The Summer 2012 Reading Guide

Whether you're a 50 Shades kind of girl or prefer something with a touch of Jane Austen in your beach bag, these page-turners will keep you in good company for the duration of summer.

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June 18, 2012 2:00 PM
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Gold by Chris Cleave

Olympic cycling hopefuls Zoe and Kate take rivalry to a new level when family problems threaten their dreams of coming out on top in London.

AUTHOR DISH

One of your main characters, Zoe, graces the cover of Marie Claire UK in the book.
Well, Marie Claire is one of the magazines I like—it's stylish and smart, has the lifestyle features and it's admirable. I didn't actually work that out until you said it just now. Wow, this is the interview for the magazine that Zoe's in. that’s interesting. I think it's a good match, right?

Of course! The back of your book—where there is usually a summary—has just a few notes teasing the reader with barely a thing about the plot.
I rather like that because I think my plots have a lot of surprises in them and there's not so much you can tell without giving them away. So, I think my publicity team likes to say, "This is how the book will make you feel." If it's intriguing enough to get people to read the first page of the book, then they might want to turn the page and read the next one. And then I've done my job.

Zoe and Kate are very intense characters.
Well, there was an Olympian who I really admire named Rebecca Ramirez who won the silver medal for Britain in rowing in Athens. She thought silver was just not good enough so she changed sports from rowing to cycling and won the gold in Beijing. I was absolutely fascinated by the psyche of someone so extreme.

Kate's daughter Sophie is very sick with leukemia in the book. What inspired that part of the story?
I was interested in the extreme of sickness that would be the mirror that held up to the extreme of health. I was talking to one kid when I did research at Great Ormand Street Hospital and I was asking him whether he was scared or worried and he said, "I'm not scared of dying, I'm scared of my Dad being sad. Yeah, sometimes I feel bad and I keep that for myself." It was the most heartbreaking thing and inspired a scene with Sophie when she hides that she gets sick.

Where does all the Star Wars love come from?
I have kids who are eight, five and three—all of them are mad into Star Wars. And for me, it's been an allegory of life and the struggle between good and evil and I love the ambiguity of it. Just the romance of being taken out of your ordinary world and realizing you're someone special—believing that maybe you're just waiting to be discovered.

Gold will be published July 3.