1559, Queen Elizabeth brought back the Book of Common Prayer, with a few modifications. A revised version came out in 1604 under James I (who was also responsible for the King James Bible). Not until 1662 was there another major revision, and that book remains the official prayer book of the Church of England, and is still in common use throughout the English-speaking world.

Please visit Gillian’s website, Facebook Page, and Twitter feed for more on her books and upcoming events.


venus_in_winterAround the time she was twelve years old, Bess Hardwick was sent to be a lady in waiting to Anne Gainsford, Lady Zouche, at Codnor Castle, about twelve miles from her home in Derbyshire.

It was common for well-born girls and boys to be “put out” in this way and live in the households of people higher up the social scale, frequently relatives. These young people were not servants as we think of them. The girls served as ladies in waiting, and performed such duties as helping their mistress dress, mending clothes, writing letters, or helping amuse the children. Boys began as pages, carrying messages and running errands, and rose to become gentlemen ushers, who helped serve during the enormously ceremonial meals, or performed other non-menial tasks.

The purpose of this kind of service was to learn how to behave in good society, to develop relationships with people who could help the young people rise in the world, and to meet potential mates. Acquaintance with and the ability to call on the support of more powerful people meant everything when extended networks of family connections and personal relationships were even more important than now.

Bess of Hardwick met her first husband, Robert Barlow, another distant relative, because he was also serving the Zouches. She met her wealthy and well-placed second husband, Sir William Cavendish, through Frances Brandon Grey, the Marchioness of Dorset, who she attended after leaving Lady Zouche. Sir William’s older brother George had served in the household of Cardinal Wolsey and then that of Thomas Cromwell, and it’s likely that William followed him into Wolsey’s service before joining Cromwell’s household.

Under Cromwell, William Cavendish was very much involved in Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries, visiting, auditing, and accepting the assets of many religious houses. The job made him a wealthy man. By the time he married Bess, he was the treasurer of the King’s Chamber and the Court of General Surveyors, a member of Henry VIII’s privy council, had recently been knighted, and was the auditor to Edward Seymour, the Earl of Hertford.

Seymour, the brother of the late Queen Jane Seymour, was a powerful patron. He became Lord Protector of the young Edward VI after Henry VIII died, and essentially ruled England—that is, until he was ousted and executed in one of the many deadly shifts of power that occurred during the reigns of the Tudor monarchs.

This kind of patronage extended in layers all the way to the top of the social ladder. Bess was distantly related to Sir George Zouche and his wife, whom she served. Lady Zouche had been a lady in waiting to Anne Boleyn as early as 1528, and later served Jane Seymour. Sir George was an equerry in Anne Boleyn’s household (and may well have met his wife there), and in about 1540 he attained the prestigious position of Gentleman Pensioner to Henry VIII.

Bess of Hardwick is an outstanding example of how successful service in noble households could be. With each marriage, she rose higher in society and became acquainted with more influential people. With each widowhood, she became more wealthy. After her fourth husband died, she was the richest and most powerful woman in England after Queen Elizabeth. Her position enabled successive generations to rise even higher. Her daughter Elizabeth Cavendish married Charles Stuart, the Earl of Lennox, brother of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, who married Mary Queen of Scots. Bess’s granddaughter from this match, Arbella Stuart, was a potential successor to the throne, though ultimately she lost that chance to her cousin James, the Scottish queen’s son. Still, it was a spectacular rise for the Hardwick family from the genteel poverty into which Bess had been born.

Please visit Gillian’s website, Facebook Page, and Twitter feed for more on her books and upcoming events.

first_poemsName: Benjamin Lytal, author of A Map of Tulsa

Favorite Penguin Classic Title/Author: Homer in English, edited by George Steiner

Why do you love this Penguin Classic? I’m a fool for comparative readings.  How did Alexander Pope translate versus Robert Lowell!  In this anthology, we can finally see what was the big deal for Keats in Chapman’s Homer.  Truly an editorial godsend.

What should I read next? The First Poems in English, edited by Michael Alexander. Worth reading for the Exeter Riddles alone.  But you also get the Seafarer, the Wanderer, the Battle of Maldon.


venus_in_winterBess of Hardwick is probably best known for having survived four husbands, and for having built the grand house about which Robert Cecil famously quipped, “Hardwick Hall? More window than wall.”  But in an age when women rarely wielded much power or had control of their own money, Bess not only built from the ground up the forty-six room house that was then referred to as New Hardwick Hall, she also converted her childhood home, Hardwick Manor, into a grand edifice known as Old Hardwick Hall; built Chatsworth House, still the seat of her descendants the Dukes of Devonshire; and carried out extensive improvements to several other houses that she and her husbands owned.

Bess’s third husband, Sir William St. Loe, addressed her fondly in a letter as “chief overseer of my works,” and she was that. In those days there were no architects as we know the term, but a master builder would be responsible for the design of a house. Bess worked with Robert Smythson, a master stonemason who also designed Longleat, on building Hardwick. But on that project as well as Chatsworth, she personally oversaw armies of masons, carpenters, sculptors, plasterers, painters, glaziers, and other tradesmen and artisans. She employed some of them for years or even decades. The account books for the building of the new Hardwick Hall list more than 375 men, many of whom had also worked on Chatsworth.

In December, 1551, Bess and her second husband Sir William Cavendish paid master mason Roger Worde twenty shillings to design a house at Chatsworth. They were living in part of the new house by 1554, though construction wasn’t fully complete until more than thirty years later. Bess’s house doesn’t exist as she knew it because of extensive rebuilding in 1687-1707 by her descendant William Cavendish, the first Duke of Devonshire, which resulted in the elegant and imposing house that visitors can still see today.

But Hardwick Hall remains as Bess built it. She didn’t begin the project until after the death of her fourth husband, George Talbot, the Sixth Earl of Shrewsbury. She had great ambitions when she built the house, because her granddaughter Arbella Stuart was a possible successor to Queen Elizabeth, and she made bold architectural choices that set the place apart from its contemporaries, most notably the vast windows, produced by her own glassworks.

Bess moved into the house amid great festivities on October 4, 1597, which her biographer Mary Lovell believes was Bess’s seventieth birthday. Arbella didn’t succeed to the throne, but Bess became the wealthiest and most powerful woman in England next to the queen, and through her six children that survived to adulthood, she is the ancestor of numerous noble lines in Britain, including the Dukedoms of Devonshire, Norfolk, Somerset, and Newcastle; the Earls of Lincoln, Portsmouth, Kellie, and Pembroke; the Baron Waterpark; and the current queen. Princes William and Henry are descended from Bess on both sides, so it seems likely that Bess’s progeny will occupy the throne for a very long time.

Visit Gillian Bagwell’s website for more on her books and upcoming events.


narrow_roadName: Lydia Davis, translator of Madame Bovary

Favorite Penguin Classics Title/Author: The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Matsuo Basho

Why do you love this Penguin Classic? I have loved this one for decades.  What is consistently pleasing is the alternation between a fairly matter-of-fact prose narration of Basho’s journey, on foot, with a companion–complete with the difficulties of a muddy road or a missed turn in the path–and the lovely haikus in which he distills moments and images along the way.

What should I read next? New Grub Street, by George Gissing, a novel of the late 19th century set squarely in London’s literary world, one character an idealist, another a pragmatist, one a virtuoso, another a novice, all trying to make a name for themselves through their writing. It is all too full of tragedy, and a page-turner.

the_crucibleName: Tana French, author of Broken Harbor

Favorite Penguin Classic Title/Author: The Crucible, by Arthur Miller.

Why do you love this Penguin Classics? On the surface, it’s a play about how Puritan repression triggered the wild explosion of accusations that led to the Salem witch trials. Officially, it’s about McCarthyism. But because Miller’s characters are vividly, passionately real, and because what he’s exploring isn’t an era but a dark, snarled place deep inside the human heart, this play doesn’t date. In any time and place, it cuts right to the bone.

What should I read next? For a total change of pace, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Pure magic wrapped in some of the most beautiful lines ever written.