Related to: 'Inside Apple'

With Hollywood script writer, Will Akers

John Connolly Q & A

In this fantastic Q&A, author John Connolly chats with Hollywood script writer Will Akers, about Charlie Parker; the hero of many of John's novels: When someone asks you to describe Parker in a couple of sentences, what do you say? I say that he's a man in search of redemption, and we redeem ourselves by engaging in acts of sacrifice on behalf of others. (And that word "redemption" comes freighted with spiritual baggage, which goes part of the way toward explaining some of the supernatural elements in the books.) He is also a creature of almost pure empathy, perhaps because of his own sufferings. There are those who suffer, and then close themselves off from the world because of their pain, and then there are those who, in a way, want others to hurt like they hurt. Finally, there are those whose own experience of pain makes them want to ensure that others who are vulnerable don't have to suffer in the same way. Parker begins as the first kind in Every Dead Thing, and by the middle of the book has moved toward becoming the third. He is aware of the distinction between law and justice - a recurrent theme in mystery fiction - and acts to breach the gap. Finally, the essayist Edmund Burke wrote "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." If we stand by and don't act, we become complicit. Parker refuses to be complicit, even at the risk of harm to himself, or of chipping away at other elements of his humanity - at the risk of quote-bombing, be careful when you fight monsters lest you become a monster. When someone asks "what is the book series really about" what do you say? I try not to answer it because my answer may not be the one that the reader wants! A lot of that is covered in the earlier question, though: justice, compassion, empathy, the overcoming of grief and loss. Ultimately, though, they're setting up a larger confrontation between Parker and those who stand with him, and a significant force of evil in the world. While each book can be read as an individual mystery, a larger story becomes apparent if someone reads them in order. That's not something mystery fiction tends to do very often. It's more the preserve of fantasy or historical literature. That might help your pitch a little: on one level, what draws in readers - and, I guess, viewers - is character first and foremost, but it helps if, as in, say, The Sopranos, one can then combine that with a larger plot that reveals itself gradually over time. What do you feel Parker wants? What scares him? What does he need? He is a conflicted man, and the twin poles of that conflict are represented by Angel and Louis, and the new relationship that he forms later in the series, out of which comes a daughter. If you decide that you want to fight monsters, then you can't have a family beside you because - as Parker learns - they may well be harmed. On the other hand, the idea of domesticity appeals to him: a wife, a family, a dog. Ultimately, though, I think the appeal of fighting is greater, in part because he has such rage and hurt and pain inside him. Quite often in mystery fiction, dreadful trauma of the kind that Parker has suffered is just mentioned in passing (a bit like the dead wife of James Bond in the movies). The reality, of course, is that, if one were to lose a wife and child under the circumstances that Parker loses Susan and Jennifer, the trauma would define you for the rest of your life. You might struggle against it. Whole hours might even go by when you don't think of them. Ultimately, though, the memory, and the pain, would return with a vengeance. So what does he fear? Loss, I think: the loss of another wife, and another child. Harm coming to those close to him, friends included, because of who he is and what he is doing. Other than that, he is almost fearless: the worst that could happen has happened to him, and he has survived. He is fractured, but he is alive. Oh, he wants to avoid physical pain, but that's just common sense. But I don't think he fears death, or what lies beyond it. He's too close to it already. What he needs is fuel for his rage. What he needs is an answer to the question 'Why?': Why has this happened to me? Why do I draw these things to me? Like everyone, he wants to find out that, in the end, there was a pattern, a plan, even if the pattern ultimately leads to a confrontation with an entity he may not be able to defeat. What’s the hardest thing for Parker to forgive about himself? Not being there when Susan and Jennifer were killed. If he couldn't protect them, I think he would have preferred to die with them than endure the pain of their loss. Killing the man responsible brought him no release. What was Susan like, when she and Parker were together and happy? I think they were happy once, but he wasn't able to open up to her, to share a deep-seated hurt and confusion that went back to his childhood. I think he was probably immature when he met her, and a little selfish. She was probably attracted to some of that hardness within him, but thought that she could go beneath it and find the better man. Sometimes she could; mostly, she couldn't. He wasn't bad, or violent, or a very poor father and husband, but there was a distance between them that was growing. Had she not died, I suspect that she would have left him. And it's hard being married to a policeman, especially one who isn't ideally suited to the job. He doesn't find a second family in the force, which might have helped him a little. Why were Parker and Susan having problems? What did he do that upset his wife? What did she do that upset him? What led to his drinking? There's some of that above. I don't think she necessarily did anything to upset him: I think there was just a slow, sad breakdown in communication. One important thing: he's not an alcoholic, and never was. That's cleared up later in the series. A bar was just an escape, and a couple of drinks probably dulled the pain a bit, but he wasn't knocking back huge quantities of hard liquor. Why are Parker and Rachel so good together? Well, they are and they aren't. She understands him, basically. She's endured loss of her own - her brother, a policeman himself, was killed in the line of duty - so she finds an echo of her own rage and pain in Parker. Unfortunately, his anger is far more potent than hers. I think she thought that they might provide consolation for each other and through their daughter begin to rebuild a world for themselves. But - see above - he has other visions of world-building in mind, and a lot of them involve tearing things down first. What are you most passionate about, re: Parker? His empathy. He is a good man, but a compromised one. Also, I never have him say anything that I don't believe, although sometimes his views are a little more extreme than mine. What ultimately is Parker's true nature? If you mean in terms of the debate about him possibly being something more than human, well, there's a partial answer in the new book: he is no angel, although the person who tells him that has a vested interest, perhaps, in making him believe that he is not. But there is something in his nature that is more than human, even if he's only a channel for another power. Do you plan on Parker ever finding happiness or at least peace? He will find peace. He may have to achieve it through the ultimate act of self-sacrifice, though. Why can't Parker stop? It seems like he could actually walk away if he chose to and have his life with Rachel and Samantha, but he chooses not to. I don't think that he has a choice: he has a compulsion to act on behalf of others. He can't walk away and leave someone to suffer. He might have been able to in the past, but once you open that channel, once you allow yourself to feel the pain of others, you can't close it again. There is, I think, a kind of fatalism to him. He understands that he's on a ride and he can't get off. He just wants to see what's waiting at the end of it. What's your favorite thing about writing the book series? On a personal level, Parker is a prism: he allows me to refract experience, to see the world in a different light. On a technical level, there's a pleasure in creating the villains, who seem to strike a chord with readers. They remember them, and that's unusual in mystery novels: the villains tend to blur into one. For some reason, mine stay with the reader. They're creatures of the id: even I'm not sure where they come from. They're grotesques, but each still has a spark of humanity. They're corrupted and blighted, but to be corrupted there has to be something there to corrupt to begin with. What has made the book series popular over such a long period of time? How might that translate to television? Again, there's some of that in the previous answer. But, first off, all fiction is character-driven. Well, all good fiction, or all fiction that aspires to be good. Dumb people make the assumption that mystery is plot-driven, but plot comes out of character. Plot is the product of the actions of characters: if you get the characters right, the rest will follow. So people empathize with Parker. They understand how he has come to be the way that he is, and they like that compulsion that he has to act, even if they wouldn't want to be him. They like Angel & Louis: they're hugely important to the series. They humanize Parker, and lighten the load of the books. Get those three right, and you're already sailing when it come to TV. And then you have the supernatural element, which was never a big part of mystery fiction because mystery fiction, being rationalist in its roots, has a huge distrust of the supernatural. I never saw a conflict between the two. That supernatural element feeds into the villains too: it makes them larger than life, and more threatening.

Adam Lashinsky

Adam Lashinsky is a Senior Editor at Large for Fortune magazine. As the magazine's leading correspondent in Silicon Valley, he has interviewed all of the technology industry's top figures. He also is a weekly commentator on the Fox News Channel and prior to joining Fortune he wrote for and the San Jose Mercury News.

An excerpt from the Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing

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John Murray

The New Digital Age

Eric Schmidt, Jared Cohen

'This is the most important - and fascinating - book yet written about how the digital age will affect our world' Walter Isaacson, author of Steve JobsFrom two leading thinkers, the widely anticipated book that describes a new, hugely connected world of the future, full of challenges and benefits which are ours to meet and harness. The New Digital Age is the product of an unparalleled collaboration: full of the brilliant insights of one of Silicon Valley's great innovators - what Bill Gates was to Microsoft and Steve Jobs was to Apple, Schmidt (along with Larry Page and Sergey Brin) was to Google - and the Director of Google Ideas, Jared Cohen, formerly an advisor to both Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. Never before has the future been so vividly and transparently imagined. From technologies that will change lives (information systems that greatly increase productivity, safety and our quality of life, thought-controlled motion technology that can revolutionise medical procedures, and near-perfect translation technology that allows us to have more diversified interactions) to our most important future considerations (curating our online identity and fighting those who would do harm with it) to the widespread political change that will transform the globe (through transformations in conflict, increasingly active and global citizenries, a new wave of cyber-terrorism and states operating simultaneously in the physical and virtual realms) to the ever present threats to our privacy and security, Schmidt and Cohen outline in great detail and scope all the promise and peril awaiting us in the coming decades. A breakthrough book - pragmatic, inspirational and totally fascinating. Whether a government, a business or an individual, we must understand technology if we want to understand the future.'A brilliant guidebook for the next century . . . Schmidt and Cohen offer a dazzling glimpse into how the new digital revolution is changing our lives' Richard Branson

Chapter One

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Becoming Steve Jobs

Brent Schlender, Rick Tetzeli
John Murray

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Louise Welsh

As heard on BBC Radio 4 Book at BedtimeIt doesn't look like murder in a city full of death. A pandemic called 'The Sweats' is sweeping the globe. London is a city in crisis. Hospitals begin to fill with the dead and dying, but Stevie Flint is convinced that the sudden death of her boyfriend Dr Simon Sharkey was not from natural causes. As roads out of London become gridlocked with people fleeing infection, Stevie's search for Simon's killers takes her in the opposite direction, into the depths of the dying city and a race with death. A Lovely Way to Burn is the first outbreak in the Plague Times trilogy. Chilling, tense and completely compelling, it's Louise Welsh writing at the height of her powers.

Chapter One

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Read the first chapter of Amitav Ghosh's RIVER OF SMOKE, the second book of his Ibis trilogy.

John Murray

How Google Works

Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg
Chapter One: Suicide Corner

SCARP by Nick Papadimitriou

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Chapter One

COME SUNDAY, by Isla Morley

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John Murray

Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!

Nicholas Carlson
Chapter One: God's Work or the Devil's Machinations


Read the first chapter of Regina O'Melveny's THE BOOK OF MADNESS AND CURES.

Chapter One: God's Work or the Devil's Machinations


Read the first chapter of Regina O'Melveny's THE BOOK OF MADNESS AND CURES.

Chapter One: A Morning in Vermillion

SHADES OF GREY, by Jasper Fforde

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Hodder & Stoughton

How Do We Fix This Mess? The Economic Price of Having it all, and the Route to Lasting Prosperity

Robert Peston
Teach Yourself

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Jackie Arnold

The tools of NLP are perfect for anyone looking to move jobs. Before the interview, NLP will help you understand the language of the job advert, and mirror it in your CV and covering letter to maximise your chances of getting an interview. Preparing for the interview, this book will show how you can use NLP to learn from the best practices of people who perform brilliantly at interview. During the interview, NLP skills will help you click instantly with the interviewer and ensure you get all your best attributes across. And after the interview, you can use NLP to ensure you negotiate yourself the best deal.



Chris Cleave

The extraordinary third novel from Chris Cleave, author of the internationally bestselling, Costa-shortlisted THE OTHER HAND. Usually, this is where we'd tell you what this book is about.But with Chris Cleave, it's a bit different.Because if you've read THE OTHER HAND or INCENDIARY, you'll know that what his books are about is only part of the story - what really matters is how they make you feel.GOLD is about the limits of human endurance, both physical and emotional. It will make you cry.GOLD is about what drives us to succeed - and what we choose to sacrifice for success.It will make you feel glad to be alive.GOLD is about the struggles we all face every day; the conflict between winning on others' terms, and triumphing on your own.It will make you count your blessings.GOLD is a story told as only Chris Cleave could tell it. And once you begin, it will be a heart-pounding race to the finish.

Saltyard Books

England In Particular

Sue Clifford And Angela King, Angela King

Apples, bandstands, beach huts, black dogs, breweries, bricks, cakes, causeways, chalk horses, cheese rolling, cider, cooling towers, curbstones, dances, dialect, dry stone walls, fens, fire festivals, foxes, gargoyles, geology, ghosts, heaths, heronries, ice houses, jet, lagoons, maypoles, mazes, moats, nightingales, peat, pies, primrose banks, quicksand, rhubarb, sheep, spoil heaps, terraced houses, topiary, weather, windmills, zawns... England is a land of extraordinary variety, rich in buildings, landscapes, peoples and wildlife. But this diversity is under siege. Mass production, fashion, increased mobility and the forceful promotion of corporate identity have brought with them standardised shop fronts, farm buildings, factories, forests and front doors, while intensive farming has created a bland, empty countryside. ENGLAND IN PARTICULAR is a counterblast against loss and uniformity, and a celebration of just some of the distinctive details that cumulatively make England. It is the culmination of more than twenty years' work by Sue Clifford and Angela King, who founded Common Ground with Roger Deakin. ENGLAND IN PARTICULAR is a ground-breaking work, destined to become a classic.Two pocket-sized hardback editions of extracted essays from ENGLAND IN PARTICULAR are coming in 2014:JOURNEYS THROUGH ENGLAND IN PARTICULAR: COASTING and JOURNEYS THROUGH ENGLAND IN PARTICULAR: ON FOOT.

Teach Yourself

Learn Chinese with Mike Advanced Beginner to Intermediate Coursebook and Activity Book Pack Seasons 3, 4 & 5

Mike Hainzinger

"It is definitely new, and it definitely works." -Dr. Licheng Gu, Program Director, African & Asian Languages, Northwestern UniversityWhat do I get when I learn Chinese with Mike? Coursebook:-256 pages of addictive learning material-60 videos on DVD-Audio on MP3 CD-ROM Activity Book: -144-pages of addictive practice material -Audio on MP3 CD-ROMAddictive learning Mike Laoshi (Teacher Mike) will astound you with his unparalleled ability to make learning Mandarin Chinese fun and easy. Be warned, his teaching style is highly addictive, so if you have a family, career or social life, you may want to put those on hold for a little while. Why Chinese with Mike? Chinese with Mike is 100% new and breaks with traditional Chinese curricula. Mike's humour, mixed with his logical, step-by-step approach shields learners from the unnecessary complexities of Mandarin Chinese. In this complete learning package you'll get 60 short, highly addictive video lessons on DVD, a Coursebook, an Activity Book and audio. You'll acquire essential Chinese with confidence. More importantly, you get a little one-on-one time with Mike, as he makes learning Chinese ridiculously easy-and fun! What will I learn?Season 3 Learn to tell people the milk is in the refrigerator and your dirty clothes are under the bed. You'll also learn about jobs, dreams and measure words. Season 4 You'll learn some new adjectives, adverbs, prepositions and conjunctions, and best of all, you'll get to watch Mike Laoshi's ballet lesson and retirement press conference. Season 5 This was the season that was never meant to be, but Mike Laoshi was lured out of retirement. You'll learn how to make comparisons (I am smarter than you) and use superlatives (This is the best Chinese book ever!). Also talk about the past and the future, and use transitions to put events in sequence. Why will learning Chinese be a breeze? ? Mike builds confidence through his logical step-by-step design of the course ? Mike explains pronunciation with clear, familiar examples ? Mike adds interesting facts about the intricacies of language ? Mike includes lots of cultural tidbits ? Mike recognizes and explains thoroughly troublesome areas ? Mike uses native speakers to help you with listening and speaking Chinese with Mike is suitable for classroom, self-study or home schooling.

Teach Yourself

Learn Chinese with Mike Absolute Beginner Coursebook Seasons 1 & 2

Mike Hainzinger