Sneak Peek: A WORD ON WORDS with Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

Does money cause problems, or does it throw a spotlight on problems that were already there?

A valid question, tackled by this week's A WORD ON WORDS guest Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, in her novel THE NEST. It's a super fun interview conducted by my divine co-host, Mary Laura Philpott (complete with mimosas!). Keep watching 'til the end—the last few seconds are hilarious. 😂

Sneak Peek: A WORD ON WORDS with Alan Furst

photo credit:  NPT

photo credit: NPT

I had the great honor of interviewing Alan Furst for A WORD ON WORDS, and I can’t wait for you to see this one. I posed a question about our fascination with World War II, and Alan’s answer blew my mind and clarified everything about the genre. I’ll never look at it the same way again (and yes, it sparked an interest in the time period for me as well, which you may see in an upcoming book…)

Win-win interview, right?

Loved his book, loved meeting him. Great guy and lots of fun for y’all. 

6.16.16 - In which The Poisoned Pen sticks me in the hot seat

I'm on the road this week, touring for FIELD OF GRAVES, and visited The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Arizona, last night. I love this store, and I loved the interview we did. Being "in the hot seat" wasn't so bad after all!

J.T., welcome to the The Poisoned Pen’s blog. Would you introduce yourself to our readers? Tell us about yourself.

Thanks for having me! Let’s see, I’ve been writing thrillers for a decade now, and have 13 books published under my own name, and also co-write with the divine Catherine Coulter. I’m a wine junkie (see and love golf and yoga. And kittens––I have twin girls, silver mackerel tabbies, who are an absolute hoot. I love to travel and have been married for over 20 years to the love of my life. I live in Nashville, which is one of the best literary cities in the country. I also co-host a literary television series called A Word on Words, which was started over 40 years ago by the esteemed John Seigenthaler. Needless to say, I’m juggling a lot of balls, but I’m having a blast!

Why did you become a writer?

I’ve always been a writer, so that wasn’t a conscious choice. But after a college professor told me I wasn’t good enough to be published, I quit, went in a different direction, working in the White House and Department of Commerce before swerving into aerospace marketing. But the bug wouldn’t leave me alone, and after we moved to Nashville, I discovered John Sandford, and three books into the Prey series decided I was going to give it another try. That book eventually became FIELD OF GRAVES. So as to why––I couldn’t stop myself, really. I was compelled, called, driven to it by the muse.

4.30.15 - 7 Minutes With... Jim Born

All hail Jim Born.

Not only because he’s an amazing writer. Nor because he’s a cop (two of my biggest likes in the world – writers and cops). 

Nor even because he went to a shooting range wearing a Killer Year T-shirt, and showed we debuts of 2007 so much love.

Not even because he spent a day walking around a conference with my debut novel in his back pocket. Not even because he’s, you know, cool.

No, we much all bend the knee to Mr. Born because it was he, and he alone, who cured me of my insane fear of public speaking. I’ve told the story far and wide (and, as some of you know, in the wrong forum, to the wrong people, using Mr. Born’s exact words – ahem), but I will sum it up here in less colorful language.

Nashville, 2007. The Southern Festival of Books. After his own panel, Jim was walking me to mine. It happened to be my very first time on a panel. I was scared. Actually, scared doesn’t even come close to describing the overwhelming fear and anxiety and panic I was experiencing (My palms are sweating just thinking back to it).

Jim saw my hands shaking as I opened a bottle of pills to take something to calm myself. He inquired why. I told him I was totally freaked by the idea of public speaking. He looked at me like I was a loon, and said something to the effect of, “What are you afraid of? The audience will rush the stage and beat you up?”

When I said, "Well, yes, that’s exactly it," we had a good laugh. He told me I was the expert, and I was the one who knew the most about my book. That the audience won’t know if I make a mistake or say something wrong. And they would forgive me if I did, because readers are wonderful people made of unicorns and puppies (I don’t’ think he said exactly that, but you catch my drift). I still took the pill, but it was the beginning of something for me. Every time I’ve ever spoken since, I remind myself that I’m not about to get mugged. It helps.

Jim has a new book out, which I highly encourage you to purchase immediately, and share among your friends. Any guy who will take pity on a scared girl and offer her succor is a prince among men, and deserves all the good things.

Welcome to the Tao, my friend.


Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up? 

"Night Moves" by Bob Seeger

Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today? 

Today I'm traveling to New York for the release of SCENT OF MURDER.  I will be making a few notes on a co-authored book with Lou Dobbs.  It is the sequel to last year's BORDER WAR.

What’s your latest book about? 

Three K-9 officers and their relationship with their dogs.  They end up on a task force on the trail of a kidnapper that forces them each to consider how far they're willing to go to catch the suspect.  It explores the relationship between dog handlers and their super talented partners.

Where do you write, and what tools do you use? 

Usually all my porch overlooking the water on a simple laptop.  The only thing unusual I use is Dragon NaturallySpeaking.  It takes extra editing, but I've probably saved myself carpal tunnel syndrome.

What was your favorite book as a child?

THE LIVING SEA by Jacques Cousteau, and a young reader's version of MOBY DICK.  I memorized the first page of MOBY DICK from my father reading it to me every night.  I would then tell people I could read when I was only a couple of years old by looking at the page and reciting it by memory.

What’s your secret talent? 

I am an excellent chef.

What book are you reading now? 

WORDS OF RADIANCE by Brandon Sanderson

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? 

In my late 20s.  I remember seriously starting my first novel (unpublished) in June of 1989.

Who is your writing idol? Have you met him/her? If so, did you completely nerd out or keep your cool? 

Elmore Leonard.  Yes, I worked for him for many years.  Now it would probably be Bernard Cornwell, whom I have not met and will nerd out when I do.

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice? 

Keep it in perspective.  No one is shooting at you, and you're not putting a roof on a house in the middle of summer.

What do you do if the words aren’t flowing? 

Go for a run.

Are you creatively satisfied? 

Generally yes.  All things being equal, I have a giant fantasy novel that would take six years to finish that I would like to write.

What would you like to be remembered for? 

Good kids who have their heads on straight.

Alright, now for the really important questions:

Beach or mountains?  Beach

Coffee or tea?  Neither.  I don't think I've ever had an entire cup of either.  In my whole life.

Skydive or bungee jump?  Skydiving

Chocolate or vanilla?  Chocolate.  Vanilla should be outlawed.

Winter or summer?  Summer

Cake or pie?  Cake.  Pies are meant to be thrown.

Cats or dogs?  Dogs

Pens or pencils?  Pens

Truth or dare?  Dare

Print or ebook?  Print


James O. Born is a graduate of Florida State University and received a Master’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in Psychology.

 Born started his career in police work as a US Drug Agent (DEA) and was part of the late 1990’s Miami drug war.  He then moved on to become a Special Agent with the elite Florida Department of Law Enforcement, working undercover and spending eleven years on the agency’s Special Operation’s Team (also called SWAT).

In 2014, Born coauthored the popular BORDER WAR with TV commentator Lou Dobbs.  His current series is a realistic view of police K-9s.  The first novel in the series Scent of Murder, due for release in April of 2015, follows the pursuit of a serial kidnapper and showcases police service dogs.

A native Floridian, Born currently lives on the east coast with his wife, Donna and has two children, John and Emily.

And here's a little bit about Jim's newest book, SCENT OF MURDER, out in stores now!

Two years after being tossed from the detective bureau for his questionable tactics catching a child molester, deputy Tim Hallett’s life is finally on track.  Assigned to a special K-9 unit with the best partner in the world, a Belgian Malinois named Rocky, Hallett has finally learned to balance police work with his family life.  But that all changes in the heat of a Florida sugarcane field.

While searching for a kidnapper, Rocky locks on to the scent of a predator unlike anyone has ever seen.  Or have they?  The more Hallett digs, the closer he comes to the case that ended his career as a detective and appears to be the key to a series of kidnappings.

When the trail turns to murder, Hallett risks everything to catch the killer, even if it means clearing the child molester who drove him to violence and ruined his career.  Along the way, Hallett and his partners learn the true meaning of loyalty and courage as their canine partners take police work to a new level and show that instinct means more than training.

A realistic view of cops and canine’s lives from a veteran law enforcement agent and award-winning author, SCENT OF MURDER takes the reader into the world of police service dogs in a way no other novel will

4.16.15 - 7 Minutes With... Carol Culver

I have the distinct honor of hosting Carol Culver today. Carol is good friends with Catherine Coulter, and I met her at an author’s lunch at Catherine place a couple of years ago. She’s a fascinating woman, travels all over the world teaching writing, on cruises, mostly. I am not a cruiser – that whole can’t-swim-to-shore thing freaks me out – but I might be willing to make an exception for my friend. Enjoy your introduction to her wonderful world!


Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?

There's no music in the room where I work. It's hard enough to concentrate on those elusive characters and their problems without distraction. So here are the rules: no noise, no talking, no email, and no music.

Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?

A new series about a family of five sisters, which coincidentally resembles my daughter-in-law's family. She's delighted, but she hasn't read it yet.

What’s your latest book about?

The newest book I'm writing is about a woman who gets sucked into being a bridesmaid for the 7th time. This time the wedding takes place on a cruise ship. Sound romantic? Not if you get seasick. But what if the ship's physician - Dr. McDreamy - prescribes dancing under the stars, plenty of fresh air, and some TLC?

Where do you write, and what tools do you use?

I have a spacious office in my house in a redwood forest. From my window I have an ocean view which inspires me, especially when I see a cruise ship sailing out into the Pacific. Did I mention I love being at sea? I often teach writing classes aboard cruise ships. I'll be sailing in April to Tahiti and other palm-fringed islands.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I loved the Heidi books, the ones where she lives in the Alps milking cows and eating cheese. It sounded like a wonderful life, once she won over her cold and frightening grandfather. Lots of conflict and a strong and plucky little heroine. Just like I wanted to be.

What book are you reading now?

I plan to read every book by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, the queen of romance novels. Great characters, wonderful settings and to-die-for heroes. I'm currently in the middle of WHAT I DID FOR LOVE.

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

Keep writing whether you feel like it or not. What's that Nora Roberts says? "Put your butt in the chair and some words on the page." And that means every day. Day after day. Got it?

What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?

What, words flow? You mean like water or wine? Not in my life. I just keep pounding them out.

What would you like to be remembered for?

For making readers smile and even laugh out loud sometimes. It would be great if someone said, "Yes, I get it. That's just what it feels like." But I'll be happy just to finish a new book and publish every few months. It's the world's best job. I know because I've tried everything else - receptionist, ESL teacher, PR on a hospital ship, French translator and librarian.  


Carol Grace is the author of over 40 romance novels for Harlequin, a mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime, a YA series for Berkley Jam, a mystery series for Midnight Ink, and two romances for Pocket Books. She lives in California on a mountain overlooking the ocean and she travels the world for work and fun. Next month she's off to French Polynesia.

And here's a little more about the latest book Carol just released on April 1, THE BILLIONAIRE'S BRIDE:

Abbie Porter caught her French fiancé cheating on her, then she flunked out of cooking school in Paris. Feeling like a failure Abbie leaves for Bella Vista, her home in California, determined to get a new job but never ever to get married. 

When she arrives at her family’s woodsy property she’s met by Jake Crenshaw, the new neighbor and Silicon Valley entrepreneur. It’s love at first sight for the dot-com billionaire who is not only rich, he’s gorgeous, friendly and sexy too. 

But Abbie keeps her cool around Jake. She knows better than to fall for the first man she meets after her disastrous affair in Paris. Though Jake invests in her new food truck business, helps drum up business and buys her a puppy, she tells him they can be friends, nothing more. After a few weeks of working together making French crepes in the food truck, and after Jake has repaired the flat tire on her truck and fixed the faulty griddle and eaten every test crepe she creates, she finally falls madly in love. But Jake has to take a business trip which leaves Abbie to run the truck by herself. To her surprise she’s inundated by hungry customers and her food truck is a big success. 

Turns out Jake has secretly supported her venture by underwriting the cost of the lunches and sending customers her way. When she finds out she’s furious and determined to make it on her own . . . 

Get your own copy of THE BILLIONAIRE'S BRIDE to see how it all turns out!