Olivia Fierro, full-time local news anchor at 3TV, part-time book collector and book club host, interviews authors and other literary types for a lively podcast. Join us for conversations and recommendations that are sure to make your TBR stack grow.
Maria Amparo Escandon, “L.A. Weather”
“L.A. Weather” tells the story of one very tumultuous year in the life of the Alvarado family. Successful Mexican-Americans living and working in Los Angeles, the three adult daughters maintain a commitment of meeting their parents for weekly family dinners to share their passion for food, and commitment to family.
Author Maria Amparo Escandon joins the podcast to talk about the narrative technique she uses in the novel: taking the reader through the dramatic year that changes each character profoundly, month my month, and who in her own life inspired the patriarch’s unsettling preoccupation with the weather. Escandon discusses writing the book in what is not her native tongue, her love for Los Angeles, and what she calls “transcreation.”
“L.A. Weather” is a New York Times Bestseller, a Reese’s Book Club Pick, and named to the Best Books of 2021 by Harper’s Bazaar.
Inspired by the vibrant story showcasing a Latino family that defies common fictional stereotypes, Margaret and Olivia discuss “Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Ericka Sanchez’s “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter.”
Christine Pride and Jo Piazza, “We Are Not Like Them”
When an unarmed Black teenager is shot by police while walking home from school, the grief and outrage ripples through the city of Philadelphia in the novel “We Are Not Like Them.” The shooting calls for changes in policing, revealing deep divisions among those who experience systemic racism and those who deny it exists. For lifelong best friends Jen and Riley, the shooting is a deeply personal crisis that threatens to rip them apart for good. Christine Pride and Jo Piazza join the podcast to talk about writing this deeply moving book together, navigating their own obstacles to openly discussing race, and the value of exploring divisive issues through the storytelling lens of friendship, forgiveness, and what it takes for two different people to take their shared history into the future.
In a Moment With Margaret: discussion of other recent books that tackle race, including Zakiya Dalila Harris’ “The Other Black Girl,” Brit Bennett’s “The Vanishing Half” and Emmanuel Acho’s “Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Boy.”
“We Are Not Like Them” is the first novel Piazza and Pride co-authored today. The book was published in October, 2021 by Atria Books.
Eric Rickstad, “I Am Not Who You Think I Am”
Erick Rickstad is a New York Times and international bestselling author of novels including “What Remains of Her” and “The Silent Girls.” He joined the podcast to talk to Olivia about his latest dark, psychological mystery, “I Am Not Who You Think I Am.” It’s a tale that starts in 1976, with a tragic act of violence witnessed by then 8-year-old Maynard, who is not only shaped by the trauma and loss, but by the mounting pressure of keeping a secret from that day he grows to regret. The core of the story focuses on a teenage Maynard, convinced he has a mystery to solve, while navigating complicated teenage friendships and desires that drive him to hold new, even darker secrets. Rickstad talked about the book’s unique narrative that begins with a letter from the police chief to the community, how his life in Vermont and love of the outdoors influences both what he writes and the way he writes it, and reflects on his early love of books and memories of first joining a book club where he was the only boy.
Margaret and Olivia discuss similar, darkly affecting psychological thrillers involving younger characters. Margaret recommends “The Chalk Man” by C.J. Tudor, and Olivia reflects on Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History.”
Vera Kurian, “Never Saw Me Coming”
Seven psychopaths enjoy a free ride to a prestigious east coast school, in exchange for being participating in a psychopathy study. What could go wrong? For one, students keep getting killed. One study participant, Chloe, isn’t at worried for her safety because she considers herself the dangerous one. Debut novelist Vera Kurian joins the podcast to talk about “Never Saw Me Coming,” and why readers find her protagonist irresistible, in spite of her homicidal plotting and lack of empathy.
Kurian discusses what it was like to achieve the dream of publishing a novel during a global pandemic, and in a Moment with Margaret, Margaret Stewart recommends “56 Days” by Catherine Ryan Howard.
Emily Itami, "Fault Lines"
Emily Itami is a debut novelist who uses her expertise as a travel writer to transport her readers to Tokyo in “Fault Lines.” The book focuses on Mizuki, a wealthy and beautiful Tokyo wife and mother, who is profoundly bored. Her witty internal dialogue reveals there are cracks beneath the shiny surface which, like the fault lines running through the city, threaten to damage or destroy. Emily joined the podcast from London to reflect on her experience living in Tokyo, the expectations women face, and how motherhood changes everything.
Margaret discusses a recent novel she enjoyed, “Heard It In a Love Song” by Tracey Garvis Graves.
Riley Sager, “Survive The Night"
Fans of Riley Sager’s work know that he is a master at delivering twist after twist in suspenseful thrillers like “Home Before Dark,” “Lock Every Door,” and his latest, “Survive The Night.”
Sager joins the podcast to talk to Olivia about the novel, its protagonist Charlie, and why the film student fears she may be the Campus Killer’s next victim. He set the book in 1991, the same time that Sager was a college student, allowing him to reference his own favorite music and movies to bring the story and tension to life. Sager talks about how post-pandemic readers may tap into their own feelings of being trapped as they journey along in the car next to Josh, not knowing when or how the road trip will end, or who will survive the night. See below for links to the companion movie and music playlist for “Survive the Night.”
Olivia admits to the author that this is her first time reading his work—another reliable recommendation from Margaret!
In a Moment with Margaret, they discuss the Spotify playlist (and movie list!) the author crafted as companions to his latest book. Margaret also recommends “Summer of ‘69” by Elin Hilderbrand, a different genre, but a book that also taps heavily into music to set the scenes and the period.
Enjoyable & Engaging
I’m fascinated by writers, I’ve been a reader all my life. These interviews lend incredible insight into how these gifted storytellers approach the craft. Listening to this is like having a lunch date with friends, one of them being an author with a new book!
Loving Olivia’s podcast. I’m part of Olivia’s book club and now I’m so happy that she has a podcast. Congratulations Olivia on the new podcast and interviewing great authors and book recommendations.
Love this podcast! Olivia takes everything that makes her an incredible reporter and applies it to my favorite thing- books! Her questions are insightful, and her guests are book world phenoms. I’ve been waiting for a podcast like this for a long time!