Monthly Archives: February 2009

Lee Child Recommends Angel’s Tip on Audio


My colleague noticed this nice little recommendation of Angel’s Tip today from NY Times #1 Bestselling author Lee Child on Audible.com. Lee calls Angel’s Tip “especially engaging, …poignant… subtle. The reader thinks, ‘Gotcha!’ Then the author says, ‘Um, no,’ and the reader smiles at his own foolishness. That’s self-confident writing at its best.”

And that’s enough to make my day. Read Lee’s complete take on Angel’s Tip, and order the audio book from Audible, here.

My Name is Trendy Now?

Last summer I blogged about my unusual name, an older name that I had always believed had largely died out, at least for people. Instead, I found a menagerie of Alafairs online: cats, dogs, boats, even an alpaca.

Now, this year, Alafairs are coming out of the woodwork. I’ve heard from three different people who named their daughters Alafair. It got me wondering, after a childhood in which I could never buy those super cool personalized bicycle plates or bedroom door signs, whether the name Alafair is experiencing something of a revival. Imagine my surprise when I found my name listed on a “Trendy Baby Name” site along with Agatha and America. Ten years from now, will teachers have to distinguish between students Alafair B. and Alafair S.? Yeah, you’re right, probably not. But if I could finally stop having to spell my name for people, that would be good enough for me.

Our new president has a potty mouth


This made me really, really happy. Should I ever be asked to narrate my own audio books, I’ll have to remember the power of isolated soundbites. (I should warn you, there is actual profanity involved so don’t click on the link if that sort of thing bothers you.)

City of Fear Released in UK


The latest Ellie Hatcher thriller will be released today in the UK as City of Fear. The insides are almost exactly the same as Angel’s Tip, which was released in the fall on this side of the pond. I hope those of you who are in the UK and in Australia will enjoy the book.

Joint James Lee and Alafair Burke Page on Facebook

Thanks to so many of your generous emails, my father and I know that many of you read both of our books. While setting up a joint website would be too complicated, we also know that many of you use Facebook.

That’s why we’ve started a joint James Lee and Alafair Burke Page on Facebook. We will each continue to maintain our own websites — his here and mine here — and I’ll continue my personal Facebook profile, but the joint page will be a one-stop shopping site for all major developments relating to the Burkes (or at least these two Burkes). Currently on the page: the trailer for the film adaption of In the Electric Mist, starring Tommy Lee Jones, which will be released on DVD on March 3.

Writing and Place

I spent last weekend down in Key West. I hadn’t been there since I was eight years old, when our family still lived in south Florida and my parents would take me to visit their friend (and Ernest’s younger brother) Leicester Hemingway. I had always associated the place with writing because my father loved it so much and all of his friends there seemed to be writers, but it dawned on me over the weekend that the place really does attract a lot of writers. We went to a cocktail party thrown by an accomplished poet. His downstairs neighbor, a successful children’s author, was there. His partner was an essayist and screenplay writer. Our bartender had a book about people and their cats. You get the picture, I think.

Key West is not the only place with more than its fair share of writers. Miami. Vermont. Montana. The Upper West Side. It seems that in some places you just can’t turn around with bumping into someone who puts ink to paper.

But why? Is it nature or nuture? Do some locations cause people to be more artistic, or do the locations for whatever reason attract people who are artistically inclined? My guess is it’s a combination. People who write are probably drawn to the places where they can write best, which are the places that inspire us to write. But then what is that “thing” about a town that makes it conducive to writing? Peace and quiet? A slowness of pace? Other writers? Free flowing alcohol?

As for me, I suspect I’m unlike most of my fellow writers. I write best on airplanes and am easily distracted by peace, quiet, and cocktails. If I lived in Key West, I would sit in the sun with a margarita and think about all of the stories that I would never put down on paper. But today, twelve stories above the sirens and buses and trucks honking on fourteenth street, I plan to write. A lot.

TV rotting my brain

I’m deep into the next Ellie book (still unnamed!), which means I’m not allowed to read a lot of crime fiction right now, lest someone else’s voice bleed over into the manuscript. That’s not to say I don’t take breaks, however. With the frigid temperatures in NYC, many of my recent breaks involved the TV. Here are some of the reasons I loved my television last week:

5. Lost finally made sense again. Heroes at least tried to, sort of.

4. Big Love. Bill’s mom torn between murder and suicide. Hot to trot Anna exposing Bill’s hypocrisy. Nicky perhaps realizing the dark side of the compound. One of the best episodes of one of the best TV series ever.

3. The Post-superbowl Office episode. Angela’s cat toss through the ceiling is the entire reason Tivo put that little replay button on the remote control.

2. How I Met Your Mother. At some point, this show crept up on me and became a favorite. Barney’s Video Resume was awesome as promised, but I love that the website alluded to on the show actually exists.

1. American Idol alums. As this year’s latest crops of idiots hauled out shih tzus, little brothers, and bikinis for their lame auditions, I had to wonder whether any of them could add up to some of the earlier greats. I’m not always a Kelly Clarkson fan, but props to anyone who’d call a song “My Life Would Suck Without You.” Fantasia Barrino crushed Lady Marmalade (if you don’t believe me, check out Patti LaBelle’s unusual sign of approval at 3:38). And, whether she was lip syncing or not, Jennifer Hudson belted out one of the best arrangements of the National Anthem I have ever heard.

Back to writing!