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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Ellis Paul on crowdfunding and canoodling

Ellis PaulEllis Paul, who will perform on March 6 with Six String Concerts, knows how to get people to pay for his art.
Over 600 donors crowdfunded his most recent release Chasing Beauty to the tune of over $100,000, echoing the process he’s used for his last two albums.
All this crowdfunding and his interest in working in other media have changed him: “My social life was a lot different in the early days…There’s less drinking, less partying, less canoodling with people I barely know.”
Listen in to hear more about Ellis Paul with the Craft spring intern, Tyler C.

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Jennifer Chiaverini tells the strange tale of the wife of Ulysses S. Grant

chiaveriniNYT bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini, will visit Columbus’s Book Loft on March 9 for a reading and book signing, featuring her latest novel, Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule. This historical fiction re-imagines the relationship between Julia Grant, wife of Union general Ulysses S. Grant, and her slave, Madame Jule. Listen in to discover how Chiaverini created her characters and the odd relationship of US Grant to his in-laws.

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Apotheosis Sin Jones on taking chances

Apotheosis Sin Jones used to be a lawyer, until he decided that he wanted a job he didn’t hate. So now, he’s an artist and he has advice for anyone who wants to follow a dream:

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Irene Kelley: From Led Zeppelin to Dolly Parton

From her website

Irene Kelley

Singer-songwriter Irene Kelley has been singing and writing songs since her 1983 debut “Pennsylvania Is My Home.” Her latest album, the all-bluegrass “Pennsylvania Coal” was released in 2014. She’ll be appearing in Columbus with Six String Concerts on February 13.

Our talk ranged from how she writes and co-writes songs to how she got fired from her first singing gig.

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Checking in with Craft guest Brad Henry

From time to time, past Craft guests let me know what their current projects are. In this vein, I suggest that you check out Brad Henry’s latest project: the transfigure8 project, “an advanced technological mobile application… designed specifically for anyone who is interested in learning about transgender and gender non-conforming topics.”

They’re also seeking funding, so consider donating to help the project along. Good luck, Brad.

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Comic Con 2014 with Victor Dandridge

Victor Dandridge Columbus Wizard World 2014Victor Dandridge likes pixels. A lot. He has to when his medium involves building 8-bit characters based on old video games. But he has a surprise announcement during our talk about what he’ll be doing this year.

Check out our talk and Victor Dandridge’s art!

Also, check out Victor’s company Vantage:Inhouse Productions.

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