Once again, Writers' Voices welcomes voices from our favorite small press, Ice Cube Press, founded in North Liberty Iowa by former guest Steve Semken to feature literary writing from the Midwest. So it is no wonder that Steve published this treasure, "Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland."
Whether you prefer prose or poetry, fiction or non, short or long, you will find it all here, with each piece shining a separate light on one of the myriad of ways that Midwesterners define themselves.
"Prairie Gold" was spun into whole cloth by the collaboration of three writers with close ties to Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa: Stefanie Brook Trout, an English instructor and MFA student, Lance M. Sacknoff, whose literary work focuses on environmental criticism, and poetry teacher Xavier Cavazos. Trout and Sacknoff will be joining us this week on Writers' Voices.
Photo-documentarian Matt Heron writes on the first page of Mississippi Eyes, "Those of us who trained our eyes (and our cameras) on Mississippi, had our eyes trained in turn by Mississippi.....From that time onward, we looked at the world with Mississippi Eyes."
Join Monica and guest host Paul Gandy this week on Writers' Voices as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Freedom, and the publication of Heron's moving account, in words and pictures, of the work of the five photographers who comprised the Southern Documentary Project in the Deep South during the Summer of 1964. Gandy's own family ties to the Mississippi Delta, and his current work with the Keeping History Alive Foundation, allow him to bring personal insight to this important topic.
Learn how the Souther Documentary Project come to be, the influence of Dorothea Lange (check out the WV interview with Lange's goddaughter here,) and why it took 50 years for much of this work to be published.
Writer's voices welcomes another New York Times best-selling aurthor of historical fiction this week, Katherine Howe, whose "Conversion" received this starred review from Publishers Weekly - "A chilling guessing game of a novel that will leave readers thinking about the power (and powerlessness) of young women in the past and present alike."
Howe, a descendant of three of the women accused of witchcraft in Salem, teaches American Studies at Cornell University. Inspired by a recent report of sixteen New England teens who displayed a series of inexplicable physical symptoms including tics and stutters, Howe's gripping novel juxtaposes the Salem witch trials and the stress-filled lives of modern teen girls.
Join Monica and Caroline this week as they discuss the challenges of writing a novel set in two separate times with the author, who also wrote "The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane," "The House of Velvet and Glass," and edited "The Penguin Book of Witches." Per chance we shall discover from whence Howe's fascination with witches comes!
Stephen King calls it "the novel of the year." It is being compared to Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" - only better. The AP harkens "an extraordinary achievement, a mesmerizing blend of fact and faction" and the Wall Street Journal claims that "Quite Dell's success is due to a bold decision...the serial killer hardly appears."
Writers' Voices welcome Jayne Anne Phillips, author of such liminary novels as "Motherkind" and "Lark and Termite" as well as short story collections "Fast Lanes" and "Black Tickets." In "Quiet Dell," Phillips has turned to creative non-fiction with the story of a 1931 multiple murder which ocurred near her home town in West Virginia. Years of research and writing of what Phillips refers to as her "hidden book" led to this masterpiece about the con man Harry Powers and his victims, widow Asta Eicher and her three children.
If you are not familiar with this author, you may want to check out her website or listen to the book trailer on youtube. Then tune in Friday at 1 pm or Monday at 8 am for a down-to-earth conversation with the author.
If you have been listening to Writers' Voices awhile, you probably know that co-host Caroline Kilbourn is single-handedly attempting to keep alive the lost art of letter-writing. You know, the kind written on paper (often by hand, with a pen), and actdually mailed? with a stamp? Well, perhaps not single-handedly, since the people she writes to often write back!
And there's also Shaun Usher, whose belief in "the importance and unrivalled charm of old-fashioned correspondence" led him to start a website in 2009 called lettersofnote.com. There are currently over 900 "letters, postcards,telegrams, faxes and memos" featured on the site, written by people both famous and ordinary. From this intriguing archive, Usher selected more than 125 letters to feature in this beautifully designed anthology. As one critic wrote, this books is "the literary equivalent of a box of chocolates - bite-sized and pure addictive pleasure."
Join us this week on Writers' Voices to learn how Usher finds the letters, how he chose which ones to include in the book, and the process of creating such a beautiful work of literary history.
Monica and Caroline welcomed debut novelist Rachel Urquhart to Writers' Voices July 17. Her book, "The Visionist" was recently published by Little, Brown to much acclaim. Set in 1842 during a time when young girls falling into trance states were revered as "Visionists", the story is told from multiple points of view and lays bare the struggles of the rural poor and the price paid to enjoy the relative prosperity of the Shaker communities where many sought refuge.
In this interview, Urquhart shares why the Shakers piqued her interest plus some of the details she uncovered in her research, the steps leading to her publishing success, and the influence of her grandfather, who won an Oscar for his screenplay for "Gone with the Wind" on her own writing.
I think there has never been a more exciting time to write for children. Start with an intriguing story, and you can end up with many forms. For our first guest today, William Joyce, the forms include short animated films and digital apps. And yet, the picture book itself is still the backbone of the multi-media experience.
Joyce, co-founder of Moonbot Studios in Shreveport, LA,
This story begins in the 1800's, but let's pick it up on June 22, 2014, the last day of the 2014 Fair Fest, which was sponsored by KRUU. That's the day that was partially rained out but the show went on in the Sondheim Theater, which is where I sat in the late afternoon for a while. Between sets, Denise Gallagher spotted me and, with great enthusiasm, told me about this writer who was in Iowa City for a reading of her recently published book about her great grandmother, and drove down to Fairfield to do research on the subject of her next book, her great-great grandmother Mrs. Doctor Keck.
Denise used my cell phone to call the writer, Greta Nettleton, right then and there, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Mrs. Doctor Keck, was "the quack" in "The Quack's Daughter: A True Story About the Private Life of a Victorian College Girl." She came to Fairfield as a young woman, married, bore children, and soon gained renown as a gifted healer; her medical knowledge probably based on her Pennsylvania Dutch heritage. Unfortunately, she ran afoul of the medical establishment of the time, and moved her family to Davenport, where she became a patent medicine millionairre and eventually sent her young daughter, Cora, east to Vassar College.
Greta discovered her great grandmother Cora's diary and a trunkful of memorabilia from her college days, and from that came this wonderful book.
To bring this story full circle - Fairfield is celebrating its 175th birthday this weekend, Julya 4 - 5! Greta will be back in town for Art Walk, with books to sign at the Fairfield Public Library's Art Walk booth. Anyone with an interest in Fairfield's history, or how the medical establishment got so established will enjoy speaking with Greta, or listening to this insightful interview.
If you have ever dreamed about publishing your first novel, you will definitely want to tune in to Writers' Voices this week as we speak with Amy Spitzfaden, co-winner of the first Inkfingerz Publishing Contest sponsored by Writers' Voices and 1st World Publishing, both of Fairfield Iowa.
It is really exciting for us to read this book and know that we helped make it happen!
She graduated with a literature and writing degree from Maharishi University of Management in 2012 and now lives in Temple, New Hampshire with her husband, Ravi. She works as editor and social media manager at PSCS Consulting in Peterborough.
Amy is back in Fairfield for a short time to launch her book. She will be reading and signing books at Revelations Saturday, June 28 at 1:30 pm so y'all come!
Tune in to Writers' Voices this week to hear the fascinating stories behind two great new books written by strong women.
First up, Heather Gray, with "Faith, Hope, Love & Deployment," a devotional for military families that she started writing with her husband David during his last deployment to Afghanistan. Sadly, he was killed in action, but inspired by his last letter home which began "To answer the question of why I'm willing to lay my life on the line for my country...", Heather finished this truly needed book.
The second half of this week's show features the truly impressive Lillian Darr, now 92 and a resident of Fairfield. Lilllian, author of a very entertaining look back on her life so far, "Memoirs of a 90-year Old Hippie," will be joining us live in the KRUU studio.
Caroline and Monica are delighted to bring these two wonderful women to Writers' Voices!