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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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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Book News & Features
7:07 am
Sun April 20, 2014

'Traveling Pants' Author Tries Traveling In Time

Author Ann Brashares became a young adult superstar more than a decade ago with the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, a feel-good series of books about the adventures of four best friends and a really great pair of jeans. It was eventually made into a couple of movies.

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Arts & Life
4:08 am
Sun December 29, 2013

Winging It: Biking Around Again In Margaritaville

NPR's Petra Mayer has finally learned how to ride a bike.
Izolda Trakhtenberg

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 10:53 am

I love Key West, and I go there as often as possible: pina coladas, drag queens, shady hammocks, feral chickens — it's the best. There's just one problem: everyone gets around the island by bike, and I've never learned to ride one. Obviously that had to change.

Why didn't I learn? I really don't remember, and neither did my mom, when I asked her about the one time my parents tried to teach me. "You got on a big bicycle that was so big you couldn't really turn the wheels and got discouraged."

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Television
3:21 am
Sat November 23, 2013

Allons-y! Why We've Been Traveling With 'Doctor Who' For 50 Years

Jenna Coleman plays Clara, companion to Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith. The relationship between the Doctor and his companions is at the core of Doctor Who's long-lived appeal.
Adrian Rogers/BBC

Originally published on Sat November 23, 2013 10:18 am

This afternoon, millions of fez-wearing fans around the world will tune in to a very special episode of Doctor Who. The venerable British sci-fi series turns 50 today — though the time traveling alien Doctor himself is probably somewhere on the wrong side of 1,000.

From scrappy, low-budget beginnings (bubble-wrap monsters, anyone?), Doctor Who has become a global phenomenon. Only soap operas can match it for longevity and popularity. So what's the secret to the Doctor's appeal?

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Author Interviews
2:03 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

'Boxers & Saints' & Compassion: Questions For Gene Luen Yang

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 3:00 pm

Gene Luen Yang broke out in 2006 with American Born Chinese, the first graphic novel nominated for a National Book Award. It weaves three stories — about a Chinese-American boy, a terrible stereotype named Chin-Kee and the mythical Monkey King — into a complex tapestry of identity and assimilation.

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Book Reviews
6:03 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Austen Unvarnished: Q&A With Jo Baker, Author Of 'Longbourn'

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 2:21 pm

The world of Jane Austen — gracious country houses, empire-waist dresses, card parties and suppers and genteel raillery and a touch of social anxiety — is familiar literary ground. And no house is more familar and comforting than Longbourn, home to Elizabeth and Jane Bennet. But what goes on behind the scenes? Who irons those dresses and prepares those suppers?

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Books News & Features
3:56 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Did The Cat Eat Your Gymsuit? Then These Books Are For You

Lizzie Skurnick wrote several books in the Sweet Valley High series. Her new imprint aims to celebrate and preserve classic young adult books from the 1930s through the 1980s.
Ig Publishing

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 9:09 pm

Young adult literature is big business right now; bookstores and movie theaters are full of titles like The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars.

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Author Interviews
6:03 am
Sat August 31, 2013

Questions For Hugh Howey, Author Of 'WOOL'

Hugh Howey self-published the original WOOL novella in 2011. It has since grown to become a best-selling phenomenon.
Amber Lyda

After a varied career as a computer repairman and yacht captain, Hugh Howey turned his hand to writing. He'd self-published several novels and stories when the sci-fi dystopia WOOL, originally just a novella, found sudden runaway success in 2011. Howey found himself writing sequel after sequel to keep up with reader demand — the latest volume, Dust, was released in August.

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Books News & Features
1:22 pm
Sun August 18, 2013

Fans Are Like Friends To 'Reigning Queen' Of Women's Fiction

Debbie Macomber's latest book is Rose Harbor in Bloom.
Deborah Feingold

Originally published on Sun August 18, 2013 5:12 pm

Go to your nearest paperback rack, and odds are, you'll see two or three, or four, or — well, a lot of books by Debbie Macomber, an author The Sacramento Bee has dubbed "the reigning queen of women's fiction."

Macomber has 170 million books in print; the newest, Rose Harbor in Bloom, has just been released. Her publisher, Random House, celebrated Macomber's selling power earlier this month with a fan retreat at the Gaylord Opryland resort in Nashville, where 400 women gathered for a weekend of tea, knitting and literary friendship.

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