One of the most-asked questions Fresno novelist Tanya Nichols gets these days is what her latest book, “Stinger,” is all about.

“It’s a story of revenge involving the family of a small farmer, big ag, and mad honey — with a little unintentional corporate sabotage thrown in,” she answers. “It’s a Valley story and, at times, a very funny story.”


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It’s also an unusual story in that Nichols, a literary novelist and a Fresno State lecturer, teamed up with journalist Bill McEwen to pen the tale.

The Birth of ‘Stinger’

“We were challenged by a mutual friend over lunch to write something together,” says McEwen, who is a columnist and the news director at GV Wire. “Initially, both of us said, ‘no way,’ but when I shared with Tanya some pages I had written for a novel I’d been thinking about, she agreed to do it. And, I’m glad she did. I couldn’t have pulled it off by myself.”

Information for Friends of the Fresno County Library fundraiser

The “Stinger” book launch is 7 p.m. Wednesday at 2nd Space Theatre in Fresno’s Tower District, and it’s a fundraiser for Friends of the Fresno County Public Library. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at this link. All of the ticket proceeds benefit the nonprofit, which supports the library system.

“We wanted to give back to the community in a way that supports literacy, lifelong learning, and branch renovations,” Nichols says.

Mark Arax Is the Publisher

Portrait of Mark Arax

“I’m proud to publish ‘Stinger.’ It’s not only a great read, but it says so much about our place — California, the San Joaquin Valley, Fresno.” — Mark Arax

The publisher of “Stinger” is Mark Arax’s Fresno-based West of the West imprint. After reading the manuscript, he decided to publish the first edition as a high-quality hardback — taking a different path than many independent presses which opt for paperbacks.

“I’m proud to publish ‘Singer.’ It’s not only a great read, but it says so much about our place — California, the San Joaquin Valley, Fresno,” says Arax, whose latest work “The Dreamt Land” is a Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle best-seller.

High Praise for ‘Stinger’

Others are praising the book as well.

“Stinger is taut and colorful, a tale well-told by Nichols and McEwen, both of whom know every corner of the Valley and every secret hidden there. The landscape and the characters who inhabit it come alive in these pages,” says Steve Yarbrough, the critically acclaimed author of eleven books, most recently the novel “The Unmade World.”

Novelist and poet Liza Wieland says that “Stinger” is a “lively, engaging, and deeply knowledgeable romp though business and family intrigue in the Central Valley. Both Nichols and McEwen are talented, accomplished writers on their own, but in Stinger, they make a great and seamless team.”

Says author and Connecting California columnist Joe Mathews: “Highway 99 runs right through the San Joaquin Valley’s heart — which is where you’ll find ‘Stinger.’ This is a letter of crazy stupid love to California’s most intriguing region, a literal land of milk and honey It’s also a page-turning caper about the things that really matter: life, liberty, and the pursuit of water.”

At the book launch, the authors will share the challenges and advantages of collaboration, read from the “Stinger” and take questions from the audience. Appetizers, wine, and water are included with admission. Books will be available at $25 each.

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