Jessica Knoll: working through anger

Jessica Knoll

Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive was the best-selling debut of 2015 and was optioned for a movie by Reese Witherspoon. Knoll recently wrote an article “What I Know“ about some of the experience-based events of Luckiest Girl Alive. Join us for a discussion of the book and how it helped her deal with her past.


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John Hegenberger at the Ohioana Book Festival


Click above for YouTube video of our interview

From science fiction to hard-boiled detectives to westerns, Ohio author John Hegenberger has written them all. We met at the 2016 Ohioana Book Festival and talked about his novels, why he never gets writers’ block, and the best way to get things into space (hint: it’s not a rocket). Also, why a horse causes headaches for a writer.

You can see John in person at these upcoming dates:

  • Barnes and Noble Pickerington, May 28
  • Cinevent (at the Renaissance Hotel), June 4
  • The Book Loft, June 5

His latest book, Iceslinger, is available on Amazon.

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Larry Smith’s six words for Columbus


What are you doing May 19?
You could go to this show.
It is at the Wexner Center.
It features performers describing their lives.
They all wrote six word memoirs.
Larry Smith hosts; we talked recently
Six word memoirs are surprisingly hard.

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Peter Mulvey: Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Sheboygan and Columbus

Peter MulveyPlaying over 100 dates every year, singer-songwriter Peter Mulvey travels almost constantly. Before his May 13 appearance with Six String Concert series he will play in Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Sheboygan, WI. What keeps him on the road and wanting to perform in front of crowds?

“Music is a mysterious thing. I’ve been doing it 100-120 nights a year and it remains mysterious. My favorite thing about music is that it happens in the air and that it is intangible,” Mulvey told me during our talk.

Equally mysterious is the creative process and the surprising ways that music gets produced. Take his latest recording session, which Mulvey describes as working with “a creative madman” who challenged Mulvey at every turn. It was “immensely stressful” but in the end produced great results for Mulvey. Listen in to hear how this seemingly mutually exclusive dynamic worked.

Bonus video footage! Check out the YouTube channel.



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Honey and Blue: which is honey and which is blue?

Honey and Blue

I smell of cologne
Can he smell my mistake?
My heart screams for more
But my head’s to blame

-Stranger In Your Arms by Honey and Blue

Honey and Blue, made up of Stephanie Amber and Adam Darling, is a rising local band. I talked with them earlier this year about their music, their songwriting, and how their background consciously (and unconsciously) influences them. Check out their YouTube channel and catch them in town at Natalie’s Coal Fired Grill.


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Laura Lippman: writing about her hometown with fact and fiction

Laura Lippman

Laura Lippman is the author of six New York Times bestselling novels and an award-winning short story anthology, and the creator of the Private Investigator Tess Monaghan series. Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, before turning to novel writing full time. Her most recent book is Wilde Lake, released on May 3, 2016. She will a featured author at the Thurber House on May 4.

Listen in for our discussion of Wilde Lake, how Laura writes about her hometown, and what it’s like to have a novel adapted for a movie.

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Jill Bialosky: The Players in our lives

Jill Bialosky

-Andy Ross

Home-runs and stadium chants do not typically fill the pages of a poetry collection, but then again, Jill Bialosky is not your typical poet. The Ohio native’s latest collection, The Players, uses the baseball diamond as a landscape for thoughts on motherhood, gender roles, and the legacies of family. Jill Bialosky will be a featured guest at the Ohioana Book Festival on Saturday April 23rd. Check out the full interview for information about The Players, the Ohioana Book Festival, and more.

The Players, released in early 2015, is Bialosky’s fourth poetry collection. The first section, “Manhood,” finds itself in the middle of a baseball field. Chanting fans and baseball jargon frame the narrative of family relationships. The title itself is a bit of a play on words; it refers to the players on a team, as well as the central characters of a family dynamic.

“The Players is very much about the legacy of generations. It explores the nature of attachment within these generations,” Bialosky said. “I also see it very much of a story on motherhood. So the players are really the players in our lives.”

Bialosky saw the impact of the sport on her family firsthand. Her son played baseball competitively throughout his childhood and was recruited to play at the college level. A self-described “baseball mother,” Bialosky saw the sport as much more than a game.

“I really came to appreciate the game in a way I had never appreciated before,” Bialosky said. “The skill, concentration, and commitment involved is, in some ways, very similar to the art of writing poetry.”

And while much of the collection uses baseball to carry its message, the collection does have three distinct movements: “Manhood,” “Interlude,” and “The Players.” The middle section, “Interlude,” forgoes the focus on direct family relationships in favor of one of Bialosky’s more personal passions: literature.

“There are three poems in that section and they really deal with my love of literature,” Bialosky continued. “I was using that interlude as a way of writing about how the characters in novels can become players in our own lives.”

Also released in 2015 is The Prize, the most recent of three novels by Bialosky. Set in the bustling New York City arts scene, it intersects passion with commerce.

“In The Players, I use the baseball diamond as a way of reflecting on relationships,” Bialosky said. “In The Prize, I’ve chosen the fascinating world of how art is made and sold.”

Catch Jill Bialosky at Ohioana Book Festival on Saturday, April 23rd, where you can talk to her about her four poetry collections, three novels, and a memoir: History of a Suicide.

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John Scalzi: how to stay employed as a writer

John Scalzi

-Andy Ross

Writer John Scalzi is an Ohio resident and the author of several award-winning science fiction novels. He also runs a popular blog, Whatever. Scalzi was the recipient of the 2016 Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio. Scalzi will be at the Ohioana Book Festival on Saturday April 23rd. Listen to my conversation with John Scalzi for his thoughts on genres old and new.

Scalzi stays busy with writing and his newest contract reflects that. “I recently signed a multi-book deal with Tor Books, which on one hand is very nice because it’s 13 books over ten years so I know what I’m going to be doing for the next decade,” Scalzi continued, “but the other side of that is it’s 13 books over ten years and that’s a lot of writing.”

One of his upcoming projects falls under the Young Adult banner, a new genre for the writer. “One of the things I really believe is true for writers is that you should always be trying new things and you should always be pushing yourself,” Scalzi said.

Though writing is a craft, Scalzi emphasizes the need for a business mentality when pursuing a career as a writer. He likens the career to running a small business. This played an especially crucial role when first delving into Young Adult fiction. He did ample research on the specifics of the younger audience. “Part of running a small business is making sure you understand the landscape of the business that you’re doing: where the market is now, where the market is going, what has worked, and what hasn’t worked,” Scalzi said.

Scalzi may be new to Young Adult fiction, but his other writing has garnered significant praise. His novel, Redshirts, won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2013. Scalzi was also the recipient of the 2016 Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio.

““I really wasn’t expecting anything for two reasons: (1) if you look historically at the people who have won the Governor’s Award in the Arts haven’t been writers by and large and, of course, (2)  I am a genre writer,” Scalzi said.

Here he is mainly referring to the difficulty of genre writers, such as those who write science fiction, mystery, or romance, for breaking through and gaining mainstream critical praise. Scalzi’s work was, of course, able to break those barriers.

John Scalzi will be a featured guest at the Ohioana Book Festival on Saturday, April 23rd at the Columbus Sheraton Hotel.

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Dara Naraghi and Brent Bowman: creators of Persia Blues

PersiaBlues2-Andy Ross

This past December, local graphic artists Dara Naraghi and Brent Bowman released Persia Blues Volume 2: Love and War on independent publisher NBM. The story interweaves ancient Persian mythology with the story of young Minoo Shirazi coming to The Ohio State University for graduate school. I spoke with Naraghi and Bowman for Craft on WCBE.

Andy Ross: Tell me a little about your collaborative process. How did you two initially become connected?

Dara Naraghi: We both were in a group called Panel. It’s kind of a loose collective of writers and artists. That’s where we originally met over ten years ago. Everybody [in Panel] had their own projects that they worked on, but we would also collaborate with each other and publish little comic anthologies twice a year. For the most part, every member of the group had worked with somebody else, except for the two of us. We never really did anything together. I knew his artwork, so when I came up with the idea for the book I thought of him.

AR: You talked about Panel. Do you think Columbus is conducive to graphic novelists and comic book artists?

Brent Bowman: Definitely. Columbus has a great arts scene in general, but there’s a really big comics community here.

AR: Dara, you’ve said that Persia Blues is your most personal work yet. Are there any elements that were drawn directly from your own experiences?

DN: I wouldn’t say directly, but a lot of them are composites of either my experiences with my parents, my cousins, or friends that I know. A lot of the themes are things that either I’ve experienced personally or just in general. It’s a common experience for Iranian Americans.

AR: How fully realized was your idea for the whole trilogy going into that first book and has it changed at all since that time?

DN: It definitely has changed.

BB: The middle part is always the hardest. You’ve got the beginning and the end, but you have to get there somehow and still make it interesting.

AR: Any word on Volume 3 yet?

DN: The idea is to finish it this year. It will probably go on sale in early 2017.

Persia Blues Volume 2: Love and War is now available in bookstores or online at Listen to the full interview on WCBE (90.3) Wednesday, March 16th at 8pm.

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Tracy Chevalier: at the edge of the orchard and history

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 9.15.49 AM

It’s not often that trees, orchards, and apples find themselves at the center of a conflict, but that is exactly the case with Tracy Chevalier’s newest novel, At the Edge of the Orchard. The book follows the saga of the Goodenough family in 19th century America from a northwest Ohio orchard to Gold Rush Era California. Chevalier will read and discuss her novel at the Thurber House on Monday, March 21st.

Chevalier regularly places historical figures into her fiction pieces, believing that it adds a new and believable element to her stories. “I like to have them in the book because it provides a kind of verisimilitude to everything around them,” Chevalier said during our discussion. At the Edge of the Orchard includes characters inspired by real people like Johnny Appleseed and William Lobb.

Appleseed, escaping from children’s songs, is more of an actual human being instead of a mythical character. Chevalier keeps his strange clothing and vegetarianism, but her Appleseed is a sharp businessman. Similarly with Lobb, an English naturalist and botanist, who spent time in California in the 19th century and collected and sent saplings to an English nursery that focused on exotic plants and trees.

“He anchors the California section because he really did exist,” Chevalier said of Lobb, “There are a lot of things about him and what he did that I could really draw upon and weave into the more fictional elements of the story and give them some veracity and authority.”

Just as historical figures can add weight to a story, Chevalier believes in truly knowing her settings. In writing the book, Chevalier traveled to Calaveras Grove in California to put herself in the same landscape the Goodenough family would have experienced. Calaveras Grove is the home of giant sequoias, the incredibly wide trees whose 30-foot diameter trunks are famously hollowed out to allow cars to pass underneath. Chevalier found herself marveled at the smaller, more intimate details that could only be picked up on if actually present in the grove. From observing the ways people looked at the trees to the decades-old piles of pine needles, Chevalier captured the essence of what it’s like to experience a location in person.

“I like to actually be [at my settings],” Chevalier continued, “It’s the difference between seeing a painting online and actually being in the room with it.”

Tracy Chevalier is the author of eight novels, including Girl With a Pearl Earring, which was an international bestseller and adapted into a major motion picture. Her newest novel, At the Edge of the Orchard, is now available in bookstores.

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