Writers & Writing

This is your source for NPR author interviews, recent broadcasts from the Traverse City National Writers Series, and IPR's radio series Michigan Writers on the Air. You can also find NPR authors & interviews here.

National Writers Series: An evening with Tommy Tomlinson

Apr 15, 2019
Halle Meyers

Tommy Tomlinson spent 23 years as a reporter and columnist for the Charlotte Observer newspaper, and he’s written for publications including Esquire and Sports Illustrated. Since childhood, Tommy has struggled with obesity, and he decided to change his life by losing weight. He wrote about the process in his memoir, “The Elephant In the Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America.” Tommy talks this hour with acupuncturist and storyteller Elon Cameron. Tommy told Elon that when he started writing his book, he weighed 460 pounds.

Essay: Hitchhiking to Stonehenge

Apr 12, 2019

Homer asked if I wanted to go to Stonehenge. “We’ll have to hitch-hike,” he said, so we took the London tube as far west as we could and stood in the rain with our thumbs out. A lorry driver waved and shifted his enormous semi down, down until it finally stopped and we climbed into the cab. 


Essay: Giving Your Gifts

Apr 5, 2019

When people ask me how I became a writer, I tell them about Mrs. Goudzwaard, my tenth grade English teacher.  She gave me an A+ on a paper once and read it to the class.  I was embarrassed, of course, but also amazed.  I didn’t know I could write!


Essay: Forgiving My Father

Mar 29, 2019

“On the way to the hospital, we didn’t have a name picked out for a girl,” my father liked say. “We were so sure it was going to be a boy.”


Essay: Geographic Fix

Mar 22, 2019

When my first marriage was seven years old and my daughter four, I started feeling restless and discontent.  Looking around for something to blame, I decided that our house was too small and the neighborhood too noisy.


Essay: Doing Your Duty

Mar 15, 2019

Every Sunday afternoon when I was a kid, my father went to visit his father—a widower who lived alone.  Sometimes our whole family went to see Grandpa Anderson, but often it was just my dad.  The two men weren’t close and I don’t know what they found to talk about.


Essay: Ask for What You Want

Mar 8, 2019

When my daughter was young, I used to embarrass her when we went to restaurants because I asked for the table I wanted.  Someone was going to get that nice table by the window; why not us?  Anyway, it couldn’t hurt to ask, politely.  And, most of the time, we sat by the window—no objections made.


Essay: Ice Floes

Mar 1, 2019

Ours is the only car in the parking lot on this Sunday afternoon. My husband and I walk north along the Lake Michigan shore, pulling on gloves and putting up hoods. It might be twenty degrees on the thermometer but it feels like zero.  


Essay: Turquoise Silk Dress

Feb 15, 2019

I am looking through my button box and pick up a small cloth-covered button. “Turquoise silk,” I murmur, remembering the dress it came from, a dress I wore only once.


Essay: Saying Hello

Feb 8, 2019

I am leaving a store when I notice the woman in front of me. There is something familiar in her walk and then I know who she is—a friend from long ago.


Essay: My House

Feb 1, 2019

When I die, I will leave the people I love which makes me sad.  But what really bothers me—and I confess this with a certain embarrassment—is leaving my house.  As a house, it’s not that special—an old, two-story, needs-work place—but as a source of shelter and security, it has never let me down.  I can’t say that about people.


National Writers Series: An evening with Gillian Flynn

Jan 27, 2019
HJB Photo

Gillian Flynn is best known as the author of “Gone Girl.” She also wrote the screenplay of the film version. Since then, Gillian has written more for the big and small screen. She co-wrote the screenplay for the 2018 film “Widows,” as well as the TV adaptation of her book “Sharp Objects.” She also wrote the series “Utopia,” which will be released by Amazon this year. Doug Stanton spoke to Gillian at the Traverse City Opera House in April 2013. She told him she loved macabre stories since she was a child, when her father played her movies that were possibly inappropriate for her age.

National Writers Series: An evening with Harlan Coben

Jan 26, 2019

Harlan Coben has published over 30 novels. His book "Tell No One" was made into a film of the same name. In the past few years, Harlan’s created three TV shows available on Netflix: No Second Chance, The Five, and Safe. His latest novel “Run Away” will come out in March of this year. Doug Stanton spoke with Harlan on the stage of the Traverse City Opera House in July 2015. At that time, his book “The Stranger” had just come out. Doug asked Harlan to tell him about how he balances his work with his family life.  

National Writers Series: An evening with Greg Iles

Jan 26, 2019

Greg Iles is known for his Penn Cage series of thrillers that take place in Natchez, Mississippi. Iles’s newest book, coming out in March 2019, is “Cemetery Road.” It’s a stand-alone novel of friendship, betrayal, and secrets that threaten to destroy a small Mississippi town. Doug Stanton talked with Greg Iles at the Traverse City Opera House in April 2017. At that time, his book “Mississippi Blood” had just been released.  It’s the third book in his Natchez Burning trilogy. Greg Iles began writing the trilogy while recovering from a traffic accident that almost killed him.

Essay: Conflict Resolution

Jan 23, 2019

When I was in junior high school, I wore my hair long and straight like most of the girls.  My mother thought it would look better short and curly.  This was a constant source of tension between us—but when we got angry, we didn’t talk about it.  We stopped speaking.  Sometimes for days.

Essay: Cleanliness

Jan 11, 2019

My mother was fond of saying, “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” as she pointed me toward my bedroom.  It was years before I discovered this wasn’t one of the Ten Commandments, wasn’t even in the Bible. 

Essay: Chronic Illness

Dec 28, 2018

Sometimes when our family was on a trip, my father would start driving wildly and too fast.  We begged him to stop but he was ornery, rebellious.  My brother and I were terrified, my mother furious.  But Dad wasn’t drunk; he was having an insulin reaction—and needed something to eat. 

Essay: Tell Me

Dec 21, 2018

My mother loved Christmas. The decorating began early and covered every available surface:  holly on the banister, stockings on the mantel, candles on the tables. My father used to joke that the electric bill went down because we lit the house with candles.


Essay: Cat Person

Dec 14, 2018

Early on a Saturday morning I was pushing my cart around a grocery store, trying not to cry. Trying not to notice the aisle of pet food where just two weeks before I had bought a bag of cat chow, not knowing my cat would get sick three days later and die soon after. I still imagined her at home in the window waiting for my return.


National Writers Series: An evening with Diana Gabaldon

Dec 9, 2018
Nancy Castaldo

Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling “Outlander” series of novels begins by telling the story of a young nurse during World War 2. She travels back in time to 18th century Scotland. Diana has published eight “Outlander” books, and she says her ninth one, called Go Tell the Bees that I Have Gone, should be released in 2019. The books have been developed into a popular TV show on Starz. Diana talks this hour with Deb Leonard, a member of the board of directors for the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, and a bookseller at Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor.

National Writers Series: An evening with Benjamin Percy

Dec 9, 2018
National Writers Series

Benjamin Percy’s writing could be classified as genre fiction, but with a twist. His book Red Moon is about werewolves, but it’s also a commentary on the war on terror. And his newest novel, The Dark Net, is a techno-thriller that imagines the sordid corners of the Internet as full of actual demons. Benjamin talks this hour with his friend and fellow writer, Jeremy Chamberlin. Their conversation was recorded at the Traverse City Opera House in September 2013. Percy started the discussion talking about his appetite for books as a child. 

 

National Writers Series: An evening with John U. Bacon

Dec 8, 2018
Halle Meyers

John U. Bacon is a journalist, commentator and educator, and he’s written books on sports and business. His latest book tells the tale of a historical event that isn’t as well-known as it probably should be: the great Halifax Explosion. In 1917, a French ship carrying volatile explosives was hit by another ship in the harbor in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The resulting fire caused the ship to explode, which resulted in a disaster killing and injuring thousands.  John U.

National Writers Series: An evening with Richard Clarke

Dec 7, 2018
Halle Meyers

Over his long career in public service, Richard Clarke has been an adviser to presidents Reagan, Clinton, and both Bushes. His 2004 memoir Against All Enemies was critical of multiple administrations for their lax approach toward counter-terrorism before and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and of the Bush administration’s decision to wage war in Iraq. Richard has also written four fictional thrillers.

Essay: Better Than

Dec 7, 2018

No one used the term “sex education” when I was growing up; in fact, no one used the word “sex.” Whatever information we gathered about this mystery was from glimpses and whispers, from eavesdropping on adults and gossiping with peers.


On this edition of Michigan Writers on the Air:  

Lynne Rae Perkins reads from her new children’s book, Secret Sisters of the Salty Shore.

Historian and educator David Harris will share the story of a writing project that spans more than 40 years, Reasoning with Democratic Values.

Anne-Marie Oomen discusses her latest editing project for Wayne State University Press, Elemental: A Collection of Michigan Creative Nonfiction.

Fleda Brown provides an audio essay on poet James Lenfestey.

  

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