Skip to main content
All Posts By

Peter Malone Elliott

Sinatra and Me: In the Wee Small Hours

By Spotlight - Must-Reads

Sinatra and Me: In the Wee Small Hours by Tony Oppedisano with Mary Jane Ross memoir Scribner – June 2021 Ol’ Blue Eyes. The Chairman of the Board. The Sultan of Swoon. Saying I like Frank Sinatra is akin to saying that New Yorkers are just a little annoyed by slow walkers—the understatement of the millennium. In my humble opinion, Sinatra is the personification of the fragility and false pretenses of the oft-discussed “American Dream.” He was a man who seemingly had achieved every single possible accolade someone in his profession could—the first true entertainment superstar the world had ever seen. And yet, he was a person at war with himself—someone brimming over with contradictions, self-loathing, and loneliness. To put it lightly, he is endlessly fascinating—an exemplification of the necessity of checking your expectations (and assumptions) of what defines happiness at the door. I wear the label of “Sinatra Superfan”…

Read More

The Forest of Vanishing Stars

By Spotlight - Must-Reads

The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel historical fiction Gallery Books – July 2021 There isn’t a single, original WWII story left to tell. That’s what some ill-informed people in the film/TV and publishing industries might have you believe. They’ll hit you with some comment about how the genre is oversaturated, and that production companies/studios/houses aren’t looking for that type of material anymore. Blah, blah, blah. And to those people? I triumphantly shove The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel in their dumb-dumb faces. That’s right. I said dumb-dumb faces. Because I’m an adult, damn it. On a more serious note, I hold WWII stories, across all mediums, to an incredibly high standard. My mother (the New York Times best-selling author L.M. Elliott) wrote a novel (Under a War-Torn Sky) loosely based on my Air Force bomber pilot grandfather’s experiences in WWII after he was shot down behind enemy…

Read More

The Disappearing Act

By Spotlight - Must-Reads

The Disappearing Act by Catherine Steadman psychological thriller Ballantine Books – June 2021 I hate Hollywood. There. I said it. I adore storytelling. Love the craft of screenwriting with all of my heart. I cherish all of the artists involved in the filmmaking process. But, as any creative who’s done anything in Hollywood can tell you, the business side of the industry is—to put it mildly—a soul-sucking, mangy hyena. So, any piece of fiction in any medium that holds up a mirror to that vacuous carnivore and pokes a skewer at it, either satirically or seriously, immediately garners a tip-of-the-cap from me. That said, that goodwill only gets you so far—the work in question has to stand on its own two feet. The Disappearing Act not only does that, but it made me disappear into its pages. Chalk me up a good ol’ basket of dad-joke zinger points. The Disappearing…

Read More

The Babysitter

By Spotlight - Must-Reads

The Babysitter: My Summers with a Serial Killer by Liza Rodman & Jennifer Jordan true crime Atria Books – March 2021 What if you found out that someone you cared about deeply—someone who was your babysitter and a happy fixture of your childhood—turned out to be an infamous serial killer? If you answered “that’s already happened to me, Peter,” or some variation of that, then … yeesh. I’m assuming that you’re reading this review wedged in between the myriad therapy sessions it would take to cope with something like that. I’m giving you a virtual hug through my computer. If you’re like most people, however, and have (thankfully) never experienced something that traumatic, then you’ll probably find The Babysitter: My Summers with a Serial Killer by Liza Rodman & Jennifer Jordan quite the ride—to put it lightly. The Babysitter recounts Liza’s lonely childhood growing up in Cape Cod in the…

Read More

Jocelyn Rish

By Interviews

Jocelyn Rish was the Grand Prize Winner of the YA category in the 2020 Book Pipeline Unpublished season with her novel, The Drama Queen Who Cried Wolf.  Something that stuck out to us immediately upon reading The Drama Queen Who Cried Wolf was its unmistakable voice. It’s funny, charming, and never once outstays its welcome, while also not forgetting to keep the story moving forward—a must in a murder mystery. A comparison that instantly came to mind was Veronica Mars. How did you find balancing such voice-driven prose in a typically “plot-driven” genre like murder-mystery, and when were you confident that you had nailed it? Ha – are writers ever confident they’ve nailed something? But your description of the voice is definitely a boost in that confidence, since being compared to Veronica Mars is awesome! I’ve been working on Drama Queen on and off since I wrote the rough draft…

Read More

Vimi Bajaj

By Interviews

Vimi Bajaj was the Grand Prize Winner of the Literary category in the 2020 Book Pipeline Unpublished season with her novel, Vermilion.  Set against the backdrop of modern India, Vermilion is a sweeping piece of literary fiction that dissects archaic social inequities and violence against women. It’s truly breathtaking work—your prose is absolutely gorgeous, and the subject matter is incredibly timely and relevant to today’s society. Especially in the post #MeToo era, how important was it to you for Vermilion to shed light on these topics—especially through the lens of a culture where they are so often ignored? Thank you so much for your encouraging words about my work! As far back as I can remember, I have been fired up by both the obvious and more subtle ways that inequalities between the sexes are endured, promoted and strengthened in India and among the diaspora. From commonplace ‘eve teasings’ and…

Read More

Ari Halevy

By Interviews

Ari Halevy was the Grand Prize Winner of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category in the 2020 Book Pipeline Unpublished season with his novel, Heretical.  Sanctum, the dystopian, caste system-divided setting of Heretical, is incredibly complex and immersive. On the surface, it seems like it could run the risk of being too difficult to digest. Yet, at no point did we feel like the mythology outweighed the narrative itself—an incredible, not-often achieved feat in the high fantasy genre, and a testament to your skill as a writer. It’s doubly remarkable when you take into account that this is your first novel. What made you want to tackle such an intricate subject in your first attempt at being an author? In many ways, the story I wanted to tell required me to leave my comfort zone. I’ve always been an avid reader of fantasy books, but the sheer scope they entail felt daunting to…

Read More

Wonderland

By Spotlight - Must-Reads

Wonderland by Zoje Stage horror Mulholland Books – July 2020 If the past year has taught me anything? I can’t be afraid of switching things up. Expanding my horizons. Being unafraid to be bold in my decision-making. Holistically speaking, most of the books that I’ve chosen to review for Pipeline are works that are more or less in my wheelhouse, genre-wise. Meaning, I knew going into the read that it was pretty likely that I was going to enjoy them—or at the very least appreciate them. So, in that sense, I’ve been “playing it safe.” To use a gambling analogyI’ve been betting with the house money instead of my own. With this review, I decided to remedy that. I picked a book that, honestly, I probably wouldn’t have been inclined to buy for myself in any other circumstance: a psychological horror with a supernatural twist—Wonderland by Zoje Stage. I should…

Read More

Laura Picklesimer

By Interviews

Laura Picklesimer was the Grand Prize Winner of the Mystery/Thriller category in the 2020 Book Pipeline Unpublished season with her novel, Kill for Love.  Kill for Love is a phenomenally executed high-wire act with regards to tone and voice. As a blend of pulpy, Tarantino-esque violence and biting, darkly-comedic social satire, it’s one of those pieces that feels like it could just fall apart at the seams at any moment. But you thread that needle with such precision. What were your biggest inspirational touchstones when creating Kill for Love, and how do you think you avoided the pitfalls most writers encounter when trying to craft such a tricky-to-achieve tone? Kill for Love began as a brief exercise in a writing workshop. We were asked to try on a particular voice from a well-known book. I chose Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, but I thought it would be fun to subvert…

Read More

This Close to Okay

By Spotlight - Must-Reads

This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith lit fiction Grand Central Publishing – February 2021 “I really like the writing. But we need something that’s more elevated. Something that’s high concept. You know what I’m saying, right?” In the last year and a half, I’ve heard this phrase (or variations of it) tumble out the lips of more film/TV executives, literary agents, and publishers than I’d care to admit. No matter how many times I hear it, I always chafe at this vague “development-speak” way of passing on a submission. It feels like the coward’s way out—a generic, one-size-fits-all statement that they can throw out instead of saying how they actually feel. If you actually liked the writing, you wouldn’t be passing on it, would you, you schmuck? Despite my feelings about this fact, the industry professional desire for “high concept” material isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In the entertainment…

Read More