What compels you to pick up a book? The tightly paced plot? The setting? Excellent writing? All of the above? A good writer knows how to make characters and places shine and to make the story so seamless that you'll hardly ever realize you're being carefully manipulated by a master of the craft.

In this special edition of the best of our interviews from the last year, some of your favorite authors - and ours - share the secrets behind their successful books and the topics they chose to write about.

Your Editor
Davina

Ausma Zehanat Khan The Unquiet Dead: A Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak Novel by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Ebook & paperback Dec 29, 2015. 352 pages. St. Martin's Griffin

In this mystery set in Toronto, a detective team, one of whom includes a devout Muslim, discovers that the death of a local heavyweight might have greater global ramifications than first imagined. Author Ausma Zehanat Khan explains why the genre is a perfect vehicle to relay the complexities of the Bosnian conflict, the subject of her doctoral dissertation.
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Paul Fischer A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power by Paul Fischer

Ebook & hardcover Feb 2015. 368 pages. Published by Flatiron

An unvarnished film nerd himself, Paul Fischer was fascinated to hear that he shared his passion with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Il and explains why he decided to anchor his compelling book, A Kim Jong-Il Production, around an improbable event: the North Korean kidnapping of South Korean movies' "it" couple, actress Choi Eun-Hee and filmmaker ex-husband Shin Sang-Ok, to further the dictator's own crackpot cinematic ambitions.
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Bill Browder Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice by Bill Browder

Ebook & paperback Oct 2015. 416 pages. Simon & Schuster

To exposé corruption within the Kremlin, investment broker Bill Browder became a writer with his book Red Notice, which explores how risky it is to be on the wrong side of the mighty Putin in contemporary Russia. While penning such an expose might be a dangerous activity, the author explains why not doing so might be even more lethal.
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Doug Most The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America's First Subway by Doug Most

Ebook & paperback Feb 2015. 432 pages. St. Martin's Griffin

While researching the rivalry between two great American cities, New York and Boston, to win the race to build the country's first subway, author Doug Most unearthed a few additional nuggets of information that didn't manage to make their way into his entertaining volume. Here's a fun look.
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Cynthia Barnett Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett

Ebook & hardcover Apr 2015. 368 pages. Published by Crown

Does Seattle really deserve its moniker: City of Rain? What was it like to visit Cherrapunji, India, the rainiest place in the world? The precipitation aficionado who channeled her love for her subject into a book titled, you guessed it, Rain, answers these questions and shares what the changing rain patterns mean for global climate, in a lively interview.
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Kate Bolick Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own by Kate Bolick

Ebook & hardcover Apr 2015. 336 pages. Published by Crown

All the single ladies...are they poised to take over the world? Maybe, but no so fast, explains author Kate Bolick whose searching exploration of the fairy-tale ending most women have come to expect shows that the institution of marriage as not necessarily the promised land it is hyped up to be. Bolick shares how "awakeners" redefined the concepts of love and life for women in today's time and place.
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Paula McLain Circling the Sun: A Novel by Paula McLain

Ebook & hardcover Jul 2015. 384 pages. Published by Ballantine Books

Beryl Markham was a British woman who lived life on her own terms in colonial Kenya. The author of The Paris Wife shares what fascinated her about her subject, including one dramatic flight around the Atlantic that captured everyone's attention, and what it was like to set a story in Kenya, the place where people of the empire escaped to fly free of strait-laced British societal conventions.
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Eli Gottlieb Best Boy by Eli Gottlieb

Ebook & hardcover Aug 2015. 256 pages. Published by Liveright/ WW Norton

Writing about autism when your sibling was institutionalized for it might feel like closure. Author Eli Gottlieb discusses if that was indeed the case as he worked on Best Boy, a novel about an autistic boy, and the repercussions of his condition on those closest to him, and what life at a therapeutic center is like through the eyes of one family.
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Amy Stewart Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

Ebook & hardcover Sep 2015. 416 pages. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

At a time when women were trampled over pretty routinely, one set of sisters decided to just say no to bullying and defend what was rightfully theirs. Author Amy Stewart talks about why the Kopp siblings were such fascinating and endearing subjects, how one good thing can lead to another when it comes to writing, and why, despite having a slew of nonfiction books to her credit, she chose to frame this story as historical fiction.
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Sofi Oksanen When the Doves Disappeared by Sofi Oksanen

Ebook & hardcover Feb 2015. 320 pages. Published by Knopf

The tiny country of Estonia has been tossed around in the whirlpool of history pretty violently as is described in this haunting novel. Author Sofi Oksanen shares the inspiration for her affecting book and which world events today have a way of reflecting the unsavory past.
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Curated by Davina Morgan-Witts. Written by Poornima Apte.

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