Lakeview resident Margot Dodds, who writes under the pen name Pearl Whitfield, has been awarded a Kirkus Star for her second novel, “Apsara.” This is one of the most coveted designations in the publishing world. It is accorded to only the top 2% of Indie books that Kirkus reviews, and the top 10% they review overall. Kirkus has been reviewing books since 1933 and is a leading source of information for libraries, bookstores, and individuals.
“Kirkus Reviews is a publisher that has become synonymous with the gold standard of book review. But, in spite of its name, it doesn’t just do book reviews. It is actually a literary magazine headquartered in New York City that has been going since 1933, publishing not only book reviews, but also interviews, articles, and author, reader, and industry perspectives,” according to aspiringauthor.com.
The website notes that Kirkus reviews are popular “because they are in high demand, prestigious, and rare.” It adds, “While notoriously unbiased, Kirkus reviews can also be notoriously harsh, so earning a positive review can be quite the feat for any author ... A glowing Kirkus review means that you’ve ‘made it’ in the book review world.”
“Apsara” is the story of a young girl in a remote village in 12th century Cambodia, who is chosen to train as an apsara for King Jayavarman VII, the most famous king in Cambodian history. Apsaras dance to bring heaven to earth, blessing the land with prosperity. Bopha walks from her home to Angkor Wat, and begins a life she could never have imagined.
Dodds has been visiting Cambodia since 2013 and has a grandson who was born there. This year in Phnom Penh, she recorded “Apsara” as an audiobook at a local studio. With luck, it will be available on Audible in the late spring. Last week she did a reading of “Apsara” at Meta House, a cultural center and exhibition facility. Dodds also gave a presentation about writing for Nerd Night Phnom Penh, which she is posting on Pearl Whitfield’s Facebook page, where she also posts observations about and photos from her travels.
Last spring, Dodds drove 10,000 miles around the United States, giving readings in small town libraries that had Friends of the Library groups. “I love driving two-lane roads and meeting people who live along them,” Dodds said.
Her first novel, “The Storekeeper, A Tale of Small Town Life,” was published in 2020. Both books are available in paperback and ebook format on Amazon, and in Lakeview at Bloomers Country Nursery, the Lake County Examiner, Howards Drugs and Tall Town Bike and Camp. Dodds can be contacted on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pearl.whitfield.169 or by emailing email@example.com.
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