Jeff Shaara’s History of Writing

Jeff Shaara web

All fourteen of Jeff Shaara’s novels have been New York Times bestsellers, starting with his first, Gods and Generals, in 1996.

It’s an impressive track record and he’s got an impressive family history, too. His father, Michael Shaara, won a Pulitzer Prize for Killer Angels, the source material for the film Gettysburg and the impetus for Jeff writing  Gods and Generals, a prequel to Killer Angels.

Listen in to hear Shaara describe

  • The difficulty researching the Civil War without being overwhelmed by the amount of information on it.
  • Accurately portraying different time periods in novels.
  • Writing a novel about the Korean War, under the shadow of MASH

Shaara will appear as part of the Thurber House’s Evenings with Authors on June 3.

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Journalist makes the supernatural personal

-Tyler Clementi

Do you believe in ghosts? First time and Thurber House guest author Janis Heaphy Durham does. Listen to our interview with her, and you might too.

Durham is the author ofJanis Heaphy Durham web the story of her husband’s passing, the seemingly impossible events that took place in the aftermath, and Durham’s journey to make sense of it all.

In May 2004, Durham’s husband Max died from esophageal cancer. Soon after his passing, a series of mysterious events occurred. Clocks stopped on his time of death, Durham heard her husband’s voice, and finally, a powdery hand print appeared on their bathroom mirror on the anniversary of Max’s death.

Durham was curious, but skeptical. Having spent her career in the heavily scrutinized newspaper industry, she approached these seeming attempts at supernatural communication with caution. To investigate the events that had occurred in her life, Durham began research into the afterlife.

Durham’s research visited upon several scientific fields and interests, ranging from consciousness studies to quantum physics. Her book attempts not only to share her story, but also to use her research to open up a larger conversation into the difficult subject of life after death.

Listen in to our interview with Janis Heaphy Durham to hear all about her adventure in detail.

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Columbus Unscripted, part 3

And here’s part three of my talk with improv performers from Columbus Unscripted.


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Columbus Unscripted, Part 2

And here’s part two of my talk with improv performers from Columbus UnscriptedaBTYLeft

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Columbus Unscripted, Part 1

aBU7CQuick, give me three words:
With input as limited as that, Columbus Unscripted improv performers can create a scene that will make you laugh. A few weeks ago, Barbara, Bill, Lamont, Lorinda and Kayla from Columbus Unscripted stopped by the WCBE studio to record an hour-long special for Craft, which was broadcast on May 2 at 3pm on the Mighty WCBE.

These performers are part of a weekly improv group called See You Thursday, and they have many events which are all highlighted on their website.

If you haven’t been to one of the shows, I recommend you give it a try and experience the fast-moving minds that spun my suggestion about hair loss into a story about a man shopping for a toupee being bedeviled by his back hair angel during his graduation from college.

Enjoy part one of our talk.

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John Lescroart: I’m Sorry But I Have to Kill You

John Lescroart

He’s killed 70+ people across 25 books, but that doesn’t mean he enjoys it.

“I’m going through what’s on that page. Even if someone is getting killed, maybe I’m getting killed, or maybe I’m feeling what occurs before I’m going to have to kill this person,” said John Lescroart.

Lescroart knows of what he speaks: he’s published 26 novels, which have collectively sold more than 10 million copies in 75 countries, and his legal thrillers frequently top New York Times bestseller lists. He’ll bring all of this experience and emotional investment to the Thurber House on May 11.

Listen in to our talk about the craft of writing and what surprising areas fans have been asking more about recently.

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Authors Ng, Logsdon, and Umrigar Bring Practical, Tough, Ohioan Writing to Ohioana Book Festival

Tyler Clementi

What makes an Ohio writer? What style do Ohio writers use? Broad questions like these invite generalizations, generalizations which might be wildly different from one another. However, authors Celeste Ng, Gene Logsdon, and Thrity Umrigar, all visiting Columbus on April 25 for the Ohioana Book Festival, have some very similar ideas.

Ohioana is an annual celebration of Ohio’s strong history of literature, journalism, and all other forms of writing. Among the festival’s featured authors is Celeste Ng, the author of several short stories and one novel, Everything I Never Told You, which won Amazon’s best book award in 2014.

Ng comes from Cleveland, and she’s much attuned to what people think of when she says that.

“I feel like Cleveland has the sort of status of the—I was going to say ‘lovable loser,’ but maybe not even lovable.”

Although Ng says, “I love Cleveland, and I think of it very fondly, ” she thinks that Clevelanders have to deal with others’ perceptions of the city and Ohio at large. She describes her Ohio writing colleagues as “dealing with expectations versus reality.”

Author Gene Logsdon, whose career writing about food and agriculture has spanned 40 years, also asserts the value of his home state. “Your part of the world is just as important as anybody else’s,” says Logsdon.

“If you can understand Wyandotte County, you can understand the world.”

Logsdon has picked up on the sorts of qualities that might define the style or genre of Ohio writers: “I think that writers in Ohio are—how shall I say it—more practical.”

“They write with a plainness that I find invigorating.”

Thrity Umrigar, a novelist, journalist, and professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, identified something akin to the Logsdon’s practicality in her fellow Ohio writers. “There’s a kind of rust belt toughness, a sense of having survived something.”

Along with toughness, Umrigar straightforwardly identifies Ohio writers as good. “It’s an embarrassment of riches,” said Umrigar when reflecting on the various writers that have come out of northeast Ohio’s Akron Beacon Journal and Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“It really is astounding, actually, when you think of it in terms of demographics and, sort of, regional size.”

Umrigar thinks that one of the virtues of Ohio writing is the supportive community of Ohio writers: “We really are there for each other. We encourage each other in our careers. That is a gift.”

The author finds that community to be a necessity because of the outside perspectives Ng also referenced. “We can’t look to the outside for affirmation. If there is affirmation to be had, we have to find it within ourselves and within our own communities,” said Umrigar.

When the Ohioana Book Festival arrives, that community of affirmation will be out in force.

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Craft Purchases Radio Station WCDE

Columbus Ohio

Craft Productions, Limited, the parent corporation of Craft Broadcasting International, announced today that it has purchased long-time broadcast partner WCDE, 90.4 FM in Columbus, Ohio. At a press conference at the station, Craft President and CEO Doug Dangler issued the following statement:

WCDE has been a fine partner for several years with us and lately the time seemed particularly appropriate to purchase the station and all its properties: 3 microphones and a specially bent coat hanger that serves as the station antenna. Fortunately, I had the liquid assets remaining after an acquisition at Rally’s to allow for the leveraged buyout of all WCDE holdings.

Station manager Van Maraschino attended the press conference in the state of some excitement. “It’s a really great opportunity to begin broadcasting Star Trek- and Star Wars-related shows on an almost continual basis,” Said Maraschino. “I’m especially looking forward to our planned 9-hour documentary on Deep Space Nine.”

Dangler claimed that “thousands and thousands of Craft listeners demanded more content about writers and the creative process.” He went on to say, “Honestly, with so many people nowadays abandoning traditional pop, rap and country music stations for arts-based talk radio, it’s clearly a time when public radio stations can finally become a significant force for the arts.”

This announcement follows on the heels of controversy with the station’s morning “Van the Man Shock Jock Radio Hour,” mostly focused on last week’s controversial “Tote Bags Versus T-shirts” show in which Maraschino made several disparaging remarks about the low construction quality of PBS tote bags as compared to NPR t-shirts. The show garnered controversy and considerable ratings increase with stunts like loading PBS tote bags to breaking with cat toys and Jane Austen novels. Maraschino acknowledged the issues, “I know our investigation into PBS tote bags drew the ire of listeners. However, I have plenty of places to store ire so they can just keep it coming.”

Dangler outlined upcoming publicity campaigns such as “Dime a Dog” night, in which listeners will receive one free dog if they can remain awake during a complete hour of “Hearts of Place” radio, a show dedicated to songs with names like “Here There Be Silence” and “Everyone Be Quiet Now: I Think the Recording Equipment is Giving Feedback.” Also, Bobblehead Day is planned and will feature Limited Edition Van Maraschino bobbleheads for all listeners who donate more than $5 or an equivalently valued used car to the radio station.

Dangler also discussed plans for the Midwestern Regional Great Public Radio Voices Wax Museum. “I got the idea after I made an excellent bulk purchase of candles at Big Lots,” said Dangler. “We’ve already requested plans for a vanilla-scented of Harry Mose, host of Fresh Hair.” Dangler acknowledged potential problems: “At least one public radio enthusiast has deemed Tie Rise-All, host of MarketFace, as ‘too hot’ to stay in solid form as a candle wax sculpture.”

Please use the comment space below to give suggestions about other public radio changes you’d like to see, and Happy April 1.

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Marisa de los Santos and writing “minute by minute”

Marisa_deLosSantosBestselling author Marisa de los Santos knows about more than just writing books. The bestselling author joined us ahead of her April 1 visit to Columbus’s Thurber House to talk about her successful transition from poetry to prose, the struggle of returning to older works, and the importance of family, both within her fiction and in her life as a writer: “Who I am in my family, and who my family is to me on a very minute-by-minute, day-to-day basis, affects every single aspect of my writing.”​ Listen in to hear more of de los Santos’s story with the Craft spring intern, Tyler Clementi.

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Kanon Brings Questions, Not Answers, In Visit to Columbus


Tyler Clementi

Some writers claim to have all the answers. Joseph Kanon isn’t one of those writers. The NYT bestselling author is bringing more questions than answers with him to Columbus when he visits Thurber House Evenings with Authors on Thursday, March 12.

In his career thus far, Kanon has focused on the period shortly following the end of World War II. He explains the period as “an endlessly dramatic” time because of WWII’s significant place in western history.

More than just important or dramatic, Kanon characterizes WWII as “the real hinge of the [twentieth] century.”

Kanon’s newest novel, Leaving Berlin, explores Soviet-occupied East Germany in 1948. “This is a society on its knees, and, consequently, lying is second nature. Survival is everything.” Within this scene, Kanon sees and creates situations of immense moral compromise.

Through the conflicts approached by his characters, Kanon poses difficult moral questions. “Where do you draw your own line? Where do you create your own personal morality?” Kanon finds the questions interesting, but necessarily offers no answers.

While his morally ambiguous writing has stayed within a fairly tight chronological window, Kanon has taken his fiction back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean.

The author recounts a recent visit to Berlin with his wife: “As we were walking along, I said, ‘Oh, this is the flat where Irene would’ve lived,’ and ‘This is the place where so-and-so worked.’”

Kanon’s wife looked to him and responded, “You know a lot of people here: it’s just that you’ve made them up.”

The story exemplifies Kanon’s interest in people within specific settings. “It’s important for me to really place people.” Understanding the places that characters encounter makes them real.

“I find that all of my books, in one way or another, begin with place.” Places that Kanon doesn’t know about are the ones that intrigue him. Places he understands are less interesting: “I live in New York. I have no intention of writing about it. In a sense, I know about it.”

On March 12, Kanon brings his morally intriguing fiction to a new and mysterious location when he’s a featured author at the Thurber House Evenings with Authors.

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