Episode 254: Sara Gran, author and publisher of The Book of the Most Precious Substance (Dreamland Books, Feb. 8), on writing sex scenes for the book:

I’ve done a little bit in my TV and film stuff—most of which has not been produced—some more sexually explicit stuff. In a book? No. One thing I wanted to do is find a new challenge for myself. And I think writing about sex in an intelligent, thoughtful way is really, really hard. I had never done it before both because I backed off from the challenge and because it would have been not as natural of a fit with my other books and stories and whatnot. A big challenge I set for myself—and I hope I pulled off—was writing about sex in a way that is neither juvenile nor pornographic nor strictly titillating but is really a part of this character and a part of her arc.

Episode 257: Anton Hur, translator of Violets (Feminist Press, April 12), on what Man Asian Literary Prize–winning novelist Kyung-sook Shin is known for:

Kyung-sook Shin is basically a god of Korean literature. She’s kind of like—oh god, like what is the equivalent in English—maybe Elena Ferrante? There’s something about Kyung-sook Shin where her books are just miraculous. She doesn’t use elaborate language, she doesn't use elaborate plots. There’s nothing overtly fantastic about any of her books, really. Her New York Times bestseller Please Look After Momthat book is about a family that [loses] their mom who has Alzheimer’s. It has a very simple plot; it might as well have no plot, that book. All of her books are like that.…There’s some kind of rhythm, some kind of magic in her very simple-seeming prose that no one can quite put their finger on.

Episode 259: Aisha Saeed, author of Omar Rising (Nancy Paulsen Books, Feb. 1), on exploring complex thoughts and emotions through art:

Art is the way that I process difficult emotions for myself and tackle things that I may not want to tackle directly but that I want to explore. It’s this avenue for me to peek beneath trauma, to peek beneath hurt, and to excavate truth. Art as a way to foster difficult conversations is—I think it’s one of the most powerful ways.

Editor at large Megan Labrise is the host of the Fully Booked podcast. Find new episodes every Tuesday on Apple Podcasts and Spotify or at kirkusreviews.com/podcast.