It seems to follow that a colorful life leads to intriguing writing. If that's the case, then you had better snap up a copy of The Book of Wizzy by Ann Chamberlin, another in Penmore Press's team of extraordinary literary talent.
About once a month, I devote a blog entry to focus on another Penmore author and book. The reason? The indie publisher boasts a booklist of great variety with some titles that deserve greater exposure. And I love having an opportunity to recommend a good book to, well, everybody!
Chamberlin grew up as a Mormon who found herself studying Middle Eastern archaeology/anthropology at the University of Utah. According to her Penmore bio, Chamberlin "has ancestors who preceded Brigham Young into the Valley to dig the irrigation ditches. Her mother still lives in the house her great-grandmother first bought as two rooms of adobe when she was widowed with thirteen children."
But her travels and studies eventually took her far from the land of her pioneer forebears, to Israel, North Africa, Syria and Jordan, among elsewhere. "I excavated at the biblical site of Beersheva in the Negev desert as part of my studies," said Chamberlin when I contacted her recently, "and lived in the old city of Jerusalem for a month, which was a turning point in my life and new focus for my writing."
Chamberlin's ability to read Hebrew, Arabic, Akkadian and Egyptian hieroglyphics as well as French and German made her a natural researcher and for most of her work life, she could be found in the university's Middle East Library. Over the years, she has authored at least twenty books, mostly historical fiction, many of which are set in the Middle East.
"I was able to visit the region often throughout, including twice to Syria," explained Chamberlin. These visits clearly helped her create authentic writing. Her Reign of the Women trilogy set in the sixteenth-century Ottoman Empire spent over a year on the Turkish bestseller list. "It led to my favorite visits when the publisher paid my way to weeks of lovely meetings with fans," she added. "Last year in a Paris cafe, a young Turkish man recognized me and came up to speak with me."
The Book of Wizzy is a bit different than most of her work. It's a modern mystery set in Chamberlin's native Mormon Utah. "I suspect that my interest in Middle Eastern deserts, patriarchy, and prophecy is a means to bring some distance to writing about what I know," noted Chamberlin.
If her family history, education, multilingual abilities, archeologist background, and prolific writing aren't enough to whet the appetite, how about 'successful playwright?' According to her bio, "Ann has lost track of how many plays she’s had produced in venues from New York, New York to Bogota, Colombia. However, her play JIHAD won The Off-Off Broadway Review’s best new play of the year in 1996."
I think we've established her literary street cred. So what is The Book of Wizzy about? here's the book blurb from Penmore:
"Eighteen-year-old Brittany Bingham is working as a housekeeper for posh condominiums in Park City when she discovers a body in a hot tub. Dead. Brittany’s parents are serving an LDS mission in Southern California. Whom should she call? Why, her aunt Helen Snow, of course. But Helen has her own problems. She’s still mourning the loss of a daughter with Down syndrome who died fifteen years ago at age three. Though Wizzy’s sweet, angelic spirit visits her every day, no one understands that she’s the source of her inspiration, just as no one can know Helen’s celestial marriage is on the rocks. Should Helen accept her bishop’s call to be Relief Society president and tune out everything else, even Wizzy? Or should she respond to Brittany and learn how handsome Dave Jaramillo died?"
Want to learn more? Visit Chamberlin's author web site by clicking CHAMBERLIN.
Ready to give The Book of Wizzy a try? Click WIZZY.
And if you'd like to learn more about Penmore Press authors and books, click PENMORE.