Posted in Reading, Writing

River City Reads: “Ashes to Water”

Ashes to Water (2010)

Last night at the office of Richmond’s Frontier Project, on the corner of East Franklin and 20th Street, writer and actress Irene Ziegler  met with readers to discuss her mystery novel Ashes to Water:  the July-August selection for Richmond’s city-wide book club co-sponsored by Chop Suey Books and River City Reads. Rather than reading a long passage from her work–as many authors do–Ziegler alternated short excerpts from Ashes to Water and Rules of the Lake, its prequel, with reflections on writing and anecdotes from her life growing up in Pre-Disney, Florida.

As an author who is also an actress, Ziegler possesses an awareness of audience that many writers lack. When an author reads an entire chapter, even the best listeners are likely to lose their way. One image captures our interest, we linger with it, and never catch up to the narrative that’s unfolding. Ziegler encouraged the audience to write about what scares us and recounted how Francine Prose offered the same advice to playwright David Lindsay-Abaire. Following her advice,  he wrote Rabbit Hole, which received the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2007.

Read more about Ashes to Water in the blog post for August 9 and on Irene Ziegler’s website.

Posted in Reading

Front Porch Reading at Topsail Island

On vacation at Topsail Island, June 4 – 8, I read Ashes to Water, the July-August selection for Richmond’s city-wide book club sponsored by River City Reads and Chop Suey Books. Whenever I read a mystery–which I don’t often do–I’m impressed by the intricacies of plot. What appealed to me more than the plot of Ashes to Water, though, was the novel’s sense of place. Like Irene Ziegler‘s short story collection Rules of the Lake, the novel’s prequel, Ashes to Water presents in vivid detail central Florida’s lake  country with its “grove[s] of knotty cypress knees” (274). I look forward to hearing Ziegler read from Ashes to Water on August 18.