Despite dire predictions that the digital universe would put an end to reading, it seems like young people are reading more than ever. Many of the most popular novels and series of the 21st century are classified as "Young Adult" fiction, but probably attract just as many adult readers.
Our guest this week on Writers' Voices, Meg Wolitzer, has had a fruitful career writing fiction for adults. Her recent novel, "The Interestings" garnished many favorable reviews and was a New York Times bestseller. Her short fiction has appeared in "The Best American Short Stories" and received a Pushcart Prize. Two films have been made from her work, and she has taught at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, Skidmore College, and more.
Her latest work, "Belzhar" is a deeply moving novel for young adults set at a boarding school for fragile teens. The characters are richly drawn, the plot is filled with intriguing reveals and unexpected twists, and Sylvia Plath's "Bell Jar" plays a pivotal role.
Join Monica and Caroline this week as we delve into one author's foray into the world of young adult fiction, why a classic such as "The Bell Jar" can have such an impact yet today, and how the traumas of youth can reverbate throughout life.
Monica and Caroline are back live at KRUU today for an interview we've been looking forward to. Karen Abbott is a journalist and historian. Her two previous books, "Sin in the Second City" and "American Rose" were both New York Times bestsellers. Now she's back with "Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy," the true stories of four daring women who served during the Civil War, risking all for their cause.
We will talk about the role of women in the Civil War and why history has largely forgotten them. How did Abbott become interested in this topic; how did she find her subjects and what were her sources of information? We will also discuss the challenges of writing history for a general audience.
Abbott is a featured contributor to Smithsonian magazine's history blog and also writes for Disunion, the New York Times series about the Civil War.
From "Life is what you make it" to "You create your own reality" to "The Law of attraction," the message has been around for awhile. But what does it really mean? How about some examples? How can you make this principle work for you?
We humans love a good story - and it's a good way to teach (and learn). In the modern age, filmmakers are our tribal story-tellers, so what better way to illustrate this important lesson than through film?
This week, Writers' Voices welcomes Brent Marchant back to the air, to talk about "Consciously Created Cinema: The Movie Lovers' Guide to the Law of Attraction."
In his latest book, which picks up where "Get the Picture: Conscious Creation Goes to the Movies" left off, Marchant illustrates specific elements of the law of attraction by references to, and interpretation of, popular films. Tune in to hear some great examples!
Fairfield author Warren Goldie defines visionary fiction as novels where "...the power of the human mind is a key part of the story. Mystical experiences, visions, profound insights, paranormal experience and all sorts of fascinating phenomena drive the plot and characters—and often point to the truth."
Some of the most talked-about books of the last 50 years would fall into this category. Remember "Jonathan Livingston Seagull," "The Celestine Prophecy," or "Mutant Message Down Under?" All of these exposed multitudes of readers to spiritual concepts in a way that a traditional "spiritual" book may not have accomplished.
In "Waking Maya," Goldie weaves elements such as remote viewing, ESP, and energy vortexes into the plot in a believable way, while telling a compelling story. Join us on Writer's Voices this week to learn how the author came to write this book and what makes this genre unique.
Ever wonder why people, and women in particular, join the National Guard? And what it was like to be called in to active duty in Afghanistan and Iraq?
In "Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War," renowned journalist Helen Thorpe delves deep into the lives of her subjects for twelve years, from their homes in Indiana to a combat zone in Afghanistan and back again. Thorpe is also the author of "Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America." She was a staff writer for the New York Observer, The New Yorker, and Texas Monthly, and her freelance work has been published widely.
Join Monica and Caroline on Writers' Voices this week for another in-depth conversation with a fascinating writer.
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.