A story of hope, breaking away, shaping a life, finding one’s place in the world
Robert Dugoni returns to talk about his latest novel The World Played Chess, a coming of age story told from three different perspectives and timelines.
We explore the story behind the story, and what drove Robert to tell it. He shares why it’s his most personal work to date. Where he gathered inspiration for his characters and research on Vietnam. And what Robert means by “life’s not a straight line”.
About Robert Dugoni
Robert Dugoni is the critically acclaimed New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Amazon Charts bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite series. He also wrote The David Sloane series, Charles Jenkins series, and several stand-alone novels including The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell (listen to podcast). More about Dugoni’s books and The World Played Chess.
Heather Gudenkauf takes a break from her busy schedule to share four of her summer reading recommendations with us — from laugh-out-loud funny to darker suspense, crime, and mystery.
And to complete the list we’re adding Heather’s most recent thriller, This is How I Lied.
Grab a pen and notepad, and listen up!
About Heather Gudenkauf
Heather Gudenkauf is the Edgar Award nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of Silence, These Things Hidden,Not A Sound, and This is How I Lied. Heather has worked with students of all ages during her career and continues to work in education as a Title I Reading Coordinator.
One novelist. One poet. A whole lot of good reading!
“Even sitting closed on a shelf, a book had a life of its own.”
― Susan Wiggs
Today #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs shares some of her favorite books for summer reading, authors to follow, and her best summer cocktail recipe.
Susan joined us last year with her latest novel, The Lost and Found Bookshop. Now she celebrates the premium edition, which includes special features, including book club resources. But Susan’s favorite feature of the new edition is the recipe in the back of the book. It’s ” … the best banana bread in the world!” she says. Find earlier conversations with Susan Wiggs here.
Long-celebrated in the poetry community for her lyricism and style, Pushcart Prizewinning poet Maggie Smith gained star status in 2016 with her viral poem Good Bones.
Today, Maggie shares her latest collection, Goldenrod. Celebrating “the contours of daily life”, Goldenrod explores the space between thought and experience – reminding us that we decide what is beautiful. Maggie reads and discusses a couple of her poems with us. And shares her writing journey, and why poetry is her chosen form.
About Susan Wiggs
Susan Wiggs’ novels have appeared in the #1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller List, and have been translated into more than 20 languages, and read in over 30 countries. A former Harvard graduate, Susan Wiggs has been featured in the national media, including NPR, PRI, and USA Today.
Maggie Smith is the bestselling author of Good Bones, The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison, Lamp of the Body, and the national bestseller Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change. A 2011 recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Smith has received several awards including a Pushcart Prize.
“The universe gives and…takes away, but the taking is sudden, while the giving is slow.”
When Marc Porter Zasada wrote The Impossible Shore, he set out with two intentions: “To explore the way in which we don’t so much move through time, as become different people, in different times. But more importantly, to understand how each person’s longing for ‘the infinite’… pulls us relentlessly forward.”
Marc’s new book is a story cycle of 14 related tales exploring cultural perspectives, belief systems, and connections. Today we discuss some of his inspirations, challenges, and thoughts on storytelling and life. He also reads passages from The Impossible Shore.
About Marc Porter Zasada
Marc Porter Zasadais best known for his six years of commentaries as The Urban Man on NPR, KCRW, Los Angeles. His many careers range from newspaper editor to high-tech marketer, podcaster, and author. As a book reviewer, he was one of the founders of the Bay Area Book Awards. The Impossible Shore is Marc’s first book.
Set in India, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur is a tale of loyalty, ambition, and love that plunges readers back into the world of The Henna Artist – a world of power, money, and secrets.
Today, returning guest ALKA JOSHI shares detailed insight into the culture and traditions of India, that richly permeate her novels. We discuss creativity and how she approaches her work. Why, unlike many authors, she doesn’t consider a writing routine important. And – as a marketing and PR expert – Alka shares her best advice to authors and creatives about getting your work into the world.
About Alka Joshi
Born in Jodhpur, India, ALKA JOSHI has lived in the U.S. since she was nine-years-old. A Stanford University graduate, Alka worked in advertising and PR before starting her own marketing consultancy. In 2011, she earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the California College of Arts in San Francisco, California. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur is Alka Joshi’s second novel.
How The World’s Oldest Virgin inspired Hungry Hill
Degrees in finance, marketing, and design can go a long way to helping you independently publish your work. Today Eileen Patricia Curran discusses her journey from inspiration, to writing, and publishing her debut novel Hungry Hill.
Eileen shares some of the challenges of writing her first novel — including being a slow writer. We also explore why she chose to publish independently. How she plays with humor in a story of love, loss, and healing. And why, sometimes, we have to lose ourselves to find ourselves.
About Eileen Patricia Curran
EILEEN PATRICIA CURRAN was born in Massachusetts and spent much of her childhood in Connecticut. She has degrees in Economics and Finance, Marketing, and Interior Design. Hungry Hill is her first book.
JOANI ELLIOTT believes in the magic of stories, a good cup of tea, and the power of living a creative life. So maybe it’s no surprise that her debut novel is about a writer who’s just landed the toughest assignment of her life.
Joani shares great insight into her creative journey, and some of the challenges she faced, while writing her debut novel. Like her willingness as a writer to step into the unknown. Why this former academic had to learn to tap into her own emotions, to gain the truth of her emotional scenes. How she came to terms with the messy process of writing…and more.
A testament to the power of friendship & extraordinary will to survive
Today’s guest says, “After 25 years of studying World War II and the Holocaust, when I find a story that makes me gasp, I know I am onto something that will make my readers feel the same way.”
Pam Jenoff returns to Conversations Live to share how Jewish tunnel dwellers, hiding from Nazis, inspired The Woman with the Blue Star. We discuss why Pam had to rewrite her entire first manuscript–and how she did it during the height of a pandemic. How she used the themes of isolation, connection, and unlikely friendships to shape her story. And why she teaches fiction storytelling techniques to her law students.
About Pam Jenoff
Pam Jenoffis the author of 11 novels of historical fiction, including the international bestseller The Kommandant’s Girl. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs, a master’s in history, and a JD. Jenoff’s novels are inspired by her experiences working at the Pentagon and as a diplomat for the State Department handling Holocaust issues in Poland.
USA TODAY Bestselling Novelist of The Widower’s Wife
With high-tech intrigue, Cate Holahan‘s new domestic thriller explores what happens when a social media influencer’s seemingly perfect world is turned upside down, following a savage home invasion. Heads Up: It might make you think differently about the technology in your home.
Cate shares how she went from award-winning journalist to bestselling novelist. Why culture and heritage is important, and where it fits into her writing. What to consider when developing multicultural characters. The dangers of stereotyping. And why women shouldn’t quit work.
About Cate Holahan
Her Three Lives is Cate’s fifth novel. Her others include the USA Today bestselling The Widower’s Wife, One Little Secret, Lies She Told, and Dark Turns. As an award-winning journalist, Cate Holahan wrote for publications such as The Record, Business Week, and the Boston Globe.
Inspired by the true story of a young Jewish woman trapped on the Isle of Jersey under Nazi occupation in WWII
Based on her background, maybe Jenny Lecoat’s first novel was destined to start a bidding war and become a New York Times Bestseller.
The Girl From the Channel Islands is based on the true story of Hedy Bercu. We discuss why Jenny told Bercu’s story via fiction versus nonfiction; where she took creative license and why. How Jenny’s background influenced her; and how the book sparked a bidding war with two major publishers. Jenny also shares some of the true stories she ran into during her research. And what it took to go from successful screenplay writer to successful novelist.
About Jenny Lecoat
Born in the Channel Islands, Jenny Lecoat grew up with family who passed down their own stories of life in German occupied Jersey. Following an early career in stand-up comedy, and writing features for periodicals, she became a screenwriter. Jenny Lecoat’s feature film Another Mother’s Sonwas released in 2017.