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Behind the Prose
21 minutes | Oct 16, 2018
Playing on All 88 Keys: Phillip Lopate, Part 2
What writing advice can one mine from a two-hour interview with prolific essayist, author, and professor Philip Lopate? If you read the July 2018 issue of The Writer, you learned about Lopate's overall approach and philosophy in "Playing on all 88 keys: The prose playbook of Phillip Lopate" who was my former grad school writing teacher. In part two, we go further into that philosophy, and you'll hear tips that didn't make the article. I love this episode because it starts with the question, "Out of the books that you've written, is there a book that you feel you've learned the most about yourself from as a writer?"
43 minutes | Aug 20, 2018
Episode 49: Playing on all 88 keys with Phillip Lopate
You might recognize the title of this podcast if you picked up the July 2018 issue of The Writer. In it, you'll find my article on my former grad school writing teacher Phillip Lopate. I interviewed Lopate last December about his career and in the next two episodes, I'm sharing some of our chat with you. In it, we talk about his latest book, A Mother's Tale, the usefulness of code-switching, the importance of anticipating the readers' objections, and much, much more!
74 minutes | Jan 5, 2018
Episode 48: Engineering the short story with author (and engineer) Nick Arvin
In April 2017, I invited author and engineer Nick Arvin to the school where I work. Over two days, he gave several talks on writing, and I recorded one of them: “Nick Arvin and The Short Story.” In this episode, I'm giving you that recording! Nick discusses his short story “Along the Highways.” He gives one of the most thorough, honest, and humorous sessions that I’ve ever heard on writing. He talks about his career in engineering and as an author and how each informs his work in the other. He cracks a lot of jokes (with good comedic timing) and even shares how much he got paid for optioning one of his novels. Head over to the show-page on Behind the Prose for the full description and links!
53 minutes | Nov 27, 2017
Episode 47: The Novel, the Novella, and Scott Alexander Hess
Welcome to this special episode of Behind the Prose. Special, because I bet you didn't think it was coming! More special, because it features former guest, literary historical fiction writer and fellow New School Creative Writing MFA Grad Scott Alexander Hess. This time, I talk to him about how he wrote his latest novella, Skyscraper, while he was in the middle of writing a novel. In this episode, besides hearing me butcher the name of his publisher, Lethe Press, you’ll learn why I disappeared and why I’m back!
86 minutes | Jun 27, 2017
Episode 46: Memoirists Mandy Len Catron and Bob Brody
Today's episode is brought to you by: coincidence. It's how I met both of these great writers. Last year, I covered Bob Brody's essay panel at the American Society of Journalists and Authors for The Writer Magazine. His book Playing Catch with Strangers came out on Father's Day this June on Heliotrope Books. This year, I interviewed Mandy Len Catron for my book proposal on Modern Love essays. Her new book How to Fall in With Anyone comes out on June 27 on Simon and Schuster. Listen below or subscribe on iTunes.
30 minutes | May 14, 2017
Episode 45: A discussion with humor writer Adam Rotstein
Hey Prosers, I know. I know. Let's not talk about that lil' missing in action thing. The important thing is that I'm here now and so are you! This episode features a humor writer that I discovered earlier this year on McSweeney's. Adam Rotstein has an undergraduate degree in - get this - neuroscience - but he abandoned the field to pursue his love of comedy and humor writing and now he's in LA working on a pilot. In this show, which was recorded in March but fell victim to my unbalanced work schedule, we talk about Adam's writing process, his experience writing for Reductress, and how his degree helps his writing. Humor writer Adam Rotstein ABOUT ADAM ROTSTEIN Adam Rotstein is a writer who likes to bridge the gap between branded content and plain ol' content. As a copywriter, he has written for 72andSunny, Code&Theory, and VaynerMedia. As a comedy writer, his work has been published in McSweeney's, Reductress, Funny or Die, and CollegeHumor. Follow him on Twitter.
54 minutes | Mar 12, 2017
Episode 44: Geeta Kothari, author of "I Brake For Moose"
In this episode, I talk to Geeta Kothari, an English professor and author of the new short story collection I Brake For Moose, out now on Braddock Avenue Books.
36 minutes | Feb 28, 2017
Episode 43: Gilli Messer shares how she landed her first clip on McSweeney's
In this episode, we’re venturing into the land of humor. I discovered actress, singer, and writer Gilli Messer during my daily reading. I loved her piece on McSweeney’s: "Young Couple Shares Vows Amidst State Sponsored Chaos." Listen to learn how she landed her first clip on a major humor site and nailed the voice of New York Times’ wedding beat writers. In this episode you’ll also learn: How an anthropology degree at Barnard College helped Gilli become a better writerThe great new term for your day jobHow to use the question “what if” to write a humor pieceHow to wrangle inspiration onto the page Listen below or subscribe on iTunes.
52 minutes | Feb 18, 2017
Episode 42: From the page to the stage with writer Alyssa Sorresso
I met Alyssa Sorresso at the Creative Nonfiction Writer’s Conference in 2015 (not 2014 as I think I said in the podcast). Alyssa’s essay had just been published in Creative Nonfiction, and she approached me after the magazine’s founder and the “Godfather of Creative Nonfiction” Lee Gutkind announced that I was looking for people to interview. Though one of her websites uses the word “tactless” (ironically paired with her middle name, Grace), that’s not the word that comes to mind when she introduced herself (poised and confident) or when I read her essay later (deliberate and intense). I asked Alyssa to be a guest on Behind the Prose, and she agreed. Finally, in October 2016, I scheduled the interview. Alyssa was almost a month into a self-funded sabbatical and she Skyped with me from a London flat. In this episode you’ll hear us discuss: what’s it like to work with Hattie Fletcher, managing editor of Creative Nonfiction;When personal is too personal for a personal essay; andWhy performing “live lit” may help your writing practice.
20 minutes | Feb 8, 2017
Episode 41: How to be an editor with Plume's Kate Napolitano
Plume Senior Editor Kate Napolitano recorded this in October 2016, right before my schedule went to hell in a Coach bag, but I'm happy to finally share it with you. A graduate of The College of New Jersey, Kate's got a girl-next-door vibe and she gives us an honest look at working your way up the ranks in the world's oldest apprenticeship style career. (Not sure if it's actually the world's oldest, but it has to be close.) Kate purchased Phoebe Robinson's debut book "You Can't Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have To Explain." Robinson is a comedian, actress, writer, and one half of 2 Dope Queens, the popular WNYC podcast. Here are some highlights from the show: Kate’s Publishing Journey 5:17Middle-age career change into publishing? 8:15I can’t believe I have this job! 10:29Phoebe “Culture Tastemaker” Robinson 11:50What can writers learn from Phoebe’s book? 16:03
76 minutes | Sep 3, 2016
Get your book life right w/Liz Pryor: Writing advice from the life advice guru
Liz Pryor, author of the new memoir Look At You Now, kicks off season two of Behind the Prose. In this episode, I interview Liz with one of my new interns, associate producer and co-host Sarah Lorish. If you don't feel like you can write a book and get it published after you listen to this, then listen to it again. The feeling is bound to surface. Check out the season two debut of Behind the Prose below or subscribe to Behind the Prose on iTunes to make sure you get every episode. Read the full show page on Behindtheprose.com. Also, pick up Liz Pryor's book through my Amazon link and you'll help keep Behind the Prose on the air. CHECK LIZ'S BIO AND THE FULL SHOW PAGE ON BEHINDTHEPROSE.COM.
27 minutes | May 29, 2016
Write This Way: Find and Develop a Niche in Your Writing - LIVE from CNFWC 2016
Write This Way: How to Find and Develop a Niche in Your Writing, A Roundtable Discussion Writers are an eclectic group of people and often have a range of interests. This roundtable discussion, moderated by Keysha Whitaker, explores whether writers should clarify and narrow their interests to develop a personal brand and gives advice on how to develop their own beats. The roundtable features writers Jason Bittel, Kristina Marusic, and Shannon Reed. Jason Bittel writes about weird animals for a living. Beautiful animals. Intelligent animals. Animals that eat the eyeballs of other animals. You can find his read his work at Slate, Fast Company, National Geographic News, onEarth Magazine, and Smithsonian Magazine. In another lifetime, he trapped wild boars for the federal government. Follow him on Twitter (@bittelmethis) or visit his website: www.bittelmethis.com Kristina Marusic is a freelance journalist focusing on stories related to LGBT equality, feminism, food politics, social and environmental justice, and the 2016 presidential election. Her reportage and first-person essays have been featured in Slate, Women's Health, AfterEllen, the Advocate, Creative Nonfiction, Flyway and others, and she formerly worked as a full-time staff writer for MTV News. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of San Francisco and is at work on a memoir. Follow her on Twitter (@KristinaSaurusR) or visit his website: www.kristinamarusic.com/ Shannon Reed writes monthly for The New Yorker's "Shouts and Murmurs" department and is a frequent contributor to McSweeney's Internet Tendency. Other credits include the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Narratively, Guernica, Kweli Journal, the Glassblock, Poets & Writers, and many more. She is at work on her first novel.
27 minutes | May 28, 2016
Ask an Editor Panel moderated by Ellen Ayoob live from CNFWC 2016
Ask an Editor Panel moderated by In Fact Books Associate Publisher, Ellen Ayoob. The panel features Hattie Fletcher, Creative Nonfiction’s own managing editor, and editors Jessica Bylander and Geeta Kothari. Get an insider’s view—our panel of editors answers your questions about the revision and editing process. Learn how pieces change in revision with an editor's help, and how you can apply these guidelines to your own work. Hattie Fletcher has been the managing editor of Creative Nonfiction since 2004 and is the co-editor, with Lee Gutkind, of True Stories, Well Told: from the First 20 Years of Creative Nonfiction Magazine. Geeta Kothari is the nonfiction editor of the Kenyon Review. She is a two-time recipient of the fellowship in literature from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the editor of ‘Did My Mama Like to Dance?’ and Other Stories about Mothers and Daughters. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in various journals and anthologies, including The Kenyon Review, Massachusetts Review, Fourth Genre, and Best American Essays. In 2004, she received the David and Tina Bellet Award for Teaching Excellence. In addition to teaching in the undergraduate program, Geeta also directs the Writing Center at the University of Pittsburgh. Jessica Bylander is a senior editor at Health Affairs and editor of the journal’s "Narrative Matters" section of health policy narratives. She also contributes reported pieces to the journal. Prior to joining Health Affairs, she was a reporter covering the medical technology industry for “The Gray Sheet.” Previously, she worked at Dickinson College. She is a playwright and writes frequently for the Washington Post Express. She studied writing and journalism at Johns Hopkins University and Northwestern University.
86 minutes | May 27, 2016
Structure for Longform Nonfiction presented by Lee Gutkind - LIVE from CNFWC '16
Last year Creative Nonfiction Magazine and Behind the Prose teamed up to bring you special excerpts from the amazing 2016 Creative Nonfiction Writers’ Conference (CNFWC). (Remember Lee Gutkind’s feature panel on how Law and Order teaches story structure to creative nonfiction writers?) This year, if you couldn't join us in Pittsburgh, PA from May 27 – 29, we hooked you up with the chance to listen live via a special Behind the Prose episode. Here is an excerpt from the master class Structure for Longform Nonfiction presented by Lee Gutkind. Whether you’re writing a memoir, a journalistic book, or a longform essay or article, this class will explore options for structure in longer works. ABOUT LEE GUTKIND Lee Gutkind is the founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction and a professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University. Even before he was spotlighted in Vanity Fair in 1997 as “the Godfather behind creative nonfiction,” he was the genre's most active advocate and practitioner. He has written and edited nonfiction books about subjects as varied as motorcycle subculture, child and adolescent mental illness, baseball umpires, veterinary medicine, and organ transplantation. His most recent book is You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction—from Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between.
31 minutes | May 17, 2016
Episode 36: Erik Deckers and The House That Jack Built (Kerouac, that is)
Interviews with Erik Deckers, humor writer, author, and resident #60 of The Kerouac ProjectGeoff Binge of The Kerouac Project
47 minutes | Apr 11, 2016
Episode 35: Salon editor Kim Brooks discusses her debut novel The Houseguest
If you’ve ever wondered how to write an alternating point-of-view historical novel with prose that wields similes like samurai swords, then Kim Brooks’ second appearance on Behind the Prose is for you. Brooks graces the virtual studio a second time to discuss her debut novel The Houseguest, out on April 12, 2016 on Counterpoint Press. (Her first time here featured a candid chat on her work at Salon as the personals essays editor.) I enjoyed The Houseguest because I was completely enchanted with the characters and their perspectives. I have no idea how she kept all those storylines together (“Good editing,” she says in the interview) but I’m amazed and inspired. She confirms the magic of fiction that I began to uncover over the last year, starting with my interview of Natalie Baszile’s and her book Queen Sugar and she unknowingly confirmed the method acting theory of writing that Scott Alexander Hess broke down.
55 minutes | Mar 31, 2016
Episode 34: Elana Rabinowitz talks bylines in The New York Times and more
For full show details, visit www.behindtheprose.com
54 minutes | Feb 29, 2016
Episode 33: Jacki Skole merges memoir and investigative journalism in new book
For full show page, visit www.behindtheprose.com Jacki Skole is an award-winning journalist and adjunct professor of communication. She launched her journalism career at CNN, first as a news writer, then as a producer in the network’s documentary unit; she’s also produced programs for Animal Planet and HGTV. Jacki has taught at La Salle University, Rider University, and Raritan ValleyCommunity College.
57 minutes | Jan 29, 2016
Episode 32: Salon editor Kim Brooks goes behind the prose of “Life” essays
Kim Brooks is the new personal essays editor at Salon, a baton passed on to her from Sarah Hepola. I met Kim (virtually) after I interviewed Sharisse Tracey who had an essay published in Salon. Oh, and by the way, Sharisse Tracey just had another piece published on Yahoo! Parenting - "Why I Moved Out of State and Didn't Take My Children With Me." I recorded this interview with Kim in November, but due to several issues (see last podcast for update), I’m just bringing it to you. Nevertheless, it’s right on time! It’s a new year and you’ve got twelve months to land a clip in the “Life” section of Salon, and if you listen to this interview and read some of the column's essays, I’m pretty sure you can do it. Listen below to this show (or read the transcript) and you’ll learn: One of the most important decisions a writer can makeThe type of work that catches her attentionHow Salon’s personal essays differ from other outletsThe best way to end an essay After you finish, go write that personal and maybe provocative piece.
58 minutes | Jan 11, 2016
Episode 31: Washington Post reporter Jessica Contrera schools future journalists
Happy 2016 Prosers! We've been rocking for almost a year now! Check out the very first Behind the Prose with essayist Tavonne Carson. I'm kicking off 2016 with two great episodes. Today's show features reporter Jessica Contrera who works at The Washington Post. She talks reporting and writing in this episode recorded live with students at Penn State Berks. In two weeks, you'll get an interview with Kim Brooks, Life Editor at Salon. Jessica discusses her new job and how she crafted an award-winning story about a hometown Waffle House. (You can also read the transcript.) If you're in the New York City area on Friday, make sure you go to Susan Shapiro's SECRETS OF PUBLISHING PANEL. You know Sue. If you don't, you should. Meet her and other great writers and editors on Friday, January 15, 7-8:30 p.m. at The Strand Bookstore (12th and Broadway). The event features author Judy Batalion and her debut memoir White Walls: A Memoir about Motherhood, Daughterhood, and the Mess In Between. Admission is either a copy of White Walls or a $15 gift card to The Strand.
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