First two reviews of Epitaph!

Have to admit, I flinched at the first sentence, thinking I'd get slammed for too much tedious detail, but then...   Library Journal Starred Review January 1, 2015 In this follow-up to Doc, Russell is on a mission: she will leave no stone unturned, no seemingly tangential character undeveloped, no political maneuver unexamined in order to chip away at the pristine image of Wyatt Earp, Western Law Man. Unlike Earp’s Vendetta Ride, though, her motivation is not vindictive; instead, she uses what must have been a staggering amount of research for something nobler. She wants to reveal truth where it has been obfuscated for ...
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Small Business Saturday: November 29th

Instead of fighting the crowds on Black Friday, consider ordering signed books from your local independent bookseller. IndieBound.org has a list of authors signing books at stores around the country on Small Business Saturday. I won't be in a store on Saturday, but my local shop is Mac's Backs -- Books on Coventry (Cleveland Heights, Ohio). Owner Suzanne DeGaetano can provide you with signed and personalized copies of my novels. Click that link and leave instructions for personalization in the Comments box at the end of the order screen. You can also pre-order signed first edition, hardcover copies of Epitaph from ...
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Writer Tech: Not an Easy Game to Play

Have you ever had that dream where you signed up for a college course and forgot about it until you had to take the final exam? Last night, I had the more mature version. I'd forgotten that I was supposed to give a lecture about new research in cognition. I was frantic because I hadn't prepared anything and wasn't an expert, but I had to speak to a big academic group in a few hours. What set that off? Probably last week's trip to Chicago to speak at the Illinois Institute of Technology. My talk was about The Sparrow, but it ...
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Falling From Horses by Molly Gloss

  Reviewed for the Washington Post by Mary Doria Russell “No animals were harmed in the making of this film.” If you see that disclaimer at the end of a movie, you know it was made after 1980. That's when the Screen Actors Guild finally negotiated a contract forcing studios to let the American Humane Association oversee the treatment of animals used in film and television productions. Read Molly Gloss's new novel Falling From Horses and you'll understand why animal welfare became so important to the Guild. The story is set in the West at the end of the Great Depression. The economy is recovering ...
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25 Things Male Writers Don’t Do Before a Book Event

Here's how a guy author prepares to go out on the road to support a new book: 1. Pack shaving kit, clean shirt, underwear and socks. 2. Drive to airport. Here's what I've done in preparation for the Heartland Booksellers Association Trade Show in Minneapolis on October 1: Three weeks before: 1. Recognize that bootcut jeans are OVER, whereas boyfriend jeans and skinny jeans and leggings are everywhere. 2. Consider whether it is dignified for a 64-year-old with a Ph.D. and five bestsellers to wear jeans at all. 3. Ditto leggings. 4. Search for alternate ways to cover 64-year-old ass and legs. 5. Despair. 6. Reconsider boyfriend jeans. Discover that ...
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Days of Awe, 2014

Jewish life is full of traditions and this is one of mine. Two years have gone by since the passing of my brother's fiancee, Jeanne Valentino. Richard wants me to re-post this blog, and we both ask you to read it again. Shana Tova!     ...
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Jesuits in space and in the Vatican

JESUITS IN SPACE AND IN THE VATICAN by Mary Doria Russell was originally published in September-October 2014 issue of Health Progress, the journal of the Catholic Health Association of the United States.    Old joke. A Franciscan, a Dominican and a Jesuit are having dinner one night. Suddenly the lights go out. The Franciscan says, “Let us welcome Sister Darkness and wait patiently for Brother Sunlight to return.” The Dominican says, “God gives us darkness of ignorance so that we might, by contrast, discern the light of truth.” The Jesuit gets a flashlight and goes downstairs to flip the breaker. * I'm not a Catholic, but that's ...
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My best Brad Pitt story

This morning's news about Brad and Angie getting married made me smile. I still feel a little proprietary about them. For a few years, Brad Pitt was attached to play the lead in a Warner Brothers production of The Sparrow. He was, reportedly, passionate about the book and I was told he gave copies of it to friends for Christmas one year. I never spoke to Mr. Pitt directly, but I came close in 2009 when I got a call from the producer Nick Wechsler. "Brad is in New York for the opening of 'The Time Traveler's Wife'," Nick told me ...
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Books I didn’t write

The first book I didn't write was about Jean-Louis Michel. The son of a French soldier and a Haitian slave, he was born in 1775 in what is now Haiti. In 1795, Toussaint Louverture and the black population of the island defeated the French army. Those of mixed race were no longer welcome in Haiti after independence, but the French National Assembly granted them full citizenship. General Alexandre Dumas (father of the Dumas who wrote The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers) was among those evacuated to France. So was Jean-Louis Michel. Michel was given work in a Parisian military fencing ...
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The Confessions of Frances Godwin by Robert Hellenga

Reviewed for the Washington Post by Mary Doria Russell The worldwide success of the Harry Potter series has led to a great emphasis on Young Adult crossover novels in contemporary publishing. Wizards, werewolves, vampires and teen warriors have dominated sales for some time now because readers (even those long past their second decade) find the books engrossing. There are memorable characters, though they are barely pubescent and still absorbed by the question, “Who am I?” There is love, though it's restricted to a rom-com arc (meet cute; overcome obstacles; night of bliss, seven or eight books later). There are ethical dilemmas as ...
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