Rank #1: Workshop 14: Anatomical Historian Alice Dreger
Alice Dreger is a historian of science, anatomy, and medicine, known for her work studying and advocating for people born with atypical sex disorders. She famously resigned from Northwestern University in protest of academic censorship, and gained some infamy on Twitter for live-tweeting her son's sex education class.
We had a delightful chat with her about her writing process in advance of the paperback release of her book, Galileo's Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science.
Apr 06 2016
Rank #2: Workshop 13: Alexander Chee
Alexander Chee is a careful craftsman of language. As we came to find out, when we talked to him from Argot Studios in NYC, he is as measured, unassuming and thoughtful in his speech. A retiring man, who prefers to write in transient spaces, he also just so happens to have penned the most hotly anticipated literary novel of 2016 - The Queen of the Night, a sophomore work fifteen years in the making*.
*He assures us it only took eleven or twelve.
Mar 23 2016
Rank #3: Workshop 3: Patti Smith
Virginia sits down with her idol, rocker and writer Patti Smith.
Nov 13 2015
Rank #4: Workshop 53: Celeste Ng
Celeste Ng came out of the gate strong. Her first novel, Everything I Never Told You, was a New York Times bestseller and Amazon's #1 Best Book of 2014. Her latest, Little Fires Everywhere, continues her exploration of family dynamics and the effect of being included or excluded from belonging. She has said in the past that her stories begin with images, so we began by asking her where those images come from.
Episode Music by Cheetara
Sep 20 2017
Rank #5: Workshop 4: Alexander McCall Smith
The Scottish author, Alexander McCall Smith, lets us in on his writing process before an event recorded for radio in Portsmouth. The workshop was recorded backstage. #writing
Nov 25 2015
Rank #6: Workshop 23: Judy Blume
Anyone who's ever been an awkward adolescent knows that for decades now, dog-eared copies of Judy Blume's books have been passed around school playgrounds like secrets, or read under the covers after lights out. Her best known books - Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Deenie, Blubber, and Forever - offered young readers plain language and shame -free stories about periods, bullying, sexual urges and, even 'going all the way'.
Judy Blume finally tells her own story with In the Unlikely Event. It’s set in 1952, when three planes crashed into her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey. We sat down with her in the greenroom at the Music Hall in Portsmouth before a Writers on a New England Stage live event.
Jul 27 2016
Rank #7: Workshop 52: Louise Penny
Louise Penny was well into her forties when she published Still Life, the first in what has become the wildly popular Armand Gamache mystery series. The novels are set in Québec, where Gamache is Chief Inspector of the provincial police force. They are meticulously plotted, part police procedurals, part exploration of human nature - and the precarious balance between good and evil. Louise Penny is now out with the thirteenth in the series, Glass Houses.
Episode Music by Dana Boulé.
Sep 07 2017
Rank #8: Workshop 37: Ottessa Moshfegh
Ottessa Moshfegh says she writes to explore why people do weird things. The daughter of a Croatian mother and Iranian father, she was a serious piano student who knew she didn't want to be a pianist when she felt the call to write - and not just write, but be bold.
We spoke to her before her reading at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass.
Episode Music: Kevin MacLeod, "Trio for Piano, Violin and Viola"
Credit Music: Uncanny Valleys, "Curious or Disconcerting"
Feb 08 2017
Rank #9: Workshop 11: Uber YouTuber, Grace Helbig
We spoke to YouTube superstar and writer of books Grace Helbig after the publication of her second tongue-in-cheek guide, Grace & Style: The Art of Pretending You Have It. She gave us a glimpse at her writing process backstage at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, NH before a Writers on a New England Stage event.
Feb 23 2016
Rank #10: Workshop 24: Chuck Klosterman
Essayist, novelist, columnist, sportswriter and former ethicist for the New York Times Magazine, Chuck Klosterman has got a wildly original voice. That makes sense for a guy who's written about glam metal bands in North Dakota, or whether you should hire a detective to trail your spouse. He's author of several best-sellers including Sex, Drugs & Cocoa Puffs and most recently But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past.
Aug 10 2016
Rank #11: Workshop 30: Jodi Picoult
It’s our 30th episode, this time with the phenomenally successful Jodi Picoult.
Small Great Things is her 24th novel - and the ninth straight to debut at number one on the New York Times bestseller list. If Picoult has a "thing" it's writing about thorny ethical issues from the perspective of multiple characters...and a twisty ending! She's written in the voice of suicidal teens, rape victims, a school shooter…but until now, never as a black character and never directly confronting race, privilege and inequity - which most people avoid talking about. We caught up with her in the green room at the Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire before Writers on a New England Stage.
Music: “Many Hands” by Poddington Bear
Photo: David J. Murray, cleareyephoto.com
We are proud to be sponsored by Blue Apron. To receive a free week of meals, visit http://blueapron.com/10minute
Nov 02 2016
Rank #12: Workshop 42: Tana French
Tana French is the Edgar Award-winning author of the Dublin Murder Squad series. The newest, called The Trespasser, is the sixth in the best-selling, habit-forming series. "It’s taken for granted that anybody who’s read one [Tana French novel] will very shortly have read them all,” wrote Laura Miller in the New Yorker.
French wrote her debut novel, In The Woods, in the long stretches between parts as a stage actress in Dublin. That theatrical training - understanding people from the inside out - may well be the edge that sets her books apart from other mysteries and police procedurals. The search for the killer becomes entangled with a search for the self, or as Miller put it, "in most crime fiction, the central mystery is who is the murderer? In French’s novels, it’s who is the detective?”
Music by Podington Bear
Ad music by Uncanny Valleys
Apr 19 2017
Rank #13: Workshop 5: The Beach Read Queen, Elin Hilderbrand
We caught up with the NYT-best selling "Summer Beach Read Queen" Nantucket writer Elin Hilderbrand. The workshop was recorded backstage at the Music Hall Loft in Portsmouth, NH, before the Writers in the Loft series, where she was signing books. #writing
Dec 08 2015
Rank #14: Workshop 31: Colson Whitehead
A National Book Award winner, Pulitzer-Prize nominee, Guggenheim fellow, and winner of a MacArthur "genius" grant, Colson Whitehead's new book, The Underground Railroad, was one of the most anticipated works of fiction this year. Virginia caught up with him backstage at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, New Hampshire before a reading with novelist Ben Winters hosted of Gibson’s Bookstore.
Nov 16 2016
Rank #15: Workshop 47: Jonathan Safran Foer
Author, outspoken vegetarian, social media abstainer and writing teacher Jonathan Safran Foer is author of three novels: Everything Is Illuminated, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and, most recently, Here I Am, which follows four generations of a Jewish family grappling with identity, connection and disaster. His nonfiction book about factory farming, Eating Animals, was also a New York Times best-seller.
Episode music by Broke For Free
Ad music by Uncanny Valleys
Jun 28 2017
Rank #16: Workshop 9: Spiritual Author, Marianne Williamson
Marianne Williamson has written six New York Times best sellers, including The Age Of Miracles and A Return To Love. Known in some circles as Hollywood's favorite self-help guru, we just had to find out what the process for a spiritual author entails.
Feb 03 2016
Rank #17: Workshop 38: Victoria (V.E.) Schwab
Victoria Schwab... VE Schwab... V... the author's name depends on her audience, which, like the dark worlds she builds, is a well-thought out design.
Ms. Schwab, we'll say, burst onto the scene in 2011 with The Near Witch. A dozen books later, adult, young adult and middle grade readers have followed her into supernatural worlds, sinister scenarios and richly formed fantasy worlds.
A self-described pagan, Victoria managed to survive a happy, independent childhood, with a morbid streak. "I definitely hung my teddy bears from the stair railing, execution-style,” she told Book Page. That slightly twisted imagination has served her well, and she continues to build speculative worlds and cutthroat characters that probe the human capacity to be monstrous to each other - and to the natural world.
Her newest novel, A Conjuring of Light, is part three and the culmination of the Shades of Magic fantasy series. We reached her at her home in Nashville via Skype.
Feb 22 2017
Rank #18: Workshop 48: Roxane Gay
This episode, we speak to Roxane Gay, author, essayist, teacher, and all around-superwoman. The author of New York Times bestsellers Bad Feminist and Difficult Women, her latest, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, is a candid and personal account of life inside her body, of weight, trauma, and self-care. We spoke to Roxane by phone from her home. Episode music by Blue Dot SessionsAd music by Uncanny Valleys
Jul 12 2017
Rank #19: Workshop 35: Jonathan Lethem
Jonathan Lethem is the best-selling author of Gun, with Occasional Music, Fortress of Solitude, and other novels, including the Naitonal Book Critics' Circle award-winning Motherless Brooklyn. He's known for reanimating and remixing genres - hard-boiled crime novels, post-apocalyptic science fiction, superhero comics and even technicolor westerns. His most recent novel is called A Gambler's Anatomy. It's about a high-stakes competitive backgammon player and con artist - a character who, like Lethem, was raised in the bohemian Brooklyn of the 1970s.
Episode music: "Crate Diggin" by Ari de Niro
Ad music: "Joy in the Restaurant" by David Szesztay
Jan 11 2017
Rank #20: Workshop 43: John Scalzi
John Scalzi, the Hugo Award-winning author of science fiction both serious and less-so and an internet star from way, way back. He is former president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, perhaps best known for his Old Man's War series, his blog “Whatever,” and his novel Redshirts, which is currently being developed for television. He joined us in the NHPR studios while on tour for The Collapsing Empire, the first novel of a new space-opera sequence set in an all-new universe.
May 03 2017