Self-aware fiction

Books-Franson-Sally-crCadence&EliPhotography-07052018“A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out” is a witty look at modern office culture

Verona native Sally Franson has not sold out — by her own definition — though the title of her debut novel indicates otherwise.

The former Isthmus writer graduated from Verona High School in 2002 before relocating to New York City to attend Barnard College. In 2005, during her senior year, she scored an unpaid internship — save a free Metrocard — fact-checking, pulling clothes for photo shoots and contributing articles to the Daily Candy, a now-defunct, then-pioneering style site and e-newsletter. After her formative years in tie-dye and Birkenstocks, she idolized the trendy chic female employees who gave her a quick lesson in professional dynamics from an office in SoHo. Read more at


Book-Smith-Brice-Lou-Sullivan-cover-05032018An author’s journey is influenced by the life he studied

Wauwatosa author Brice D. Smith’s 14-year relationship with trans pioneer Lou Sullivan has been unconventional. The two never even met, because Sullivan died of AIDS in 1991 at age 39. But Smith’s own decision to transition from female to male was deeply influenced by the subject of his historical biography, Lou Sullivan: Daring To Be A Man Among Men (Transgress Press). Read more at


A soaring debut

Books-Flying-At-Night-04052018“Flying at Night” tackles challenges of motherhood

Madison author Rebecca L. Brown’s debut novel began with one thought: What if someone were to die and people were happy about it?

In Brown’s Flying at Night (Berkley Hardcover), the protagonist Piper Whitman Hart is trying to carve out a space for herself among her male family members. She left her career as an artist to raise her odd but sweet fourth-grade son Fred. Her emotionally abusive father, known publicly as “The Silver Eagle,” is an airline pilot who’s holding on to the brief fame he earned from a successful emergency landing. Meanwhile, Piper’s absent husband Isaac, a UW-Madison law professor, spends his free time working with grad students to exonerate wrongly accused prisoners. The characters frequent familiar Madison locales, including the Madison Public Library, the Chocolate Shoppe, University Hospital and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum — where Fred feeds a temporary obsession with war. Read more at