Rank #1: Episode 10 - Ellen McGirt
Over the course of my life, I’ve crossed paths with a variety of amazing people and one of those is journalist Ellen McGirt.
She is an award-winning business journalist specializing in long form profiles.
Currently, she writes a daily column covering race, culture, and leadership for Fortune called raceAhead. Every day when it arrives in my inbox, I stop whatever I’m doing and immediately read it.
During her time at Fast Company, she wrote a number of high profile cover stories about a variety of people including President Obama, Matt Damon, and Mark Zuckerberg.
We discuss all of this, the important role teachers played in her life, and the cross-country storytelling trip she took in the months following September 11th.
Sit down with us on Ellen McGirt’s back porch on a beautiful spring day and find out why she writes.
Mar 07 2017
Rank #2: Episode 17 - Laurie Halse Anderson
Laurie Halse Anderson is a writer known to many of you, but she was unknown to me until I walked into a panel at the 2016 NCTE Annual Convention about censorship and instantly appreciated her frank and blunt manor.
She explained to me on the podcast that “life is short. I don’t believe in hiding the truth.” When I discovered that she is a New Englander at heart, It all made sense.
Laurie is a New York Times–bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous national and state awards, as well as international recognition.
Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. Laurie was honored with the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award given by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the American Library Association for her “significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature.”
We chatted about her writing process and the long walks she takes when brainstorming. You’ll find interesting the role technology plays in these walks. I sure did.
She shares the story of her second-grade teacher’s role in making her appreciate the power of words, and she lets us know the best book she has read in the last decade.
Even though she was fighting a cold for this interview, we had a great discussion about many different things.
Aug 07 2017
Rank #3: Episode 14 - Jacqueline Woodson
Today we are excited to welcome award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson to the Why I Write podcast.
Register today so that you don’t miss out on any of the amazing content, meetings, and happenings.
Jacqueline is the bestselling author of more than two dozen award-winning books for adults, young adults, middle graders, and children.
Her New York Times bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming won the 2014 National Book Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor Award, an NAACP Image Award, and the Sibert Honor Award.
She rightfully scolded me for not having read it yet. But after we finished recording I bought a copy, and it is waiting for me on my Kindle to read this summer.
Her most recent novel, Another Brooklyn, illuminates the formative time when childhood gives way to adulthood and renders a powerful, indelible, and fleeting friendship that united four young lives.
We chatted about her writing and books, but we also discussed what her kids are reading and what advocacy means to her.
She was packing for a weekend away with her family, so I’m thankful she had the time to talk to us for a little while before hitting the road.
Be sure you register to see her at our Annual Convention after listening to the episode.
Jun 23 2017
Rank #4: Episode 11 - Carmen Deedy
Born in Havana, Cuba, she came to the US as a refugee in 1964.
Carmen grew up in Decatur, Georgia, where she still lives today. She has been writing books for children for over two decades and shows no signs of slowing down.
Over the course of her writing career, she has been nominated and won a variety of awards. She is beloved by parents, teachers and children alike.
During our conversation, we discussed a variety of topics. I loved how open, honest, and direct she was. Her passion for story and writing shines through from the very first moments and lasted throughout our conversation.
After you listen to this episode of Why I Write, I encourage you to take another few minutes to watch Carmen’s TEDxCharlottesville talk Imagine a World Without Stories.
You can find out about her upcoming appearances, new books, and happenings on her website.
Mar 31 2017
Rank #5: Episode 13 - Brad Montague
From the moment I first watched A Pep Talk from Kid President to You and heard the classic line, “Not cool, Robert Frost!,” I was a fan of Brad Montague and his writing.
Now, you may not have heard of Brad, but I’m betting/hoping you have heard of his most successful creation so far, Kid President.
But Brad is about more than one amazing project, and we had the chance to talk about all of this on this episode of the Why I Write Podcast.
We, of course, discussed the success of Kid President, but we also talked about his latest venture encouraging everyone to rebel joyfully through the Montague Workshop. This creative studio is on a mission to make media, experiences, and more that are full of wisdom, wonder, and whimsy.
What I love about Brad’s work is that he proves that all it takes sometimes to make a powerful statement is a few, well-chosen words. Watch his video A Balloon’s Story to see exactly what I mean.
Jun 09 2017
Rank #6: Episode 12 - Daniel Suarez
I’m a self-admitted geek and love technology. So when the words of Daniel Suarez’s writing entered my world, I was better for it.
Daniel writes thrillers that focus on near-future technology and how it may be abused.
His stories target technology that you may have read about but haven’t experienced yet. Think about an autonomous Humvee attacking in Daemon, swarms of drones in Kill Decision, and genetically modified embryos in his newest book, Change Agent.
Daniel Suarez is a New York Times bestselling author who took his systems programming knowledge from working with Fortune 1000 companies and the encouragement of a college English professor to become one the most unique sci-fi writers out there today.
On this episode of the Why I Write podcast, we discuss how feedback on a college assignment was a piece of his publishing puzzle, and why it was important that he thank that professor when his first book hit shelves.
You may not think that writing code for years would help someone write better prose, but Daniel insists that it helps him. He equally credits years of leading campaigns in Dungeons and Dragons.
Daniel has a BA in English literature from the University of Delaware and lives in Los Angeles, California.
You can find out more about him and his work at TheDaemon.com.
May 05 2017
Rank #7: Episode 15 - Jeff Goins
I first met author Jeff Goins in the back of a car on the way to the airport in Dallas.
We had both spoken at a large event in Texas and yet somehow hadn’t crossed paths before.
After the typical introductions and discussion of what we were working on, he reached into his bag and politely said, “I don’t usually do this, but I think you would really appreciate my latest book Wrecked based on what you just told me.”
He was right. I loved the book; it was also the book I needed to read at that moment in time.
Jeff is a writer, keynote speaker, and award-winning blogger with a reputation for challenging the status quo. He is the bestselling author of five books, including The Art of Work, which landed on the bestseller lists of USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly, and The Washington Post.
He doesn’t simply love writing. He loves writing to help other people achieve success.
Jeff’s latest book, Real Artists Don't Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age, is full of stories he has collected from a variety of different creative professionals to showcase how anyone can find success creating their art of choice.
We had a great conversation about writing, his days in a band, and being a father. I hope you enjoy listening to it.
Be sure to share this episode and others with anyone you think would love it. iTunes reviews are always appreciated.
Jul 06 2017
Rank #8: Episode 18 - Byron Pitts
You may recognize Byron Pitts’s name and face because he has been part of the American landscape for a number of years. He is currently the co-anchor of Nightline and the chief national correspondent for ABC News. In the past, Byron has served as the chief national correspondent for CBS News and contributing correspondent for 60 Minutes.
Byron’s newest book, Be the One: Six True Stories of Teens Overcoming Hardship with Hope, shares the heartbreaking and inspiring stories of six young people who overcame impossible circumstances with extraordinary perseverance. In dark circumstances, these six teens needed someone to “be the one” for them—the hero to help them back into the light. Through stirring interviews and his award-winning storytelling, Byron brings the struggles and triumphs of these everyday heroes to teens just like them, encouraging all of us to be the source of inspiration in our own lives and to appreciate the lives of others around us.
Our podcast conversation covered a variety of topics, including inspiration and the struggles he has faced in his own life with words. When the interview was over, I remember feeling as if I had spent the last hour catching up with an old friend, rather than interviewing someone I had just met.
Byron has received several awards, including national Emmy Awards for his coverage of the Chicago train wreck in 1999 and the attacks of 9/11. He also garnered recognition as NABJ Journalist of the Year in 2002 for his 9/11 coverage.
Aug 24 2017
Rank #9: Episode 19 – Kevin Smokler
Kevin's book about "the classics" is written for adults who look back on books they read in school and consider reading them again later in life. Have students write a letter to a future-self about a book they've recently read in school, telling that future-self what the book means to them now and forecasting why it would be a good book for an older version of themselves to read.His work has appeared in the LA Times, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, Vulture, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Publishers Weekly, and on National Public Radio. In 2013 he was Book Riot’s first ever Writer in Residence. As a performer, he’s told stories onstage at events in San Francisco, Austin, New York, and Boston. Since 2007 he's been the host of Fray Cafe, SXSW's annual evening of live storytelling, which I’ve had the pleasure of attending as an audience member several times. Every time I chat with Kevin, I learn something new and leave inspired. I hope that after you listen to our conversation on this episode of #WhyIWrite, the same will be true for you as well.
Sep 21 2017
Rank #10: Episode 9 - Sharon Draper
Almost from the first moment of hitting record on this podcast, one name kept coming up as a must-have guest and that was Sharon M. Draper.
Sharon is a professional educator as well as an accomplished writer. She has been honored as the National Teacher of the Year, is a five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Literary Awards, and is a New York Times bestselling author, with Out of My Mind staying on the list for almost two years.
On this episode, we talk about the importance of teachers being empowered to teach outside of set curriculums and her desire to have her books read outside of the month of February.
I enjoyed the honesty of our conversation and hearing her hopefulness around the future of kids loving to read.
I was excited to ask Sharon about how her book Copper Sun was selected by the US State Department and the International Reading Association as the United States novel for the international reading project called Reading Across Continents.
Students in the US and Ghana read the book and then visited each other’s countries. Talk about a perfect showcase for the power of literature.
If you are looking for an author to be part of your National African American Read-In activities, Sharon Draper is a perfect choice. Not familiar with her work and need more convincing? Listen to this episode and I think you’ll have everything you need.
Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast in iTunes and to leave us a review so that others can see how much you are enjoying the show.
Feb 16 2017