When Allie Rowbottom lost her mother to cancer, she dove headfirst into writing.
Having already completed an MFA and a Ph.D. in Creative Writing, Allie was no stranger to writing but something changed after her mother died. She felt an increased urgency to tell the story her mother had invested many years of her own life writing: the story of the women and generations impacted by the money made from an icon of mid-century America: Jell-O.
The story that is ultimately told in Rowbottom's book is multifaceted: it's her grandmother's story, her mother's, and her own, but it's also the story of Jell-O and how this product came to represent a particular kind of femininity that all these women felt pressured to mold themselves into, much like Jell-O itself. We dive in deep to what it felt like to write this story so soon after losing her mother and what it's like now as the book comes out and so many more people are reading and reacting to the book.
This was such an inspiring interview, both because Allie was so open about her feelings and experience, but also because we haven't touched on writing and grief with this kind of depth, and it's a topic I think deserves much attention. I'm very grateful to have had this conversation and look forward to discussing this topic more in the future.
Non-fiction books are a different animal than fiction, with as many reasons to write them as there are categories. With more people than ever wanting to reach a wider audience, the appeal for writing nonfiction is clear.
Show favorite Joanna Penn of the Creative Penn was the perfect guest to speak about how to write nonfiction well, and all the steps to take to make your book a success. With more people than ever looking to read nonfiction, it's a great time to write based on the knowledge and expertise you have to share. Joanna is, as always, a delight to speak with and I was very sad when our chat came to an end. Enjoy listening- may this inspire you to get working on your nonfiction book!
I was right in guessing she'd have a lot to say on the topic, but we went so much further into how to trick your brain into being brave, what routines help jump-start Amy's writing day (one of my favorite writing routines EVER). Plus Amy is very funny. I adored her and this conversation, and I know you will too. Happy listening!
Confession: I am intimidated by poetry.
If you look over the back catalog of the show, you will find a dearth of poetry represented. partly this is because I have such an abundance of novelists, essayists, and other more mainstream-length books to discuss with people.
But, to be fair, I haven't gone digging for poetry. I feel vastly uneducated in that realm and I suspect many people out there feel the same way.
For this reason, I was delighted to read Trickster Feminist and to have the opportunity to speak to Anne Waldman about poetry and the role this collection, and the genre as a whole has played in her life.
If you think poetry is a remote Ivory Tower activity or something limited to something your inner 15-year-old anguished self could write, this episode is going to turn that notion on its ear. We talk about these poems but also the process of writing a poem and building a relationship with poetic language.
I love Anne Waldman, and I know you will too.
Reading and Writing History
When the Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta was announced for a reprint from Penguin, I was so excited to see that Diana Gabaldon wrote the foreword.
In speaking with Diana both about this novel from history as well as her experience writing fiction set in a historical setting, I was hit with a variation on the classic real estate slogan: Context! Context! Context!
Just like location is everything for a home purchase, context is everything when reading and writing history. We had a juicy conversation about her writing process - one of the most unique I have heard about so far- her research methods, and what it meant to her to read The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta today in a time when there is still so much work to be done on cultural awareness and literacy for the world as a whole.
Diana's take on writing and history is refreshing, candid, and straightforward. She cuts to the chase and provides thoughts and advice you can act on immediately. This is a jolt of motivation for anyone looking to write about history or who needs to research another era for their book. Such a delight to share this one - happy listening and may it spur you into action like it did for me.