Bookwaves/Artwaves – November 11, 2021: Vanessa Veselka – Robert B. Parker

Bookwaves/Artwaves is produced and hosted by Richard Wolinsky.

Links to assorted local theater & book venues



Vanessa Veselka, whose latest novel is “The Great Offshore Grounds,” in conversation with host Richard Wolinsky.

“The Great Offshore Grounds” is an epic novel about two sisters on a quest to find themselves during the upheavals of the current era. It’s a detailed examination of feminism, of lives lived on the edge, and of life in the parts of America we hear little about.

Vanessa Veselka’s first novel, “Zazen,” has just been reissued by Vintage. Published by a small press over a decade ago, it looks at the travails of young adults set against the backdrop of an ever-increasing political violence in America.

Vanessa Veselka, the daughter of journalist Linda Ellerbee, left home at the age of fifteen and early in her life lived the life of a homeless vagabond, eventually becoming a professional musician in the Pacific Northwest, a union organizer, and a writer of fiction.

Complete 51-minute interview.



Robert B. Parker (1932-2010) is known today as one of the most important writers of detective fiction during the final quarter of the 20th Century. His wise cracking Boston private eye, Spenser, Spenser’s sidekick Hawk, and girlfriend Susan Silverman have become iconic figures. When Parker died at the age of 77 in 2010, 38 Spenser novels had been published. Two more came out posthumously, and a third was completed by his agent. Novelist Ace Atkins has now written nine more Spenser novels. The series Spenser for Hire, starring Robert Urich and Avery Brooks ran for three seasons, and Brooks had a spin-off that ran for half a season, A Man Called Hawk. Several television movies were also made from Parker’s Spenser books, the most recent, Spenser Confidential, is actually based on one of Ace Atkins’ Spenser novels.

This interview hosted by Richard Wolinaky and Lawrence Davidson, was recorded in the spring of 1981 while Robert B. Parker was on tour for his novel, Early Autumn, and marked the first Probabilities interview with a mystery writer. His career hadn’t advanced under his first publisher, Houghton-Mifflin, and he switched to Delacorte, and Parker’s audience began to grow. This was his seventh Spenser novel, and his eighth over all (Wilderness had come out late in 1980 and Looking for Rachel Wallace was his first under the new contract. At the time of the interview, his first five novels were all out of print in paperback.

Though he says in the interview his detective fiction would be limited to the Spenser series, eventually he branched out to write another series of nine books featuring Jesse Stone, a former LAPD detective who becomes the police chief in a small New Enngland town, and six novels featuring Sunny Randall, a female detective. Eventually there was some crossover between the three series. Along the way, he also wrote a handful of westerns, the Cole and Hitch series, and two books featuring Raymond Chandler’s detective, Philip Marlow. When Parker died in 2010 of a sudden heart attack, the family decided to let other writers continue the Spenser, Stone and western series, which go on to this day.

The recording was digitized, remastered and re-edited in November 2021.
Complete 40-minute Interview.


Review: “My Fair Lady” at BroadwaySF Orpheum Theater through November 28, 2021.


Book Interview/Events and Theatre Links

Note: Most in-person events require proof of full vaccination for all audience members over 12 (some may allow unvaccinated audience members with recent negative Covid tests), and masks. Shows may unexpectedly close early or be postponed due to actors’ positive COVID tests. Check the venue for mandates or closures before arrival.

Bay Area Book Festival   Festival events streaming on-demand.
Book Passage.  Calendar for November. Mix of on-line and in-store events.
Books Inc.  Mix of on-line and in-store events.
The Booksmith   Calendar for November. On-line events only.
Center for Literary Arts, San Jose. Check website for archived events. Jhumpa Lahiri, reading from her most recent novel, “Whereabouts,” Thursday November 11, 6 pm. RSVP required.
Kepler’s Books  On-line Refresh the Page program listings.

Alter Theatre. Brer Peach, an audio play by Andrew Saito, on-line October 21-December 12.
American Conservatory Theatre Freestyle Love Supreme opens January 21, 2022 at the Geary Theater.
Aurora Theatre Father/Daughter by Dael Orlandersmith, By Kait Kerrigan, directed by M. Graham Smith, performances start Nov. 12; streaming Dec. 7-12.
Berkeley Rep Wintertime by Charles L. Mee, opens November 12, 2021, Roda Theater.
Brava Theatre Center: See website for live and streaming events.
BroadwaySF: National touring companies: My Fair Lady, at the Orpheum, November 2 – 28, 2021. A Christmas Carol, November 26 – December 26, 2021 at the Golden Gate.
California Shakespeare Theatre (Cal Shakes)  Check website for streaming archive.
Central Works Audio plays: Bystanders by Patricia Milton, streaming now. The Human Ounce by Nicole Parizeau, streaming now.  2022 season to be announced.
Cinnabar Theatre. Cinnebar Young Rep: Beauty and the Beast, Nov. 19 – Dec. 5.
Contra Costa Civic Theatre On stage: Clarence Darrow by David Rintels, Nov. 12-14.
Curran Theater: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child set to resume January 11, 2022 as a single evening play. Taylor Mac videos available on-line.
Custom Made Theatre Season schedule resumes in 2022.
42nd Street Moon. A Little Night Music, November 4-13, Gateway Theater.
Landmark Musical Theater. All Together Now, November 12 -15, 2021 at Theater 33, 533 Sutter St., San Francisco.
Lorraine Hansberry Theatre. Upcoming season to be announced.
Magic Theatre. Anna Moench’s Our Local Theatre Presents: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, November 13, 1 pm. Black Magic Pop-Up Pandemonium, November 17.
Marin Theatre Company On stage: Georgiana and Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, November 18 – December 19, 2021.
Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts Upcoming Events Page.
New Conservatory Theatre Center Streaming: Hold Me The Forgotten Way, through December, 31, 2021. In Theater: Plot Points in Our Sexual Development by Miranda Rose Hall, November 12 – December 19, 2021. Gently Down the Stream by Martin Sherman, December 3, 2021 – January 9, 2022.
Oakland Theater Project. In Theater: sAiNt jOaN (burn/burn/burn) by Lisa Ramirez, Nov 12 – Dec 19, 2021.
Pear Theater. In Theater: Eight Nights by Jennifer Maisel and The Thanksgiving Play by Larissa FastHorse, in repertory, November 19 – December 12, 2021.
PianoFight. Calendar of shows. Expansion to The Flight Deck in Oakland.
Ray of Light: Upcoming shows to be announced.
San Francisco Playhouse. In Theatre/Streaming On Demand, The Great Khan by Michael Gene Sullivan, October 13 – November 13, 2021. Twelfth Night starts November 24, 2021.
SFBATCO See website for upcoming streaming and in theatre shows.
Shotgun Players. Streaming on demand: The Claim by Tim Cowbury, through November 15, 2021. The Cassandra Sessions: Recording the World, opens December 2, 2021.
The Breath Project. Streaming archive.
The Marsh: MarshStream updated calendar.
Theatre Rhino Essential Services Project, conceived and performed by John Fisher, all weekly performances now available on demand.  On stage: At the Wake of a Dead Drag Queen by Terry Guest, Oct. 28 – Nov. 14.
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. It’s A Wonderful Life Radio Play, December 1 – 26, 2021
Word for Word. Wordcast streaming: A Pair of Eyeglasses by by Anna Maria Ortese; Home by George Saunders; two by Toni Cade Bambara, live November 4. Each will be streamed through summer, 2022.

National, Misc:
Chamber Music San Francisco: Live concerts return February, 2022.
Dance Mission Theatre. On stage events calendar.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival: New 2022 season announced.

Playbill List of Streaming Theatre: Updated weekly, this is probably the best list you’ll find of national and international streaming plays and musicals. Each week has its own webpage, so scroll down.
National Theatrical Streaming: Upcoming plays from around the country.
Filmed Live Musicals: Searchable database of all filmed live musicals, podcast, blog.

If you’d like to add your bookstore or theater venue to this list, please write [email protected]


Artist Song Album Label
Matthew MontfortAmberGuitar WorksNarada Productions, Inc.
SantanaEuropa (Earth's Cry, Heaven's Smile)Les IndispensablesSony Music Media