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The Secret Library Podcast

The truth about writing books. By speaking to authors and other book lovers, I'm diving into the mystery that is the book world today. From writing to editing to publishing and all that goes into the creation of a book – all of it is open for discussion on the show.
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Now displaying: June, 2018
Jun 28, 2018

Rebecca Makkai didn't set out to write about the AIDS Crisis in Chicago.

This is what I love about writing. There is the saying, "Life is what happens when you're making other plans." I would say that it's just as true that "Books are what happen when you're busy making outlines."

In speaking with Rebecca Makkai this week about her latest novel, The Great Believers, a book I absolutely loved, I was most struck that the plot line all the press and critical acclaim is centered around is not the one Makkai started with.

She started with a story about a character and then, as she wrote, the story grew. She stayed curious and followed where the story led. And it led her somewhere big, so a big period of research followed. Makkai was devoted to doing the right thing by her book, and that's really what we all need to do in the end. Trust that the story is worth writing, and follow its lead. Here's hoping you listen in close to your own story this week... I can't wait to find out where you end up following it to. May this episode inspire you in the process of getting there.

Happy listening, and happy writing.

Jun 21, 2018
Michelle Kuo got a call one day, telling her that her favorite student had been arrested.
 
After college, Michelle Kuo joined Teach for America and moved to the Arkansas Delta. She taught in a school that focused on teaching underserved youth who had been expelled from other schools. Her time there was transformative, both for Michelle and her students. But at the end of her term at Teach for America, she moved away to attend Harvard. Several years later, she got the call that Patrick, one of her most transformed students, had gotten in a fight outside his home and someone had been killed in the fray.
 
Michelle set aside a new job to return to Arkansas and spend time with Patrick during visitation hours and continue teaching him as he awaited trial. She wrote Reading With Patrick about this experience.
 
This book is moving, riveting, and essential all at once. It kept me up at night and I'm still thinking about it months after reading Michelle and Patrick's story. There is still so much work to be done in the American South to improve the lives of so many who live there. Writing about big issues takes courage and integrity, qualities Michelle exemplifies. But beyond these issues that need to be top of mind for everyone, there is the process of writing about issues, writing about real people, and writing about actual lives. We grapple with these topics in this conversation and, while I know there is so much more to say on these topics, anyone who is considering writing a book relating to social justice or about people in their lives will get a healthy primer on both topics in this episode. It's one I know I will return to again for inspiration and guidance from Michelle, who is a total rock star and a philosopher all wrapped up in one.
 
You're going to love her. Happy listening!
Jun 14, 2018
Sometimes you just want to write a lot of characters.
 
Chibundu Onuzo wrote her first novel surrounding two characters, so when it came time to writer her second novel, she wanted a lot of people in there to play with. In addition, she shifted into third person, a process she compared to Scooby Doo or Nancy Drew trying to figure out how to open a secret bookcase in a mystery story.
 
Ultimately, she unlocked the code and I was able to follow along as she shared where her latest book, Welcome to Lagos, came from. I adored this interview, not only because of her gorgeous voice, but because of the wisdom she has gathered through her twenties as she's collected both degrees and publication credits.
 
I know you'll fall in love with Chibundu, her writing, and the ability she has with language. Her tips on how to make a sentence more beautiful alone make this well worth the listen.
 
Enjoy!
Jun 7, 2018

There is very little I love more than getting away.

For anyone who loves to escape, this is your episode. Stephanie Rosenbloom and I talk about Alone Time, her book on solo travel. Through the four seasons, she travels to four cities (including her hometown for a staycation) and shares what she finds by traveling alone. As a fan of solo travel as much as I am of exploring with others, I was enchanted. Anyone who wants to travel to write must listen. And then, Lauren Weisberger talks about the wild and crazy world of the uber wealthy in Connecticut that she explored in When Life Gives You Lululemons, the third book in the Devil Wears Prada world, where we follow the first assistant to Miranda Priestly, Emily Charlton ten years after the end of DWP. It's such a fun book, and our conversation was a total delight.

Enjoy a diverting listen this week and then have some fun writing about the world away from your doorstep.

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