The extended interview above includes parts one and two of the Morning Edition interview, plus additional material.
J.K. Rowling has a new novel. She's moved away from Harry Potter, the boy wizard whose stories prompted millions of kids to obsess over books big enough to serve as doorstops. Having concluded that series, she's written a novel for grown-ups called The Casual Vacancy, a story of troubled teenagers and their even more troubled parents.
After the global financial crisis hit in 2008, Pulitzer Prize winner J.R. Moehringer was so angry at banks, he says, he decided to write about the people who rob them — in the form of fiction, since he's not an economist.
"I thought it would be healthy to live vicariously through a bank robber at that moment that bankers were ruining the world," Moehringer tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.
In his first historical novel, Sutton, Moehringer writes from the point of view of Willie Sutton, whom he calls the "greatest American bank robber."
This week on The Reading Life: poet Sharon Olds, author of Stag's Leap, John Shelton Reed, author of Dixie Bohemia: A French Quarter Circle in the 1920s, and Josephine Sacabo and Dalt Wonk, authors of Nocturnes.
Susanna Moore's latest novel, The Life of Objects, is a slim World War II saga that reads like a cautionary fairy tale: It's packed with descriptions of ornate furniture and paintings, lavish banquets, demons and diamonds. At the center of the story is a young girl bewitched by her own desire to live a larger life, a wish that's granted with grim exactitude.
When it comes to healing the wounds of its troubled racial past, the United States is still in its "adolescent phase," says novelist Attica Locke. The 2008 presidential election changed everything she had been taught about race, she says — and, as an African-American writer, she felt compelled to write about that new reality. The result is The Cutting Season, a thrilling, century-spanning story of two murders.