Brunais sets her new novel, Mercedes Wore Black, against the backdrop of the 2014 Florida governor's race while introducing the reader to Janis Pearl Hawk, a journalist who heads out to uncover corruption involving murder, public money and the fate of a pristine Florida bay.
Brunais, a former editorial writer and editor for the Tallahassee Democrat and Tampa Tribune, is currently working as communications director, outreach and international affairs, at Virginia Tech. She is scheduled to sign her book at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Inkwood Books, 216 S Armenia Ave., Tampa.
What's on your nightstand?
War Child: A Child Soldier's Story by Emmanuel Jal. He was one of the Lost Boys of the Sudan, and he's also now a hip-hop artist who came to Virginia Tech. His book is ghost written (with Megan Lloyd Davies). Normally, I avoid books with a ghost writer because they aren't the best, but this story is so gripping. He was a child whose mother died, and he never heard circumstances surrounding her death. He had siblings. His dad sent him off to be a child soldier, so he saw death in all different forms, and now he's a star. He is just a charismatic performer.
Who would you recommend this book to?
I really don't think of a niche audience. I think I'd recommend it in general. Sudan is back in the news. ... Kids on college campuses love him. It's one thing to have Miss America say, "My wish is for world peace,'' and it's another to see someone who has seen such death talk about world peace. Some of the writing is really good. There's one scene when he's young, 8 or 9, and there are corpses all around him. He and his friend would normally talk, but they were walking in silence. He writes about how he didn't want to open his mouth because he didn't want "death to slip slowly inside'' as he talked. That is such a haunting image.
Given your knowledge of politics and the environment in Florida, what book would you encourage Floridians to be sure to read?
A Flash of Green by John D. MacDonald. Everyone in Florida should read it. I've gone into a bookstore and bought a half dozen copies to give them to people. It's important because it tells what Florida used to be like before developers took it over.
Are there other books you'd like to mention?
Actually, I keep a book in my car, The Wit and Wisdom of Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde always makes me laugh.
Contact Piper Castillo at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4163. Follow @Florida_PBJC.