Make us your home page

Piper Castillo, Times Staff Writer

Piper Castillo

Piper Castillo grew up in Ft. Lauderdale and received her English degree from Florida Atlantic University. As a community news reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, she covers Oldsmar and Palm Harbor. She also writes the "Nightstand" column for the Sunday book pages and thinks the only thing better than a good read is a day in the sun with her family.

Phone: (727) 445-4163


  1. What's Duff McKagan reading?



    Duff McKagan

    We caught up with McKagan, co-founder of Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver, as he was stuck in Manhattan traffic on May 12. In addition to his musical career, McKagan, 51, has established himself as a writer. His work includes his 2011 autobiography, It's So Easy (and Other Lies), as well as columns in Seattle Weekly and on and McKagan also founded Meridian Rock, a wealth management firm for musicians, about five years ago. The Seattle native was in New York for the release of his newest book, How to Be a Man (and Other Illusions). ...

    Duff McKagan, co-founder of Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver and founder of a wealth management firm for musicians, recently released How to Be a Man (and Other Illusions).
  2. What's Jack Andraka reading?



    Jack Andraka

    When a family friend died from pancreatic cancer a few years ago, Andraka, now 18, realized he wanted to join the fight against the disease. As a sophomore at North County High School in Glen Burnie, Md., he discovered a possible early detection test for pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancers, based on the biomarker mesothelin. His test is currently being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration....

    Jack Andraka, who wrote the memoir Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator Is Changing the World, will attend Stanford in the fall.
  3. First nest signals start of sea turtle season in Pinellas County



    Mike Anderson is supervisor of sea turtles and aquatic biology programs for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, so you'd think finding a sea turtle nest is just another day on the job.

    But when he found the season's first nest this week on Redington Beach, there was still a little thrill.

    "It's exciting to find the first one, but actually, it's always exciting to find turtle nests,'' Anderson said....

    Dan Larremore, an environmental specialist for the Florida Park Service, walks the north end of Honeymoon Island to checks for sea turtles and nests early Tuesday. Pinellas County’s first nest of the year was found Sunday.
  4. What's Jenn Marie Thorne reading?



    Jenn Marie Thorne

    In her new YA novel, The Wrong Side of Right, Thorne, 34, takes on American politicians and their "love children.'' At the age of 16, protagonist Kate Quinn is just getting her feet back on the ground after losing her mother in a car accident when a stranger, along with about a dozen of his staff members and the media, shows up at her door. Mark Cooper is a U.S. senator and Republican nominee for president. Word has leaked out that not only did he cheat on his wife, he fathered an illegitimate child. "I decided to tell this as a YA story because being a teenager is that time in your life that you are seizing control of your destiny, and also, it seemed it was the season for political sex scandals, but you never heard from the kids involved,'' said Thorne. "The ground underneath a teenager is unsteady enough as it is, and I was wondering what it would be like to have something like this happen to you while you are working through things.'' Thorne, who has a bachelor of fine arts degree in drama from New York University, lives with her husband and two young sons in Gulfport....

    Jenn Marie Thorne, author of “The Wrong Side of Right.”
  5. What's David Morrell reading?



    David Morrell

    Morrell has recently seen the release of the second book in his De Quincey trilogy, Inspector of the Dead. At its center is Thomas De Quincey, a fictional sleuth based on a real-life writer of the Victorian era who struggled with opium addiction. In this installment, De Quincey studies clues left by a killer targeting London's elite and realizes the next victim could very well be Queen Victoria herself. Morrell, who received a doctorate in American literature at Pennsylvania State University and was an English professor at the University of Iowa, is also well known for his 1972 debut novel First Blood, which eventually became the blockbuster movie Rambo. We caught up with him by phone, from his home in New Mexico....

    David Morrell, Morrell, who received a doctorate in American literature at Pennsylvania State University and was an English professor at the University of Iowa, is also well known for his 1972 debut novel First Blood, which eventually became the blockbuster movie Rambo.
  6. What's Adam Riches reading?



    Adam Riches

    It was a book, How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema, that helped Riches, 29, realize his passion for art. He received it as a gift at the age of 6, and he immediately began tracing Lee's characters and "over time trying to replicate the images freehand and finally applying the concepts represented in the book to create my own original art,'' said Riches, who grew up in Largo and graduated from the Ringling College of Art and Design. "Art — drawing, painting, sculpting — has been an ever present part of my life.''...

    Adam Riches created the cover for G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero: The Death of Snake Eyes: Part 1, #212, which includes all 280 villains G.I. Joe has battled over the years.
  7. Comic book artist returns to the store of his youth

    Human Interest


    At first, Leonardo and Michelangelo were the inspiration for his art. No, not the Italian masters, the reptiles. One of Adam Riches' earliest childhood memories is studying the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic strip and then putting the characters into pictures of his own.

    Once he started elementary school, Riches, now 29, expanded his repertoire — the X Men, Spider-Man and the Green Lantern, Chewbecca, and Boba Fett. He also became an avid G.I. Joe fan. Whenever he could, he'd persuade his parents to take him to Emerald City, a store then in Seminole, now in Pinellas Park, where he'd immerse himself in what would become a life's passion — comic books....

    Adam Riches, 29, holds up the cover he created for the G.I. Joe comic to be sold exclusively at Emerald City in Pinellas Park. Riches, who grew up in Largo, hung out at the comics store when it was in Seminole. He is now a freelance illustrator.
  8. What's Constantine Grame reading?



    Constantine Grame

    We caught up with Grame, 32, the artistic director of the New Century Opera in Tarpon Springs, as he finished up the company's most recent production, Tales of Hoffman. Grame earned an advanced certificate in piano from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in London. While growing up in Pinellas County, he was homeschooled by his father, Theodore Grame, a musicologist who started the Tarpon Operetta in 1988, which evolved into the New Century Opera with his son at the helm. Grame and his wife, Lauren, live in Tarpon Springs....

    Constantine Grame, artistic director of the New Century Opera in Tarpon Springs, has a diverse collection of reading materials.
  9. Young artist's work lives beyond her death

    Human Interest

    CRYSTAL BEACH — Courtney Alison Daniel's winning entry at the Crystal Beach Youth Art Show is acrylic on canvas, a silhouette of a woman with arms outstretched. She is about to ascend toward the sun, leaving behind an eerie mist topped with barren trees.

    The painting is dated April 21, 2011. It was painted four months before Daniel died of a drug overdose.

    When Pat and Joe Daniel learned that the Crystal Beach Youth Center was sponsoring an art show, they decided to enter their daughter's untitled work, along with another sketch of the Hindu god Ganesh, posthumously....

    Courtney Alison Daniel died of a drug overdose after mixing oxycodone with her prescription days before her 18th birthday.
  10. What's Deborah Moggach reading?



    Deborah Moggach

    It took a few trans-Atlantic phone calls and emails, but eventually we caught up with Moggach, who lives in Presteigne, Wales. She is well known for her novel These Foolish Things, the basis for the sleeper hit movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which is in theaters now. Another one of her books is about to hit theaters: Tulip Fever, a romance set in 17th century Amsterdam. Moggach's most recent novel, Heartbreak Hotel, was released March 3 by Overlook Books. ...

    Deborah Moggach’s novel These Foolish Things was the basis for the hit movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel.
  11. What's Marie Bostwick reading?



    Marie Bostwick

    We caught up with Bostwick, best known for her Cobbled Court Quilts series, by phone as she vacationed at Disney World with her husband, children and grandchildren. Bostwick is making a stop in Dunedin on Tuesday (see Book Talk) as part of the launch of her newest release, The Second Sister. The book features Lucy Toomey, a high-energy protagonist living in Washington, D.C. When her sister dies, Lucy returns to her Wisconsin hometown, where she is forced to confront a difficult past while honoring her dead sibling's wishes....

    Marie Bostwick’s newest release is The Second Sister.
  12. New Century Opera presents 'Tales of Hoffmann' in Tarpon Springs


    TARPON SPRINGS — A mechanical doll, a cursed, young beauty and a courtesan. In each female, the man hopes he has found the perfect love, but instead, each brings him heartbreak.

    Through March 29, the New Century Opera is presenting Tales of Hoffmann at the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center. The opera was created by 19th-century French composer Jacques Offenbach, and the libretto is based on three short stories by E.T.A. Hoffmann, a German fantasy writer and composer who died in 1822. Hoffmann is also the protagonist in the opera....

    Olympia, left, a mechanical doll played by Mary Anne Boone, is wound up by her father, Spalanzani, played by Matthew Ruley.
  13. What's Piper Kerman reading?



    Piper Kerman

    We caught up with Kerman, the author of Orange Is the New Black, the bestselling memoir that inspired an award-winning Netflix series, by phone a few days before her appearance at Eckerd College, where she drew a crowd of 1,500. Starting in 2004, Kerman served 13 months in a federal women's prison after pleading guilty to laundering money, and from that experience she has become a leading advocate for prison reform, particularly for women. One memory from her time in prison has been impossible to shake, she told us. "Anytime I think of the (prison) visiting room and seeing the moms with kids, especially very young ones, that is a really indelible image that I can't ever forget,'' she said....

    Piper Kerman is the bestselling author of the memoir Orange Is the New Black.
  14. Clearwater resident still going strong at 105

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATER — Eleanor Gilbert Keck, born in 1910, was a frail youngster.

    "She was weak, fainted a lot and that sort of thing," said her daughter, Marcia Bartholomew. "The doctors told her mother and father that they shouldn't expect her to live past the age of 7.''

    Considering that the diagnosis was made more than 100 years ago, it's safe to say the doctors were wrong. Eleanor, who lives in the memory care community at Brookdale Countryside, turned 105 on March 4....

    Eleanor Gilbert Keck turned 105 on March 4 at Brookdale Countryside.
  15. 'The Addams Family' visits Largo Cultural Center



    The vibes coming from the Largo Cultural Center are creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky as Eight O'Clock Theatre presents The Addams Family: The Musical.

    The show, running through March 22, is based on the 1960s TV series, which sprung from the cartoons created by Charles Addams.

    Written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, the story focuses on a romance between Wednesday Addams (Michelle Helmus), a chic but ghoulish young woman, and Lucas (Jeremy Moranski), who could be described as a normal 18-year-old American male....

    Lucas Beineke and Wednesday Addams, played by Jeremy Moranski and Michelle Helmus, discuss their future in rehearsal for Eight O’Clock Theatre’s production of The Addams Family: The Musical at the Largo Cultural Center.