National Writers Series

Interviews and IPR broadcasts of Traverse City's National Writers Series, founded by Interlochen alumnus and New York Times bestselling author Doug Stanton.

New episodes are aired as they become available on Fridays at 1 p.m. on IPR News Radio. 

Vanessa Diffenbaugh's first novel, The Language of Flowers, is about a foster child aging out of the system. Her second and latest book, We Never Asked for Wings, takes on immigration and education. Vanessa Diffenbaugh's books tackle big topics that highlight regular peoples' struggles and triumphs. Diffenbaugh talked to Sarah Bearup-Neal, a writer and artist from Glen Arbor.

National Writers Series: An evening with Harlan Coben

Aug 6, 2015

Mystery and thriller writer Harlan Coben says a writer needs three things: inspiration, perspiration, and the most important, desperation. Harlan Coben's novels have debuted at the top of the New York Times bestseller list seven times. His book "Tell No One" was made into a French film of the same name. Coben's latest novel is "The Stranger." To start off the evening's event at the City Opera House, Traverse City mayor Michael Estes presented Harlan Coben with a key to the city. Doug Stanton began the conversation telling Coben he's had quite a year.

National Writers Series: An evening with Jeff Shaara

Jul 3, 2015

On this program from the National Writers Series, Jeff Shaara explains why General Sherman was so successful in the American Civil War. Even though Sherman is known for his "total war" strategy, Shaara says his tactics weren't as harsh as many people believe. Jeff Shaara is the author of six works of historical fiction about the Civil War. The latest is called "The Fateful Lightning." He talks this hour with Ed Tracy, CEO of Roxbury Road Creative.

National Writers Series: An evening with Debbie Macomber

Jun 3, 2015

Debbie Macomber's "Cedar Cove" series has been turned into a TV show on the Hallmark Channel. She has more than 170 million copies of her books in print worldwide and her novels have spent over 750 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, with eight hitting number one. Macomber has also written bestselling cookbooks, inspirational and non-fiction works, and children's books. This hour she talks with Ron Hogan, acquiring fiction and nonfiction editor at Regan Arts.

Garth Stein's latest book, "A Sudden Light," begins from the perspective of a 14-year-old boy. Stein is fascinated with this stage of life at the edge of adulthood. His previous novel, "The Art of Racing in the Rain," has sold more than 4 million copies and spent three years on the New York Times bestseller list. He's interviewed by Sarah Bearup-Neal, a journalist and fiber artist from Glen Arbor.

Mystery Novelist - Tess Gerritsen

Feb 12, 2015

When mystery novelist Tess Gerritsen she was young, she had an experience that defined her writing. A neighbor she was close to was arrested for murdering his sister in law. She says that for her, crime writing is about trying to understand who the real person is behind the smiling mask. Tess Gerritsen is best known for her series of books featuring police detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles, which inspired the TV series "Rizzoli and Isles." She talks with Traverse City teacher and Front Street Writers workshop leader Kerrey Woughter.

Brian Castner and Brian Turner

Dec 12, 2014

On this program from the National Writers Series, Benjamin Busch talks with Brian Castner and Brian Turner. Brian Castner's book, "The Long Walk," draws on his experience as the commander of an explosive disposal unit in Iraq. Poet and professor Brian Turner's memoir, "My Life As a Foreign Country," retraces his time at war, from pre-deployment, to combat, homecoming, and its aftermath. Castner and Turner talk with former U.S. Marine Corps officer and actor Benjamin Busch, author of the memoir "Dust to Dust."

"Shopaholic" author Sophie Kinsella

Dec 3, 2014
Allen Kent

On this program from the National Writers Series, Sophie Kinsella. She has written seven books in her "Shopaholic" series, as well as over a dozen other novels. Her first books were written under her actual name, Madeleine Wickham. Sophie Kinsella is her pen name. Christal Frost and Colleen Wares from radio station WTCM talk to Kinsella about her latest book, "Shopaholic to the Stars."

Mrs. Murphy mystery series author Rita Mae Brown

Nov 20, 2014
Allen Kent

Rita Mae Brown is the author of many novels, including the Mrs. Murphy mystery series, the Sister Jane foxhunting mysteries, and her classic first novel, Rubyfruit Jungle. She was also well-known in the 1960s as an activist for civil rights, gay rights, and feminism. She spoke with guest host Rich Fahle, Executive Producer of The Miami Book Fair International, and founder of Bibliostar.TV.

Nancy Horan: Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Oct 30, 2014
Allen Kent

On this program from the National Writers Series, Nancy Horan talks about her latest book, "Under the Wide and Starry Sky." It tells the improbable love story between Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife. Nancy Horan is the author of the 2007 bestseller "Loving Frank," which chronicles an obscure chapter in the life of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and his client, Mamah Borthwick Cheney. Her latest novel likewise tells the little-known story of Robert Louis Stevenson's life with his wife, Fanny Osbourne Stevenson.

Two authors focus on the Detroit Auto Industry

Oct 9, 2014

On this program from the National Writers Series, two authors whose latest books focus on the Detroit auto industry. Bryce Hoffman has spent two decades covering the auto industry for the Detroit News. His book is called "American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company." A. J. Baime is a journalist whose latest book is "Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War." It focuses on Ford’s B-24 bomber plant outside Detroit in Willow Run.

Karin Slaughter: Author of 'Cop Town'

Aug 28, 2014
Allen Kent

Karin Slaughter's latest thriller, Cop Town, is set in Atlanta in the mid-1970s. In it, Slaughter focuses on the struggles of female police officers at a time when nobody thought they should be on the force. She is well-known for her debut novel Blindsighted, which was published in almost 30 languages. Karin Slaughter is the author of the Will Trent series that takes place in Atlanta, as well as the Grant County series set in rural Georgia.

Daniel James Brown: Bringing history to life

Aug 11, 2014

Daniel James Brown writes books that bring dramatic historical events to life. His latest, "The Boys in the Boat," tells the story of the American rowing team that won gold at Hitler's 1936 Berlin Olympics. "The Boys in the Boat" has been on the New York Times and LA Times bestseller lists for many weeks, with a film adaptation currently in development. Daniel James Brown spoke with Lucas Wittman, an editor at the publishing house Regan Arts.

Diana Gabaldon's eight-book Outlander series has sold more than 20 million copies and has been published in 26 countries and 23 languages. A TV show based on the series premieres on Starz on August 9th. (The network has already released the first episolde online).

National Writers Series guest host and executive director of the Great Lakes Independent Book Sellers Association Deb Leonard talked with Diana Gabaldon for this special extended (and uncensored!) online-only edition of the National Writers Series.

Emily Giffin: Not Just 'Chick Lit'

Jul 10, 2014
Allen Kent

Emily Giffin has written seven novels that have been commonly described by critics as "chick lit," but Giffin takes exception to that characterization. Her novel "Something Borrowed" was made into a movie starring Kate Hudson and John Krasinski. Giffin's latest book, "The One and Only," debuted on the New York Times Bestseller list at number one for hardcover fiction. Guest host and journalist Stefanie Murray talks to Emily Giffin for this broadcast from the National Writers Series.

Anchee Min

May 30, 2014
Allen Kent

On this program from the National Writers Series, memoirist Anchee Min talks about growing up in Shanghai during Mao's communist cultural revolution. Anchee Min worked in a labor camp as a teenager, and later was recruited as an actress at Madame Mao’s Shanghai Film Studio. In 1984 she moved to the United States, knowing no English. Eight years later she wrote her memoir "Red Azalea." Min speaks with guest host Ron Hogan, creator of the literary website

Steve Luxenberg

May 19, 2014
Alan Newton

On this National Writers Series program, Steve Luxenberg talks about the family secret that inspired his book "Annie's Ghosts." Luxenberg has worked for more than 30 years as a newspaper editor and reporter and is currently an associate editor at the Washington Post. "Annie's Ghosts" was named to The Washington Post’s Best Books list of 2009. It was also honored as a Michigan Notable Book for 2010 by the Library of Michigan.  Steve Luxenberg spoke with guest host Mardi Link, who recently sold the movie rights to her own memoir "Bootstrapper."

National Writers Series - George Packer

Apr 3, 2014
Allen Kent

George Packer is a journalist, novelist, and playwright. His new book, "The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America," won the 2013 National Book Award for nonfiction. Packer is a staff writer for the New Yorker and has contributed numerous articles on foreign affairs, American politics, and literature to many publications. He spoke at the National Writers Series with his friend Benjamin Busch, author of the memoir "Dust to Dust."

Kelly Corrigan

Mar 20, 2014
Allen Kent

Kelly Corrigan is the author of three memoirs about mothers, fathers, children, and the journey to fully appreciate them. Corrigan is also a YouTube sensation, a contributor to "O: The Oprah Magazine," and a cancer survivor. Her latest book is "Glitter and Glue." Corrigan spoke with Rich Fahle, founder of

Author Benjamin Busch On Al Qaeda's Rebound

Jan 13, 2014
Courtesy photo

Benjamin Busch is a writer, actor and Iraq war veteran. His photography has been displayed at the Dennos Museum Center in Traverse City and he has been a featured author at the Traverse City National Writers Series. Today Busch joins other Iraq war veterans on The Takeaway to reflect on Al Qaeda's rebound. The show starts at 2:00pm on IPR News Radio.

Alan Newton

Sara Paretsky is the author of 16 crime novels featuring her star protagonist, female private eye V.I. Warshawski. In her latest book, "Critical Mass," V.I. uncovers secrets buried in the rubble of World War II. Paretsky spoke with Nancy Baker, who serves as program director of Evanston Scholars in Evanston, Illinois.

Alan Newton

Nikki Giovanni is a the author of many collections of poetry, as well as works of nonfiction and children's literature. Giovanni's creative output spans more than 40 years and expresses her strong racial pride and respect for family. Her latest book, "Chasing Utopia," is a highly personal combination of poetry and memoir. Our host today is books editor at O Magazine, Leigh Haber.


National Writers Series

Journalist David Finkel talks about war and the ongoing effect it has on those who fight. Finkel is a staff writer at the Washington Post and the author of two books about the war in Iraq, from the point of view of those who fought in it. "The Good Soldiers" follows the lives of soldiers on the front lines in Baghdad. In his latest book, "Thank You For Your Service," Finkel revisits these solders' lives after coming home.

Jamie Ford is the author of two novels, "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet," and his latest, "Songs of Willow Frost." Both take place in Seattle, where Ford grew up. His books are informed by the city's history, and also his feelings of melancholy toward his childhood home. On this program for the National Writers Series, Jamie Fordtalks with host Rich Fahle about why he's so attached to telling stories from this particular place.

Michael Paterniti says the greatest storyteller he ever met is a cheese maker in the small Spanish village of Guzman. Paterniti's latest book is called The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and World's Greatest Piece of Cheese. For a previous book, Paterniti ended up on a cross-country road trip with Albert Einstein's brain in the trunk of the car. His literary non-fiction has appeared in magazines such as Outside, Rolling Stone, and Esquire. He spoke with Doug Stanton at the Traverse City Opera House.