Polonius: Sword Storage


On my drive into work this morning, I was listening to the amazing Vienna Teng song “Goodnight, New York,” which has these lines:

I’ll see you all on the other side
After I am a different man with different eyes

It got me thinking about the difference between stasis and motion. Are we living out Bill’s “To thine own self be true” or are we always becoming something else?

I can see it either way. Even though the lines are spoken by Polonius, a character whose best use is as sword storage, there’s value to the idea of maintaining your core values, your true inner self. This is the cry of idealistic youth watching their heroes sell out. You hear it behind every use of a punk song to sell beer or cars, after every art masterpiece licensed to hawk shoes. Most ironically, it’s heard when certain businesses proclaim that they “stick to their core principles,” since these principles might seem to be simply “stick it to the customer.” (Hello? Time Warner?)

As I get older (I’ve mentioned that I’m 23 now?), I’m increasingly persuaded by the idea that we’re always becoming, always intaking new data and comparing it against existing structures to see what impact it has on our perceptions. As columnist Sydney J Harris said, “Being yourself is not remaining what you were, or being satisfied with what you are. It is the point of departure.”

Finding points of departure was one of the reasons that I started this blog and the radio show. Although I’d interviewed artists and writers for years, Craft represented a break with certain kinds of interviews and the welcoming of others. No more interviews with people who didn’t want to be interviewed. (One of my worst interviews was with an academic who confessed to being terrified of being interviewed and who showed no apparent interest in her area of study. Awesome.) No more interviews with people who didn’t engage creativity.

This last sentence may seem harsh, but it’s perhaps softened by the realization that I know I can fall into the uncreative category. Every time I end the show with the admonition, “Be creative,” I feel a little like Polonius. How can I not have something more creative to say?

When I said something like that to an artist friend, she responded with “YOU CAN BE ARTISTIC. DON’T RUN FROM IT.” (You know how those creative types like to use all caps.) Maybe it’s time I buy a beret?

So where are you? In your life are you becoming something or are you already there? Are you in process or completed? First person to comment gets 5 books from the Craft library.

Still here? Don’t forget to send me your ideas for the Halloween show

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Lee Child and Doug Dangler: This Time, It’s Personal

Several years ago, when Lee Child was in town with the Thurber House, I was scheduled to interview him. Unfortunately, I had to go out of town unexpectedly and missed him. Fortunately, I was able to catch up with him recently and talk to him about writing the Jack Reacher novels (including the most recent, 19th novel, Personal), working under deadlines, and how a potential supermarket job gave Jack Reacher his name.


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How to kill someone in a hospital


Surgeon Kelly Parsons wrote Doing Harm in the off hours over the past 8 years to give an insider’s look at how murders are secretly committed in hospitals.

Perhaps I should label the above [satire] like Facebook is apparently doing just to make sure that it’s clear Dr. Parsons has written a fiction novel.

We talked about his novel, how he developed the plot, and what group -a surprise to me- seemed to offer him support in his writing.

Be the first person to comment below and win a copy of Doing Harm (must be picked up at WCBE, 540 Jack Gibbs Blvd, Columbus, Ohio).




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Mindy McGinnis makes you want to drink deeply

Thirsty for a great interview? Mindy McGinnis, a young adult librarian, author, and active blogger, is a must-meet individual whose talent and comical personality make for one refreshing conversation.

In her two post-apocalyptic novels, Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, the world is faced with a shortage of water and owning it means killing to survive.

The Craft summer intern, Kayla, met with McGinnis at the 2014 Ohioana Book Festival to discuss what exactly makes water the blue gold of the world and where exactly that leaves makeup and UGG boots when fresh water is no longer in large supply. On her video blogs, McGinnis coaches her fans on how to dress for survival, telling girls that the closer they look like to guys, the better.

During her interview with Craft, McGinnis reveals who inspired her video blogs where, in some cases, she is seen feeding her book a bottle, and then a kitten,  and listing all the taboo topics (including rock and roll) that may or may not be in her novel. Her sense of humor leaves many of her fans baffled. To this McGinnis responds, “When I do panels and people watch my vlogs, they’re like, ‘You’re so funny, your Twitter feed is so funny, your blog is so funny, and your book is not funny.’ No, my book is not funny. My book is not funny, and it’s not meant to be funny.”

McGinnis hopes that one day, she gets around to publishing more of the pieces that reflect her humor, but fans can look forward to her gothic historical novel coming out in 2015.

You can check out her video blogs on writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com, and you can listen to the full Craft interview.

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What scares you?

Halloween 2014

The 2014 Craft Halloween radio special will feature stories from listeners. What are your favorite scary stories? Maybe Edgar Allen Poe, maybe Christina Rossetti?

Here’s a YouTube video to get you into the proper mood.

In the comment below, let me know how to contact you and a little about your story: maybe it’s a time you got scared at Ohio State University. Maybe it’s a time you were scared in your own home. Or maybe it’s the most frightening of all: watching city or state government in downtown Columbus! (shiver)

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Veronica Roth’s Divergent View of Grad School

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 7.06.45 AMAmazonVeronicaRothVeronica Roth seems like one of the nicest authors I’ve talked to in a while and her Divergent series has racked up huge sales. But we did have different views on one important aspect of our shared experiences. Listen in to find out where Veronica’s sunny disposition ran into my more sober one.

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Thurber House author Tony Mendoza’s favorite part of America might be yours as well

Mendoza and Kayla interview still

August 6 Thurber House guest Tony Mendoza has been an educator, an engineer, an architect, and an almost obsessive photographer of cats. His first book, Ernie, chronicled several months in the life of his roommate’s cat. His latest, A Cuban Summer, focuses on his time as a teenager in Cuba.

Mendoza talked to Craft summer intern Kayla about his time in Cuba, his move to America, and why dating was better in America than Cuba (hint: one country relied on chaperones).

Mendoza Cover

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Craft’s Nightmare Affair


mindeearnett_author_photoblwtIn the dark hallways of an eerie school of mermaids, trash trolls, and magic, there is also attempted murder.

Leave it to Kayla, the summer Craft intern, to conjure up  an interview with the mind behind The Arkwell Academy series, Mindee Arnett.  Her contemporary fantasy collections for young adults delves into the life of Dusty who is literally a nightmare. Not because she is a headstrong teenager, but she actually has the responsibility of invading people’s dreams. That is where Dusty stumbles onto a few clues that land her right in the middle of some unsolved crimes. The first novel, The Nightmare Affair, was nominated for best fiction for Y.A. by Young Adult Library Services Association, and its successor, The Nightmare Dilemma, has already received tremendous praise from its readers. As Arnett said during her interview at the 2014 Ohioana Book Festival, “I really wanted it to be a fun environment. Basically, the kind of school I would want to go to if I could.”

Mindee Arnett has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English literature from Wright State University. She currently lives with her husband and two children on a farm in Ohio where she is free to ride horses and collect as many cats as she wants. This author’s creative abilities led her to publish the sci-fi adventure, Avalon, featuring a rebellious hero, and other short stories for magazine publication. If you ever have the pleasure of meeting Arnett, be sure to ask about all of her wide varieties of hobbies (both old and new) such as amateur boxing and Civil War reenacting.

If you don’t quite have the right spell to get a visit with Arnett, you can listen to her broadcast 90.5 WCBE on July 16, 2014 at 8:00 PM or listen to the full interview.  Arnett appreciates her online followers, so feel free to like this charming author on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

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The Gilded Age visits the Thurber House on July 23

Cover of Gilded Age

Lawyer and novelist Claire McMillan will appear with the The Thurber House on Wednesday, July 23, reading from her book Gilded Age, a modern retelling of Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth.

We discussed how her computer file names betray her anxieties about writing, where in the bedroom she does her best writing, and what vandalous act made Edith Wharton “deliciously cranky.”

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Thurber House Author Loves Columbus

-Kayla Geyer

(AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

Fourth Down and Out WEB

When was the last time you told Columbus she was pretty? Andrew Welsh-Huggins, July 9th Thurber House author, values the beauty and intrigue of Columbus so much that when he based his novel, Fourth Down and Out, on a disgraced Ohio State football player, he was proud to walk Columbus’s streets to accurately portray every last brick of his beloved city. As he said during our talk: “When it came time to set scenes in German Village I went down to German Village: I walked the streets; I walked in the day; I walked them at night. I wanted to get a completely accurate feel for them.”

In one of his first fictional pieces, Welsh-Huggins follows private-eye detective, Andy Hayes, into a case involving a scandalous video that has already caused one person to die. Faced with the opportunity to crack his current case, Andy must trace the clues back to the university where he fell from fortune years ago. Although Andy’s situation might remind readers of instances in the news revolving around scandals in college football, Welsh-Huggins says, “Unfortunately, there are a lot of role models not just at Ohio State but at universities around the country for football players who fell on hard times. So first of all, it’s fiction. And second, Andy’s history is a starting point, and so people probably will recognize certain characteristics of him in maybe their own heroes who fell on hard times.”

If you are a fan of his work, it wouldn’t surprise you that Welsh-Huggins counted steps in the football stadium to get his facts straight even for a fictitious story. As a legal affairs reporter for Associated Press, he’s used his eye for detail to produce two previous books: Hatred at Home: al-Qaida on Trial in the American Midwest and No Winners Here Tonight: Race, Politics, and Geography in One of the Country’s Busiest Death Penalty State. His research for Hatred at Home required piecing together the evidence for three trials of men accused of terrorist involvement right here in Columbus.

While No Winners Here Tonight used policy and history to combat the idea that Ohio’s death penalty laws are just. No matter the story, Andrew Welsh-Huggins delivers a thought-provoking tale that is honest and believable, making the city of Columbus proud to call him local.

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