WMFA

WMFA

www.wmfapodcast.com/episodes
A podcast where writers talk writing.


Inventing Complex Characters w. GENEVIEVE HUDSON
Jun 24 • 54 min
Genevieve Hudson’s debut novel, BOYS OF ALABAMA, is out now from Liveright. They and Courtney talk about developing complicated characters, writing the supernatural, and exploring “capital-T truth” in fiction. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit…
Minisode: Transformation
Jun 17 • 4 min
What in your creative process are you ready to say goodbye to? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Capturing Grief and Collective Memory w. CARTER SICKELS
Jun 10 • 51 min
Carter Sickels latest novel, THE PRETTIEST STAR, is out now from Hub City Press. He and Courtney talk about activist art, writing poignancy without sentimentality, and documenting queer rural narratives. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit…
WRITERS-IN-RESIDENCE: Book Tour Edition
May 20 • 11 min
In the second quarantine call-in episode, writers with new releases share their favorite moments from a very different kind of book tour than they’d expected. Plus they shout out the new releases they’re reading! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit…
Minisode: Paying Attention
May 13 • 5 min
On being with our surroundings—and our creative work—in a new way during quarantine. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mining for Character in Verse w. ELIZABETH ACEVEDO
May 6 • 57 min
Elizabeth Acevedo’s latest book, the novel-in-verse CLAP WHEN YOU LAND, is out now from Quill Tree Books. She and Courtney talk about creating character while working in verse, discovering the container that each story needs, and the “secret projects” she…
Writing For Your Characters w. C PAM ZHANG
Apr 22 • 42 min
C Pam Zhang’s debut novel, How Much of These Hills Is Gold, is out now. She talks with Courtney about writing a book for the characters in it, capturing nuanced performances of gender, and reinventing the myth of the American West. Learn more about your…
Minisode: Aloneness, Or How I’m Learning to Love Solitude
Apr 15 • 6 min
Writers should be great at solitude, right? I’m not. Today I’m talking about how isolation is forcing me to confront that. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Capturing Contradictory Truths w. EMMA COPLEY EISENBERG
Apr 8 • 53 min
Emma Copley Eisenberg’s first book, The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia, was released in January. She and Courtney discuss the complicated nature of truth and how she wrote a complex narrative that weaves first-person…
Minisode: A Conversation Across Time
Apr 1 • 12 min
I’m reading excerpts from the diary of one of my literary idols, Virginia Woolf, that resonate with our current moment. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Writers-in-Residence
Mar 25 • 20 min
Welcome to this experimental episode of WMFA, featuring messages from writers around the country about how they’re handling creative life in quarantine. Let me know if you liked this episode—I might do more as this surreal reality continues! Learn more…
Minisode: Where We’re At Now
Mar 18 • 6 min
A check-in during unstable times. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Surviving the Publishing Process w. COURTNEY MAUM
Mar 11 • 43 min
Courtney Maum’s most recent book is the indispensable writers’ guide Before and After the Book Deal. She and Courtney talk about navigating everything from contracts to marketing to what to pack on book tour. They also talk about Courtney’s latest novel,…
Minisode: Gratitude
Nov 27, 2019 • 4 min
On the last episode of the season, I’m reflecting on gratitude for our work, and how often (or rarely) we feel it. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Returning to Your Humanity w. ALEXANDER CHEE
Nov 20, 2019 • 37 min
Alexander Chee’s latest book is the essay collection How to Write an Autobiographical Novel. He and Courtney discuss the process of becoming real to yourself, staying accountable to the work, and how to keep a novel journal. Learn more about your ad…
Minisode: Constraint
Nov 13, 2019 • 5 min
Building containers for creative freedom. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Playing to Your Strengths w. JAMI ATTENBERG
Nov 6, 2019 • 37 min
Jami Attenberg’s latest novel, All This Could Be Yours, is out now from HMH Books. She and Courtney discuss writing family narratives, identifying and playing to your strengths, and keeping the work fun for the reader. Learn more about your ad choices.…
Minisode: The Future
Oct 30, 2019 • 5 min
Are we acting for our future selves? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Crafting a Compelling Voice w. BRIAN ALLEN CARR
Oct 23, 2019 • 45 min
Brian Allen Carr’s novel Opioid, Indiana is out now from Soho Books. He and Courtney discuss finding a character’s voice, writing fast, and why he loves writing prompts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Minisode: A Tiny (and in Retrospect Totally Obvious) Epiphany
Oct 16, 2019 • 5 min
The important piece of writing advice that finally sunk in. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Minisode: Rest
Oct 2, 2019 • 3 min
How good are you at letting yourself (and your work) just be? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Cultivating Patience w. MARY RUEFLE
Sep 25, 2019 • 35 min
Poet and essayist Mary Ruefle’s new collection, Dunce, was just long-listed for the National Book Award. She and Courtney discuss boredom, uncertainty, and letting go of expectations. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Minisode: Isolation
Sep 18, 2019 • 7 min
Keeping ourselves connected in the solitary work of writing. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Keeping Faith in the Process w. R.O. KWON
Sep 11, 2019 • 52 min
R.O. Kwon’s novel THE INCENDIARIES was one of last year’s biggest debuts, and it was 8 years in the making. We talk about keeping faith in the writing process, holding characters at a distance, and thinking not just about who is telling the story but also…
FROM THE ARCHIVES | Minisode: On Fear
Sep 4, 2019 • 15 min
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Defining Your Writing Identity w. MARGINALLY PODCAST
Aug 28, 2019 • 66 min
It’s a special crossover episode with Olivia and Meghan from Marginally Podcast! We talk about defining your own identity as a writer, our works in progress, and how we make writing and podcasting sustainable. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit…
Minisode: Writing Needs
Aug 21, 2019 • 7 min
What do you need—and how do you figure out what you need anyway? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Growing Into Your Practice w. MICHAEL PARKER
Aug 14, 2019 • 51 min
Author Michael Parker’s latest novel, Prairie Fever, follows the fraught relationship of two sisters in early 1900s Oklahoma. He and Courtney talk about writing crackling dialogue, how he thinks about plot, and growing into your creative practice. Learn…
Minisode: Rewriting Our Stories
Aug 7, 2019 • 6 min
What aspect of your creative life needs a new narrative? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Finding Writerly Courage w. SAVANNAH SIPPLE
Jul 31, 2019 • 38 min
Appalachian poet Savannah Sipple wrote her piercing debut collection, WWJD and Other Poems, during a period in which she was also coming out of the closet. She and Courtney talk about the long journey of claiming her voice and finding the courage to use…
Minisode: Healthier Harvests, or Another Kind of Flow
Jul 24, 2019 • 6 min
What kale, checks, and writing have in common. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Creating Reassuring Writing Frameworks w. KRISTEN ARNETT
Jul 17, 2019 • 55 min
Queer fiction writer Kristen Arnett wrote her debut novel, the eccentric and darkly hilarious Mostly Dead Things, while working full-time as a librarian. We talk about the framework she developed to keep writing, and why she wanted to write a book that…
Minisode: Why Do You Write?
Jul 10, 2019 • 5 min
Why it’s helpful to check in with our whys—plus a special request. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Knowing What You Need as a Writer w. CASEY CEP
Jul 3, 2019 • 59 min
Journalist Casey Cep—author of Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee—is on the show discussing the mysteries of Harper Lee, knowing what you need as a writer, and the lines that can be drawn and erased between invention and…
Minisode: Goody Two Shoes Writing
Jun 26, 2019 • 6 min
When you’re showing up but not really showing up. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Writing More Diverse Narratives w. TOMMY ORANGE
Jun 19, 2019 • 47 min
Tommy Orange—author of last year’s fantastic There There—visits WMFA to talk about being a messy writer, creating diverse narratives, and how parenthood made him take writing more seriously. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Minisode: Agent Anxiety
Jun 12, 2019 • 6 min
Welcome to the first listener-request minisode! We’re talking about finding the right agent for you. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Developing an “Occult Sensibility” of Your Writing w. KAREN RUSSELL
Jun 5, 2019 • 36 min
The fantastic Karen Russell is on the show discussing her new short story collection, Orange World, and developing an “occult sensibility” for shaping your work. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Minisode: Patience
May 29, 2019 • 6 min
Slowing down to speed up. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Crafting Narratives from History w. DAVID K. RANDALL
May 22, 2019 • 48 min
Journalist David K. Randall’s new book, Black Death at the Golden Gate, is a gripping work of literary nonfiction about the race to stop the bubonic plague from spreading through San Francisco and beyond in the early 20th century. He and Courtney discuss…
Minisode: Writing Without Writing
May 15, 2019 • 3 min
A mini mini from my artist residency (👋) on expanding our ideas of process. Tell me how you write without writing by tagging @cfbalestier and using the hashtag #wmfawrites. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Writing Into the Darkness w. SUSAN CHOI
May 8, 2019 • 51 min
Susan Choi’s explosive and riveting new novel, Trust Exercise, is out now from Henry Holt. She and Courtney discuss the manipulative qualities of storytelling, the slipperiness of memory, and the advice Susan would give to her younger self as a debut…
Minisode: Choosing Your Mindset
May 1, 2019 • 6 min
How do you approach your practice? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Reimagining Narrative Structure w. JANE ALISON
Apr 24, 2019 • 45 min
Jane Alison’s new book about narrative structure, Meander, Spiral, Explode, is out now from Catapult. She and Courtney discuss breaking narrative convention and how the traditional dramatic arc is and isn’t like sex. Learn more about your ad choices.…
Minisode: Accepting Your Process
Apr 17, 2019 • 8 min
How do you feel about the way you get writing done? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Building a Narrative Labyrinth w. SUMMER BRENNAN
Apr 10, 2019 • 50 min
Journalist Summer Brennan’s new book, High Heel, is out now from Bloomsbury’s Object Lessons series. She and Courtney discuss her fragmented meditation on feminism and the patriarchy, organizing an extensive research collection, and creating a narrative…
Minisode: Taking Yourself Seriously
Apr 3, 2019 • 6 min
It’s foundational to writing—and it’s not always easy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Telling the Hard Truths w. MORGAN PARKER
Mar 27, 2019 • 47 min
Morgan Parker’s poetry collections include There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé and Magical Negro, out now from Tin House. Morgan and Courtney talk about representation and misrepresentation, writing into the vastness of black identity, and how…
Minisode: Being a Student
Mar 20, 2019 • 5 min
On always learning and the wisdom of beginner’s mind for writers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Should You Get an MFA? w. ERICA DAWSON & LEAH HAMPTON
Mar 13, 2019 • 90 min
Should you get an MFA? Courtney talks with special guests Erica Dawson (poet, author, MFA program director) and Leah Hampton (writer, editor, current MFA fellow) about one of the biggest—and most mystifying—decisions a writer can make. Erica Dawson is the…
Season 4 Teaser
Feb 13, 2019 • 3 min
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How to Not Always Be Working w. MARLEE GRACE
Dec 19, 2018 • 65 min
Courtney and Marlee Grace, author of How to Not Always Be Working, discuss inner critics, inspirational women, and turning our creativity into money. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Minisode: Jealousy
Dec 12, 2018 • 13 min
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Turning Family Members into Characters w. NICOLE CHUNG
Dec 5, 2018 • 66 min
Courtney and Nicole Chung, author of the memoir All You Can Ever Know, discuss the missing perspective in adoption narratives, re-examining familial truths, and writing through grief. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Minisode: Voices
Nov 28, 2018 • 11 min
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Holding Yourself Accountable w. HEATHER HAVRILESKY
Nov 21, 2018 • 72 min
Courtney and Heather Havrilesky, author of What If This Were Enough?, discuss cultivating “weird aunt vibes,” owning the artist identity, and finally reaching the place where you write to please yourself. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit…
Minisode: Centeredness, or Surviving Creative Adolescence
Nov 14, 2018 • 14 min
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Finding Creative Freedom w. LIANA FINCK
Nov 7, 2018 • 62 min
Courtney and Liana Finck, artist and author of the graphic memoir Passing for Human, discuss the work of finding your artistic path, how comics are like poetry, and how Instagram grants her creative freedom. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit…
Minisode: Writing as Relationship
Oct 31, 2018 • 10 min
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Storytelling as an Act of Love w. WAYÉTU MOORE
Oct 24, 2018 • 70 min
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Minisode: Priorities
Oct 17, 2018 • 9 min
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Writing While Parenting w. KAT GARDINER
Oct 10, 2018 • 73 min
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Minisode: On Shame
Oct 3, 2018 • 11 min
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Being a Steward of Others’ Stories w. LINDA KAY KLEIN
Sep 26, 2018 • 75 min
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Minisode: On Fear
Sep 19, 2018 • 15 min
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Taking Control of Your Narrative w. ERICA DAWSON
Sep 12, 2018 • 61 min
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Listening to Your Inner Voice w. MARGARET WILKERSON SEXTON
Jul 25, 2018 • 64 min
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Fictionalizing Real Life w. LISA KO
Jul 11, 2018 • 55 min
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Engaging Your Characters w. ROBIN MACARTHUR
Jun 27, 2018 • 57 min
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Getting the Writing Done w. NATALIE GOLDBERG
Jun 13, 2018 • 43 min
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Writing the Book You Want to Read w. SILAS HOUSE
May 30, 2018 • 64 min
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Catching History Before It’s Forgotten w. ELIZABETH CATTE
May 16, 2018 • 59 min
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Keeping Tabs on Your Characters w. ROBERT GIPE
May 2, 2018 • 71 min
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Solving the Puzzle of Fiction w. KARAN MAHAJAN
Apr 18, 2018 • 53 min
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Presenting Women Characters w. LENI ZUMAS
Apr 4, 2018 • 84 min
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Writing Desire and Faith w. JAMIE QUATRO
Mar 21, 2018 • 51 min
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Making Art and Podcasts w. MIKE SAKASEGAWA & COURTNEY BALESTIER
Dec 6, 2017 • 73 min
In this special joint episode, Courtney and Mike Sakasegawa—photographer, writer, and host of the arts podcast Keep the Channel Open—talk about podcasting and what they’re working on off the air. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit…
Figuring Out the Book You Want to Write w. JOANNA SCUTTS
Nov 22, 2017 • 57 min
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Fighting Perfectionism w. CELESTE NG
Nov 8, 2017 • 60 min
Courtney and Celeste Ng—author of Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You—do a deep dive into process: what makes a good beginning, finding the voice, reverse outlining and more. They also discuss writing about identity and the other, and…
Cutting Away the Obvious w. ZINZI CLEMMONS
Oct 25, 2017 • 61 min
What We Lose author Zinzi Clemmons on writing grief, experimental literature and the author who changed her life. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Coaxing Out Your Subconscious w. CARMEN MARIA MACHADO
Oct 11, 2017 • 56 min
Carmen Maria Machado’s debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, is short-listed for the National Book Award. She joins Courtney to talk about how short stories are like algebra (in a good way), processing life through narrative, and why…
Rewriting And Rewriting More w. MATTHEW NEWTON
Sep 27, 2017 • 58 min
Matthew Newton—author of Shopping Mall, part of Bloomsbury’s Object Lessons series—talks with Courtney about the mall’s place in our culture and his life, balancing memoir and reportage, and the question to ask before starting your next project. Learn…
Writing Your Way to a Theory w. NICK RIGGLE
Sep 13, 2017 • 47 min
Season two is here! Nick Riggle—skater, philosopher and author of the new book On Being Awesome—talks about his theory of awesomeness, how hard it is to write clearly, and how some of his favorite projects have been reactions to creative dissatisfaction.…
Special Episode: Readings by Glenn Taylor, Jeremy B. Jones & Rebecca Gayle Howell
Aug 30, 2017 • 66 min
I had an incredible experience at my first Appalachian Writers’ Workshop this summer, and I’m excited to bring you three readings recorded live at AWW: novelist Glenn Taylor, nonfiction writer Jeremy B. Jones and poet Rebecca Gayle Howell. WMFA is back…
Season Two Announcement
Aug 16, 2017 • 2 min
Here’s what’s coming up for WMFA—and how you can help. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Writing as Empathizing w. JENNIFER HAIGH
Aug 2, 2017 • 63 min
Jennifer Haigh’s novel Heat and Light won a 2017 Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She and Courtney discuss writing about Appalachia, how writing a novel is an exercise in empathy, and why no one knows where her writing…
Discovering and Deep Editing w. RACHEL KHONG
Jul 19, 2017 • 53 min
Rachel Khong is a writer and former Lucky Peach editor whose debut novel, Goodbye, Vitamin, was just released by Henry Holt. She and Courtney discuss Rachel’s fascination with memory, when to go to grad school and the weird world of ambient sound…
Learning to Trust Your Work w. HANIF ABDURRAQIB
Jul 5, 2017 • 61 min
Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic whose work bridges personal experience and popular culture, covering everything from Ric Flair to the erasure of memory. He and Courtney discuss the deeper meanings of pop culture, writing as a…
Starting with Voice and Fragmenting Structure w. JULIE BUNTIN & GABE HABASH
Jun 21, 2017 • 67 min
Married writers Julie Buntin and Gabe Habash have both just released their debut novels, Julie’s Marlena and Gabe’s Stephen Florida. We talk about how they created these works, what drew them to their protagonists, and what it’s like to live with another…
Being Patient and Indulgent w. GARTH GREENWELL
Jun 7, 2017 • 63 min
Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You, discusses being a poet novelist, the language of desire, and why he writes first drafts by hand. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Writing Down All Your Sh*t w. YESENIA MONTILLA
May 24, 2017 • 50 min
New York-born Afro-Caribbean poet Yesenia Montilla talks about writing the immigrant and the American experience, walking around with your two-weeks’ notice in your pocket, and why poetry is like a puzzle. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit…
Editing Our Own Narratives w. JACK CHENG
May 10, 2017 • 57 min
The author of See You in the Cosmos, a middle-grade novel, talks about editing our own narratives, presenting complex issues to kids, and how he raised $24,000 on Kickstarter to publish his first book. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit…
Career Up-Leveling w. ESMÉ WEIJUN WANG
Apr 26, 2017 • 53 min
Esmé Weijun Wang, author of The Border of Paradise: A Novel, discusses writing with limitations, career “up-leveling,” and that time she tossed an entire novel draft. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Finding the Helpfulness in Failure w. JASON DIAMOND
Apr 12, 2017 • 46 min
Jason Diamond, author of the memoir Searching for John Hughes, discusses the helpfulness of failure, visiting famous authors’ graves and analyzing your past. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
BONUS Mini Episode: Talking Class + Art with Rebecca Gayle Howell
Apr 5, 2017 • 11 min
In this bonus mini episode, we discuss class and art—and the attitudes about both that we bring to creative work—with last week’s guest, Rebecca Gayle Howell. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Accessing Your Nighttime Mind w. REBECCA GAYLE HOWELL
Mar 29, 2017 • 61 min
Rebecca Gayle Howell is on this week’s episode to discuss the art of listening, writing and faith, and creation as resistance. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Exfoliating Fear From Your Mind w. TANAÏS
Mar 15, 2017 • 45 min
This week, we talk to Tanwi Nandini Islam, author of Bright Lines, about exfoliating fear from your mind, giving yourself permission, and claiming your authority as a voice of your culture. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Writing Cultural Criticism w. JUAN VIDAL
Mar 1, 2017 • 45 min
This week, we talk to Juan Vidal, author of the forthcoming book Rap Dads, about being a creative loner who loves collaboration, using music to tap into the subconscious, and never giving up on the ideas that move you. Learn more about your ad choices.…
Writing From the Gut w. TAYLOR LARSEN
Feb 15, 2017 • 35 min
This week, we talk to author Taylor Larsen about writing without ego, engaging with your characters, and the surreal experience of debut authorship. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Taking the Preciousness Out of Writing w. EMILY ST. JOHN MANDEL
Feb 1, 2017 • 56 min
Before the huge success of Station Eleven—which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award and won the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Toronto Book Award—Emily St. John Mandel wrote three novels published with small presses.…