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Colette Bancroft, Times Book Editor

Colette Bancroft

Colette Bancroft is the book editor of the Tampa Bay Times. She joined the Times in 1997 and has been a news editor, general assignment features writer and food and travel writer, as well as a frequent contributor of reviews of books, theater and other arts. She became book editor in 2007. Before joining the Times, Bancroft was a reporter and editor at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson and an instructor in the English departments of the University of South Florida and the University of Arizona. Bancroft grew up in Tampa.

Phone: (727) 893-8435


  1. For two who teach it, the best Florida literature recognizes the surreal


    Florida literature has a longer history than you may think.

    "You know, Gabriel Garcia Marquez said that Cabeza de Vaca wrote the first Latin American novel" in the Spanish explorer's account of his 16th century expedition to Florida, says Tom Hallock. "Well, he landed right here in St. Petersburg in 1528, so maybe we should call it the first Florida novel."

    Hallock, associate professor and chairman of the English department at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, specializes in early American literature and teaches courses on the writings of 18th century Florida explorer William Bartram and on nature writing about the state....

    Spouses Tom Hallock, left, and Julie Buckner Armstrong teach literature at USF St. Petersburg.
  2. Fictional Florida: a look at 80-some writers with state roots, settings


    "Literary" is probably not the first adjective that comes to mind when you think of Florida.

    Time to reconsider. The Sunshine State has attracted dozens of notable writers, as a place to live and a place to write about, and it shouldn't come as a surprise. Whether it's hurricanes (deployed to great effect by such writers as Zora Neale Hurston, John D. MacDonald and Peter Matthiessen), alligators (Carl Hiaasen, Tim Dorsey, Karen Russell et al.) or bizarre criminals (Hiaasen, Dorsey, Jeff Lindsay, Randy Wayne White and many more), Florida offers plenty of material....

    STEVE MADDEN | Times
  3. Back away from 'Little Women' and nobody gets hurt


    Oh, shoot me now.

    That was my first response to this story from

    "EXCLUSIVE: The CW is taking on a literary classic in one of its first script buys of the 2015-16 development season. The network has put in development Little Women, a drama from rising writer Alexis Jolly, NCIS co-star Michael Weatherly and CBS TV Studios....

    RKO Pictures
  4. Review: Ace Atkins' 'Redeemers' finds Quinn Colson at a crossroads


    Early in The Redeemers, it sounds as if Ace Atkins' crime fiction series about Quinn Colson, sheriff of Tibbehah County, Miss., might be about to veer off in another direction. Colson, a former Army Ranger, is packing up his office and contemplating job hunting, maybe even returning to Afghanistan: "You come back home, shoot it out with some skinheads in the woods, run off a bunch of Mexican gunners, chase down some escaped convicts, see the town through a tornado, solve a couple horrific old murders, run off a biker gang, and the voters send you packing anyway."...

    Sheriff’s Star Badge on Dark Cracked Mud
  5. Notable: Portraits of the artists



    Portraits of the artists

    Fans of historical fiction featuring real-life artists and writers will enjoy these new novels.

    The Marriage of Opposites (Simon & Schuster) by Alice Hoffman (The Dovekeepers), set in 19th century St. Thomas and Paris, is the story of a young woman who is swept into a scandalous affair — and becomes the mother of impressionist painter Camille Pissarro....

  6. Events: Laura White to discuss 'Lewis Carroll's Library'


    Book Talk

    Laura White (Alice and the Victorian Culture Wars), a professor at University of Nebraska/Lincoln, will speak on "Lewis Carroll's Library" at 9 a.m. Aug. 9 at Cathedral Church of St. Peter, 140 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. Free; continental breakfast available.

    To place an item in Book Talk, send author's name, book title, appearance time, date, venue name and address, admission cost (if any) and a contact phone number to (with "Book Talk" in subject line) or Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Deadline is 14 days before publication....

  7. Lisbeth Salander returns in a new book, like it or not


    We're still catching our breath after Go Set a Watchman, but coming right up is another book whose publication is bound to cause controversy -- and sell a lot of copies.

    The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz will be published in the United States by Random House on Sept. 1, and although it's been as closely guarded as Watchman, a few details about its plot have now been revealed by its British publisher, McLehose Press....

    Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
  8. The two Atticuses: 'Mockingbird's hero radically reshaped from 'Watchman's racist version


    "I just don't like my world disturbed without some warning."

    Spoken by grownup Jean Louise Finch in Go Set a Watchman, the newly published novel by Harper Lee, those words reflect what many readers are feeling about the book.

    Released on July 14, Watchman is the first work by Lee to be published since her debut novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, came out in 1960. The books share two main characters, Jean Louise and her lawyer father, Atticus Finch, and a setting, the tiny fictional town of Maycomb, Ala....

    Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch in the 1962 To Kill a Mockingbird movie helped cement the character as a hero.
  9. Events: Gen. Ann Dunwoody to sign, discuss 'A Higher Standard'


    Book Talk

    St. Petersburg author Bob Andelman (Will Eisner: A Spirited Life) will discuss and sign his biography of the comic book creator at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Riverview Branch Library, 10509 Riverview Drive.

    Gen. Ann Dunwoody (A Higher Standard: Leadership Strategies From America's First Female Four-Star General) will discuss and sign her memoir at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Inkwood Books, 216 S Armenia Ave., Tampa....

  10. Shows you should be watching: Another Period


    Natasha Leggero, co-creator of the Comedy Central series Another Period, describes it best: It's Keeping Up With the Kardashians meets Downton Abbey, a satirical mashup of the luxe overconsumption, naked social climbing and general bad behavior of the early 20th century and the early 21st.

    Shrewdly scheduled in the time slot right after Inside Amy Schumer, this spoofy, star-studded show is perfect summer brain candy: lots of pretty colors, nothing that's good for you. Set about a century ago, the escapades of the Bellacourt family, obscenely rich denizens of Newport, R.I., and their long-suffering household staff are played with ridiculous, rude gusto....

    Looking for summer brain candy? "Another Period" is just the right flavor.
  11. Notable: Harper Lee fever



    Harper Lee fever

    If Go Set a Watchman has you wanting more by and about its author, here are three books to satisfy you.

    The Harper Lee Collection: To Kill a Mockingbird + Go Set a Watchman (Harper) won't be published until October, but this deluxe slipcased edition of both novels will be a great holiday gift for Lee's devoted fans.

    The Mockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee (Penguin) by Marja Mills is a charming, revealing memoir by a journalist who went to interview Lee and ended up moving in next door and becoming friends with the author and her sister, Alice Finch Lee....

  12. Events: Readings by local journalists at Grand Central Lit Crawl


    Book Talk

    St. Petersburg author Bob Andelman (Will Eisner: A Spirited Life) will discuss and sign his biography of the comic book creator at 6:30 p.m. July 22 at John Germany Public Library, 900 N Ashley Drive, Tampa; and at 3 p.m. July 25 at Clearwater Main Public Library, 100 N Osceola Ave.

    Wordier Than Thou presents Grand Central Lit Crawl, featuring local journalists reading from their work at four venues in St. Petersburg's Grand Central District. Readers include Bob Andelman, Roy Peter Clark, Julie Garisto, Stephanie Hayes, Bob Jenkins, Ben Montgomery, Craig Pittman, Cathy Salustri and Arielle Stevenson. Readings take place July 25 at 4 p.m. at Old Key West Bar and Grill, 2451 Central Ave.; 5 p.m. at Community Cafe, 2444 Central Ave.; 6 p.m. at Sawgrass Bar, 2315 Central Ave.; and 7 p.m. at Sly Bar, 2061 Central Ave. Readings are free, but donations are accepted; drink specials at venues....

  13. Review: Harper Lee's 'Go Set a Watchman' a disappointing story that mars a legacy


    Having read Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman, my first reaction is that I'm not sure why it was taken out of that safe deposit box, or wherever it has been stashed since 1957.

    Or rather, I do have an idea why, but it's not a pretty one.

    Also not pretty: the very different version of Atticus Finch that is a main character in Watchman. He is 20 years older than the heroic small-town attorney of Lee's beloved To Kill a Mockingbird and instead of being a quiet crusader for racial equality, he's a stereotypical Southern bigot....

    Emma Davila picks up a copy of Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman" as she walks to the sales register, Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at a Barnes & Noble bookstore in New York. The sequel to Lee's 1960 blockbuster "To Kill a Mockingbird" is being released to great anticipation on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) NYML103
  14. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is writing a Holmes mystery? Elementary, my dear Abdul-Jabbar


    So, I'm browsing through Publishers Weekly's fall announcement issue, which rounds up brief descriptions of hundreds of books coming up from major publishers.

    One called Mycroft Holmes catches my eye. It's a novel about Sherlock's smarter brother as a young man, fresh out of Cambridge and working for the British government. He has a fiancee who was raised in Trinidad and ends up traveling there to unravel the mysterious disappearances of children whose bodies are found drained of blood....

    NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has written a novel about Sherlock Holmes' brother, Mycroft.
  15. First chapter of 'Watchman' reveals a boyfriend and a bombshell


    The first chapter of Harper Lee's much-anticipated novel Go Set a Watchman is now available online here.

    Written before To Kill a Mockingbird but set about 20 years after the events of that book, Watchman will be published on Tuesday, but what do we know so far from the preview of its first chapter?...

    'Go Set a Watchman' will have a first printing of 2 million copies.