Tuesday, December 28, 2021
Sunday, December 19, 2021
Donna Hilbert is the author of nine collections of poetry and two works of fiction. She's taught extensively in private workshops and classroom settings. She joins Marrie Stone to discuss her latest collection, Threnody, and how grief has informed her work for over two decades. She talks about knowing when a poem is finished, the importance is composing with pen and paper, various types of poems, and other insightful advice for poets and writers.
(Broadcast date: December 17, 2021)
Friday, December 03, 2021
The Mirassou family has been growing grapes and crafting wines in California since 1854, making them one of America's oldest winemaking families. Steven Kent Mirassou joins Marrie Stone to talk about his debut book, Lineage: Life and Love and Six Generations in California Wine.
Part insight into the wine industry and part memoir, the book is a philosophical exploration into what makes a meaningful life and a sensual homage to food, wine, family, and community. Mirassou shares his twin passions (literature and wine) and how he managed to successfully combine them. He talks about structuring the many varied strands of narrative, finding a coherent structure for the book, accessing difficult memories, and much more.
(Broadcast date: December 3, 2021)
Monday, November 22, 2021
Gary Shteyngart joins Marrie Stone to talk about his latest novel, Our Country Friends. Recognizing the severity of the pandemic in March 2020, Shteyngart abandoned another novel to address what was unfolding in our nation in real time. Our Country Friends has been described as Chekov meets "The Big Chill."
Shteyngart talks about writing a novel contemporaneously with world events, how Russian literature informed the work, when he knows it's time to abandon a novel, avoiding stereotypes and more. He also shares his recent piece in the New Yorker about his botched circumcision, and how that event impacted the novel.
(Broadcast date: November 22, 2021)
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Saturday, November 06, 2021
Wednesday, October 27, 2021
In addition to winning the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, and a number of other awards, Robert Olen Butler is a master of teaching craft and process. He's taught fiction workshops for decades, most recently at Florida State University. In 2001, Butler released a 34-hour online craft intensive (available on YouTube) which follows him in every step of the process of writing a short story. He's also the author of the craft book From Where You Dream.
In this episode, Butler shares some of the highlights of his many years of teaching, including the two epiphanies every novel should contain, the benefits of having a bad memory, how to use the "compost of your imagination," how to approach writing like a method actor, and other insights and advice. Butler also reads from his latest novel, Late City.
Butler will be in conversation with Marrie Stone at the Miami Book Fair on Wednesday, November 17, at 12:00 p.m. (ET). You can learn more here.
(Broadcast date: October 27, 2021)
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Saturday, October 16, 2021
Ha Jin moved to the U.S. from China in his late 20s. He joins Marrie Stone to talk about his immigrant experience, and some of the things he experienced as a child growing up in China, including the Cultural Revolution, his own family’s experience with book burning, and how the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square solidified his decision to remain in the United States.
The conversation also covers a lot of craft issues. The importance of knowing the ending of a novel before you begin, the challenges of writing a linear novel (with little to no backstory), how to tackle dialogue, and other advice he imparts to his students.
Jin learned English through the lens of literature, and that’s made all the difference in his writing. A Song Everlasting is published by Pantheon Books.
(Broadcast date: October 16, 2021)
Friday, October 01, 2021
Lauren Groff, author of MATRIX, joins Marrie Stone to talk about the novel. Author of six books of fiction, Groff's work has won The Story Prize and was twice a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction. She talks about the surprising inspiration for the novel, her time spent in a convent with Benedictine nuns, her research process for this 12th century novel, and so much more.
(Podcast date: October 1, 2021)
Monday, September 27, 2021
Thursday, September 16, 2021
She joins Marrie Stone to talk about the novel, the complexities of writing about shame, and choices a character might make that may surprise an audience. She also shares craft wisdom she's learned along the way, including writing from different points of view, passing the baton of dialogue between characters, the importance of writing groups, and much more.
(Broadcast date: September 15, 2021)
Wednesday, September 08, 2021
Friday, September 03, 2021
Tuesday, August 24, 2021
Poet Honoree Fanonne Jeffers produced a stunning
debut novel. Before its publication, The Loves Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois was already named by Oprah as her
next book club pick. The novel, clocking in at 816 pages, is a sweeping ancestral saga chronicling the American South from before the Civil War to present day.
Scholar W.E.B. Du Bois wrote about the problem of race in America, and what he called “Double Consciousness,” the sensitivity that every African American possesses to survive. The novel's protagonist feels these words deeply as she navigates her history while trying to create her future.
Jeffers joins Marrie Stone to share the history behind the novel, how it grew to over 800 pages, and her struggles along the way. She talks about her attempt to shed her poetic voice, and then reclaim it again. She also hints that she may not be done with these characters.
(Broadcast date: August 18, 2021)
Friday, August 20, 2021
Thursday, August 12, 2021
Sunday, August 08, 2021
Hear Us:Writing from the Inside During the Time of COVID is a collection of over 50 essays, poems, pieces of fiction, and artwork from—or about—inmates serving time in U.S. correctional facilities. The incarcerated are infected by COVID at a rate five times higher than the general population. Crowded conditions, lack of sanitation, and inadequate medical care all contribute to the desperate conditions inside our prison system. Alongside COVID, our national conversation regarding race, racism, and a long overdue reckoning was also taking place behind bars.
Exchange-for-Change, a nonprofit organization, offers writing courses in prisons and runs letter exchanges between incarcerated students and writers studying on the outside. They partnered with Disorder Press, a sibling owned and operated independent press, to publish this anthology. Alongside living with—and dying of—COVID in our correctional institutions, inmates write about the Black Lives Matter movement, general prison life, and what the past year was like behind bars.
Kathie Klarreich (Executive Director for Exchange-for-Change), Mik Grantham (owner of Disorder Press) and Tina Barrett (sister of a former incarcerated student of Exchange-for-Change who died of COVID last year, and a contributor to the anthology) join Marrie Stone to talk about the anthology and the organization that supported its creation.
(Broadcast date: August 4, 2021)
Wednesday, August 04, 2021
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Thursday, July 22, 2021
In the course of her two-decade career, Jackson wrote six novels, two memoirs, and over 200 short stories. A film based loosely on her life, starring Elisabeth Moss, was released last year (though the portrayal is far from accurate).
Although Jackson died in 1965, her work is enjoying a renaissance. Thanks in part to her eldest son, Laurence Jackson Hyman, several of her books and stories are now being made into movies. Hyman published two story collections posthumously and now, for the first time, has revived a collection of Jackson's letters dating from 1938 to 1965.
Hyman joins Marrie Stone to talk about The Letters of Shirley Jackson, his mother's legacy, the woman behind the thrillers, and domestic life and memories with Jackson growing up. We also learn about Jackson's husband, Stanley Hyman, a staff writer for the New Yorker, professor at Bennington College, and literary critic. Shirley Jackson fans won't want to miss this intimate insider's look inside her life.
(Broadcast date: July 21, 2021)
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
Friday, July 09, 2021
(Broadcast date: June 25, 2021)
Saturday, July 03, 2021
Monday, June 28, 2021
Joan Silber is the author of nine books of fiction. She joins Marrie Stone to talk about the most recent, Secrets of Happiness, which came out last month. They talk about what Marrie has coined as “The Silber Method" of storytelling, which uses the short story structure to create a novel-length work.
Silber shares her proclivity for being a miniaturist working on a big canvas, and how she discovered that form. She talks about how travel has influenced her writing, her research methods, organizing her material, generating ideas, creating effective dialogue, and so much more.
(Broadcast date: June 23, 2021)
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Her novels have tackled tricky American issues such as school shootings, an ongoing healthcare crisis, morbid obesity, and the widening wealth gap. Her latest novel, Should We Stay or Should We Go, confronts aging and western civilization’s obsession with immortality. Kay and Cyril, a couple not keen on facing the indignities of growing old, made a middle-aged suicide pact to occur on Kay’s 80th birthday, which happens in March of 2020. What will they decide when the day arrives? Shriver explores every last possibility.
She joins Marrie Stone to talk about the book, writing contemporaneously with the pandemic, and constructing a novel with several diverse outcomes. They have a candid discussion about aging, death, suicide, and the ethics of behind every decision along the road to the bitter end.
Broadcast date: June 9, 2021
Thursday, June 10, 2021
Friday, May 28, 2021
When essayist Jo Ann Beard came on the show in 2018, she swore she was done publishing books. While some writers knock out novels every year, Beard takes decades to assemble a small collection. But she realized these past 23 years had produced nine pieces and, together, they worked.
The consequence of taking this much time at craft are essays so distilled, the reader feels like an ant under Beard’s sun-pierced glass. Not all the pieces are pure nonfiction. Beard blends factual events with imagined inner lives to create experiences so searing, it’s difficult not to flinch. As a writer, Beard never flinches. She takes us all the way into a young woman’s final moments with Dr. Kevorkian. She forces us to jump from a burning building. We endure the agony of a beloved dog’s last hours.
Beard joins Marrie Stone to talk about Festival Days, a book the NYT calls "ferocious" by an author they call a "towering talent." She is as compassionate an interview subject as she is a writer. She takes us inside her mind, her creative decisions, and her private obsessions. Enjoy the ride.
(Broadcast date: May 26, 2021)
Thursday, May 20, 2021
Friday, May 14, 2021
A.J. Jacobs is an author, journalist, lecturer and human guinea pig. He has written several New York Times bestsellers that combine memoir, science, humor, and a dash of self-help.
A.J. read the Encyclopedia Britannica in its entirety (The Know It All), spent a year following every last biblical commandment (The Year of Living Biblically), assembled the world’s largest family tree (It’s All Relative), and got himself into superhuman shape (Drop Dead Healthy). He joins Marrie Stone to talk about his latest gratitude challenge wherein he undertook thanking every person responsible for getting his morning cup of coffee (Thanks a Thousand).
A.J. talks about the genesis of his ideas, how he keeps himself organized, and how he pushes himself into successive George Plimpton-esque feats of psychological strength. He shares mounds of writing and journalistic wisdom, as well as lots of backstories and humorous insights.
(Broadcast date: May 12, 2021)
Monday, May 10, 2021
Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Ethan Rutherford returns to talk with Marrie about his latest collection, Farthest South. He shares how his writing has changed since his last publication, letting projects go, following his instincts, and how different writers get their work done (Ethan writes about 47 words a day to his wife’s several thousand). He talks about the advantages of working with a small publishing house (A Strange Object), and how he was able to incorporate images into the stories. Their conversation covers craft concerns, the power of fairy tales, and the general state of our world.
(Broadcast date: April 28, 2021)
Saturday, May 01, 2021
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
Thursday, April 15, 2021
For forty years, Trinidad, Colorado was known amongst locals, and those in the transgender community, as the “sex-change capital of the world.” An estimated 6,000 gender reassignment surgeries took place in this remote ranch town between 1969 and 2010.
Veteran journalist and award-winning author Martin J. Smith joins Marrie Stone to talk about his latest, Going to Trinidad: A Doctor, a Colorado Town, and Stories from an Unlikely Gender Crossroads. He discusses finding the subjects of the book, and their willingness to open the most private aspects of their lives to him. He talks about researching Trinidad and Dr. Stanley Biber, a larger-than-life figure who perfected the surgery after serving as a trauma medic during the Korean War. And he discusses writing about this most vulnerable and misunderstood population from an outsider’s perspective, the challenges he faced, and how he overcame them. Smith also talks about how his own mindset shifted as a result of this project.
Throughout the conversation, there’s wonderful advice for aspiring journalists, nonfiction writers, and those committed to the art of storytelling.
(Broadcast date: April 14, 2021)
Friday, April 02, 2021
Robert Kolker joins Marrie Stone to talk about Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family. He talks about finding the Galvins, and their decision to open their lives—and their painful story—up to him. He shares how he tackled the complicated science and research behind this misunderstood mental illness. He also discusses how he managed an overwhelming cast of characters—and the immense tragedies they endured—while delivering a compelling, impossible-to-resist narrative. He provides great advice to aspiring journalists about how to launch their careers, what to look for in a story, and much more.
Record date: March 3, 2021
Broadcast date: March 31, 2021
Friday, March 26, 2021
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Thursday, March 11, 2021
Julia Cooke joins Marrie to talk about her latest narrative nonfiction book, Come Fly the World. She follows three primary, and two secondary, retired Pan-Am stewardesses who flew for the airline in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. At once a nostalgic romp through the heyday of glamorous air travel, the book is also a chronicle of mid-century America and the larger world. Crews ferried soldiers in and out of Vietnam, and hit the feminist and Civil Rights movements head on. They endured hijackings, attacks by the Vietnamese military, and a general air of sexism and racism.
Julia talks about finding her subjects, structuring their stories, and the renewed relevance of this book sixty years after it took place.
(Record date: February 10, 2021)
Saturday, March 06, 2021
Russell Banks returns to the show to talk about his latest novel, Foregone. He shares how his childhood upbringing and young adulthood have fed his fiction, and why this novel feels more autobiographical than most. He also talks about a wild week spent with Jack Kerouac in the 1960s, and experiencing the fall of a literary hero. He discusses how this novel couldn't have been written at any other point in his life, why his characters differ from his readers (and the importance of that difference), a tennis showdown with Chang-rae Lee, and so much more.
There's a lot of advice for writers, including how to surprise your readers, why focusing on contradictions in your characters is more important than consistency, the necessity of learning how to read, and his insights into point of view.
(Record date: February 25, 2021)
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Karen Russell talks about her prescient novel, Sleep Donation. Written in 2014, the book that was intended to be whimsical satire on an insomnia pandemic has become a dark commentary on the times we're living through. Russell talks about the strange ways the book has taken on new meaning, serendipitous experiences she encountered while publishing it, and so much more.
(Broadcast date: February 24, 2021)
(Record date: February 8, 2021)
(Broadcast date: February 24, 2021)
(Record date: January 26, 2021)
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Katherine Seligman is a journalist and author in San Francisco. As a reporter, she’s focused on social issues, from homelessness, mental health and end of life issues to the city’s boom and bust cycles. But she’s also written about everything else, from self-appointed graffiti curators, urban coyotes and embryonic sex selection to what her kids learned growing up in Haight Ashbury.
Katherine joins Barbara DeMarco-Barrett to talk about her novel, At the Edge of the Haight, as well as writing, craft, and process.
(Broadcast date: February 17, 2021)
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Before receiving her Masters from the Program in Writing at UCI, Rebecca Sacks moved to Israel, spending time understanding Israeli and Palestinian culture, learning Hebrew and Arabic, and immersing herself in the cultures, their people, and their conflicts. Her debut novel, City of a Thousand Gates, tackles these tensions from a variety of points of view.
Sacks joins Marrie Stone to talk about her writing process, accessing her characters, keeping 29 points of view balanced and organized, rendering sex and violence on the page, and so much more. She brings all her MFA wisdom and experience to the interview, as well as her personal experience living abroad, getting lost, and finding herself again.
Record date: January 29, 2021
Broadcast date: February 10, 2021
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Tommye Blount, finalist of the National Book Award in poetry last year, joins Marrie Stone to talk about his collection, Fantasia for the Man in Blue. They are daring poems about race, power, desire, sex, and a redefinition of beauty. Blount's work captures the experience of being black and queer in Michigan, about an encounter with the Michigan police, his role as a son, and his observations as a poet.
He talks about his journey into poetry, finding his voice, using media and art in his work, and all the poets who influenced him along the way.
(Disclaimer: Some topics in this interview are intended for mature audiences. There are references to sex and pornography. Listener discretion is advised.)
(Record date: January 16, 2021)
Friday, February 05, 2021
Sunday, January 31, 2021
For twenty years, George Saunders has taught a select group of graduate students in Syracuse’s MFA program. Relying on 19th century Russian masters, Saunders breaks down the prose—sentence by sentence, line by line—to show students how it’s done. Now he’s broadened his audience. George acts as literary tour guide through seven short stories by four Russian authors in his latest, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain.
George joins Marrie Stone for their third interview, imparting his gentle wisdom to writers about the art and craft of storytelling. He also teaches us how to read deeper and closer. And, through it all, how reading (and writing) often inspires us to lead more empathetic, intentional, and meaningful lives by inhabiting other viewpoints. Conversations with George leave one feeling not only smarter, but better. You can check out their other interviews in the blog’s archives (Tenth of December, 2013 and Lincoln in the Bardo, 2017).
Record date: January 18, 2021
Broadcast date: January 27, 2021
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Thursday, January 14, 2021
Argentinian author Mariana Enriquez knows horror first hand. Born in 1973, three years before the U.S.-backed Dirty War that rained state-sponsored terror down on its citizens for seven years, Enriquez grew up in a world where death squads were common and neighbors disappeared.
Enriquez joins Marrie Stone to talk about her second collection of short stories, The Dangers of Smoking in Bed, published in 2009 in Argentina, but translated and released in the U.S. this month. One of the stories in that collection, “Our Lady of the Quarry,” appeared in the New Yorker last month. She shares her complicated childhood, her obsessions with the horror genre, and how American literature influenced her writing. She also talks about working with her translator, America's interest in South American literature, and more.
(Broadcast date: January 13, 2021)