Info

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.
RSS Feed
The Secret Library Podcast
2019
April
March
February
January


2018
December
November
October
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2017
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2016
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May


Categories

All Episodes
Archives
Categories
Now displaying: Page 3
Apr 19, 2018
ML Longworth has one of the greatest writing stories I've heard so far.
 
After the tech company her husband worked for in Silicon Valley was sold in the last 1990s, ML Longworth tried something bold. Before leaving for a family vacation in France, she typed the following search term into a browser: computer-jobs-France. What followed was a series of incredible coincidences that lead to she and her husband and daughter moving to Aix-en-Provence. You'll want to listen in to hear her version.
 
When she moved to France, ML Longworth was not a professional novelist. She began writing about food and culture in southern France and had a novel that she hid in a drawer for years. When she was offered the opportunity to teach writing at NYU's campus in Paris, the interviewer casually mentioned that she must have a book in the works. With the promise of a job as a writing professor, the novel came out of the drawer and on to publication. Now, the Verlaque and Bonnet mysteries are a much-loved series that features the region of Aix and its food and culture as much as the mysteries that unfold there.
 
If you've ever dreamed of running off to another country, or wondered if you could build a career as a writer without the traditional MFA, here is a story that will fuel your wildest hopes. I know it did for me- I haven't been able to stop thinking about this conversation since we recorded.
Apr 12, 2018

Elaine Castillo broke my brain with something she said on the show.

The book she ended up publishing, her debut novel America is not the Heart, was not even close to the same length as the book she wrote. Let me say this again: Elaine Castillo sold her debut novel to a big 5 publisher and then got to spend a year and a half editing it because they believed in the book and wanted Elaine to feel satisfied by the end result.
 
As someone who has always felt novels got sold only when there might be an errant semi-colon or two floating around, this was nothing short of a revelation. Elaine is incredibly open and forthright in this conversation. I was delighted to really get inside her writing process, how she explored point fo view, and the way the characters came together for her. It was a joy to dive into America is Not the Heart, a gorgeous book that is already making waves with the critics. You're in for a real treat this week. Happy listening!
 
Show notes with links | This episode sponsored by the Secret Writeaway
Apr 5, 2018
Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon wrote the book on Being Boss.
 
Back in January 2015, Emily and Kathleen launched a podcast called Being Boss. It was for women business owners and creative entrepreneurs. The show quickly grew from a small posse of listeners into a sensation, and then a movement. The exploration of what it meant to be boss created in-person events and a vibrant online community of women, all ready to "do the work" as Emily and Kathleen put it.
 
It was only a matter of time before they wrote a book. As soon as the book was ready to hit the presses, I was eager to speak to the two of them about what had allowed them to collaborate on a book from two different cities and in the midst of their shared business and the businesses they each run on their own. I knew they'd have systems and tips galore, and I wasn't disappointed.
 
If you've ever thought about collaborating on a book, this is your episode. And even if you don't dream of co-authoring, the advice Emily and Kathleen share will help you get your book written better, faster, and saner. Happy listening!
Apr 5, 2018
Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon wrote the book on Being Boss.
 
Back in January 2015, Emily and Kathleen launched a podcast called Being Boss. It was for women business owners and creative entrepreneurs. The show quickly grew from a small posse of listeners into a sensation, and then a movement. The exploration of what it meant to be boss created in-person events and a vibrant online community of women, all ready to "do the work" as Emily and Kathleen put it.
 
It was only a matter of time before they wrote a book. As soon as the book was ready to hit the presses, I was eager to speak to the two of them about what had allowed them to collaborate on a book from two different cities and in the midst of their shared business and the businesses they each run on their own. I knew they'd have systems and tips galore, and I wasn't disappointed.
 
If you've ever thought about collaborating on a book, this is your episode. And even if you don't dream of co-authoring, the advice Emily and Kathleen share will help you get your book written better, faster, and saner. Happy listening!
Mar 29, 2018

Kit De Waal didn't start writing until she was 40.

I love a hot debut novel from a bright young thing as much as the next person, but there is something I love even more about a late-to-writing career trajectory. Now that I'm on the other side of 40, I feel particularly fired up whenever I read books by those who didn't start as writers the moment they finished school.
 
If you feel like it's too late for you to write what you want to, it's not. If you feel like you aren't like the authors you see on the shelves, don't let that stop you. And I expect that listening to Kit De Waal discuss overcoming the obstacles writers face will help you stay focused on writing and publishing your book. This episode is magic.
Mar 22, 2018
This week, we dive into the mysterious lure of Sweden and its literature.
 
As a lover of languages, I have long been fascinated with the art of translation. I am delighted to have Henning Koch on this week, who has translated Fredik Backman's work including A Man Called Ove as well as the acclaimed Every Moment We Are Still Alive. In addition to working as a translator, he's also a writer himself and has published two books. We explore Henning's beginnings in translation, the relationship it gives him with language, and why he can't possibly write and translate at the same time. We also touched on something that has become a phenomenon recently: the worldwide obsession with Swedish crime fiction.
 
In order to explore the topic of Swedish crime further, this week's episode continues with the couple that writes together under the pseudonym Lars Kepler: Alexandra Coehlo Ahndoril and Alexadner Ahndoril. Their book, The Sandman kept me up at night for days, furiously turning pages. We discussed how they came to write together as a couple, what they believe makes Sweden uniquely capable of writing dark crime stories, and their incredible method of writing together.
 
I love these two conversations as a pair, because both of them center on finding connection with others through language and the love of books. If you've ever dreamed of seeing your work appear in another language or considered collaborating, this episode is for you.
Mar 15, 2018

Elaine Weiss found the locus of action for her book deep in the library archives.

I love this image because it is the stuff writing fantasies are made of: a writer, buried in the depths of newspapers that had been cataloged on microfilm. It was there that she discovered that a member of each of the critical political parties in her book arrived the very same night in Nashville, TN to fight the final battle around the 19th amendment in the US.
 
Elaine and I talked about the politics of the 19th amendment and how she has managed to write a book that had me on the edge of my seat, even though I knew while reading it that the amendment would ultimately pass - I know I have voted in every election I've been able to since I was 18. But even so, the gift of a good writer is someone who is able to capture the suspense that those experiencing this historical period in real time in the present must have felt.
 
History doesn't have to be dry or dull. In fact, I was as glued to The Woman's Hour as I have been to any suspense novel I've read. I hope you enjoy listening to us discuss how it came together just as much as I enjoyed diving into its creative backstory. Happy listening!
 
Show notes with links | This Episode Sponsored by The NWBA forthcoming book, Women in the Literary Landscape
Mar 8, 2018

Chad Murphy is the genius behind Lord Birthday.

He wasn't always out as Lord Birthday- in fact, he decided to start as an anonymous creator and kept up that goal even when he saw that his own sister was a fan and regularly sharing his posts. One of my favorite parts of this episode is the story of Chad having to tell his sister that he was Lord Birthday.
 
Just a few years after starting Lord Birthday, Chad's little project has over 180,000 followers (!!!!) and a book in the pipeline. It could be easy to dismiss this as blind luck, but talking with Chad meant I got to learn all the behind-the-scenes story. Chad started out wanting to write fiction, and struggled along in that pursuit for years before a lucky trip to an art show convinced him it might be a good idea to try something new and see what happened.
 
For anyone who has ever want to take a big leap, anyone who has laughed so hard they cried when reading the brilliance of Lord Birthday, and for anyone who has a dream of telling stories in a way that doesn't match up with the way things have always been done, I give you Lord Birthday. I promise you'll be smiling ear to ear after this episode, just like I was when we recorded it.
Mar 1, 2018

Ben Percy began Writing With a Love of (Fictional) Wooly Underpants

I knew I had to have Ben Percy on the show because I kept mentioning his book, Thrill Me, and it's argument that genre fiction and literary fiction have a lot to learn from each other. Ben and I talk about how he began to study writing with a great love of fantasy and science fiction only to be told he wasn't allowed to write either in his degree program. As he studied literary fiction, he fell in love with character development and wanted more from the people he read about in books.

But he still wanted to read about adventures and exciting things happening in his stories. So a thought began to grow: what if the best parts of genre fiction – the wooly underpants and the chases and the racing plot– were combined with the best parts of literary fiction – the love of language and the deeply developed characters? Ben has spent his writing life since trying to find out how to write from the best parts of all fiction. This conversation was equal parts hilarious and inspiring, an ideal combination in my mind. Also, Ben has one of the greatest voices for podcasting I have yet encountered. It's a true shame that he didn't enjoy recording the audio version of one of his books... enjoy this voice on this show - you may not get it anywhere else... happy listening.

Feb 22, 2018

Jasmin Darznik knew she had to tell her mother’s story first.


On this episode, we discuss Jasmin’s second book, and her first novel. After the smash success of The Good Daughter, Jasmin turned to fiction in order to tell the story of Iran’s most famous woman poet. Forugh Farrokhzad’s short life takes her through many of the same heartbreaking obstacles that Jasmin addressed in her memoir, along with many new ones. This book explores what it means to be a woman and an artist in a culture where women were shut behind closed doors and expected to stay there by the political and religious regime of her time.

We discuss resilience, writing fiction about real people, fighting to live the creative life, and the importance of telling stories to bridge culture and time to build what we all long for: connection and beauty in the world. It is wonderful to discuss a book like this, one that takes a poet like Forugh Farrokhzad, a household name in Iran, and brings her story to a new country that has mostly never heard of her. Get ready to be inspired!

Feb 15, 2018

Before Me Before You sold 8 million copies, Jojo Moyes wrote three books that didn't sell at all.

Jojo Moyes wrote three books that the publishers rejected before she was published at all and 8 novels over 10 years before she had a hit. Listen up to this incredible conversation to learn why she wouldn't change a thing. Her perspective on the beauty of great success that happens slowly is one you'll listen to over and over. Let Jojo be your guide to never giving up on your writing. One of my favorite episodes so far.

Feb 8, 2018
Danielle Lazarin didn't realize she'd written a Feminist Collection of Stories.
 
What struck me about Back Talk was how real the people inside the pages felt. Reading through the book, I was a bit surprised at how the critics had hailed it as a feminist collection, because it felt first and foremost like a collection of stories about women acting the way women actually act. But then it hit me, that is profoundly feminist because we come up against stereotypes in fiction all the time. Breaking them down is as feminist a choice as I can imagine.
 
I adored both this book and this conversation. If you have ever written a female character, or ever plan to, you'll find something to inspire you. Happy listening.
Feb 1, 2018

Sometimes the hardest part about writing is having the guts to get started.

In a time where it has never been easier to publish a book with indie publishing on the rise, I still hear from person after person afraid to take on the title of "writer" for themselves, sometimes even after publishing several books. The statistics have reported that 4 out of 5 people would like to write a book, but far fewer people do. In this 3 part episode, we launch a new anthology, leap over obstacles, and talk about some truly amazing books.

Jan 25, 2018
Paula Priamos is no stranger to suspense.
 
She spent her childhood in courtrooms thanks to her father's career as a defense attorney. She learned the language and the pacing of this world and dove into the underworld connected to the law when she wrote her first book, a memoir about her father's life and death called The Shyster's Daughter. In her second book, Inside V, Paula moves to fiction to tell a dark twisting story about a couple thrown into chaos by an accusation and subsequent trial.
 
In this episode, Paula and I discuss writing thrillers, character development, and how to keep suspense in a story as you write it. I was particularly taken with her desire to subvert cliche in characters by looking at how we expect certain tropes to behave: the other woman, a man accused of sexual assault, the young accuser and all the other figures that appear in the book.
 
If you've thought about writing thrillers, this episode will have you on your way. There is no shortage of readers out there who love to read them, so if thrillers are calling your name, listen up and get writing!
Jan 18, 2018

Chloe Benjamin is equally adept at creating myths and busting them.

The Immortalists has enjoyed a tremendous amount of buzz, listed as one of the most anticipated books of 2018 on more than one list. This is the kind of buzz usually reserved for debut novels or novels from household name authors. Chloe is, instead, a second-time author following a first novel that sold well, but on a more modest scale.

In the publishing industry, like any other industry, there are many myths, and not just the ones that live inside of books. One of them is that you can't expect to sell a second book if your first wasn't a blockbuster. Chloe broke this myth herself with The Immortalists. We discuss this myth in this episode, along with many other things: our shared love of bathrobes and a debate about the advantages of executive assistant jobs while writing books.

Chloe is living proof that things don't always proceed the way "they" say they will. She's written a gorgeous book that deserves every bit of attention it is getting and I hope you leave this episode just as inspired as I was after our conversation.

Jan 11, 2018

Cecil Castellucci has been writing for young people for over fifteen years, has published a stack of books and writes an ongoing comic book through an imprint with Marvel. She knows the world of YA and gave me the lowdown on that world in this incredible conversation.

We talk about her latest book, Don't Cosplay With My Heart, which I loved and read in a single sitting. I expect you will, too. We dive into tons of hot-button topics in this episode: capturing the teen experience, why people are suddenly being accused of being "fake geeks" now that geekdom is cool, and the issue that's got a lot of people talking: sensitivity readers and what this means for writers.

If you've thought about writing for young people, or are working on a story for that audience, this is essential listening. And even if this isn't your usual genre to read, you may find yourself diving in after listening. This is such a fun audience to write for, and one worth spending time with. Bonus... you'll learn who the main character of Cecil's book is named after toward the end of the episode, something I guessed while I was reading and had to confirm. Happy listening!

Jan 4, 2018

Joanna Penn is a prosperous writer.

Yes, you read that correctly. I wanted to begin the New Year with an episode guaranteed to inspire. Once I connected with Joanna, I knew she was the one to share with you first in 2018. Not only is she day-job free, Joanna Penn makes a solid six-figure income from writing and travels extensively to places that fascinate her to research her books.
 
Before you glaze over, I promise you – this is far from a get rich quick scheme. It took Joanna four years to build up enough income from writing books and speaking to walk away from the job that was crushing her creative spirit. She works very hard and writes continuously to keep new titles up to sell. She has learned so much from building a business as a writer, deciding not to publish within traditional publishing and going the indie author route, and choosing to write books that are fun for her to write. This episode was like an invitation to consider what is possible to accomplish for writers.
 
A big proponent of developing a successful author mindset, I know Joanna will challenge you to dream bigger about living a great life as a writer. Our conversation definitely lit a fire under me and I have been writing like a maniac ever since. May it do the same for you. Happy listening!
Dec 28, 2017

Anu Partanen never planned to move to the United States.

She was very happy living as a journalist in Finland until she fell in love with an American, and ended up moving to NYC so they could marry and be together.

Once moving here, Anu became even more aware of the advantages her home country had provided: universal high-quality health care, childcare, maternity leave, elder care, and on and on. For the first time, she was presented with bills and policies that didn't make sense to her. As a journalist, she began researching the differences between the US and the Nordic countries, expanding her research to include policies in Sweden, Norway and Denmark as well as Finland. The result was the book, The Nordic Theory of Everything.

I read this book in late 2017, wooed by the topic of social change. I was blown away and immediately knew I had to speak to the author. Our conversation explores the potential impact on writers and people in creative fields and how the way the US treats people could be the reason countless people choose not to pursue a career as a writer. Thankfully, we also find hope in this conversation, as well as actions people can take (in addition to seeking Finnish citizenship) to improve life as a creative professional.

I'm so grateful to release this episode in the last slot of 2017, just in time for us to make big changes that support more and more writing in the New Year. Happy listening!

Dec 21, 2017

Everyone has heard the classic trope write what you love. In some cases, I have felt a bit bullied by this concept. "How am I supposed to know what I love most?" I have wondered. I think the best thing you can do to figure this out is to listen to this conversation with Mark Frauenfelder and listen to how he followed what was fascinating to him and wrote books and articles about these things along the way.

In this conversation we talk about the day job that Mark escaped to write and it is the worst day job for a writer I have yet heard of. In addition, learn about how Boing Boing was founded. The original office space for the zine version sounds like my version of heaven and I'm sure it will to you, too.

Above all, Mark is an incredible role model for making a living from curiosity, enthusiasm, and being willing to dive into a world you don't entirely know yet. His fascination with a variety of topics and being willing to write about them just because he loves learning is both infectious and a great example to the rest of us. If we follow his lead, I think we are in for a lot of amazing books to hit digital and physical shelves very soon.

Dec 14, 2017

A journalist and author of numerous non-fiction books on the Middle East, Malu Halasa has just published her first novel, Mother of All Pigs. Born in Oklahoma, her Jordanian Filipina heritage gave her a unique perspective from the beginning. After growing up in Ohio, she attended Barnard College in New York and now lives in London. From this vantage point, she's taken on the fascinating world of the Middle East and has worked hard to expand the number of voices heard from that area.

Throughout the conversation we explore the tricky thing that is "American Literature." When she first began working on this novel in the 90s, Malu didn't expect to publish it because there didn't appear to be a market in the states for Middle Eastern narrative. People were willing to read non-fiction, but not a novel. As she looked on bookshelves she wondered "where is my family story?" Luckily for us, she wrote it herself.

It is my hope that more people do the same. If a story is missing from the shelves, it doesn't mean it shouldn't be included. We need to challenge the publishing status quo by supporting fiction that expands our boundaries and helps us learn. I hope you are inspired by listening to this episode to think about what story you have to tell that isn't currently getting heard. I can't imagine how many stories we aren't reading that need to be read. If you have a story like this, listen to this episode and then write your story. We want to hear your story, too.

Dec 7, 2017

Sandra Scofield is like a warm hug from writing itself.

For ages, I've loved Sandra Scofield's The Scene Book with its reassuring composition notebook cover and its practical advice about writing great scenes. When I learned that Sandra had a new book about writing coming on, I knew I had to have her on the show. Her latest, The Last Draft, tackles that tricky topic of revision and polishing your work until its ready to be read by others.

I adored talking with Sandra because her approach is so generous and comforting to the writer. She grants permission to explore the world you want to build in your story fully and gently guides us through the process of working through your draft. Those who love analog and stepping away from the computer at points to reflect will feel at home with Sandra.

Nov 30, 2017

David Rocklin found a novel in a photograph.

While researching his first novel about the photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, David Rocklin was struck by an image she had taken of the Prince of Abyssinia. The image wouldn't let him go and despite his hesitation and fear in taking on such an enormous topic, he wrote his second novel, The Night Language, anyway.

I am loving discussing how people incorporate history into writing and the ways that novels force us to look at stories different than our own and to do them justice. In addition, those curious about the publishing experience with a small press from the writer's side will enjoy this episode. (For a conversation with a small press, please check out episode 10 with Rare Bird Lit's Julia Callahan.)

Nov 23, 2017

Lisa Cron is a woman on a mission: she wants to help you write your story so that your reader is glued to the page from the moment they pick up the book. She's going beyond plotting versus pantsing to a new level of story analysis.

We dive into the WHY of your story, and what you hope to achieve by telling it. Lisa is not about the slow exploration and wandering through story options; she wants you to get to the meat right away. If you've felt frustrated and unsure of what the point is of the book you're writing, Lisa will help you plow forward. I can't wait to see what the fire she lights in this episode does for all you writers listening. Get ready for some jet fuel in this one!

Nov 16, 2017

There are genres and then there are subgenres. One of the things I love about speaking with writers across all types of books is learning about the complicated world their books inhabit. In this case, Piper Huguley writes historical black romance, and this sits inside the romance novel world, but in a completely new way.

I was so moved talking to Piper about how she focuses on an era that has been so glossed over, and tells stories that bring the people of the time to life, people who have been forgotten or ignored in our textbooks, and I know you will be, too. Enjoy!

Nov 9, 2017

Since writers can be a fearful bunch, I️ wanted Fran Krause on the show as soon as I️ saw his work. He decided to explore an idea he had to illustrate irrational fears. He started out with his own, but before he finished drawing them, people began submitting theirs. Now-as he puts it- many fears later, his latest book from this project is out.

I️ love this project because reading about these fears made me feel less alone. Even if they weren’t always fears that I️ related to, I️ still felt connected to the people who had them. And there were so many fears that had me laughing with recognition because I️ saw them in myself and the people I️ know.

We spend so much time trying to hide our vulnerabilities- this project is an amazing example of what happens when you put them down on paper instead. Happy listening!

1 « Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next » 7