The National Writers Series Podcast
By IPR & NWS
The National Writers Series PodcastMay 16, 2023
Ross Gay Discusses His New Book of Essays, "Inciting Joy"
The National Writers Series is pleased to partner with Interlochen Center for the Arts for An Evening with Ross Gay. NWS will livestream the event from Interlochen's Corson Auditorium. NWS and Interlochen Center for the Arts welcome Ross Gay who will discuss his latest book, Inciting Joy. Throughout the book, he explores how we can practice recognizing that connection, and also how we expand it. In an era when divisive voices take up so much air space, Inciting Joy offers a vital alternative: What might be possible if we turn our attention to what brings us together, to what we love? Full of energy, curiosity, and compassion, Inciting Joy is essential reading from one of our most brilliant writers. Ross Gay is the author of four books of poetry: Against Which; Bringing the Shovel Down; Be Holding, winner of the PEN American Literary Jean Stein Award; and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. He has released a new collection of essays, Inciting Joy. To ensure broad access to the transformative Interlochen experience, a portion of the proceeds from this event supports student scholarships. Guest Host Ari Mokdad is the National Writers Series new education director. She's a Detroit-born choreographer, creative writer, and passionate educator. Ari holds a Master of Arts in English from Wayne State University and three Bachelor of Arts degrees in dance, English and writing from Grand Valley State University. Ari will receive a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College and participate in the Centrum Artist Residency in 2022. She lives with her husband in Traverse City on the ancestral and unceded land of the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Pottawatomie people, The People of the Three Fires.
Dan Egan, author of “The Devil’s Element, Phosphorus and a World Out of Balance”
On March 10, New York Times Bestselling Author Dan Egan visited the City Opera House in Traverse City. He presented his new book, “The Devil’s Element, Phosphorus and a World Out of Balance.”
Environmental reporter, Patrick Shea, was the guest host. Patrick works for Interlochen Public Radio, an NPR affiliate in northern Michigan.
Egan writes about phosphorus, the source of great bounty―and now great peril―all over the world. Phosphorus has played a critical role in some of the most lethal substances on earth: firebombs, rat poison, nerve gas. But it’s also the key component of one of the most vital: fertilizer, which has sustained life for billions of people. In this major work of explanatory science and environmental journalism, Pulitzer Prize finalist Dan Egan investigates the past, present, and future of what has been called “the oil of our time.” He describes the race to mine it from the fabled guano islands to the far Pacific to the sand dunes of the Western Sahara. He reports on how our overreliance on phosphorus is today causing toxic “dead zones” in waterways from the Florida Everglades to the Mississippi River Basin to the Great Lakes and beyond. And he explores the alarming reality that diminishing access to phosphorus poses a threat to the food system worldwide―which risks rising conflict and even war.
Alvin Hall's "Driving the Green Book"
With "DRIVING THE GREEN BOOK: A Road Trip Through the Living History of Black Resistance" join award-winning broadcaster Alvin Hall on a journey through America’s haunted racial past using "The Green Book" as your guide.
For countless Americans, the open road has long been a place where dangers lurk. In the era of Jim Crow, Black travelers encountered locked doors, hostile police, and potentially violent encounters almost everywhere, in both the South and the North. From 1936 to 1967, millions of people relied on The Negro Motorist Green Book, the definitive guide to businesses where they could safely rest, eat, or sleep.
Most Americans only know of the guide from the 2018 Green Book movie or the 2020 Lovecraft Country TV show. Alvin Hall set out to revisit the world of "The Green Book" to instruct us all on the real history of the guide that saved many lives. With his friend Janée Woods Weber, he traveled from New York to Detroit to New Orleans, visiting motels, restaurants, and stores where Black Americans once found a friendly welcome. They explored historical and cultural landmarks, from the theatres and clubs where stars like Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Aretha Franklin performed to the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Along the way, they gathered memories from some of the last living witnesses for whom The Green Book meant survival—remarkable people who not only endured but rose above the hate, building vibrant Black communities against incredible odds.
"DRIVING THE GREEN BOOK" is a standalone book, not a companion book to Hall’s award-winning podcast series. The book contains more contextual information as well as truly moving stories and personal recollections. Reading this book will expand readers’ understanding of America’s racial history and its connections to incidents, proposed legislations, and policy issues very much in the news today.
Containing 25 outstanding black and white photos and ephemera, "DRIVING THE GREEN BOOK" is a vital work of national history that navigates the astounding, heartfelt, and disturbing past of the United States.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
ALVIN HALL is an award-winning television and radio broadcaster, author, political activist, and renowned financial educator. His numerous radio programs include The Tulsa Tragedy That Shamed America (2021, BBC Radio 4), The Green Book (2016, BBC Radio 4), and Jay-Z: From Brooklyn to the Board Room (BBC Radio 4). For five years on the BBC, he hosted the highly rated and award-winning series, Your Money or Your Life, on which he offered both practical financial and psychological advice. https://alvinhall.com/
Nina Totenberg, author of "Dinners with Ruth"
Celebrated NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg delivers an extraordinary memoir of her personal successes, struggles, and life-affirming relationships, including her beautiful friendship of nearly fifty years with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Four years before Nina Totenberg was hired at NPR, where she cemented her legacy as a prizewinning reporter, and nearly twenty-two years before Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed to the Supreme Court, Nina called Ruth. A reporter for The National Observer, Nina was curious about Ruth’s legal brief, asking the Supreme Court to do something revolutionary: declare a law that discriminated “on the basis of sex” to be unconstitutional. In a time when women were fired for becoming pregnant, often could not apply for credit cards or get a mortgage in their own names, Ruth patiently explained her argument. That call launched a remarkable, nearly fifty-year friendship.
Dinners with Ruth is an extraordinary account of two women who paved the way for future generations by tearing down professional and legal barriers. It is also an intimate memoir of the power of friendships as women began to pry open career doors and transform the workplace. At the story’s heart is one, special relationship: Ruth and Nina saw each other not only through personal joys, but also illness, loss, and widowhood. During the devastating illness and eventual death of Nina’s first husband, Ruth drew her out of grief; twelve years later, Nina would reciprocate when Ruth’s beloved husband died. They shared not only a love of opera, but also of shopping, as they instinctively understood that clothes were armor for women who wanted to be taken seriously in a workplace dominated by men. During Ruth’s last year, they shared so many small dinners that Saturdays were “reserved for Ruth” in Nina’s house.
Keith Gave and Tim Rappleye, authors of "A Miracle of Their Own"
Sports journalists Keith Gave and Tim Rappleye teamed up to write A Miracle of Their Own: A Team, A Stunning Gold Medal and Newfound Dreams for American Girls. Gave and Rappleye's book is a riveting tale about Team USA's stunning Olympic win against the Canadian women's hockey team in 1998, when they captured the coveted gold medal, inspiring little girls everywhere to play a game of their own. As a special treat, 1998 Olympian Lisa Brown-Miller joined the co-authors on stage to talk about her memories of the game. She was unknowingly pregnant with her first child, stood a diminutive five-foot-one, and, at age 31, was the team's oldest player. Yet she scored once during the winning game while adding two assists.
Anna Quindlen, Author of "Write for Your Life"
On December 13th, the National Writers Series welcomed Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author Anna Quindlen to help answer some very important questions: What really matters in life? What truly lasts in our hearts and minds? Where can we find community, history, and humanity?
In her lyrical new book Write for Your Life, the answer is clear: Through writing. This is a book for what Quindlen calls “civilians,” those who want to use the written word to become more themselves. Write for Your Life argues that there has never been a more important time to stop and record what we are thinking and feeling.
Author Alice Wong's book "Year of the Tiger"
Alice Wong's book, Year of the Tiger, highlights her life as an Asian American disabled activist, community organizer, media maker, and dreamer. She writes about her continued fight for disability justice, struggles with health insurance and bureaucracy.
Author Stephanie Foo discusses Alice's book on her behalf.
Margo Price, Author of "Maybe We'll Make It" (2022)
On October 20th, 2022, Grammy-nominated musician, singer, songwriter, performer, Live Aid board member and author Margo Price joined the National Writers Series for a conversation about her new memoir: Maybe We'll Make It.
Recorded live at the State Theater in downtown Traverse City, this conversation (guest hosted by NWS communications director Karl Klockars) covers her childhood, her struggles to make it in the music industry, how she approached writing a book versus her music, and we even got to hear a few songs from Margo as well.
Jerry Dennis ("The Living Great Lakes"), Dave Dempsey ("Great Lakes for Sale") and Senator Debbie Stabenow (August 2022)
On August 25th, 2022, two of Michigan’s greatest environmental authors—Dave Dempsey and Jerry Dennis—joined us on the NWS stage to talk about protecting the Great Lakes, the threats our water supply are facing, the dangers of climate change to our natural surroundings, and other topics covered in their books Great Lakes for Sale, Up North in Michigan and The Living Great Lakes.
In Great Lakes for Sale, updated in 2021 by author Dave Dempsey, we see how our Great Lakes are in danger of being privately exploited on a large scale by those with priorities other than stewardship. The Great Lakes are once again a target for the drought-ridden West, which is facing climate change, massive fires, and shrinking water supplies. And in a potentially far bigger threat, Wall Street is creating markets that could lead to the trading of freshwaters as a commodity like corn or oil. Great Lakes for Sale is an important part of the effort to remind people why the commercialization of Great Lakes water is a dangerous—and constant—threat.
Similarly, Jerry Dennis’s new book of essays, Up North in Michigan, looks at northern Michigan in a state of change. Over the past half-century, Michigan’s landscape has been bulldozed, subdivided, and built upon. Climate change warms the water of the Great Lakes at an alarming rate—Lake Superior is now the fastest-warming large body of fresh water on the planet—creating increasingly frequent and severe storm events, altering aquatic and shoreline ecosystems, and contributing to further invasions by non-native plants and animals.
What can we do about the threats facing the Great Lakes? How can we protect the waters that surround our Pleasant Peninsula? And how can we ensure the security of our drinking water and aquatic industries for generations to come? Listen now to learn more.
Albert Woodfox, Author of "Solitary"
Albert Woodfox, our final NWS guest author of 2020, sadly passed away recently. We wanted to make sure his story was available in as many formats as we could, so if you didn't join us live or if you haven't watched our YouTube video, take a listen to today's podcast.
Albert wrote a memoir called “Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement" about his time behind bars for a crime he didn't commit. For a total of 44 years and 10 months, he was confined to a single, six-by-nine-foot prison cell—the longest of any inmate in United States history. After being released, he wrote this book, which was a Pulitzer Prize nominee and one of Barack Obama's favorite books of 2020.
As Albert's wife told us recently: "His greatest wish was to help lift up the youth coming up in generations behind him; to make them aware of our world’s true history, but equally to give them hope; to teach them if they stand together miracles can happen." We hope you enjoy this conversation with Albert Woodfox and guest host Jerome Vaughn of WDET.
Anthony Doerr, Author of "Cloud Cuckoo Land" and "All the Light We Cannot See" (2021)
One of the most popular videos on our YouTube channel over the past year is our conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anthony Doerr, guest hosted by his good friend Lysley Tenorio. The two held a great discussion about Anthony's new book "Cloud Cuckoo Land," released in September 2021.
With the paperback release coming our way this September, we thought we'd go ahead and make their conversation available in audio form so you can relive the moments of learning how Anthony juggles all his multiple characters and timelines and plotlines, the role of libraries and librarians in his life, and why he wants everyone to visit Sardinia.
Janet Evanovich, Author of "Wicked Business" and the Stephanie Plum Series (2012)
Do you remember where you were almost exactly a decade ago? If you were in the audience for our evening with #1 NYT Bestselling author Janet Evanovich, you do now! She joined the NWS in July 2012 for a conversation about her then-latest book Wicked Business with NWS co-founder Doug Stanton.
In this conversation, they discuss the second in the Lizzy and Diesel supernatural mystery series, how she sold her first novel, who she'd like to kick off the Forbes "100 Most Powerful Celebrities" list (she was #79 that year) and her thoughts on topics on everything ranging writer's block all the way to Fifty Shades of Grey.
Michael Schur, Author of "How to Be Perfect" (2022)
This winter, we were joined by Michael Schur—the creator of TV's "The Good Place" and the co-creator of "Parks and Recreation" among other projects—to discuss his first book about philosophy and ethics: How to Be Perfect.
Did we learn how to be perfect? Well, we learned how to be less imperfect, at the very least. Guest host Ed Helms (The Office, Rutherford Falls) led us through a conversation that also discovered what Schur's own answer to The Trolley Problem would be.
Emily Henry, Author of "People We Meet On Vacation" and "Beach Read" (2021)
Today is the first day of summer, so we thought we'd bring you one of the summer-y-est NWS events we've ever hosted! Author Emily Henry joined the National Writers Series for a virtual conversation with guest host Brittany Cavallaro in June of 2021 to talk about her newest NYT bestseller, "People We Meet On Vacation."
In this conversation, Brittany and Emily talk about how their shared travels inspired parts of "Vacation," about how success in publishing affects your life and your perception of yourself, and about the moments during writing a book where Emily feels like she's completely lost control of the manuscript (and how she gets it back)!
Paul Holes, Author of "Unmasked: My Life Solving America's Cold Cases" (2022)
In May 2022, retired cold-case investigator and true-crime icon Paul Holes joined the National Writers Series for a conversation about his new memoir "Unmasked: My Life Solving America's Cold Cases." He was joined on stage at the City Opera House by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Paige St. John.
In this conversation, Paige and Paul talk about how Paul used a breakthrough in DNA technology to help find and capture the Golden State Killer, one of America's most notorious serial predators. They discuss issues of genetic privacy and who owns your genetic info once you send it to a DNA/genealogy company, and the effects that his career had on his psyche and on his private life.
George Saunders, Author of "A Swim in a Pond in the Rain" and "Lincoln in the Bardo" (2022)
Critically acclaimed author George Saunders joined the National Writers Series for a conversation about his book "A Swim in a Pond in the Rain" with fellow short-story author and NWS Creative Writing Lab instructor Kevin Fitton.
Saunders is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of ten books, including "Lincoln in the Bardo," which won the Man Booker Prize; and "Tenth of December," a finalist for the National Book Award. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.
In this conversation, we discussed how a writer can define success (creative and otherwise), about whether writing is a teachable skill, what George's writing process is like and much more!
Brad Meltzer, Author of "The Lightning Rod" (2022)
As part of the Winter/Spring 2022 Season, bestselling author Brad Meltzer joined the National Writers Series in early April (which explains the mention of snow at the beginning of the episode!).
In this conversation, Brad and guest host John Searles talk about Brad's career throughout the years, what he uses to motivate himself to write every day, the research that goes into his books, the many people he's met throughout his career, and about his famed characters Zig and Nola at the center of his newest book: "The Lightning Rod."
We also learn about his time working with former American presidents, how he found the American flag that flew over Ground Zero following 9/11, and the reason he puts a reference to Michigan in every one of his books.
Temple Grandin, Author of "Emergence: Labeled Autistic" and "The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum" (2013)
Since April is National Autism Awareness Month, we thought we'd look back on our 2013 conversation with bestselling author, autism advocate, and professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University Temple Grandin.
Grandin joined the National Writers Series for a conversation about her then-newest book, The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum. The book discusses remarkable new discoveries and introduces readers to innovative theories of what causes, how we diagnose, and how to best treat autism.
Listen in as guest host Laura Hohnhold, executive editor at Byliner, talks with one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Heroic and Influential People in the World.”
Brad Thor, Author of "Near Dark," "Spymaster," "The Last Patriot" And More (2020)
This week the NWS welcomes bestselling suspense/thriller novelist Brad Meltzer to the NWS stage!. In advance of that, we thought we'd take a look back at a recent conversation with a similar author: Brad Thor.
In this conversation, held virtually in the summer of 2020 following the release of "Near Dark," Brad and NWS co-founder Doug Stanton talk about everything from how the thriller genre changed after 9/11 to pitching a travel show to PBS to Brad's potential run for President in 2016. Why didn't he decide to jump into the fray? Listen in and find out!
Eric Fair, Author of "Consequence: A Memoir" (2017)
This week, Northern Express published a list of 2022's Fascinating People: Northerners You Need to Know. On that list was United States Marine Corps Major General Michael Lehnert (Ret.), who was our guest host for this conversation with author Eric Fair in 2017.
Lehnert was the first to serve as commander of the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, and since leaving the Marine Corps has been one of the loudest voices in favor of closing the base. We thought he would be the perfect person to interview Eric Fair about his book "Consequence: A Memoir," which discusses his time working as a contract interrogator in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison complex and the things he saw there, including aggressive interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation and stress positions.
In this conversation, Lehnert and Fair discuss Fair's experience as an interrogator and interpreter, his decision to go back to Iraq and "redeem the experience of war" for himself, and about the decision to use "enhanced interrogation" techniques.
Sarah Chayes, Author of "Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security" (2015)
With Eastern Europe looking at another conflict region opening up between Russia and Ukraine, we're looking back to a conversation with a person who's been a journalist, an author, and a special adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Sarah Chayes offers us some still-timely insight into the inner workings of international politics.
In this discussion, guest host Jack Segal of the TCIAF leads the conversation about Sarah's book Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security. Chayes' book connects the dots from Syria to Ukraine to Nigeria to Afghanistan, showing how kleptocratic regimes – tolerated or even facilitated by the United States – can drive fed-up citizens into the arms of extreme fundamentalist groups.
Dr. Lucy Kalanithi, Co-Author of "When Breath Becomes Air" (2016)
This Friday (Feb. 4), we're talking about morals, ethics, and philosophy with Michael Schur, so we thought for this week's podcast we'd look back to another conversation about living a meaningful life. Dr. Lucy Kalanithi joined us in June 2016 to talk about the book she completed for her husband, neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi. This conversation is hosted by bestselling author and NWS co-founder Doug Stanton.
When he was diagnosed with cancer, he decided to write a memoir. He didn’t live to see his book “When Breath Becomes Air” published, but it turned into a New York Times number one bestseller. In this profoundly moving book, Dr. Kalanithi wrote about mortality and how to live a meaningful life. He was a philosopher and seeker who became a neurosurgeon, in part, to discover life’s deeper mysteries.
Uncertain of how long he had to live, Paul decided to complete his medical training, write a memoir, and become a parent. His daughter, Elizabeth Acadia “Cady” Kalanithi, was born nine months after his diagnosis. Tragically, Paul died in March of 2015 and Lucy lovingly finished what her husband could not, drawing on letters, videos and emails.
Michael Paterniti, Author of "The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese" (2013)
In 2013, Michael Paterniti joined the NWS on the stage of the Traverse City Opera House for a conversation with NWS co-founder Doug Stanton. According to Paterniti, the greatest storyteller he ever met is a cheese maker in the small Spanish village of Guzman. When he joined us, Paterniti's latest was 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.
Karin Slaughter, author of "Blindsighted," "Unseen" and "Cop Town" (2014)
This NWS Podcast episode celebrates the birthday week of critically-acclaimed master of suspense Karin Slaughter.
Slaughter’s first novel Blindsighted became an international success, was published in almost 30 languages, and made the Crime Writers’ Association’s Dagger Award shortlist for “Best Thriller Debut” of 2001. She is also the author of the Will Trent series that takes place in Atlanta and features GBI special agent Will Trent, his partner Faith Mitchell, and Angie Polaski.
In this episode from 2014, Slaughter sits down with author and creative writing instructor Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli to discuss Slaughter's newest book: Cop Town.
In this book, two women from different backgrounds who try to wear the badge and carry the gun for Atlanta’s macho police department as the city faces a seismic upheaval. It’s 1974, and a brutal killing and furious manhunt have rocked the divided police force.
Debbie Macomber (2015)
For our last episode of the year, we wanted to bring you our conversation with author Debbie Macomber from 2015. Her work includes fiction, nonfiction, children’s books, knitting and cookbooks, and inspirational books. She’s also released a yearly Christmas-themed book for decades, hence the timing of this episode.
At this point, she has more than 200 million copies of books in print; she’s published over a dozen book series; 70 other stand-alone books; plus several anthologies and collaborations. That’s a pretty amazing bibliography.
Starting with the revelation of Debbie’s “literary guardian angel,” our guest host Ron Hogan brought us through a discussion that ranged from her first break as a writer to her love of knitting to how reader feedback impacted her series of Christmas books.
Peter and Elmore Leonard (2009)
It's been quite a while since this audio featuring Peter and Elmore Leonard has been publicly available and easily accessible, so let's look all the way back to 2009 with this week's podcast episode.
This conversation features stories including Elmore's interactions with actors like Charles Bronson and John Travolta; where his famous character names like Raylan Givens and Chili Palmer came from; how his Ten Rules for Writing came to be, and much more!
Kyle Mills, Author of "The Survivor," "Order to Kill," "Enemy at the Gates" & More (2016)
About five years ago we were welcoming bestselling author Kyle Mills to the stage for a conversation hosted by NWS co-founder Doug Stanton.
At the time, Kyle had recently taken over as the author of the Mitch Rapp series of novels, stepping in for the late Vince Flynn. Kyle has also written books in the Robert Ludlum Covert-One series as well as his own series of political thrillers. Since his latest book was just released a couple of months ago called Enemy at the Gates, we thought it was worth revisiting this conversation.
Listen in as we talk about how Kyle came to take on the Mitch Rapp series, how he got into writing after a career in the banking industry, what his first drafts look like before he sends them to his mom to read … and about how he tried to walk away from it all.
Beth Macy, Author of "Dopesick" (2018)
If you are a Hulu subscriber, you've undoubtedly seen promos for their new series Dopesick starring Michael Keaton. That show premiered a couple of weeks ago, and it's been getting some pretty good reviews. All of which made us think, hey - author Beth Macy joined us to talk about Dopesick back in 2018. Since then it's been adapted into the show you're watching now, and that's why we're bringing you that conversation here today.
From the introduction of OxyContin in 1996 to the pharmaceutical industry that pushed these highly addictive drugs, Dopesick takes readers through the harrowing trajectory of the most critical drug epidemic in recent history. This conversation is guest hosted by Peter Payette, executive director of Interlochen Public Radio.
Ben Sidran, author of "There Was a Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream" (2015)
What do Steve Miller, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, and Diana Ross have in common? They all worked with legendary musician Ben Sidran.
Sidran sat down with Traverse City musician Jeff Haas on October 11th, 2015 for a discussion about Sidran's newest book: There Was a Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream. The book charts the myriad and unexpected ways that Jews influenced American music, including the Great American Songbook.
Sidran; a Peabody award winner for his NPR series, “Jazz Alive,” and VH-1’s “New Vision” series, took to the stage with Haas and a grand piano for a few musical interludes in this unique event full of engaging words, eclectic music, and behind-the-scenes American music history.
Vince Gilligan, "Breaking Bad" (2012)
On September 29th, 2013, the final episode of TV's legendary series "Breaking Bad" aired on AMC. We thought we'd take this opportunity to look back on series creator Vince Gilligan's appearance on the NWS stage the year prior. He joined us just a few months prior to the start of the show's amazing final season in February 2012.
Gilligan - no stranger to northern Michigan, having attended the Interlochen Center for the Arts as a teen - sat down with NWS co-founder Doug Stanton to talk about the art of TV and film screenwriting, life in a writers room, and even a live script reading to show how the words on the page are transformed by the actors who embody them.
If you know a high school student who might want to try their hand at scriptwriting, the NWS is hosting a special class soon through our Front Street Writers Program. Head to our site to learn more.
AJ Baime and Bryce Hoffman (2014)
Fall is a great time for a road trip (Tunnel of Trees, anyone?) and since A.J. Baime and Bryce Hoffman joined the NWS around this time in September 2014, we thought we'd revisit their discussion as a great soundtrack to your next long drive.
At the end of 2008, Ford Motor Company was in the fight of its life but when Congress threw it a taxpayer lifeline, Ford ignored it. Instead, the iconic company under the leadership of Alan Mulally pulled off one of the biggest comebacks in business history. It would become one of the great management narratives of our time. While the rest of Detroit collapsed, Ford went from the brink of bankruptcy to being the most profitable automaker in the world.
From his front-row seat as the Ford beat reporter for the Detroit News, Hoffman conducted hundreds of interviews and gleaned top-secret documents, memos, and archives to craft compelling narrative nonfiction that reads like a high-stakes drama. American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company has become a manual for CEOs and a guide for organizations that want to transform their cultures and build winning teams.
A.J. Baime is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and an editor-at-large at Playboy. In his latest book Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War, the Ford Motor Company and its production of the B-24 Liberator heavy bomber take center stage. He focuses on Ford’s B-24 bomber plant outside Detroit in Willow Run, where for the first time engineers attempted to mass-produce airplanes the way they did cars. It’s an engrossing story that Baime described as an opportunity to “tell a rich story about the most important collective achievement of any city in the nation’s history, and that’s Detroit during World War II.”
Baime’s first book Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans, was the basis for the motion picture "Ford V Ferrari" starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon.
Tess Gerritsen, Author of "The Surgeon" featuring Rizzoli & Isles (2015)
September 1st is the publish date of "The Surgeon" in 2001. It's perhaps better known as the very first novel featuring detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles, who are now famously the lead characters in the long-running show "Rizzoli & Isles" on TNT.
Since it's the 20th anniversary of that book's release, we thought we'd revisit our chat with the author: Tess Gerritsen.
Gerritsen joined the NWS for a conversation in January 2015 that ranged from her mother's love of horror movies to her career in medicine to the first novels she wrote in the romance genre before turning to thrillers. Our guest host for this episode of the NWS podcast is Kerrey Woughter.
Front Street Writers: Tom Brokaw at TC West High School
This week, the National Writers Series is announcing a new slate of Front Street Writers classes for student writers around the Grand Traverse area. While we're doing that, we thought, why not look back to the origins of our Raising Writers programming?
When Tom Brokaw came to Traverse City a decade ago, he didn't just make an appearance at the City Opera House - no, he also sat down with an auditorium full of Traverse City West High School students for a discussion and Q&A session. This audio, recorded at that event, probably hasn't been heard in years - until today.
If you were at this event, send us an email! If you know someone who you think might have been at this event, please send them this episode and see if they remember being there. We'd love to know what the students in the room thought about that day, and how it might have even influenced their future paths. Contact info is in the episode - enjoy!
Maggie Stiefvater, Author of "Shiver" and "Raven Boys" (2012)
Since we have a superstar Young Adult author scheduled to join the NWS in the Fall 2021 Season (Friends of the NWS know who we're talking about!), we thought we'd look back at the first YA author to grace the NWS Stage: Maggie Stiefvater.
Stiefvater is the author of "Shiver," the first novel in her famed Wolves of Mercy Falls series, which debuted in August of 2009. She joined us for a conversation in 2012 in advance of her novel "Raven Boys," hosted by Bookends blogger and young adult reviewer Lynn Rutan.
Paula McLain, author of "The Paris Wife" (2015)
It was Ernest Hemingway's 122nd birthday last week, which we are belatedly celebrating here, but we're also going to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his wedding to Hadley Richardson. Hemingway wed his first wife in 1921 and they honeymooned up in Northern Michigan at their cottage on Walloon Lake before moving to Paris.
That's where Paula McLain comes in. She’s the author of a book called The Paris Wife, which is about the couple's life in Paris and it's told through Richardson's voice. That book came out in 2011 and it was a huge hit, selling over 1.5 million copies.
McLain joined us for a live event at the City Opera House a few years after that – the conversation we’ll be listening to today comes from 2015, in advance of her book Circling the Sun. We talk about that book, about her decision to start her career as a poet, and about Hadley Richardson. Our guest host for this discussion is author Benjamin Busch.
Ruth Ware, author of "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" (2020)
We're doing something a little different this week! As the National Writers Series gets ready to welcome bestselling author Megan Miranda to the virtual stage this week, we thought we'd give you a little preview of her style and thought process from a conversation we hosted last year.
Fellow suspense author Ruth Ware joined the NWS last September, with guest host Megan Miranda at the reins! In hopes of maximizing our Megan Miranda material, we're sharing this podcast with you (a little earlier in the week than usual!) in the hopes that you'll join us this Thursday, July 22 at 7pm (ET) for our Evening with Megan Miranda. Head to our site at nationalwritersseries.org to register for free.
Ruth Ware joined us live from her home in England for this conversation that ranges from how these authors structure their whodunits to what forms of media frighten them to a great selection of audience Q&A. Even if you can't join us this Thursday, it's still a great discussion about the art and craft of the thriller novel. Thanks for listening!
Martha Teichner, CBS Sunday Morning correspondent and author of "When Harry Met Minnie" (2021)
We've been spending a lot of time outside over the past few weeks and months, some of it wandering the Teichner Preserve on Lime Lake. We thought that since the Cherry Fest crowds have parted ways with the TC area once again, we might be able to convince some of you to head there as well.
What better way to do that than to share our conversation with Martha Teichner, CBS Sunday Morning correspondent and author of "When Harry Met Minnie"? She joined us earlier this year when the weather wasn't quite as kind for outdoor activities, and it was one of the most popular events of our Spring Season.
We discussed her first book as well as her history growing up in the Traverse City area, as well as how she and the Leelanau Conservancy helped to save her family's land for future generations as the Teichner Preserve. If you weren't able to join this special ticketed event as it happened, good news - the full conversation is now right here.
Benjamin Busch, author of "Dust to Dust" (2012)
Benjamin Busch is probably best known for his acting career: He played the character of officer Tony Colicchio in the HBO series “The Wire” and has had roles in shows like "Generation Kill" and "The West Wing." Ben is quite active in many other creative pursuits, including writing, filmmaking, photography, and stonemasonry. He’s written many poems and essays for various collections and periodicals.
Ben is also a veteran officer of the U.S. Marine Corps and served two tours in Iraq. His memoir “Dust to Dust” came out in 2012. That year, Ben talked with Doug Stanton on the stage of the City Opera House in Traverse City. We thought that this sprawling two-hour conversation could be a great companion for the Independence Day holiday, and we hope you enjoy the discussion.
If you were there in person, you would have seen Ben's entrance to the stage via roller skates, along with him smashing pottery and calling for chairs that dropped seemingly out of the sky. That doesn't work very well in an audio format so we've jumped straight into the conversation, but just know that it does come up in reference here and there throughout the episode.
Colum McCann, author of “Let the Great World Spin” (2013)
Colum McCann’s stunning novel, “Let the Great World Spin” (winner of the National Book Award for fiction) debuted right around this time of year back in 2009, and so this week we look back on his visit to the National Writers Series in June of 2013.
McCann sat down with Leigh Haber, Books Editor for O, the Oprah Magazine, for a charming and wide-ranging discussion at the City Opera House. They covered everything from the perils of being an optimist to the topic he doesn't want to invite Dr. Freud in to discuss; on why he rereads "Ulysses" every year (plus why read the naughty parts to a dead friend) and his need to “murder” a book to create a screenplay of it (for no less than JJ Abrams).
If you enjoyed this discussion, we recommend you check out McCann’s nonprofit group Narrative 4, which connects writers, musicians and artists with groups of students around the globe (something close to our heart here at the NWS). Thanks for listening, and don’t forget to subscribe and give us a 5-star rating!
Emily Giffin, author of "Something Borrowed" and "The One and Only" (2014)
With Emily Henry joining the NWS on June 24, we thought we'd take this week's podcast episode back to 2014 to hear from another Emily whose work travels along a similar wavelength.
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 joined us in advance of her latest book, "The One and Only," which debuted on the New York Times Bestseller list at number one for hardcover fiction.
In this episode, our guest host is the vice president for content and engagement for The Tennessean in Nashville, Stefanie Murray.
Sara Paretsky, creator of V.I. Warshawski (2013)
Before there was Lisbeth Salander or Stephanie Plum, there was V.I. Warshawski.
Today we celebrate the birthday of author Sara Paretsky, who joined the National Writers Series in 2013 to talk about Critical Mass, her then-newest detective novel featuring her famous investigator V.I. Warshawski (immortalized in the 1991 film by Kathleen Turner).
In this week's episode, guest host Nancy Baker joins Paretsky on the City Opera Hall stage to talk about how Paretsky's experiences in Chicago help shape and inform her novels (and what people need to do when they visit the city - including how to get stalked by the mob), why she might want to buy Texas and return it to Mexico, and why she created the "Sisters in Crime" organization.
Tom Brokaw, legendary news anchor and author of "The Greatest Generation" (2010)
Next Monday is Memorial Day, and with that holiday coming up, we thought this would be the right time to revisit our conversation with the author of The Greatest Generation: Tom Brokaw.
Our discussion covers so much of Brokaw's history: how he coined the phrase "The Greatest Generation;" how he turned that into his first book and how it affected his reporting; his career covering everything from Watergate to 9/11; his thoughts on creating a Public Service Corps and how to provide a legacy for the next generation much like the one The Greatest Generation provided for us.
Doug Stanton, the host for this discussion and co-founder of the NWS, recently told us this about the evening and the things that have followed:
"All of this because of a postcard that came in a mailbox in a country road when we were broke, and I was trying to find my way as a writer, and had no idea how that would happen. None. So ... we just never know how we will affect other people, how we might help them, who might be a neighbor or a mentor. And that really is the driving force of the National Writers Series. I love it when other writers find opportunities through the things that this organization creates. That's why we're here."
When Tom Brokaw visited the City Opera House back in May 2010, who knew where that conversation would lead us? Well, here we are, over a decade later, with continuing gratitude for that very first event and all the people who joined us for it.
Sebastian Junger, Author of "The Perfect Storm" (2011)
We're celebrating a double anniversary this week! Not only did author, journalist, and filmmaker Sebastian Junger join the National Writers Series for a conversation with co-founder Doug Stanton in May 2011, but his book The Perfect Storm was released on May 17th, 1996.
Of course, The Perfect Storm -- which followed the fishing vessel The Andrea Gail as it fought to survive against a brutal Nor'Easter storm -- was turned into a blockbuster hit movie in 2000 starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.
Junger would join us again for a discussion in 2017, but join us now as we look back at our very first conversation where we cover his connection to the Boston Strangler, the reaction to his Oscar-nominated documentary Restrepo and the necessity of journalism in times and areas of conflict...
Nathaniel Philbrick, Author of "Mayflower" (2013)
For this week's podcast, we celebrate the release of Nathaniel Philbrick's Mayflower - a book nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and released right around this date back in 2006 (at least according to our records).
Philbrick joined the National Writer Series also right around this date in May 2013, just days after the release of his newest book: Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution.
In this conversation (guest hosted by Rich Fahle) we discuss the roots of the American Revolution, how Philbrick's research helps him make history come alive, where his own "bunker" can be found, and what tarring and feathering was truly like (hint: not fun)...
Jason Matthews, Author of "Red Sparrow" (2013)
This week's podcast episode is a little different from our other entries.
Sadly, former NWS guest author Jason Matthews passed away last week at age 69. Jason was the author of three best-selling spy thrillers including Red Sparrow, written based on his experiences working for the CIA over 33 years.
We welcomed Jason to the NWS stage back in May 2013, where he and host Doug Stanton discussed how he came to the spy thriller genre, tricks of the CIA trade (unclassified, of course), Jason's experiences going up against Vladimir Putin's forces, and much more over a 90-minute discussion.
As Doug told us, Jason certainly kept his espionage training sharp:
"When I picked up Jason at the Park Place before the NWS event, he was standing right next to me, and I couldn’t find him anywhere in the lobby. It was like he disappeared. He had changed his hat, turned his coat inside out, and did not look at all like the person I was looking for and had had lunch with at the house earlier. 'Hi Doug,' he said, standing next to me, a big smile on his face."
There's an amazing story about how Jason and his wife helped save a Russian family from Putin's Russian Security Service that's right up there with anything Ian Fleming or John le Carré ever wrote - and it's all in this week's podcast.
Gillian Flynn, Author of "Gone Girl" (2013)
This week's episode sees us looking back to April 2013 when we welcomed bestselling author Gillian Flynn to the NWS Stage. Flynn joined us for a discussion with NWS co-founder Doug Stanton a year after the release of her breakout novel, Gone Girl (and a year before the release of the David Fincher-directed film based on the book).
During a wide-ranging conversation in front of a sell-out crowd, Flynn and Stanton chatted about the difficulties of leading an "authentic life" in a media-heavy age, the perks of being a Midwesterner living in New York, and her history displaying Honey Baked Hams...
"Living Legend" Nikki Giovanni, author of "Chasing Utopia" (2013)
April is National Poetry Month, and we're celebrating with this week’s episode featuring one of America’s most celebrated modern poets: Nikki Giovanni.
The National Writers Series has been graced by Giovanni’s presence twice over the years – once in 2018 to discuss her book A Good Cry, and for this conversation in 2013, just before the release of Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid, one part memoir, one part book of poetry.
Giovanni has also authored many other works of poetry, nonfiction, and children’s literature over her decades-long career, and earned accolades including being named “Woman of the Year” by multiple major magazines and one of Oprah Winfrey’s “Living Legends.” Our episode today is guest-hosted by Leigh Haber, books editor at O, The Oprah Magazine.
Our episode begins with a look back at Giovanni’s childhood neighborhood in late 60’s Harlem, where she counted musical and theatrical luminaries like Morgan Freeman, Eugene McDaniels, Cornell Dupree, and Sidney Poitier as her neighbors…
Diane Rehm, NPR Host and author of "When My Time Comes" (2021)
One of the most beloved NPR hosts of all time, Diane Rehm, joined the National Writers Series in February 2021 to discuss her book, When My Time Comes. The book sprang out of the interviews she conducted for her documentary film about Medical Aid in Dying of the same name. Our event was an illuminating talk that opens up a subject that no one really wants to talk about: death.
As her documentary is coming out on PBS this month, we thought it was a great time to revisit this extensive conversation about the controversial topic, expertly guest hosted by Cynthia Canty. From how to have an uncomfortable conversation about end-of-life issues, to death cafes, to what states are working towards legalizing the practice, to how the last two decades have been for states where it's allowed, we cover as much as we can about this important topic.
Mitch Albom, author of "Have a Little Faith" and "Tuesdays With Morrie" (2011)
For this week's podcast, we're looking back to one of our first National Writers Series conversations ever, featuring author and Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom. This conversation took place in April 2011 - exactly one decade ago - and iit's the first of three conversations Albom has held with the NWS over the years.
In this conversation, NWS co-founder Doug Stanton talks with Albom a few days after the paperback release of his fourth (non-sports) book, Have A Little Faith. They talked about Albom's experiences writing the autobiography of Bo Schembechler, the genesis of his hugely-successful Tuesdays With Morrie, and the feeling of victory when you make a reader cry...
Michael Connelly, author and creator of Harry Bosch (2012)
Michael Connelly is a famed New York Times #1 bestselling author who has written dozens of books in the crime, mystery, and legal genres. His debut book, "The Black Echo," was published in 1992 and introduced the world to his famous detective: Harry Bosch. Connelly joined the National Writers Series for this conversation back in November 2012 following the release of his then-latest Bosch novel, "The Black Box."
How did his work as an investigative journalist help inform the details that went into his many crime novels? Why would he only write in a walk-in closet? And what about the responsibility that comes with writing 18 novels about the life of his most famous character?
While we await the final season of Amazon's "Bosch" TV adaptation—and since a new Bosch spinoff series was just announced a few weeks ago—we thought we'd take the opportunity to look back on this wonderful examination of his writing process. We open with guest host and fellow crime novelist Bryan Gruley who asked Connely to describe his perfect writing environment…
Karl Marlantes, author of "Deep River" and "Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War" (2019)
Karl Marlantes was one of the first guests to ever appear at the National Writers Series. He first joined us in 2010 when he came to discuss his debut book, “Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War.” That book - released in March of that year - drew on Karl’s experiences as a Marine in Vietnam.
This discussion comes from 2019, when Karl returned to discuss his latest novel, “Deep River.” It was inspired by the history of his ancestors, who immigrated to Washington from Finland in the early 20th century. Karl talks this hour with fellow author and military veteran, Benjamin Busch. Benjamin started the discussion by asking Karl to talk about the difficult process of getting his first book published...
Harlan Coben, author of "Tell No One" and "No Second Chance" (2015)
Harlan Coben has published over 30 novels, and his book "Tell No One" was recently 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 thriller, "Win," just came out this week - so we thought that was a great reason to look back to our NWS conversation with this amazingly prolific writer.
NWS co-founder Doug Stanton spoke with Harlan on the stage of the Traverse City Opera House back in July 2015, and 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...
Diana Gabaldon, creator of Outlander (2014)
Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling Outlander series of novels begins by telling the story of a young nurse during World War II who travels back in time to 18th century Scotland. Diana has published eight Outlander books, and is working on her ninth, called Go Tell the Bees That I Have Gone.
The books have been developed into a hugely popular TV show on Starz, which had yet to premiere when this conversation took place in July 2014. 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. Their conversation was recorded at the Traverse City Opera House, where Deb asked Diana if she could describe her books to someone who’s never read them...
Randall Sullivan, author of "The Curse of Oak Island" (2019)
"The Curse of Oak Island" on the History Channel just completed its eighth season. It’s also a book by journalist Randall Sullivan, who first wrote about the island for Rolling Stone in 2004. In the book, Sullivan goes deeper into the long history of treasure hunting on the island and delves into the many theories about what’s buried there.
One of the creators and stars of the show is engineer, entrepreneur, and native Michigander Marty Lagina. In this conversation, recorded in October 2019, Randall and Marty spend an hour talking with Patrick Livingston, news director for WPBN and WGTU-TV in Traverse City. To start this week's episode, Patrick asked Randall why people are so interested in The Curse of Oak Island...
Alice Walker, author of "The Color Purple" (2018)
Alice Walker published her first book in 1968, making 2018 the 50th anniversary of her writing career. She’s authored dozens of works since then, including poetry, essays, short stories and novels. Alice won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her novel The Color Purple, becoming the first African American to receive that honor. Alice Walker is also known for her activism for human rights. Her latest book is a collection of poetry called Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart. Alice talks this hour with Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley. Rochelle asked Alice what her proudest moment has been so far.
Lee Child, creator of Jack Reacher (2012)
Author Lee Child is best known for his Jack Reacher thriller series. The series has been adapted into two films starring Tom Cruise as the title character. Lee’s 24th book in the series, Blue Moon, came out in 2019.
Lee visited Traverse City in 2012 and spoke with NWS co-founder Doug Stanton on the stage of the City Opera House. Doug started by asking Lee to take him through a typical day of writing...
Joe Hill, author of "NOS4A2" and "Heart-Shaped Box" (2018)
Joe Hill was born with the name Joseph King: he’s the son of legendary author Stephen King. But Joe writes under the last name “Hill” out of a desire to succeed on his own merits. Now he’s recognized as one of today’s best horror writers.
Hill is a New York Times #1 best-selling author whose novels include NOS4A2, Horns, Heart-Shaped Box and The Fireman. His latest book is Strange Weather, which is made up of four short novels. Joe talks this hour with fellow author (and native Michigander) Loren Estleman, who is best known for a series of crime novels featuring the investigator Amos Walker.
Joe started off talking about and reading from one of the stories from Strange Weather. This event took place at the City Opera House in downtown Traverse City in October 2018.
Jodi Picoult, author of "My Sister's Keeper" and "A Spark of Light" (2016)
Critically acclaimed author Jodi Picoult spends this episode in conversation with Detroit News columnist Neal Rubin about her writing process and experience. The conversation starts with Neal asking her when she knew writing would work out as a career. Picoult also talks about what it's like to reach #1 on the bestseller list (more than once) compared to simply writing in her attic for many years. Picoult also discusses her works, one including a newer release, A Spark of Light. This conversation took place in October 2016.
Margaret Atwood, author of "The Handmaid's Tale" and "Oryx & Crake" (2016)
Margaret Atwood is the author of over 40 books spanning many genres, including poetry, essays, and fiction. Her books include “Hag-Seed,” which is a retelling of Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” and a graphic novel called “Angel Catbird” featuring a cat-bird superhero. Her most famous work is "The Handmaid's Tale," which was adapted into an award-winning TV series in 2016 by Hulu.
In this episode of the NWS Podcast, Margaret Atwood joins guest host Doug Stanton. She starts this evening's discussion by talking more about how she came to write “Angel Catbird.” This event was recorded at the Traverse City Opera House in October 2016.
Chasten Buttigieg, author of "I Have Something to Tell You" (2020)
On this episode of the NWS podcast, author and avid LGBTQ+ advocate Chasten Buttigieg talks with writer and acupuncturist Elon Cameron about his experience living in Traverse City, Michigan. Though he holds love for his hometown, he reflects on the many issues and fears he faced with being gay and growing up.
Now married to former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, he has released his own memoir, "I Have Something to Tell You," where he discusses his personal life experiences and the journey of being on a political campaign with his husband.
During this virtual NWS event, Chasten reflects and discusses his intention with spreading mental health awareness along with many other subjects. The second half of the program features a conversation with Christopher Haugh and Jordan Blashek. This event took place on September 10, 2020.