Pontilliar’s Spectacular Star Light Miraculum is a traveling carnival with a cast of characters that includes an alligator lady, a man who snaps chickens’ necks and a tattooed snake charmer. It’s all coming to the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading via Steph Post’s latest novel, Miraculum.
Post, a Florida native who lives outside of Brooksville with her husband and a collection of dogs and chickens, is a festival favorite returning to the event. She will also discuss her next book, Holding Smoke, the final installment of her Judah Cannon crime fiction trilogy, to be published in January.
Although she is sad to see that series end, Post, 37, admits it was time: “In many ways, I feel like I’ve grown up as a writer with those books. When I started the series, I felt like it was going to be a trilogy, and so I am ready to put them to bed."
Where did the idea for Miraculum originate?
It was a departure for me. It is set in the 1920s. I actually wrote it three years ago, between my other books. I realized I love to go back and forth with genres. Miraculum really came from a place about 10 years ago when I first saw Carnivale on HBO. That cable series, the first I saw from beginning to end, just sparked something in me. I knew I was going to write a carnival novel.
Can you describe how you wrote it? Your imagery is powerful and wild.
My studio looks like a serial killer lives there, actually. I have notes around me all the time. Miraculum is kind of a strange narrative. It has flashbacks and monologues, but the writing I did was in order. Of course, in revision some pieces get moved around, I’m sure. But the story always is done straight through.
What books have you been reading?
I’m usually reading six or seven books at once, and I read in different places around the house. I’m reading (Times staff writer) Craig Pittman’s upcoming book Cat Tales. Everything he writes is incredible, and this one is fascinating.
What is most fascinating?
The book is about saving the Florida panther. One thing I didn’t realize was the fact that the numbers of the cats in the wild got down to about five males and one female. It’s fascinating to think about that one female panther, and her responsibility for the (species).
By Steph Post
Polis Books, 320 pages, $26
Times Festival of Reading
Steph Post will speak at 1:15 p.m. Nov. 9 in Davis Hall Room 130 at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, 140 Seventh Ave. S. Free. festivalofreading.com.