January 24, 2010

3Q with Elizabeth Kostova --- Win Free Bookages!

SO. I am going to pass the blog to someone interesting who has things to say, the will to live, And probably QUARTS more blood than I currently am rocking: Elizabeth Kostova.

She wrote The Historian, one of my top ten books for 2005. It was a thinking person’s horror novel, part thriller, part historical fiction, part love story. It reminded me in odd ways of another book I flat love---A. S. Byatt’s Possession---only with a little more bite. *Rimshot*

You probably read it. Most of the world did---it debuted at #1 on the NYT bestseller list. It was about one young girl’s quest to find Vlad The Impaler---AKA Dracula---who would be sorely disappointed if he made a snack stop by my my sad-n-flaccid arteries today.

She has a new book out called The Swan Thieves, and I plan to read it as soon as I can make my stupid eyes focus for more than 15 minutes at a stretch. This is from Katherine Weber’s Publisher’s Weekly review: Kostova's central character, Andrew Marlow... comes across as a sensible, trained therapist...after only the briefest of encounters with his newly hospitalized patient, the renowned painter Robert Oliver, Marlow develops an obsessive desire to solve the mystery of why Oliver attempted to slash a painting in the National Gallery... The Swan Thieves makes clear that Kostova's abiding subject is obsession... The Swan Thieves succeeds both in its echoes of The Historian and as it maps new territory for this canny and successful writer.


If you would like to win one of two free copies of this hardback beauty---good Lord that cover is SO pretty---- then you know what to do. Leave a comment and take your chances with the stubble-legged mistress of pain, that chipped-up-pedicured, would-be seductress we all love to hate as she stomps it out in tatty black fishnets and a second-hand leather bustier, and yes, I do mean the dreaded and dreadful Random Number Generator over at Random.Org. You have until Tuesday, January 26th at midnight EST. As always, the complete rules are stolen from Mir’s shoplicious bargain hunting site, Want Not

JJ: Can you talk a little about the significance of your title and how you came up with it?

EK: The title for THE SWAN THIEVES came about in a funny, unglamorous, un-French way, despite the book's real subjects. It can be very hard to find a title, as you know--I'd thought of several and discarded them, and by this time the book was already tied to the theme of swans in art and myth and I was getting desperate. One day I was having coffee with my mother and a novelist friend of ours at a cafe next to a grubby little condo-development lake that usually sported a pair of swans. I noticed they were missing that day and asked about them, and my mother reported sadly that they'd been stolen. "Who would steal a swan?" I asked indignantly. Our friend said, "A swan thief, of course," and we all laughed. Then I suddenly realized that I had the title for my book, and I needed only to tie one of the main paintings in the story to that title. I wrote it down on a napkin.

JJ: Who did you dedicate this book to and why?

EK: I dedicated the book to my mother, partly because she has always nurtured in me a love of France and the French language and partly for the reason I give in the dedication--because she is such a bonne mère. She has been a huge support for my work and life.

JJ: Your books tend to take us around the world and back...

EK: The characters in THE SWAN THIEVES, like my characters in THE HISTORIAN, do a lot of traveling, something that has been a big part of my education whenever I've managed it. The American characters take quite a few road trips--from DC to western North Carolina, from DC to Maine, from DC to New York City and the Connecticut River, from New York City to North Carolina, and so on. They encounter diners, Civil War memorials, rest areas--things I love in my own drives. In fact, there was so much driving in the book that one of my best readers for the manuscript insisted I cut out many pages of it--which I did, if reluctantly, because I knew I was just indulging my own love of the open road ("Get them out of the car, for Pete's sake!"). I couldn't have made that cut by myself.

Posted by joshilyn at January 24, 2010 8:48 AM

pick me!

And I hope you are feeling so much better soon.

Posted by: Jen at January 24, 2010 9:14 AM

Perhaps whoever stole the swans stole your blood, too. Hope you feel better soon.

Posted by: elizabeth at January 24, 2010 9:21 AM

ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod, Elizabeth Kostova has a new book out!!!!!

Ahem, sorry. No dignity. LOVED The Historian. Can't wait to read Swan Thieves.

(I hope your energy returns soon, also.)

Posted by: babelbabe at January 24, 2010 9:24 AM

I'd love to win a copy!

Posted by: rebecca at January 24, 2010 9:43 AM

I just got this in the mail from The Alabama Booksmith signed first editions club. Can't wait to read it.

Posted by: Michelle M. at January 24, 2010 10:44 AM

Ooh it IS a pretty cover! Sounds most excellent, too!

Posted by: Heather at January 24, 2010 11:16 AM

We read, and loved, her book in our book group...I'm thrilled she has a new one out: would love to win a copy!

Posted by: lizardek at January 24, 2010 11:25 AM

me, me, me!

Posted by: heather at January 24, 2010 11:31 AM

Sounds good!

Posted by: Jenn at January 24, 2010 11:48 AM

The random number thingie MAY NOT pick me, because I have an Advance of Ms. Kostova's new book. I have not read it yet, but that's because it was packaged so prettily, I've been afraid to open it!

But I will, because the more I read about this book, the more I know I have to read the actual book. I loved "The Historian"! My signed copy (you stopped by Seattle Mystery Bookshop and signed them, and I thank you for that!) has a special place on my shelves, right next to those of a special Southern author I could name. . .

Thank you for the interview, Joss!

Posted by: Fran at January 24, 2010 11:57 AM

I'm all in for swan thievery. I bow to that lethal temptress the RNG.

Posted by: Jen A at January 24, 2010 12:01 PM

I heard a wonderful interview on NPR with Elizabeth about this book (don't remember if it was Morning Edition or Diane Rheem) and I'd LOVE to read it :)

Posted by: Beth R at January 24, 2010 12:03 PM

I will admit to being one of the probably-few who did not care for The Historian. I'd give this book a shot though regardless.

Posted by: Rachel at January 24, 2010 12:31 PM

Perhaps Vlad is the cause of your pernicious anemia - victims don't always know they've been snacked upon, in some versions.

I'd be very interested to try the book, and it IS a lovely cover!

Posted by: Diane (TT) at January 24, 2010 12:33 PM

Loved The Historian. Can't wait to read this one, whether I win it from you or have to wait for my friend to buy it and loan it to me, lol.

Posted by: susanvl at January 24, 2010 12:53 PM

I LOVED The Historian - can't wait to read this one!

Posted by: Anna Marie at January 24, 2010 1:32 PM

It is a lovely title. Count me in!

Posted by: Jessica at January 24, 2010 1:33 PM

hope you are feeling better...
A new book would be great.

Posted by: Jean at January 24, 2010 1:48 PM

hope you are feeling better...
A new book would be great.

Posted by: Jean at January 24, 2010 1:48 PM

i originally read The Historian because I had lived for a couple of years in Transylvania. Would love to read her next book. ::as I show the "rng" some leg::

Posted by: Suzanne at January 24, 2010 2:15 PM

I agree, that is a gorgeous cover, and the book sounds intriguing.

Posted by: Margaret at January 24, 2010 2:44 PM

Loved The Historian- it gave me the creeps in the best possible way. Can't wait to read this one.

Posted by: Jill W. at January 24, 2010 2:56 PM

I HAVEN'T read The Historian cuz I freaking live in Africa, thankyouverymuch, and in 2005 did not have internet. But, I just discovered this author at amazon the other day (seriously, like last week) and added her books to my wish list. They look great! I so want to read this! This makes me the Most Deserving of Them All (What? It does too!) so the Random Goddess should pick me. Please?
Also, blah blah US postal address blah blah no international shipping blah blah unless you want to of course.

Posted by: edj at January 24, 2010 2:59 PM

I HAVEN'T read The Historian cuz I freaking live in Africa, thankyouverymuch, and in 2005 did not have internet. But, I just discovered this author at amazon the other day (seriously, like last week) and added her books to my wish list. They look great! I so want to read this! This makes me the Most Deserving of Them All (What? It does too!) so the Random Goddess should pick me. Please?
Also, blah blah US postal address blah blah no international shipping blah blah unless you want to of course.

Posted by: edj at January 24, 2010 3:02 PM

Sorry for the double post but my connection died and it said it hadn't posted so I hit post again and it posted twice. Sigh. See above, living in Africa...

Posted by: edj at January 24, 2010 3:03 PM

as usual... me, me, me!

Posted by: Dani at January 24, 2010 3:12 PM

Oh my! This book is on my next to buy list. I want it!!

Posted by: Courtney Leigh at January 24, 2010 3:20 PM

oooooh me me me me me!! Please. :)

Posted by: christine d at January 24, 2010 3:26 PM

Hey, random generator, I think you're really cute, and how did you get so slim? And I love your hair.

Posted by: Pam at January 24, 2010 3:37 PM

I loved The Historian. Pick me, oh great RNG!

Posted by: Catherine at January 24, 2010 4:07 PM

Loved The Historian! Fingers firmly crossed that you pick me!

Posted by: Marilyn at January 24, 2010 4:22 PM

Loved The Historian! Fingers firmly crossed that you pick me!

Posted by: Marilyn at January 24, 2010 4:23 PM

I would like to win a copy of that book! (I loved her first book-- I got it for my husband from the library, and when he wouldn't let me take over his copy, I had to go out and buy it. I couldn't put it down!)

Thanks for giving a couple of copies away!

Posted by: Jen Wilcox at January 24, 2010 5:01 PM

Pick me!

Posted by: Robin at January 24, 2010 5:34 PM

That was a great book! Can't wait to read her next one, which would be a even sweeter read if I won it!!

Posted by: Carrie Hellbusch at January 24, 2010 6:12 PM

I'd love to read this -- my DH and I both really enjoyed The Historian.

Posted by: Jennifer Morgan at January 24, 2010 6:48 PM

The Historian was so awesome! I would love love love this book.

Posted by: Michele D at January 24, 2010 6:56 PM

I think you're right. I'll read it whether I win it or not ;)

Posted by: gina at January 24, 2010 7:16 PM

Oh, please choose me!

Posted by: Valerie at January 24, 2010 7:18 PM

Okay, I get that swan thieves steal swans, but... who would want to be a swan thief in the first place? That is what I don't get.

Posted by: jess at January 24, 2010 7:56 PM

I think I'll have to read this in any case, but still ... pick me!

Posted by: Becky at January 24, 2010 7:59 PM

I'm in! Pick me, please?

Posted by: Kim at January 24, 2010 8:08 PM

I loved The Historian! I am SO glad to hear that Elizabeth Kostova has a new book out. I also harbour a secret love of France and this makes me even more excited to read the new book :)

Posted by: Lindsey at January 24, 2010 8:10 PM

I must have been living under a rock; I have never heard of the Historian but plan to pick it up now. Thanks! Hope you are feeling much better very soon!

Posted by: Shannon at January 24, 2010 8:24 PM

Glad you are feeling better! And I am halfway through The Historian now and love it, so please pick me!

Posted by: liz at January 24, 2010 8:44 PM

Swan thieves? Ack!

Hope your blood comes back, thicker and richer than ever. :D

(and please, RNG ~ pick ME!)

Posted by: Kim at January 24, 2010 9:11 PM

I have heard nothing but good things about this book. I'd love to win a copy!

Posted by: Theresa at January 25, 2010 12:42 AM

O Generator of Random Numbers, pause in your dance of chaos and bestow upon me this luscious-looking book!

Posted by: JMyersbook at January 25, 2010 12:53 AM

Oh, yes, please! Sounds like a great read!

Posted by: Gretchen at January 25, 2010 6:03 AM

You're right, that cover is VERY pretty. I read The Historian a few years ago. It's definitely a book that sticks with you. It totally FREAKED ME OUT while I was reading it, and I couldn't figure out why. It's not especially gory, or any of the overt things you think of when you think of a horror novel.

*Crosses fingers in hopes of RNG kindness!*

Posted by: Sarah Y. at January 25, 2010 6:58 AM

both DH and I read and thoroughly enjoyed the Historian (unusual as we have very different tastes in books), so YES!! Please add me to the list for RNG drawing for Swan Thieves.

Posted by: Phyllis at January 25, 2010 8:08 AM

Loved The Historian, I'm sure I'd love this one too!

Posted by: Michelle at January 25, 2010 8:56 AM

aww, would that you could just get a transfusion and skip some of this horrible :(

I'd love a book though.

Posted by: ailo at January 25, 2010 9:54 AM

Pick me! I want new reading material!

Posted by: Cathy at January 25, 2010 10:08 AM

Loved The Historian, I need to read this one too!

Posted by: Lynn at January 25, 2010 10:25 AM

Hope you are feeling -um- blood full??? again soon.

Evil dice maven, pick me!

Posted by: Tequila Cookie Chris at January 25, 2010 10:42 AM

Enjoyed The Historian, would love to read this new book also!
Hope you are recovering from illness.

Posted by: Traci in GA at January 25, 2010 11:05 AM

Ooh, pick me! I just read a review of this somewhere (EW? can't remember) and I am intrigued and want to read it NOW.

Posted by: Aimee at January 25, 2010 11:06 AM

I am in the middle of reading this book, and even though it took me forever to get into it it's fabulous and I love it.

Posted by: jess h at January 25, 2010 11:34 AM

Sounds like a wonderful book! Winning a copy would surely brighten my day.

Please feel better soon! If it would help you, I would happily donate some of my blood, which comes pre-loaded with Prozac, making it doubly helpful.

Posted by: Julie G at January 25, 2010 11:36 AM

That is a pretty and intriguing cover! I particularly like the titular font.

Posted by: Jess at January 25, 2010 1:29 PM

Loved, loved, loved The Historian and that book was passed among all our readers in our 6 person department. Took it to Dublin with me and it kept me engrossed the plane ride there and back. Just purchased "A Field Guide to burying your parents" on the strength of your 3 questions with Liza and am quite enjoying it too.
Many thanks Joshilyn-

Posted by: Bridget at January 25, 2010 1:38 PM

What a gorgeous cover! Can't wait to read it.

Posted by: gina at January 25, 2010 2:00 PM

Pick me!

I read and loved The Historian and have been looking forward to her new novel.

Posted by: Keetha at January 25, 2010 3:10 PM

Pick me! Pick me! Please RNG pick me!

Posted by: Gina at January 25, 2010 3:11 PM

I'd so love a copy. I read The Historian - could not put it down - and I've been looking forward to her new novel.

Posted by: Keetha at January 25, 2010 3:12 PM

I may be one of the few people in the US who has NOT read The Historian; although, after that description, I will definitely have to!

So, if the kind, friendly, sweet RNG picks me (yeah RIGHT grumble grumble THAT'S gonna happen grumble grumble) you could send me The Swan Thieves or The Historian--whichever!

The only reason I can think of to be a Swan Thief is the recession; swan, goose, turkey--they're all poultry, right?

And, Joss, I can't help but think that if you dyed your hair black and clanked chains in the attic, you'd be great as the--oops, almost put in a spoiler!--woman in "Jane Eyre." One of the finest novels EVAR!

Feel all better soon.

Posted by: JMixx at January 25, 2010 3:34 PM

I don't usually win things -- but I think I really should win this book!

Hope you are feeling better!

Posted by: Nancy at January 25, 2010 4:09 PM

Ooh, that is a pretty cover...

Posted by: Lori B. at January 25, 2010 4:31 PM

I would so love to have this book. Hope you feel better soon. Can't wait for your next book.

Posted by: Vivian Fleming at January 25, 2010 5:25 PM

Sounds like a good book - can't wait to read it. Thanks for this chance to win one.

Posted by: Pamela L at January 25, 2010 5:35 PM

I look forward to reading this book.


Posted by: the domestic fringe at January 25, 2010 8:21 PM

Leans forward and gives RNG a cleavage shot.

I love reading writing by authors who've had to truncate their loves. It inspires me that I'll have the wisdom to listen when the suggestion is made to me. (Who me? Wordy? YOU ARE KIDDING, right?)

Posted by: m at January 25, 2010 10:06 PM

Pick me please!

Posted by: Mary Beth Bishop at January 25, 2010 10:23 PM

Gorgeous cover, AND it sounds fascinating!

Posted by: Allison at January 25, 2010 10:55 PM

Stupid random number generator is spiteful and NEVER picks me. /sigh

Posted by: Julia at January 25, 2010 11:06 PM

I have not read The Historian but would love to check this one out.

Posted by: Billie at January 26, 2010 5:18 AM

What a great story about how she got her title! I love it when there are very mundane backstories for such poetic titles.

Posted by: Michelle at January 26, 2010 8:38 AM

Nooooooooo. I'm too latttteeee!


I loved the Historian.

Posted by: megs at January 26, 2010 9:17 AM

Feel better soon! And I am so excited for this new book!

Posted by: Caryn at January 26, 2010 11:10 AM

Hope your blood is pumping more iron by now. Would love to win a book!

Posted by: Kathy at January 26, 2010 11:19 AM

Sounds like another great read! Can't wait!!!

Posted by: Lisa at January 26, 2010 11:24 AM

I loved the Historian, too. I sat down and read it until I was done...I took it to eat with me and everything.

Posted by: emily jane at January 26, 2010 12:54 PM

books, books, love love love books!

Posted by: pam at January 26, 2010 2:22 PM

Pick me! I loved The Historian!!

Posted by: Lynne at January 26, 2010 4:09 PM

Oh RNG pick me. I am ordering The Historian now.

Posted by: Olive Cooper at January 26, 2010 5:29 PM

can't wait to read it!

Posted by: Whitney at January 26, 2010 9:05 PM

pick me...please

Posted by: c at January 26, 2010 9:06 PM

Please, please, please pick me! I have experienced the hell that is anemia and am currently living with the hell that is Celiac Disease, which brings with it rubber gloves so that I might touch the wheat of my wheat-loving family without exposing myself to that horrible, terrible, no-good poison.


All that to say: I would really REALLY love to win a book, O Wonderful RNG. And: I hope you feel better soon Joshilyn.

Posted by: Erin at January 26, 2010 9:09 PM

Pick me oh-mighty-RNG! I loved The Historian and The Swan Thieves sounds very intriguing.

Posted by: JulieZS at January 26, 2010 9:15 PM

Pick me oh-mighty-RNG! I loved The Historian and The Swan Thieves sounds very intriguing.

Posted by: JulieZS at January 26, 2010 9:17 PM

Oh, Random number generator thingies never pick me, but I'll give it one last chance...

(who am I kidding? I can never resist a contest)

Posted by: Tina at January 26, 2010 10:15 PM

Feel better! I'm curious about these books now!

Posted by: Rebecca at January 26, 2010 10:58 PM

So sorry you are so sick, Joshilyn. If it helps to commiserate, I have been sick in bed since the weekend with a nasty case of shingles. Sickest I've been in many years. So really, I do think the RNG should smile on me in my abject misery, no? Being stuck home in bed sounds like fun, but after a while it does get very old. Except for the not wearing a bra for almost a week part. That's pretty nice.

Posted by: Gail at January 27, 2010 10:35 AM

A pretty, new book would help with the oh-God-when-the-temp-be-above-freezing-weather-itis that I have.

Posted by: GrandeMocha at January 27, 2010 11:29 AM

i never win. so maybe it's my time? (but winning this would totally cancel out any opportunity i might ever have to win the lottery, so maybe i don't hope i win.....)

Posted by: dramamama at January 27, 2010 1:10 PM