Patchett’s most recent book "Bel Canto" has earned critical acclaim and several literary awards while Ray's second novel "Step-Ball Change" recently hit the store shelves.
Patchett and Ray visit The Early Show to talk about their books and their relationship.
About Bel Canto:
" In an attempt to lure a Japanese electronics factory to their poor South American country, the government has invited Nansei CEO Katsumi Hosokawa to a private celebration for his 53rd birthday. The enticement is an intimate song recital to be given by Roxane Coss, the world's greatest lyric soprano and Hosokawa's most revered opera singer. The magical evening is held at the home of Vice President Ruben Iglesias, and the world-renowned diva has just finished a spellbinding aria when the lights go off and a band of terrorists descend upon the room from the upstairs, from behind curtains, through the doors, and even from inside the heating vents.
Bent on kidnapping the country's president, the guerillas' strategy is foiled when they discover he is not among the guests. With little other choice, the terrorists commandeer the mansion, taking all the party guests as their hostages. But the small band of renegades is ill-prepared for this change of plans. They quickly release many of the guests, keeping only those who are fittest and who provide the greatest bargaining power. Only one woman, Roxane Coss, is forced to remain.
During the ensuing four-and-a-half month confinement, the dynamics of the scenario shift dramatically, as the lines between captors and captives begin to blur. The polyglot chaos is tamed with the help of Gen, Hosokawa's gifted translator, who manages to bridge the linguistic gaps between all the inhabitants of the mansion. Roxane provides a different kind of bridge, as her daily singing enraptures all--even the ill-educated terrorists--and offers the unconventional group of cohabitants a means of nonverbal communication that underscores their common humanity. Unforeseen alliances and friendships begin to form and, as time stands still and the realities of the outside world fade from memory, a makeshift family is forged.
But those outside realities cannot be kept forever at bay, and the promise of an unhappy resolution, as inevitable as the climax of any tragic opera, hangs like a heartbreaking aria over these characters' new lives. Still, for those who will survive, this transforming experience will transcend everything that has come before or will come after." (Source: annpatchett.com)
About Step Ball Change:
"With a ringing phone, Jeanne Ray's charming and amusing new novel gets off to a rollicking start that never lets up. Not for a minute. On the other end of the phone is Caroline's daughter, Kay, a public defender like her father, sobbing at the improbably good news that the richest, most eligible boy in Raleigh, N.C., has asked her to marry him. While Caroline and Tom are trying to digest this, the other phone, the "children's line," rings; it is Caroline's sister, Taffy, hysterical over her husband's decision to leave her for a woman two years younger than her daughter.
Soon Taffy is wending her way up from Atlanta to seek solace in her sister's home, even though the two have been separated by more than just geography for the past 40 years. With her is her little dog, Stamp, who has a penchant for biting ankles and stealing hearts. Tom and Caroline quickly realize that the wedding their future son-in-law's family is envisioning for 900-plus guests is to be their fiscal responsibility. To top it all off, the foundation of their home is in danger of collapsing and their contractor and his crew have all but moved in. It's a thundering whirlwind of emotion that finally boils down to: Who is in love with whom? and Who's going to get the next dance?
Wise, funny, and impossible to put down, Step-Ball-Change is peopled with characters you feel you have known your whole life. It's the kind of book that you can't bear to see end." (Source: Randomhouse.com)