Petra Mayer

Petra Mayer is an associate editor and resident nerd at NPR Books, focusing on genre fiction. She brings to the job passion, speed-reading skills, and a truly impressive collection of Doctor Who doodads.

Previously, she was an associate producer and director for the weekend editions of All Things Considered. She handled all of the show's books coverage, and she was also the person to ask if you wanted to know how much snow falls outside NPR's Washington headquarters on a Saturday, how to belly dance, or what pro wrestling looks like up close and personal.

Mayer originally came to NPR as an engineering assistant in 1994, while still attending Amherst College. After three years spending summers honing her soldering skills in the maintenance shop, she made the jump to Boston's WBUR as a newswriter in 1997. Mayer returned to NPR in 2000 after a roundabout journey that included a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a two-year stint as a producer at the Prague headquarters of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. While at Columbia, she made a three-part documentary on pirate radio in America.

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The Salt
6:51 am
Sun June 28, 2015

Do Try This At Home: Hacking Ribs — In The Pressure Cooker

To make baby back ribs in an hour, instead of the usual three to four hours, you'll need a pressure cooker.
Photo Illustration by Ryan Kellman and Emily Bogle NPR

Originally published on Sun June 28, 2015 8:40 am

This summer, NPR is getting crafty in the kitchen. As part of Weekend Edition's Do Try This At Home series, chefs are sharing their cleverest hacks and tips — taking expensive, exhausting or intimidating recipes and tweaking them to work in any home kitchen.

This week: Making delicious, fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs in only about an hour — with a surprising piece of kitchen equipment.

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Book News & Features
6:03 am
Sat June 20, 2015

Summer Of Love: Meet Our Expert Panelists!

Mary McLain

Originally published on Mon June 22, 2015 12:20 pm

While our intern is diligently tallying up the 18,000 nominations that came in for the Summer of Love reader poll (sorry, Intern Laura!), we thought we'd take the time to introduce you to the expert panel that will help us wrestle this massive list down to 100 finalists.

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Book News & Features
6:03 am
Thu June 11, 2015

Tell Us About Your Favorite Romances — It's The NPR Books Summer Of Love!

Mary McLain NPR

Originally published on Fri June 19, 2015 4:12 pm

We're bringing back our famous summer reader poll this year, and as the days get longer (and the nights get hotter), we think it's the perfect time to celebrate romance.

Whether you love historicals, paranormals, inspirationals, young adult, Amish, romantic suspense, contemporaries (or, like some people around here, you'd be perfectly happy never leaving the Regency), we want to hear about it! And with your help, we'll spend this summer putting together a great big bonbon box of 100 delicious love stories.

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Book News & Features
3:31 pm
Mon May 4, 2015

Ruth Rendell Dies, Pioneered The Psychological Thriller

Ruth Rendell won countless awards for her work, including the Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award and the Crime Writers' Association Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement.
Jerry Bauer

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 1:02 am

Famed British crime writer Ruth Rendell died this past weekend in London. She was 85 and had suffered a stroke in January.

Best known for her long-running Inspector Wexford series — which was adapted for television — she pioneered a psychological approach to thriller writing. She also wrote darker, more contemplative books as Barbara Vine. In her later years, she was made a baroness and took up Labour Party politics.

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The Two-Way
10:18 am
Thu April 30, 2015

Dozens Of Writers Join Protest Of Free Speech Award For 'Charlie Hebdo'

This pair of Charlie Hebdo covers from 2012 pokes fun at the magazine's "irresponsible" approach to humor.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 30, 2015 1:28 pm

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

The protest over a free speech award to Charlie Hebdo continues to grow.

Earlier this week, six authors withdrew from the PEN American Center's annual gala in response to the organization's decision to give the French satirical magazine its Freedom of Expression Courage Award.

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Author Interviews
1:21 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

Questions For David Levithan, Author Of 'Hold Me Closer'

Emily Jan NPR

Tiny Cooper is your new boyfriend (well, not mine, he doesn't swing that way). Readers met the flamboyant high school football player and would-be musical impresario as a side character in the 2010 novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson and fell in love — about as quickly as Tiny did with each of his 18 exes.

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Remembrances
4:29 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Author Terry Pratchett Was No Stranger To Death

Terry Pratchett wrote more than 70 books.
Rob Wilkins Courtesy of Doubleday

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 6:44 pm

Fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett was prolific: He wrote more than 70 books, dozens of them about the Discworld — a flat planet borne through space by four elephants on the back of a giant turtle. Pratchett died Thursday at age 66. He had been suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

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Book News & Features
2:26 am
Mon November 3, 2014

After 'Fifty Shades,' Could This Be The Next Big Online Hit?

Charles Sykes /AP

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 10:49 am

Much like Fifty Shades of Grey, After is an epic, erotic fan fiction that's being repackaged by a major publishing house. But where Fifty Shades was inspired by the Twilight books, After is loosely based on real people: The British boy band One Direction. And the first volume of After has just hit stores — but let's rewind a little, to those words, "fan fiction." I know, you're probably making a face right now, but bear with me.

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Author Interviews
6:07 pm
Sat October 18, 2014

Back Across The Wall: Questions For Garth Nix

Cover crop

Australian author Garth Nix anticipated the boom in young adult literature almost 20 years ago with Sabriel, a dark and delightful tale of a young woman from a long line of necromancers tasked with making sure the dead stay dead. Sabriel and its sequels Lirael and Abhorsen were set in two neighboring countries divided by a mysterious wall: to the south, unmagical Ancelstierre, roughly analogous to 1920s England — and to the north, the Old Kingdom, saturated by magic and menaced by the roaming Dead.

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Book News & Features
6:46 am
Sun September 21, 2014

Finding A Voice — Again — In The Pages Of A Comic Book

Recall and Given recasts the story of David Rector and Roz Alexander-Kasparik as a superhero comic.
Roz Alexander-Kasparik

Originally published on Sun September 21, 2014 10:15 am

This is a story about love. It's a story about bad things happening to good people, about memory and perseverance — and comic books. But most of all, it's a story about a voice. A mellow, smooth voice, just right for late-night jazz.

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Book News & Features
4:10 am
Sat August 9, 2014

Lev Grossman: A 'Magician' Grows Up

Lev Grossman's bestselling Magicians series was inspired by the long wait between books five and six of the Harry Potter series.
Mathieu Bourgois

Originally published on Sat August 9, 2014 10:40 am

The final book in Lev Grossman's Magicians trilogy comes out this week — The Magician's Land. It's a literary fantasy, inspired by Narnia and Harry Potter, that tells the story of what happens to brilliant young wizards when they grow up and have to deal with the world.

Grossman was promoting the novel at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, and as I discovered, he's a fantastic — and slightly terrifying — person to see Comic-Con with. He has no problem taking unspoken insecurities and dragging them out into the light.

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Commentary
7:40 am
Sat July 26, 2014

We Can Be Heroes — With Some Glue And A Little Fabric

Twelve-year-old Hayley Lindsay spent almost a month working with her dad on this Toothless the Dragon costume. There are sawn-off crutches in the front legs so she can comfortably walk on all fours.
Petra Mayer

Originally published on Sat July 26, 2014 12:32 pm

The San Diego Comic-Con is in full swing — celebrating not just comics, but movies, TV, books, video games and really cool costumes. It's called cosplay: the art and science of dressing up like your favorite character.

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Book Your Trip
7:11 am
Sat July 19, 2014

Watch Out For That Butterfly: The Lure Of Literary Time Travel

Guy Pearce aboard his time machine in the 2002 movie version of H.G. Wells' classic novel.
The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Sat July 19, 2014 10:45 am

Where would you go, if you had a time machine? Ancient Egypt? Tang Dynasty China? The Globe Theater, in 1599? Or maybe to the 25th century, because who knows, Buck Rogers might actually be there.

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Author Interviews
6:03 am
Sat July 12, 2014

History In The Groove: Q&A With Author (And 78 Collector) Amanda Petrusich

Amanda Petrusich and the beginnings of her 78 collection.
Bret Stetka

If you've ever enjoyed the ghostly weird-old-America wail of Robert Johnson, the deep blues of Charley Patton or Skip James' guitar wizardry, you can thank the 78 collecting community — those dedicated (okay, obsessive) folks who hunt down the rare old shellac records that hold so much of our musical past.

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Author Interviews
6:03 am
Sat May 10, 2014

Questions For Earl Swift, Author Of 'Auto Biography'

Earl Swift traced the history of this '57 Chevy wagon and all of its owners — here it is, rusting quietly on the lot of owner number 13, Tommy Arney, in January 2010.
Earl Swift

Originally published on Sun May 11, 2014 4:16 pm

This '57 Chevy station wagon was once pristine, the epitome of American automotive glory: two-tone green, with sweeping fins and enough chrome to blind pedestrians. But by the time journalist Earl Swift came across it, those days were gone, and it was subsiding gently into a heap of rust and torn upholstery.

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