Harkness is a history professor at University of Southern California, a wine enthusiast responsible for the blog Good Wine Under $20, and the author of the newly released The Book of Life, the final novel in her All Souls Trilogy. The books follow the romance of historian-witch Diana Bishop and scientist-vampire Matthew Clairmont while on their search for a mysterious alchemical manuscript. Harkness, 49, recently spoke with us by phone while on book tour in San Francisco.
What's on your nightstand?
At the top of the pile for me to start reading is Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things. I can't wait to read it. And the last book I read was The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. It is a nonfiction title about a rowing team at the University of Washington and their participation in the 1936 Olympics.
Do you recommend it?
It is fantastic. I was a rower. I thought I knew something about the history of rowing, but I had never heard this story about these college boys. To read about their efforts to compete and succeed against steep odds at the brink of World War II was just fantastic. It was one of those nonfiction stories that is so good that if it hadn't happened in real life some novelist would have been tempted to make it up, but we didn't have to. … I tend to love stories that have historical elements.
Is there an author who impressed you early on in your writing about the supernatural?
My benchmark for witches in particular was Anne Rice. I actually discovered Anne Rice because of her Witching Hour. I still remember as a graduate student taking what precious little money I had to buy the hardback when it first came out. It is the first book I ever read cover to cover without sleeping.
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