The B&N Podcast

By Barnes & Noble

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Description

Every author has a story beyond the one that they put down on paper. The Barnes & Noble Podcast goes between the lines with today's most interesting writers, exploring what inspires them, what confounds them, and what they were thinking when they wrote the books we’re talking about. Subscribe to discover intriguing new conversations every week.

Episode Date
Alexander Chee
45:29

How does a young person take the raw material of their life experiences — painful, funny, exhilarating, confusing — and make them into lasting art? The writer Alexander Chee drew deeply on his own childhood experiences in his riveting debut novel Edinburgh — and then turned to his fascination with masks, artifice and reinvention for his second work, the historical epic The Queen of the Night.  Along the way he's made his mark as a master of the personal essay, and his new collection How to Write an Autobiographical Novel takes us with him on wonderful brief journeys — into a young man's experience of drag, into the homes of the rich and famous, and into confrontations with the most painful aspects of memory.  In this episode, Alexander Chee joins us for an in-depth conversation about those journeys and where he finds himself now.

Jun 13, 2018
Marcia Gay Harden
48:24

The Academy Award-winning actor Marcia Gay Harden has created indelible characters for the stage (Angels in America, God of Carnage) and screen (Pollock, Miller's Crossing, Mystic River). On this week's episode she talks with us about her lyrical and multifaceted new book, The Seasons of My Mother: A Memoir of Love, Family and Flowers. In it, she combines a poignant tribute to her mother's creative genius with a thought-provoking investigation into Alzheimer's disease, and reflects on the role memory plays in a big question: how, exactly, do we know who we are?

Jun 08, 2018
James Patterson on The President is Missing
26:20

When James Patterson sets out to write a thriller, he doesn’t take half measures.  With his latest novel, The President is Missing, the creator of Alex Cross, the Women’s Murder Club, and countless page-turners proves once again that nobody knows more about how to keep readers’ pulses racing.  But for this project, he couldn’t go it alone: he needed the kind of inside knowledge only his co-author, former President Bill Clinton, could provide.  In this special episode of the B&N Podcast, recorded on the eve of publication, James Patterson sits down with B&N’s James Mustich to talk about how he and President Clinton collaborated, and the very serious message he hopes readers will take away once the thrill ride is over.

Jun 05, 2018
Rumaan Alam
39:46
Rumaan Alam's new novel That Kind of Mother is a story about the making of a family in the wake of a loss, one that that upends comfortable ideas about our responsibility to each other, and raises issues about race and class in America that couldn't be more timely.  The author joins Miwa Messer on this episode to talk about how writing the story of an uneasily blended family is a way of writing about nothing less than America.
May 30, 2018
Mark Bittman
46:19

Journalist, author, environmental and nutrition advocate — none of these labels adequately captures the impact of Mark Bittman's career across 21 books, countless articles and his work on multiple television series.  The author of the now-classic guide How to Cook Everything and award-winning Food Matters has become one of the voices we turn to to help us make sense of the sometimes bewildering choices that face us in the store, in the restaurant, or in the kitchen.  And now, over an open flame:  his latest is the eye-poppingly illustrated and backyard-barbecue inspiring new book How to Grill Everything.  He joined us in the studio, to talk about the art of the grill — and how he developed his unique approach to writing about food.

May 25, 2018
Jon Meacham
42:43

Historian, journalist, editor and biographer Jon Meacham has never shied away from challenging subjects.  American Lion, his study of the presidency of Andrew Jackson, captured one of America's most controversial and consequential figures for the 21st century, and brought its author the Pulitzer Prize.  He joins us on this episode to talk about The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels, a study of the urgent moments, from Reconstruction through early 20th century battles over immigration, McCarthyism, racism and equal rights, that have tested the national character — and give us, he writes, an opportunity to better understand what we can be in the here and now. 

May 23, 2018
John Scalzi
37:22

For a writer who has spent so many books imagining the future, for the novelist John Scalzi there’s no time like the present.  The award-winning author of the celebrated Old Man’s War series joins B&N’s Jim Killen to talk about his new book Head On, which returns readers to the near-future America of his novel Lock In, which introduced FBI agent Chris Shayne and the fascinating world of the Haydens.  In this episode, John Scalzi talks about the ideas behind his latest novel, as well as his influences, his childhood, and why right now may be the greatest time yet to be a fan of science fiction.

May 16, 2018
Paula McLain
38:52

Paula McLain’s luminous bestseller The Paris Wife swept readers away into Jazz Age Paris, as imagined through the eyes of Hadley Richardson, whose marriage to Ernest Hemingway buckled under the pressure of fame and infidelity.  McLain didn’t expect to return to Hemingway’s life for another story — but in the great journalist Martha Gellhorn, whose volatile and passionate relationship with Hemingway became the stuff of literary legend, she found a character she couldn’t resist.  McLain joins B&N’s Miwa Messer to talk about the exclusive B&N edition of her captivating new novel Love and Ruin.

May 11, 2018
Christopher Moore
50:30

As a reviewer once memorably said of the comic novelist Christopher Moore, "Less may be more, but it isn’t Moore."  From the supernatural hijinks of books like Practical Demonkeeping to his upside-down takes on the likes of Shakespeare (Fool) or the Bible (Lamb) , Moore's combination of sly wit, literary remixing and Looney-Tunes action mean that his bestselling works of fiction are crammed with delights.  His new novel, Noir takes readers to a version of 1940s San Francisco in true Christopher Moore style.  The author joins us to talk about his latest book, and why he took up writing to prove an editor wrong.

May 09, 2018
Christine Lahti
30:11

The Academy Award winning actor Christine Lahti has captivated audiences in films like Swing Shift, in Broadway plays such as The Heidi Chronicles and God of Carnage, and in her Emmy-winning turn as Dr. Kathryn Austin on the CBS drama Chicago Hope. Her new book True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness: A Feminist Coming of Age -- which began as a set of staged monologues taken from episodes in her life -- resists the usual form of the performer's memoir to instead deliver a constellation of reflections that map her journey as a woman and an actress that couldn't be more timely. She sat down in our studio with B&N's Amanda Cecil to talk about what she wanted to accomplish with this unconventional new book.

May 04, 2018
Michelle Dean
40:48

Award-winning critic and journalist Michelle Dean's new book Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion is a group portrait of a set of nonfiction writers from Dorothy Parker and Mary McCarthy to Joan Didion and Nora Ephron — who Dean finds connected by the way each made powerful intelligence and a rapier wit a calling card. Dean joins us in the podcast studio to talk about how these women turned argument into art — and why we should learn from their razor-edged example.

May 02, 2018
Brent Gleeson
38:57

After serving on a Navy SEAL team deployed in Iraq and other global conflicts, decorated veteran Brent Gleeson returned to civilian life as an entrepreneur and businessman with a passion for great management.  In his new book Taking Point, Gleeson brings insights that emerged from his experience in the unpredictable, high-pressure crucible of modern combat to business leaders facing the challenges of a rapidly transforming marketplace.  In this episode, Gleeson joins Jim Mustich to talk about how his service still informs the work he loves.

Apr 27, 2018
Sloane Crosley
46:17

With her keenly observed, winningly self-aware forays into the adventure of the everyday, Sloane Crosley makes her essays the voice of an ideal friend on a long journey – thoughtful, charming, and ready to turn any misfortune into a hilarious and beloved memory. Readers first discovered Crosley's irresistible voice in her bestselling collections I Was Told There Would Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number.  She joined us recently to talk about her new book, Look Alive Out There, which pits her razor wit against everything from nightmarish neighbors to family secrets to a trip up an Andean volcano that ends in a fiasco.  Our conversation began with a classic question: can you judge a book by its cover?

Apr 25, 2018
Leslie Odom, Jr.
39:19

If Americans in the 21st century know about the role Aaron Burr played in the founding of our country, it's likely that it's because of the electrifying performance by Leslie Odom, Jr. in the Broadway smash Hamilton.  Now, the multi-talented actor and singer draws on his own fascinating life and career in his new book for younger readers, Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning.  He joins us on the podcast to talk about his commitment to mentoring students and young performers, his own struggles with uncertainty, and his belief that in order to stand, you've got to be ready to fall.

Apr 20, 2018
Lisa Scottoline
36:23

For Lisa Scottoline, writing — whether in her Rosato & DiNunzio series of legal thrillers, her standalone works of suspense, or the humor columns she co-authors with her daughter Francesca Serritella —is personal, and the courtroom cases behind her bestsellers are all deeply rooted, she says, in her experiences or the issues she’s come to care about.  On this episode, the author sat down with us to talk about her new novel After Anna, in which a shocking case of abuse and murder gives way to a mystery that gets at deep questions about love and identity.  And, true to form for Scottoline’s work, there’s a twist: Francesca Serritella also joins us for some real talk about what it’s like to co-write with her mom.  

Apr 18, 2018
Michio Kaku
30:41

Human colonies on Mars, laser beams shooting digital copies of ourselves into space, and freezing your age at thirty: does it sound like fantasy?  Not at all, says the physicist and author Dr. Michio Kaku. The co-founder of string field theory joins Jim Mustich in the studio, to talk about his new book The Future of Humanity, why he's an optimist about the world of tomorrow, and what you should do if you're abducted by an alien.

Apr 13, 2018
Sean Penn
25:53

The Academy Award-winning actor and director Sean Penn has in his long film career brought to the big screen figures from bestselling books like Mystic River and Into the Wild.  Now, with his debut novel Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff, Penn offers a darkly comic vision of  21st-century America for readers.  When septic tank salesman Bob travels to Iraq in search of Bagdad waste-management business, he's kidnapped and recruited into a bizarre and lethal international scheme.  On this episode of the podcast, Sean Penn sits down in our studio with Bill Goldstein to talk about the making of a book with flavors of Vonnegut, Pynchon, and the high-wire work of David Foster Wallace.  

Apr 11, 2018
Meg Wolitzer — The Barnes & Noble Book Club
35:41

The Barnes & Noble Book Club launches this week with its inaugural pick, and we couldn't be more excited. Meg Wolitzer, the bestselling author of The Interestings and the razor-sharp contemporary classic The Wife (soon to be a major motion picture starring Glenn Close) joins us to talk about The Female Persuasion, the story of how an ambitious young woman’s life is transformed when she is taken under the wing of a famous feminist. In this episode, Meg Wolitzer joins Miwa Messer to talk about her wide-ranging career and her timely, engrossing new novel.

Apr 02, 2018
Uzodinma Iweala
33:44

When Uzodinma Iweala’s first novel Beasts of No Nation was first published, readers were astonished to discover such a powerful rendering of the world of a West African child soldier could come from a writer making his debut. He followed with Our Kind of People, an equally unpredictable nonfiction work about the global AIDS crisis. Now, Uzodinma Iweala has returned to fiction with the story of a Nigerian-American teen who takes a friend into confidence — setting off life-changing consequences for them both. Speak No Evil is being called one of the must-reads of 2018; in this episode, the author talks with Miwa Messer about this shattering new tale.

Mar 30, 2018
A.J. Finn
29:53

With his bestselling novel The Woman in the Window, author A.J. Finn proved that our appetite for twisty works of psychological suspense is boundless.  This week on the podcast, he joins Miwa Messer to talk about the joy he took writing a work which begins with “four walls and this woman” — and about the day his main character walked into his imagination.  

Mar 28, 2018
Ernest Cline
25:24

What happens when you turn your childhood obsessions with science fiction, fantasy and video games into a novel that contains them — and then that story itself becomes a touchstone for a new generation of fans?  That's what happened with Ernest Cline and Ready Player One, the bestselling story of a lone gamer in a dystopian future who has to use his knowledge of 80s pop culture to defeat an evil corporation — in both the virtual and real worlds. In this episode, recorded live at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con, Cline talks with B&N’s Joel Cunningham about his novel and his excitement to see it turned into a film by Steven Speilberg.

Mar 23, 2018
Hoda Kotb
24:59

The television journalist Hoda Kotb is not only familiar to millions of viewers who join her every morning as the anchor of The Today Show, but she’s also the author of multiple bestselling books, including Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer, and Kathie Lee and Ten Years Later: Six People Who Faced Adversity and Transformed Their Lives.  But her new book I’ve Loved You Since Forever is a departure, a children’s book celebrating the arrival of her daughter Haley Joy. Not only has it become a publishing sensation, it's been adapted as a song by The Voice’s Kelly Clarkson.  In this episode, Hoda Kotb sits down with Jim Mustich to talk about becoming a mother the inspiration for her new book.

Mar 21, 2018
Roma Downey
36:19

With her role as a heavenly creature on the long-running television drama Touched by an Angel, the actor Roma Downey became an icon to fans, and she became a Hollywood power as the co-producer of the hit miniseries The Bible.  With her new book Box of Butterflies, Downey opens up about her childhood in Northern Ireland, her early losses of both her beloved parents, and the joy of her close relationship with costar Della Reese.  She joined us in the studio to talk about how she finds inspiration in life’s struggles.

Mar 16, 2018
Brad Meltzer
34:54

When you read a Brad Meltzer novel, the author tells us, he's not looking to give readers a passive experience.  The author of twelve bestselling thrillers is playing a game with you, and he’s going to give you just enough clues to make sure you know he’s playing fair.  But make no mistake: he’s playing to win.  Brad Meltzer joins us on this episode to talk about Houdini, history, misdirection, the hero who inspired his latest, The Escape Artist — and, yes, his award-winning work in the world of comics, too.

Mar 14, 2018
Kristin Hannah
29:44

In Kristin Hannah's 2015  bestseller The Nightingale — set in WWII France — her narrator tells us "In love we find out who we want to be: in war we find out who we are."  With her latest novel The Great Alone, Hannah's characters come to a similar awareness — not via the crucible of combat, but the challenge of making a life "off the grid" in a homesteading community in the Alaskan wilderness.  In this episode of the podcast, the author talks about her long family connection to Alaska, and why its grandeur  made the right backdrop for a story about survival of perils close to home.

Mar 09, 2018
Tara Westover
25:29
In her riveting memoir Educated, Tara Westover describes her childhood on an Idaho mountainside, in a family in which “home-schooling” meant no lessons, but determined isolation from the modern world Tara’s parents turned away from.  The author — who left that insular life behind to earn her PhD in History at Cambridge — joins Miwa Messer on this episode of the podcast to talk about her improbably journey, and what she’s learned along the way.
Mar 07, 2018
Steven Pinker
30:25

Harvard psychology professor and award-winning author Steven Pinker has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine, and his specialty is books that challenge our preconceptions about human nature and human history.  On this episode, the author of The Language Instinct and The Blank Slate joins Jim Mustich to talk about his new book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, and how the advances of the 18th century are still powerfully at work in the 21st.

Mar 02, 2018
Robert Harris
32:17

The novelist Robert Harris has made a specialty out of flash points in history: the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius in ancient Rome, the cracking of the WWII Enigma code, or intrigue surrounding the Dreyfus Affair in 19th-century France.  In his latest thriller, Munich, Harris turns to the infamous 1938 meeting between Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler.  Spinning a tale of brooding suspense around the true story of those four days in September, Harris offers a dramatic and thought-provoking new perspective on Chamberlain’s “appeasement” of the Nazi regime.  In this episode, Robert Harris talks about the strange alchemy required to turn a historical moment into page-turning thrills.

Feb 28, 2018
Steve Coll
49:58

The seemingly endless war in Afghanistan is both a recurrent headline and a perpetual mystery: the longer America's shadowy conflict with the Taliban drags out, the less we understand about who and why we're fighting.  Fortunately for us, journalist and author Steve Coll's deep reporting – which earned him a Pulitzer Prize for his 2004 book Ghost Wars – brings readers vital understanding about this monumental but mysterious struggle.  He joined us in the studio to talk about his bestselling new book Directorate S: The CIA and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001-2016, and what its revelations tell us about a war we usually glimpse only in fragments.

Feb 23, 2018
Laura Lippman
49:25

Laura Lippman's new novel Sunburn begins with the arrival in a Delaware town – the kind of town most people pass through on their way to the beach without even noticing – of a woman who's definitely going to be noticed. But for all it's film noir atmosphere and slow-kindling unease, in this story of ill-starred lovers, readers of the author's addictive and unique works of mystery and suspense will find all the hallmarks of a Lippman classic: a precise sense of place, a love for certain aspects of the past, and a wry, captivating voice. The author joins us on the podcast to talk about Sunburn, and how the work of James M. Cain inspired this intoxicating tale.

Feb 21, 2018
Reginald Hudlin
29:07

In 2005 writer, director and producer Reginald Hudlin added comic book author to his resume, picking up the mantle of the first black superhero, the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby creation Black Panther.  Hudlin's run writing one of Marvel’s most iconic characters deepened and expanded the world of T’Challa’s family and kingship, and the history of his nation, Wakanda.  This week, as moviegoers everywhere flock to see Black Panther make the leap from page to screen, B&N’s comics expert James Killen talks with Reginald Hudlin about his part in the history of the hottest character in comics.

Feb 15, 2018
Morgan Jerkins
31:46

With her bracing, witty, and incisive reflections on her experience as a young black woman in 21st-century America, Morgan Jerkins has arrived as one of the essential voices of our moment, discussing racism, sexism, and the paradoxes that she encounters in her career as a writer and editor.  She joins Miwa Messer in the studio for an animated chat about her bestselling new collection This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America.

Feb 14, 2018
Melissa Albert
34:29

It's been more than 200 years since the Grimm Brothers first defined the "fairy tale" as we now know it, but its atmosphere of enchantment, peril, hunger, desire and transformation still fascinates.  In her bestselling debut novel The Hazel Wood, YA author Melissa Albert deploys humor, thriller-level excitement, and a head full of bewitching tales to fashion a coming-of-age story for the haunted teenager inside us all.  She joins Bill Tipper on this episode to talk about her love of the uncanny and the strange adventure of 17-year-old Alice Proserpine. More details at BN.com.

Feb 09, 2018
Tayari Jones
27:48

An American Marriage is Tayari Jones's extraordinary fourth novel, a page-turning love story with a powerful political undercurrent. It's as much a novel about family and race, expectation and desire, loneliness and loyalty as it is a story about how readily the American Dream can be derailed on the basis of skin color.  The writer of one of the season's most talked-about new books joins Miwa Messer in the studio to talk about writing a story that's page-turning and thought-provoking in equal measure.

Feb 05, 2018
James Dashner
29:01

As readers we love to get lost in stories -- but as fans, we've become addicted to "world building" -- the excitement of exploring the terrain of a magical continent or alternate future.  In this episode of the podcast, James Dashner, author of the Maze Runner series, joins us as The Death Cure, the third of his books to be adapted for the screen, arrives in theaters.  He talks with us about his lifelong love of movies, and using fiction to wrestle with the questions that perennially trouble us.

Jan 31, 2018
Michael Wolff
28:33

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is the book of the week, the month, and most likely the year.  Its intimate look at the personalities of the administration makes for riveting reading -- and has fueled its own conflagration of debate and speculation across the political spectrum.  In this episode of the podcast, Michael Wolff sits down to talk with Jim Mustich about how he got his story -- and what he believes it tells us.

Jan 25, 2018
Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
22:30

Perhaps no social movement of the 21st century has had the impact of Black Lives Matter.  Born as an online outcry in 2013, it became a fully-fledged vehicle for nationwide protests that have called for for criminal justice reform and a reckoning with racism's continuing force.  In this episode, Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele join Miwa Messer in the studio to talk about their stirring new book When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir.

Jan 24, 2018
Daniel Pink
42:19

Ask almost anyone you know about how their mood changes during the course of the day, and you’ll get evidence that the way our minds and emotions respond to the clock is no small matter.  But to according bestselling author Daniel Pink, the power of "chronobiology" is like an iceberg — we see only the small piece of its monumental role in shaping our days, our careers and our lives.  He joins us in the studio to talk about his new book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.

Jan 17, 2018
Kelly Corrigan
40:33

The bestselling memoirist Kelly Corrigan joins us in this episode to talk about Tell Me More, her thought-provoking new book, built around twelve brief phrases – like "I Was Wrong" or "It's Like This" – that provide the essential lexicon for meaningful communication in our lives.  It's a meditation on life and meaning told through stories – funny, revealing, and in places raw with emotion – unfolded in a voice like that of a friend, sitting across from you at a table, telling you about her day in a way that invites you to talk about your own.

Jan 10, 2018
James Lee Burke
26:57

James Lee Burke’s literary triumph was long in coming — but once he introduced New Orleans detective Dave Robicheaux in the 1987 novel The Neon Rain, he quickly became both one of the most acclaimed American crime writers, and an irreplaceable chronicler of the Crescent City’s unique culture and history. His latest novel, titled simply Robicheaux, returns his beloved but battled-scarred hero to a murky world where business, politics and crime intersect. In this episode, James Lee Burke talks with Bill Tipper about his love of New Orleans and the long strange road to becoming an American classic.

Jan 03, 2018
Gretchen Rubin
26:06

Calendars change every twelve months, but resolutions  — and how to keep them —  are a perpetually urgent question.  And as we're just about to step into a brand new year, it’s the perfect time to share a conversation we recorded earlier this year with The Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin, about the hidden factors that influence how we keep (or break) promises to ourselves.  In this episode she talks with Bill Tipper about her new book The Four Tendencies, and how understanding your personality can be key to making resolutions that stick.

Dec 27, 2017
Katy Tur
36:02

In this episode, NBC news correspondent Katy Tur joins Jim Mustich to talk about her experience on the Trump campaign trail in 2016 — including her frequent role as a target of the future President’s taunts —   as chronicled in her recent book Unbelievable: My Front Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History.   She tells us about how as a foreign correspondent she “fell face first” into an unlikely job covering what would become one of the most astonishing, exhausting, and consequential events in American political history.

Dec 20, 2017
Cory Doctorow/Will Schwalbe
31:39

Authors are, without exception, readers, and behind every book there is... another book, and another. In this episode of the podcast, we're joined by two writers for conversations about the vital books and ideas that influence inform their own work. First, Cory Doctorow talks with B&N's Josh Perilo about his recent novel of an imagined near future, Walkaway, and the difference between a dystopia and a disaster. Then we hear from Will Schwalbe, talking with Miwa Messer, about the lifetime of reading behind his book Books for Living: Some Thoughts on Reading, Reflecting, and Embracing Life.

Dec 15, 2017
Debbie Macomber
29:34

When Debbie Macomber decided to become a novelist in the late 1970s, she rented a typewriter and worked away at a kitchen table while raising four children at the same time.  Four manuscripts and five years later, she sold her first romance — which would become the novel Heartsong — and started a career that would lead to a raft of bestsellers and over 200 million books in print, including the Cedar Cove and Rose Harbor novels, the knitting-themed series that began with The Shop on Blossom Street and many others.  On this episode, Debbie Macomber talks with Amanda Cecil about her special love for the holidays and her latest heartwarming story, Merry and Bright.

Dec 13, 2017
Kevin Young/Jeffrey Eugenides
01:00:56

Today we're bringing you a pair of conversations that are all about invention, and about the lies that reveal the truth.  First Kevin Young joins Bill Tipper for a conversation about America’s love affair with frauds and his new book Bunk: the Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts and Fake News.  Then, the Pulitzer-winning writer Jeffrey Eugenides walks with us through the stories in his new collection Fresh Complaint and reveals the places where fragments of his own experience took on strange new life in his fictional creations.

Dec 08, 2017
Isabel Allende
32:22

Ever since her sweeping family and political epic The House of the Spirits was published to acclaim in 1982, the Chilean-born writer Isabel Allende has been weaving the output of her apparently limitless imagination into stories that engage deeply with the struggles of ordinary people.  Allende is the author of internationally bestselling novels such as Of Love and Shadows, Eva Luna, and Daughter of Fortune, and in 1994 she published the acclaimed memoir Paula, which chronicled with heartbreaking candor the loss of her adult daughter.  This week, the author joined us in the studio to talk about her timely new novel In the Midst of Winter (and to tell us a bit about what it’s like to get a Presidential Medal of Freedom).

Dec 06, 2017
Andre Aciman/Amor Towles
41:27

In this episode, Miwa Messer interviews two novelists about the power of memory and imagination.  First, Andre Aciman joins us in the studio to talk about his elegant, atmospheric love story Call Me By Your Name – recently adapted as a critically acclaimed film by Luca Guadagnino – and the meeting point between his works of memoir and fiction.  Then she sits down with Amor Towles, author of the bestsellers Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow for a conversation about the art of making the past come to almost magical life.

Dec 01, 2017
Krysten Ritter/Jason Reynolds
45:31

In this episode of the podcast, we talk with two very different writers about how one kind of art can fuel another.  First, the actor and writer Krysten Ritter talks with our interviewer Josh Perilo about her psychological thriller Bonfire – whose main character shares some character traits with the detective Ritter plays on the Netflix series Jessica Jones.  Then, Miwa Messer is joined by the award-winning young adult author Jason Reynolds in a conversation about his new novel Long Way Down, and how Reynolds uses poetry to make a page-turning story sing.

Nov 29, 2017
Lee Child
32:25

For the creator of Jack Reacher, writing a thriller is an act of improvised discovery — a suitable method for the writer whose beloved hero has, through twenty-two books, chosen to surprise both readers and the bad guys he goes up against through his unpredictable, unstoppable life-in-the-moment.  On this episode, Lee Child talks about his new book The Midnight Line, how he went from the world of television to becoming one of the world's most widely read authors, and what makes a hero in the 21st century.

Nov 24, 2017
Massimo Bottura
23:17

Massimo Bottura is the chef and proprietor of the celebrated Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, a restaurant that was named the best in world in 2016 and highlighted in an episode of Netflix's Chef's Table series.  He joins Jim Mustich on this episode to talk about his new book Bread is Gold, and his ambitious globe-spanning efforts to bring a sense of social justice and environmental responsibility to the world of cooking.  

Nov 22, 2017
James Patterson
30:32

In 1976, a 29-year-old writer published a debut book called The Thomas Berryman Number that went on to capture the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. But James Patterson didn't quit his day job until two decades later — after he'd launched his series starring detective Alex Cross, and set out to work full time as the architect of the modern blockbuster.  More than 350 million books sold later, he's now indubitably one of the most widely read fiction writers on the globe, writing and co-writing a vast array of propulsive stories  — not only thrillers but middle-grade humor, dystopian fantasy, and even picture books for the youngest readers.  On the occasion of his new thriller The People vs. Alex Cross, James Patterson sat down with Bill Tipper to talk about where his astonishing career started.

Nov 17, 2017
Annie Leibovitz/The 2017 National Book Awards
42:41

In this episode we talk first with the world-renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz, about her new collection, Portraits: 2005-2016.   There is perhaps no photographer whose distinctive style is so familiar — but her latest collection, which takes in Barack Obama in the White House, the singer Rihanna in a romantic Havana setting, and Kim Kardashian and Kanye West in a homemade hall of mirrors — offers a catalog of surprises.  She spoke with us about the challenge of shaping the story of a decade out of these individual moments.  Later in the episode Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, joins us to celebrate a special day we’ve been waiting for— the arrival of the 2017 National Book Awards.  

Nov 15, 2017
Ta-Nehisi Coates
21:23

There may be no writer closer to the center of our national conversation about race, equality, justice, and how racism divides and disorders our society than Ta-Nehisi Coates.  His 2015 book Between the World and Me, an anatomy of the ongoing power of racism in America in the form of a letter to his teenage son, brought him global acclaim, a National Book Award for Nonfiction, and a Macarthur fellowship.  In this episode of the podcast, Ta-Nehisi Coates talks with Bill Tipper about his new book, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy.  Knitting together some of the most vital essays the author has published over the past decade —  including a profile of President Barack Obama,  a searing indictment of destruction of the black family via the justice system, and Coates's landmark "The Case for Reparations,” We Were Eight Years in Power takes readers along with Coates into a deep consideration of nothing less urgent than the fate of the nation.  

Nov 13, 2017
Lawrence O’Donnell
31:50

If you’re one of those people who thinks of 2016 as a uniquely tumultuous and unpredictable year in American politics, the writer and MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell would like to draw your attention to a presidential contest not quite half a century ago.  His new book Playing with Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics takes a dramatist’s approach to history, revisiting the year in which President Johnson declined to run again, assassins cut down two of the most iconic leaders of the moment, and fight for one party’s nomination pitted protestors against the police in an American metropolis.  The result, says the author, permanently altered the state of American politics.  In this episode, Lawrence talks with Bill Tipper about how he melded memoir and history to render a portrait of a year that he believes is still shaping our society.

Nov 08, 2017
John Hodgman
32:20

When you're talking with the writer and performer John Hodgman, it doesn't seem like any page, or chapter or volume, could contain his restlessly inventive mind.  It’s impossible to find a subject that Hodgman isn't curious about, eloquent about, or really funny about – sometimes all within the same sentence.  And a conversation with him is like being part of a piece of improv comedy in which you had better be on your toes if you want to keep up.  While you might know John Hodgman best from his appearances on The Daily Show or elsewhere on television and film, the former literary agent has his roots in books: he’s the author of three bestselling works of absolutely, hilariously not-true anti-facts, including The Areas of My Expertise, More Information than You Require, and That Is All.  He joins Bill Tipper on this episode to talk about his quite different new book, Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches.  He spoke about what it’s like setting aside the ”expert” character he's made so famous, to speak more directly — though with characteristic wit — about growing up, growing older and (could it be?) growing wiser.

Nov 03, 2017
Michael Connelly
27:44

If you’re one of the writer Michael Connelly’s friends — especially if you’re connected to the world of law enforcement — you might find yourself fielding requests for information at just about any time of day.  That’s because, as the creator of the dogged detective Harry Bosch explains, Connelly never knows when a research question will pop up.  Fortunately for readers, the award-winning, bestselling writer takes his training as a reporter and folds it into addictively propulsive and painstakingly detailed stories of crime and punishment.  On this episode, Bill Tipper caught up with Michael Connelly to talk about his new novel Two Kinds of Truth, in which the writer explores the human cost of the opioid epidemic, and Harry Bosch finds himself facing the sort of legal jeopardy he usually reserves for his quarry.

Nov 01, 2017
Scary Story
40:15

Think of one of the first times you encountered the pleasure of a truly spine-tingling story: the kind of book you felt uneasy about reading after dark, but it compelled you to keep turning pages in that way only scary fiction does. Maybe it was Stephen King, or Bram Stoker, or one of the legions of paperback horror-scribes of the 1980s. On this special pre-Halloween episode, we talk with authors about writing — and reading — the books that turn fear and dread into pleasure and (sometimes) enlightenment.  Sarah Schmidt, author of the chilling new novel See What I Have Done, tells Miwa Messer about her stay overnight in the house where Lizzie Borden’s family was murdered. And Benjamin Percy (The Dark Net) and Victor LaValle (The Changeling) talk about writing into darkness — and their early encounters with a certain clown in the sewer.  

Oct 27, 2017
Mohsin Hamid
28:58

"Everybody is a migrant," says the novelist Mohsin Hamid.  In this episode, Miwa Messer interviews the award-winning author of pathbreaking works of fiction like Moth SmokeThe Reluctant FundamentalistHow to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, and his celebrated new novel Exit West, which combines a modern love story, a quirky fable, and a wryly hopeful look at the possibilities for a world in which borders are not walls.  They begin the conversation with a lesson from Douglas Adams, about the secret of flying.

Oct 25, 2017
Walter Isaacson
39:10

Readers who had followed Walter Isaacson from his life of Benjamin Franklin to his record-setting biography Steve Jobs could already discern a pattern – a fascination with personalities who embody the spirit of irreverent and unpredictable creativity. Is it any wonder, then, that Walter Isaacson now delivers the sumptuously illustrated and provocatively structured Leonardo Da Vinci – a portrait of the Renaissance genius highlighting the childlike curiosity and wonder that may, according to his biographer, may be the key to Leonardo's bewitching works of art and invention. In this episode, he talks with Bill Tipper about what we can learn from this restless mind.

Oct 20, 2017
Ron Chernow
48:17

Ron Chernow had already written multiple award-winning biographies of figures like George Washington and J.P. Morgan when he decided to take up the life of the Founding Father least understood today. One bestselling book and one world-famous musical adaptation by Lin-Manuel Miranda later, the subject of his biography Alexander Hamilton has been reborn as the fascinating, dynamic figure whose career inspires schoolchildren and captivates millions.  What historian could be prouder?  But rather than sit on his Broadway laurels, the author has  returned with an epic-scale life of another American whose misunderstood genius transformed his country.  This week on the podcast, Ron Chernow talks with Bill Tipper about his sweeping new book, Grant (and — yes — about Hamilton, too).

Oct 18, 2017
Hannah Tinti
27:14

Sometimes inspiration arrives by accident.  As the novelist Hannah Tinti explains to Miwa Messer in this episode, that was particularly true in the case of the author’s second novel, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, a literary page-turner that follows her prize-winning 2008 bestseller The Good Thief.  Tinti joins us to talk about the unlikely circumstances that propelled her into the story of a parent whose good intentions clash with his life story  — and the strange New England ritual that introduced her to the book’s title character. 

Oct 13, 2017
Dan Brown
14:56

There’s no place better place to meet up with a voracious reader than in a bookstore, and if there’s one thing we learned from Dan Brown, it’s that he never stops reading.  So we decided to leave the studio and get out among the shelves at a nearby Manhattan Barnes & Noble, where we met up with the author whose breakout book — remember The Da Vinci Code? — took on the impossible task of making the most famous painting in the world seem even more mysterious and fascinating. In no particular order, Dan Brown talked with Bill Tipper about the following: Charles Darwin, modern art, musical inspiration, and Brown’s latest Robert Langdon thriller, Origin.  Spoiler alert: there are no spoilers.

Oct 11, 2017
Roxane Gay
27:32

Whether Roxane Gay is writing fiction or essays and memoir, it often seems as if there’s no territory she can’t make her own, turning her sharp insight and wry humor from feminism and gender politics and sex to literary criticism and television and movies and other points of pop culture.  The title of her acclaimed, bestselling essay collection, Bad Feminist, started as a joke for her  but soon became something of a badge of honor, and a touchstone for a generation of readers. In her work she uses candor to pull into the light of day a familiar but often repressed jumble of desires, insecurities, anxieties, fears, and feelings — the messy stuff of life that some might prefer to shove in a box under the bed.  She joined Miwa Messer on the podcast to talk about what drove her to write her first book-length memoir, Hunger.

Oct 06, 2017
Masha Gessen
38:28

Perhaps no writer is better suited to help us grapple with the tumultuous and unexpected recent history of Russia — a history that has enormous impact on the rest of the world — than the journalist and author Masha Gessen.  Her new book, The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia is a panoramic, magisterial, and even page-turning look at the end of one era and the beginning of another, and the effect of decades of trauma on a nation.  With her book just named a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award for Nonfiction, Masha Gessen joins Bill Tipper on the podcast for a deep dive into a society that many Americans are fascinated by — but which few of us understand.

Oct 04, 2017
Jenny Zhang
26:00

The short stories in Jenny Zhangs debut collection Sour Heart started out as separate tales, but soon the young author found herself in possession of the story of a community — told through  moments in the lives of Chinese-American children growing up in a New York City neighborhood.   Insightful and wry, ferocious and beautiful, these interlinking stories earned Sour Heart a spot in Barnes and Noble’s Discover Great New Writers program. In this episode, the author joins Miwa Messer to talk about her book, navigating family, and coming of age in America.

Sep 29, 2017
Claire Messud
28:25

Claire Messud may be best known to most readers as the author of the 2006 bestseller and Booker-prize nominated novel The Emperor's Children, a diamond-sharp satire of wealth, privilege, power and self-deception set just before and after the events of September 11th, 2001.  But her new novel the Burning Girl explores the haunted terrain of a lost childhood friendship and follows two young women into a confrontation with adulthood fraught with perils both familiar and enigmatic. This week, Claire Messud joins Bill Tipper to talk about her new book, and the stories we tell ourselves in order to explain the inexplicable.

Sep 27, 2017
Frank Miller
32:09

If you’ve read a comic book in the last 30 years—or even if you’ve only been to the movies—you've felt the impact of Frank Miller’s work. One of the most influential comics creators of his era, Miller’s work for DC and Marvel comics in the 1980s helped redefine superheroes, bringing a dark, often dystopian sensibility to beloved characters.  Nowhere was that more earthshaking than in 1986's The Dark Knight Returns, Miller's story of an aging Batman battling not just the Joker  but his own failing body, a corrupt government and a collapsing social order.  In this episode of the podcast, Miller talks with Joel Cunningham about his return to that grimly exciting Gotham with Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race.

Sep 22, 2017
Tom Perrotta
32:24

Tom Perrotta can be hard to pin down: in Election, he wickedly sent up American politics with a dark comedy of high school ambition; his treatment of suburban couples in 2004’s bestseller Little Children earned him a comparison to Chekhov in the New York Times.  And in 2011’s The Leftovers, he pushed the boundaries of realism and fantasy to create a haunting meditation on loss.  But his latest novel, Mrs. Fletcher, breaks new ground again, with the story of a middle-aged single mother who finds herself exploring a new identity – one in part defined by her sudden exposure to the world of internet pornography.  Simultaneously, the novel tracks Eve's son Brendan as he arrives at college, full of ideas and desires that have been influenced by the same online sources.  In this episode, the author talks with Bill Tipper about his eyes-wide-open confrontation with American sexuality in forms virtual and otherwise.

Sep 20, 2017
Celeste Ng
27:55

In the summer of 2014, Celeste Ng's debut novel Everything I Never Told You became a nationwide bestseller and was tagged on multiple best-of-the-year lists as the story of a teenage girl gone missing from her 1970s middle-class household became a container for a novel of big ideas about prejudice and privilege.

Now class, race, and motherhood take center stage in her new novel, Little Fires Everywhere.  The author sat down with Miwa Messer to talk about how she turned a tale of scandal in an affluent Midwestern suburb into a map of 21st-century American discontents.

Sep 13, 2017
Jesmyn Ward
20:28

Jesmyn Ward’s writing marries a devastating realism with a unique sensitivity to the long echoes of violence and trauma.  Her National Book Award-winning novel Salvage the Bones brought mythic resonance to the ordeal of a family from a town on the Mississippi Gulf Coast during the days just before and after the devastation of hurricane Katrina.  Her new novel Sing, Unburied, Sing nods to William Faulkner and Toni Morrison with a tale of addiction, imprisonment, love and struggle —  told by the living, the dying and by ghosts.  In this episode, Miwa Messer talks with Jesmyn Ward about her electric fiction.

Sep 07, 2017
Yaa Gyasi
16:45

Yaa Gyasi's moving novel Homegoing begins with the divergent fates of two half-sisters in 18th Century Ghana, and weaves in the stories of their descendants across eight generations and three hundred years of history.  In this episode of the podcast,  the author talks with Miwa Messer about how a visit to a slave-trading castle on the West African coast inspired her ambitious and critically acclaimed debut.

Sep 01, 2017
Jennifer Finney Boylan
30:34

The author of 15 works of fiction and nonfiction, Jennifer Finney Boylan may be known to most readers via her bestselling memoir She's Not There.   As she told Miwa Messer in this episode of the podcast, her new book Long Black Veil also draws on events from her life, but here Boylan weaves them into a droll, offbeat thriller in which the unexpected consequences of one night kick off a tale about secrets and lies, silence and truth, and the triumph of love and friendship.

Aug 30, 2017
Christina Baker Kline
17:54
Christina Baker Kline's fiction draws us with subtle and irresistible power into the lives and hearts of her characters, from the abandoned children of her bestselling novel Orphan Train to the enigmatic heroine of her latest book.  In this episode of the podcast, the author talks with Miwa Messer about A Piece of the World, in which she investigates and re-imagines the story behind Andrew Wyeth’s iconic and yearning painting "Christina's World.”
Aug 25, 2017
Sherman Alexie
25:31

"The primal need for stories is the most important thing in anybody’s life… we’re all still children being read to.”  Over an astonishing 26 books in 25 years, Sherman Alexie has devoted himself to what he calls the “sacred” task of telling the truth through stories.  In this episode of the podcast, Miwa Messer talks with Alexie about his new memoir You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, a viscerally funny, tragic, and honest rendering of the author's childhood, his mother Lillian’s life, and the way her outsized persona shaped the storytelling wizard her son would become.

Aug 22, 2017
Dennis Lehane
23:20

Sitting down to talk with the writer Dennis Lehane, one of the biggest challenges is how not to stumble into spoilers. The author of novels like Mystic River and Shutter Island is dedicated to the art of keeping his reader off balance, as his complex and frequently troubled characters are brought to face uncomfortable and sometimes terrifying truths: the result is a kind of suspense that far outstrips the machinations of an ordinary thriller. On this episode of the podcast, Miwa Messer sits down with Dennis Lehane to talk – spoiler-free! – about latest novel, Since We Fell, and his career writing heart-stopping fiction. 

Aug 17, 2017
Jo Nesbo
23:18

For many writers, the word “vampire” conjures visions of immortal beings of vast powers and romantic destinies.  For Jo Nesbo, it meant research into the annals of abnormal psychology, into a world of delusion and obsession more disturbing than any supernatural fable.  In this episode of the podcast, the bestselling Norwegian writer talks with Bill Tipper about the stranger-than-fiction cases that inspired The Thirst, Nesbo’s latest novel to feature the world-weary and painfully honest Oslo detective Harry Hole.

Aug 08, 2017
Imbolo Mbue
21:57

You never know where the idea for a great story is going to come from.  For the writer Imbolo Mbue, a scene glimpsed as she strolled through a bustling New York City neighborhood offered the inspiration for her first novel. Ten years later, her novel Behold the Dreamers was tapped as the latest Oprah’s Book Club pick. In this episode the Cameroonian-American author talks with Bill Tipper about how her moving, timely tale of two very different families was born.

Jul 31, 2017
Peter Gethers
16:40

When a stroke left celebrated cook and food writer Judy Gethers unable to work in the kitchen, her son, editor and novelist Peter Gethers, wanted to cook her ideal meal – an epic attempt at haute cuisine he chronicles in his new memoir, My Mother's Kitchen: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and the Meaning of Life.  In this episode, Gethers talks with Amanda Cecil about the moment in the kitchen when he realized he'd bitten off more than he could chew.

Jul 17, 2017
Paula Hawkins
17:32

A blockbuster debut like Paula Hawkins's psychological thriller The Girl on the Train might seem a hard act to follow, but Into the Water — with its nod to a classic Agatha Christie whodunit — is even more intense, claustrophobic and ambitious than its predecessor.  In this episode, Paula Hawkins talks with Miwa Messer about the origins of her haunting new story.

Jul 17, 2017
J. Courtney Sullivan
16:38

Get thee to a nunnery: to research her new novel Saints for All Occasions, bestselling writer J. Courtney Sullivan found herself investigating the unseen lives of cloistered nuns. In this episode, the author talks with Amanda Cecil about how events from her own family life inspired her tale of secrets and lies in an Irish-American clan's past.

Jul 17, 2017
John Grisham
13:09

John Grisham's latest page-turner leaves behind the courtroom but keeps the crime: Camino Island turns on the theft of a rare manuscript. In this episode, John Grisham talks with Jim Mustich about how his first audience for fiction was an unintended one: a law school professor who read with a distinctly critical eye.

Jul 17, 2017
Colson Whitehead
21:38

From elevator inspectors to championship poker to an epic of escape from bondage, Colson Whitehead likes to write about outsiders. In this episode the author talks with Miwa Messer about his incredibly varied career (don't forget the zombies!) and how his award-winning bestseller (and 2016 Oprah's Book Club pick) The Underground Railroad went from idea to the page.

Jun 29, 2017