Podcasts

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Photo © blue lily photo

Y.A. fantasy/horror author

In her novel, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, young adult author Kiersten White retells Mary Shelley’s classic. In White’s book, we get the story from Elizabeth Lavenza—the childhood companion and then wife of scientist Victor Frankenstein. Kiersten White closely follows the outline of Shelley’s Frankenstein, but by changing the point of view to Elizabeth, we get another story entirely about Victor Frankenstein, the monster, and Elizabeth herself. For this Halloween podcast, Kiersten and I talk about the original Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s singular life, and the challenges and fun of taking this well-known classic tale, telling it from a different perspective, and finding a story that hadn’t been told before.

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Photo courtesy of David Tomas Martinez

Poet and Big Read author

Poet David Tomas Martinez’s book (and new Big Read title) Hustle explodes with verbal dexterity about street life. Born in San Diego to a working class Chicano family, David Tomas Martinez found power and strength by running with a gang. A father at 17, he ended up in college as a returning student through sheer luck, and there he found strength and power through language. David became a poet and the rough side of town and the people he knew (and knows) there became his subjects. His first collection, and first publication, is Hustle which became a prize-winning book…and a new Big Read title. David’s joy in linguistic playfulness isn’t confined to the page. His honesty, exuberance, and charm comes through in this podcast as we walk with him down the streets of Southern California; there’s violence and meanness—but also heart-stopping moments of grace.

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Courtesy of Jennifer Haigh

Novelist and NEA Literature Fellow

In Jennifer Haigh’s fifth novel Heat and Light, she returns to the fictional town of Bakerton, Pennsylvania: its prosperity withered with the closing of the coalmines. So when it’s learned that the area is rich in natural gas, many people are eager to sign over their mineral rights to energy companies. And the debate about fracking and all that it entails upends the community. Jennifer Haigh knows her subject well; she was raised in a former coal town that also sits on deposits of natural gas. In our conversation she talks about her hometown and how it’s become the basis for much of her writing, the pull of the past on the present and the legacy of North Appalachia’s geology.

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Photo by Nazia Abbas

Poet and essayist Seema Reza investigates loss and love with ruthless honesty and lyrical power in her book, When the World Breaks Open. In this week’s podcast, Reza discusses writing her life and her determination to reveal herself on the page through poems, essays, fragments and observations, recipes—whatever it took to tell her story precisely and thoroughly. The result is at times heartbreaking but not grim. She owns her sorrow, but she’s also fierce and joyful in her determination to be known for herself.

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Photo by Justus Poehis

Poet and 2015 NEA Literature Fellow

Her poetry collection Scriptorium illuminate her Appalachian Roots.

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Photo by Dese’Rae L. Stage

Author of The Big Read selection "Station Eleven"

A novel about what endures when civilization ends.

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Photo courtesy of the author

Novelist, essayist, graphic novelist

His novels take a satirical look at race and identity.

Author, Journalist and Filmmaker

His book Tribe rethinks PTSD.

Award-winning children’s and young adult writer

Opens up worlds of complications and riches.

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Photo by Nina Subin

Author

The National Book Award winner talks about Julia Alvarez, Oscar Wao, and the wonder of reading.

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