Latest entries from the Pen on Fire blog:

Jarett Kobek and John D’Agata on Writers on Writing

Jarett Kobek, author of I Hate the Internetjoins Nicole Nelson to talk about developing a POV that was influenced by Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions, his attempt to try to mirror the jagged way information comes at you on the internet, and his advice to writers: learn to enjoy suffering.

Then John D’Agata, editor of The Making of the American Essay talks about his twenty years working on this three-volume series of anthologies on essays that concludes with this work. He also shares thoughts on what makes an essay a challenging form to write, but one that when done right has the potential to capture and share a piece of humanity.

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(Broadcast date: April 20, 2016)


Elizabeth Strout and Dawn MacKeen on Writers on Writing

Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and short story writer Elizabeth Strout joins Marrie Stone to talk about her latest novel, My Name is Lucy Barton.  She discusses recurring themes in her work, her intense interest in character over plot, how she constructs novels through scenes, and more.

In the second half, Dawn MacKeen joins to share her grandfather’s story of surviving the Armenian genocide.  The Hundred-Year Walk: An Armenian Odyssey is part memoir, part reportage, and part historical research.  Dawn discusses why this book is more relevant today than ever, what it took to uncover the story, and the power of perseverance.

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(Broadcast date: March 30, 2016)

Novelists Maya Lang and Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney on Writers on Writing

Maya Lang, author of The Sixteenth of June, talks with co-host Nicole Nelson about the challenges of writing a story that takes place all in one day, her experience searching for an agent, and basing her novel on Ulysses.

In the second half, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest, talks about how the story came to her beginning with a scene that captured her imagination, how voice for the book came naturally (but structure presented a challenge), and how time pressures can work to one’s advantage.

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(Broadcast date: March 23, 2016)

Novelists Amy Gottlieb & Anna Winger on Writers on Writing

Debut novelist Amy Gottlieb, author of The Beautiful Possible, talks with co-host Nicole Nelson about finding inspiration from a childhood of listening to her mother’s friends, using poetry to sustain her when she felt bogged down by the novel, and working with characters who wouldn’t let go.

In the second half, Anna Winger, author of the novel This Must be the Place and co-creator and writer of the Sundance drama series Deutschland 83, talks about pushing the limits of credibility in the name of creating suspense, combining the visual with narrative in telling a story for television, and how writers can find common experiences with various types of characters, even those with lives very different from their own.

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(Broadcast date: March 16, 2016)

Kristina McMorris & Ruta Sepetys on Writers on Writing with Marrie Stone

Marrie Stone chats with historical fiction novelist Kristina McMorris about her latest novel, The Edge of Lost.  Kristina shares her research process, her fascination with history, her secrets to effective dialogue, her relationship with minor characters, and more.

In the second half, Ruta Sepetys returns to the show to talk about her latest YA novel, Salt to the Sea.  Ruta discusses how fiction can convey a greater range of truths than non-fiction, why the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff remains a relatively unknown event (more people died than the Titantic), how she creates compelling characters, and more.

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(Broadcast date: March 9, 2016)

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