Thursday, April 26, 2018
Books

What's Crissa-Jean Chappell reading?

Nightstand

Crissa-Jean Chappell

While she was growing up in Miami, one of Chappell's favorite pastimes was climbing the oak trees in her back yard, where she'd let herself "enter a Tolkien, fantasy world,'' she said. Chappell was one of those Florida kids who loved becoming one with the gators and the iguanas in her neighborhood. Although the University of Miami graduate now lives in Brooklyn, she still keeps her South Florida roots front and center. As we discussed current reads on her nightstand, Chappell listed the other items next to her bed. They include "an air plant from my family's back yard in Florida, a petrified clam and a gator tooth,'' said Chappell, 37. Her most recent book, Narc, is a young adult novel about a brother and sister who get involved with drugs and drug dealers at their high school in Miami. We talked to Chappell by phone on July 18.

What's on your nightstand?

Gladesmen: Gator Hunters, Moonshiners, and Skiffers by Glen Simmons. To me, it's the real Florida.

Are you reading this for pleasure?

I love this book, but I'm working on an Everglades story so my work is why I'm reading it now.

Is there one person that stands out for you?

It would have to be Glen Simmons. He's the one that builds the boats, but it's all great. It's on the adventures they had in the Everglades. When I get homesick, I think of the Everglades and the beauty of that place, so close to the city. It's a different kind of quiet beauty. It doesn't get in your face like, say, a mountain range could, but it is a place that invites you to be in the moment, and then when you look around, you realize there's so much going on and it rewards you for paying attention.

When you were young, was there an author who motivated you to become a writer?

It was a teacher I had, Evelyn Wilde Mayerson. She wrote Miami: A Saga. It was a portrait on the city and how it grew and evolved. She was actually the teacher that meant the most to me. I remember she used to write on my papers, "Be brave. Be honest,'' meaning she wanted me to stay true to my voice.

Piper Castillo, Times staff writer, can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Review: Bill DeYoung’s ‘Phil Gernhard, Record Man’ recounts the life of a Florida music powerhouse

Review: Bill DeYoung’s ‘Phil Gernhard, Record Man’ recounts the life of a Florida music powerhouse

Phil Gernhard might be the biggest musical force from Florida you never heard of.Gernhard died in 2008 at age 67, so estranged from family and friends that he willed his considerable estate to a long-lost high school girlfriend. But before that sad e...
Published: 04/26/18
Mystery writer Lee Goldberg, author of ‘True Fiction,’ talks Agatha Christie, and more

Mystery writer Lee Goldberg, author of ‘True Fiction,’ talks Agatha Christie, and more

NightstandLee GoldbergGoldberg, the author of 30 books, has also been a writer and producer for several TV shows, including Monk and Diagnosis Murder. His new novel is True Fiction, an Ian Ludlow mystery. When we caught up with him by phone recently ...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/21/18
Events: SunLit Festival concludes with Jack Kerouac event, Antiquarian Book Fair and more

Events: SunLit Festival concludes with Jack Kerouac event, Antiquarian Book Fair and more

Book Talk The fourth annual SunLit Festival concludes today with these events. For information, go to facebook.com/sunlitfestival or keepstpetelit.org/sunlit-festival. All events are in St. Petersburg. • 37th annual Florida Antiquarian Book F...
Published: 04/20/18
Review: Gilbert King’s ‘Beneath a Ruthless Sun’ a compelling, horrifying look at Florida’s racist history

Review: Gilbert King’s ‘Beneath a Ruthless Sun’ a compelling, horrifying look at Florida’s racist history

If Willis McCall were a fictional character, he’d be too far over the top to be believable. Readers (and editors) would scoff that no one could be such a monster of violent, unabashed racism — and get away with it for so long. But McCall...
Published: 04/20/18
Notable: Advice-givers write about their own life choices

Notable: Advice-givers write about their own life choices

NotableSince you askedThree women whose jobs involve giving advice write about navigating their own life choices.Can’t Help Myself: Lessons & Confessions From a Modern Advice Columnist (Grand Central) by Meredith Goldstein, the Love Letters columnist...
Published: 04/20/18
Book review: James Comey wants to explain himself

Book review: James Comey wants to explain himself

In 2016, as the director of the FBI, James Comey publicly dissected Hillary Clinton’s email server controversy. Later, we learned that Comey was keeping to himself the beginnings of an investigation into Russia’s active interference in the U.S. elect...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Review: Richard Powers’ ‘Overstory’ an ever-branching story of humans and trees

Review: Richard Powers’ ‘Overstory’ an ever-branching story of humans and trees

Henry David Thoreau once heaved a big stone against the trunk of a chestnut tree to bring down a shower of nuts. He loved their sweet meat, but the meal filled him with guilt. "It is worse than boorish, it is criminal, to inflict an unnecessary injur...
Published: 04/18/18
Florida historian Jack E. Davis wins Pulitzer Prize for ‘The Gulf’’

Florida historian Jack E. Davis wins Pulitzer Prize for ‘The Gulf’’

Florida got a shoutout from the Pulitzer Prizes on Monday: The 2018 literary prize for history was awarded to University of Florida professor Jack E. Davis for his book The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea.Davis, who grew up in Pinellas County and...
Published: 04/16/18
Notable: Lose yourself in books that reimagine tales and legends

Notable: Lose yourself in books that reimagine tales and legends

NotableLegends 2.0Three new books offer striking reimaginings of the tales and legends of different cultures. Children of Blood and Bone (Henry Holt and Co.) by Tomi Adeyemi is a debut YA novel of epic magical adventure with characters based on the O...
Updated one month ago
Hey, book lovers: SunLit Festival continues with events aplenty

Hey, book lovers: SunLit Festival continues with events aplenty

Lots of things to do for literary-minded folks in Tampa Bay, and most of them are free.
Published: 04/12/18