WBEZ | author http://www.wbez.org/tags/author Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Society of Midland Authors Award Winners Speak at Printers Row http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/society-midland-authors-award-winners-speak-printers-row-107981 <p><p>An appearance by three of the Society of Midland Authors Award winners at the Chicago Tribune&#39;s 2013 Printers Row Lit Fest.This event features: Jack Driscoll, co-winner for adult fiction for &quot;The World of a Few Minutes Ago&quot;; Neil Steinberg, winner for adult nonfiction for &quot;You Were Never in Chicago&quot;; Mary Losure, winner for children&#39;s nonfiction for &quot;The Fairy Ring: Or Elsie and Frances Fool the World.&quot;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SMA-webstory_10.gif" title="" /></div><p>Recorded live Saturday, June 8, 2013 at Grace Place.</p></p> Sat, 08 Jun 2013 13:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/society-midland-authors-award-winners-speak-printers-row-107981 Worldview: Vali Nasr and 'The Dispensable Nation' http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2013-04-23/worldview-vali-nasr-and-dispensable-nation-106796 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Worldview_CMS_tile_1200x900_47_0.png" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F89194248&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-vali-nasr-and-the-dispensable-nation.js"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-vali-nasr-and-the-dispensable-nation" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Vali Nasr and \"The Dispensable Nation\"" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p></p> Tue, 23 Apr 2013 11:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2013-04-23/worldview-vali-nasr-and-dispensable-nation-106796 The Teddy Wayne Interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-03/teddy-wayne-interview-105950 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Teddy%20Wayne%20-%20color%202013.jpg" style="float: right; height: 358px; width: 300px;" title="Author photo: Christine Mladic" />I bet if an even younger version of Justin Bieber came along, everyone would be incredibly annoyed, but in fictional form he&#39;s poignant and sad, as written by today&#39;s interviewee, the author of <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Love-Song-Jonny-Valentine/dp/1476705852">The Love Song of Jonny Valentine</a>. </em></div><p>The novel examines the insular life of a little boy who has to grapple with the knowledge that the millions of people who love him have no idea who he his while coming of age as he&#39;s being raised by a tough mom-ager. Wayne is a frequent contributor to other publications (including <em>The New Yorker) </em>and is also the author of the novel <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0061873217?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=tedway-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0061873217">Kapitoil</a></em>. You can learn a lot more about him <a href="http://teddywayne.com/index.html">here</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>How did you ensure a level of believability for an 11-year-old kid (aside from marketing speak?) What changes did you make throughout the process to make sure that it was accurate?</strong><br />In the earliest pages, his voice was a touch too infantile&mdash;an overreliance on slang like &ldquo;fav,&rdquo; for instance. Instead of focusing on a wholly diminished vocabulary, I decided to make Jonny&rsquo;s grammar and sentence structures more kidlike; run-on phrasings, consistent (and subtle) syntax errors, as well as specific diction that he returns to.</p><p><strong>What were some alternate covers suggested for the book? How did the current one get decided?</strong><br />The current one is all I saw at first, though my publisher later floated a few alternates. But I was sold from the start on the reflective holographic foil, which is a perfect tongue-in-cheek self-critical design: a novel about the glitzy packaging of art is itself wrapped in a glitzy package.</p><p><strong>Similarly, were there other names you considered for Jonny Valentine?</strong><br />The book&rsquo;s first germ of inspiration was as a parody of pop-star autobiographies, and in that version (I wrote one chapter, which later became the <em>New Yorker </em>Shouts &amp; Murmurs piece Jonny reads about himself), the protagonist is named Tyler Beats&mdash;which would eventually become the megastar whom Jonny attempts to emulate. Once I threw out the parody and started over as a novel, Jonny Valentine came to me early on.</p><p><strong>What other research did you do for the book? Did you read any child star biographies?</strong><br />I read a number of autobiographies&mdash;from Drew Barrymore&rsquo;s and Tatum O&rsquo;Neal&rsquo;s&mdash;as well as biographies and critical books on Jackie Coogan (the first American child star in movies) to Michael Jackson. And then I read the more superficial pop-star autobiographies I was initially trying to parody, such as Miley Cyrus&rsquo;s and Justin Bieber&rsquo;s, along with celebrity gossip publications, both teen- and adult-oriented.</p><p><strong>What did you learn along the way about the relationship fans have with their pop idols? Did you hear from any Beliebers (or recovering adults who would have been Beliebers in their day?)</strong><br />A number of adults reminisced about being crazed fans of David Cassidy and the like. And owing to the confusion and strangeness of the Internet, a few Beliebers started following Jonny&rsquo;s Twitter account, <a href="https://twitter.com/TheRealJonny">@TheRealJonny</a>, and some Tweeted at me, asking, for example, if I love chocolate as much as they do and telling me they&rsquo;re passionate about my music. It&rsquo;s unclear who is being pranked.</p><p><strong>Either from a musical perspective or just because you like them in general, who are some of your favorite teenybopper acts now or from yore?</strong><br />I confess to liking One Direction&rsquo;s &ldquo;What Makes You Beautiful&rdquo; and Miley Cyrus&rsquo;s &ldquo;Party in the USA.&rdquo; If you go back further, I like a lot more, especially from the 1950s&mdash;Frankie Lymon, to name one, is as good as it gets.</p><p><strong>Have you considered setting any of Jonny&rsquo;s lyrics to music? I wonder, though, how much music like his starts with a hook and then the lyrics come in as an afterthought.</strong><a href="http://www.themorningnews.org/article/when-writers-sing"><br />I recorded a version of his hit song &ldquo;Guys vs. Girls&rdquo;</a> and posted it at The Morning News. Fortunately, I also asked Alina Simone, a real singer-songwriter (and novelist), to do her own, superior version as well.</p><p><strong>What posters did you have on your wall when you were a kid?</strong><br />I&rsquo;ve never been much of an interior decorator, so my room was fairly poster-less, save a New York Mets poster. I didn&rsquo;t really get into music until I was about 17, when I started listening to, among others, the Clash (which Jonny is exposed to by his opening band), and then I ranged much further afield in college.</p><p><strong>What were some of the biggest surprises you encountered during your time at the Grammys?</strong><br />I went with nominee <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/my-day-at-the-grammys-with-hunter-hayes-20130215">Hunter Hayes and wrote about it for <em>Rolling Stone</em></a>, and I was impressed by how deftly he handled the constant scrutiny, particularly the interviews. The red-carpet gauntlet has dozens of TV crews looking for sound bites, and it requires tremendous fortitude and grace to negotiate it well. I couldn&rsquo;t do it.</p><p><strong>What do you listen to while you work?</strong><br />Music I know well, so that I&rsquo;m not distracted, but I&rsquo;ll sometimes use Pandora. A lot of Bob Dylan, historically.</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s the process like when it comes to publishing humor in the New Yorker? I&rsquo;m about whether the editing/revision process is similar to nonfiction or fiction or if it&rsquo;s a whole different ball of wax.</strong><br />Generally, with publications anywhere, there&rsquo;s not much editing when it comes to a humor piece, because if it&rsquo;s not working, it&rsquo;s simply not working. They might ask me to tighten up a thing or two, but it&rsquo;s always accepted after the piece has already been written, and if it requires too much revision, it probably means it&rsquo;s not meant to be.</p><p><strong>What does one do with a fellowship?</strong><br />You just hope someone will quote Young MC to you: &ldquo;Come sit next to me, you fine fellow.&rdquo; And it never happens.</p><p><strong>How does it feel to be the 341st person interviewed for Zulkey.com?</strong><br />Exactly how it feels to be a cast member of the movie &ldquo;300&rdquo; and to be George H.W. Bush, whose nickname within the clan is &ldquo;41.&rdquo; I feel sorry for whoever is 343, since they&rsquo;ll be more like W.</p><p><i>Editor&#39;s note: Wayne is actually 340, due to my problems counting. D&#39;oh. Don&#39;t let that take away from the cleverness of his first answer. </i></p></p> Fri, 08 Mar 2013 08:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-03/teddy-wayne-interview-105950 The Kelly O'Connor McNees Interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-10/kelly-oconnor-mcnees-interview-103071 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/KellyAuthor%20%283%20of%2032%29.jpg" style="height: 579px; width: 620px; " title="Kelly O'Connor McNees (Photo by Kate Emerson)" /></p><p>Today&rsquo;s interviewee is a Chicago author, teacher and editor who is celebrating the recent release of her second historical novel.&nbsp;<em><a href="http://kellyoconnormcnees.com/books/in-need-of-a-good-wife">In Need of a Good Wife</a></em>&nbsp;tells the story of mid-19th century mail-order brides who are shipped off to Nebraska, and follows up on&nbsp;<em><a href="http://kellyoconnormcnees.com/books/the-lost-summer-of-louisa-may-alcott">The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott</a>.&nbsp;</em>Kelly brought me Taco Bell Doritos&reg; Tacos Loco shortly after my son was born, so she is also my hero. You can learn much more about her, and find information about her readings and appearances,&nbsp;<a href="http://kellyoconnormcnees.com/">here</a>.</p><p><strong>Which of your two books was more difficult to write and edit?</strong><br />They were both hard in different ways. With the first novel, I was writing it for myself alone, at my own pace, with no hope that it would ever be published. I was afraid to tell anyone I was doing it &mdash; it seemed like such a ridiculous thing for a person to attempt, as if I were trying to build a hovercraft in my garage. So it was hard to keep going sometimes. The second time around, I had a little more faith that things would work out, but I had to write it much faster and with the sense that people were looking over my shoulder. I&rsquo;m thinking the seventh novel or so is probably where it&rsquo;s at. I&rsquo;ll let you know.</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s a historical period you&rsquo;d love to write about?</strong><br />I&rsquo;ve been on this 19th century kick (my next book is set in 1835), but 1920s Chicago seems like it could be fun. In general I find a good strategy for fixing a boring scene in any work-in-progress is to take away the characters&rsquo; booze and see what happens.</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s the difference between good and bad historical fiction?</strong><br />Bad historical fiction happens when an author decides to &ldquo;teach&rdquo; readers about a particular period or historical event, or when he feels he must prove how much research he did by including a massive amount of historical detail that is irrelevant to the story. If you are writing a novel, your job is to tell a story. You might set that story in the past, or that story might be inspired by a real person or event, but researching till the cows come home will not give you a novel on its own. Good historical fiction evokes an era&mdash;its zeitgeist, its particular food and clothing, perhaps&mdash;but, as in all good fiction, the narrative must be driven by well-developed characters who are in trouble.</p><p><strong>What are some of the most fun ways you&rsquo;ve researched your books?</strong><br />Most of the research involves locating books that are out of print. I am going to nerd out here and say that I totally love how it takes 15 minutes to take the escalator to the upper floors at the Harold Washington Library, because you get to read all the quotes on the walls that remind you why well-funded public libraries are absolutely crucial to a democracy. You feel you are on a mission, like you are participating in something. Of course, many historical societies and libraries have digitized texts, and you can find them online very easily. This saves a lot of time, but you don&rsquo;t really get to feel as virtuous.</p><p><strong>If you ordered a bride by mail, what qualities would you want her to possess?</strong><br />I would like her to be good with children, particularly babies; be willing to get up for all night feedings; change diapers, do laundry, cook, grocery shop and vacuum. Oh, wait &mdash; that&rsquo;s the maid/cook/live-in nanny I&rsquo;ve been meaning to get from the Imaginary Store where they don&rsquo;t cost anything.</p><p><strong>What advice do you have for writers with new babies on how to find the time and the brainpower to write?</strong><br />Live-in maid/nanny. Seriously, I think that you just have to accept that there is going to be a lot of crying (mostly your own) and a lot of stress and exhaustion and insatiable hunger and rage and laundry, but also tremendous love and exhilaration, and all of that fuels your writing in the long run. It&rsquo;s just that in the short run it is going to be a miracle if you get a couple sentences down. So keep your expectations low, and go easy on yourself. I&rsquo;d happily lie down in traffic for my daughter, but I&rsquo;d probably do it with slightly more enthusiasm if she would consider sleeping through the night sometime soon. Someday (I&rsquo;m told) the world will right itself again.&nbsp;</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.wordbirdedits.com/Home.html">You help other writers with their manuscripts and query letters.</a> At what point in your career did you realize that you could help other writers with their books?</strong><br />I worked as an editorial assistant and then a freelance copyeditor (while doing other jobs too) and through the work learned some things about how books can be put together, what makes a book work, and how to figure out what&rsquo;s wrong with a book that isn&rsquo;t working. I am also a voracious reader and a writer myself who thinks about these things all day long. In days gone by, writers found agents and the two of them worked together to hone just the right project for submission. But now agents are so busy that most of them feel a project must be close to perfect before they will take it on. That developmental work interests me. I should say too that not all the writers I work with are pursuing traditional publishing. Some just love to write and want to improve their craft. Some will self-publish or publish with a small press. There are many more options now than ever before. For my purposes, the end goal doesn&rsquo;t really matter. It&rsquo;s the work itself.</p><p><strong>Of the characters you&rsquo;ve written, which do you think you&rsquo;d dislike most if they were a real life person?</strong><br />Well, Bronson Alcott would be kind of a drag to live with. He didn&rsquo;t drink and he was a vegan. He didn&rsquo;t even eat root vegetables because he was afraid a few worms might get killed in the process of digging them out of the soil. Which means he would probably be cowering in the corner sipping tepid water or something while I had to kill those giant centipedes we have in Rogers Park. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scutigera_coleoptrata">Do you know the ones I&rsquo;m talking about</a>?&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Are there any everyday practical applications that come from being&nbsp;married to <a href="http://jacobi.luc.edu/">a physicist</a>?</strong><br />Well, he gets all the jokes on <em>Futurama</em>, so there&rsquo;s that. He also once engaged in a physics/math throwdown to prove to our landlord that it was impossible our electric bill had doubled in one month. Our rent was supposed to include utilities, but the guy was trying to pass on an increase he claimed was caused by the fact that in the fall the water in the pipes is colder, and therefore the water heater uses more energy to heat it up. Bonkers, right? My husband wasn&rsquo;t having it. He did the calculations and mailed them in with the rent check because, as he says, &ldquo;the thermal properties of water are well established.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>What was your first rejection letter for?</strong><br />This is a sad story, actually. When I was in middle school, a kid in my class was shot and killed when he was mistaken for his father, who was a heroin dealer. The kid was the class clown &mdash; we weren&rsquo;t close friends or anything, but everybody loved him, and it was deeply upsetting when, one day, he just wasn&rsquo;t there anymore. But since I wasn&rsquo;t close with him, it didn&rsquo;t seem appropriate that I should feel grief, exactly. So I didn&rsquo;t know what to do with what I felt, and that led me to write an essay about it. And submit it to the fiction editor at <em>Seventeen</em>, who said, &ldquo;This is not fiction!&rdquo; Which is how I learned to follow submission guidelines.</p><p><strong>How does it feel to be the 329th person interviewed for Zulkey.com/WBEZ?</strong><br />Like I&rsquo;ve placed some serious pressure on #330.</p></p> Fri, 12 Oct 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-10/kelly-oconnor-mcnees-interview-103071 The Sara Benincasa Interview http://www.wbez.org/blog/claire-zulkey/2012-03-23/sara-benincasa-interview-97567 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-23/Sara B.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-23/Photo9_hires.jpg" style="width: 630px; height: 420px;" title="Writer and comedian Sara Benincasa (Photo by Lauren Goldberg)" /></p><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.28429707229135537">Today&rsquo;s interviewee is award-winning comedian and author of </span><em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Agorafabulous-Dispatches-Bedroom-Sara-Benincasa/dp/0062024418">Agorafabulous! Dispatches from My Bedroom</a></em>, a humorous memoir based on her critically acclaimed solo show about panic attacks and agoraphobia.</p><p>Sara&rsquo;s television appearances include NBC&#39;s <em>Today Show</em>, the CBS <em>Early Show</em>, CNN&#39;s <em>Situation Room</em> with Wolf Blitzer, MTV News, and CUNY-TV&rsquo;s<em> Brian Lehrer Live.</em> During the 2008 election, she created a splash with her original Sarah Palin vlogs on Huffington Post&#39;s humor site, 23/6, a series for which she won an ECNY Award and was nominated for a Webby for best performance, alongside Isabella Rosellini.</p><p>From 2006-2008, she hosted Nerve.com&rsquo;s hit <em><a href="http://www.nerve.com/video/tub-talk-with-jonathan-ames">Tub Talk with Sara B</a>.</em>, a notorious web-based talk show in which she interviewed comedians and humor writers in her bathtub. She has since revamped the show into the web series <em><a href="http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=95E2050EE37977A2">Gettin&#39; Wet with Sara Benincasa</a></em>, and has interviewed guests such as Margaret Cho and Donald Glover. Each month she also performs the critically acclaimed live show <em><a href="http://www.sarabenincasa.com/shows.html">Family Hour with Auntie Sara</a></em>, to packed houses each month at the People&rsquo;s Improv Theater.<br /><br /><strong>Were there any other memoirs or books about mental illness that particularly inspired you before you wrote <em>Agorafabulous</em>?</strong><br />I really enjoy books by <a href="http://planetsark.com/buy-stuff/sark-books/">SARK</a>. She writes these wacky, loopy, colorful self-help/inspiration books, most of which are reproductions of her handwritten, hand-drawn work. She writes about depression, addiction, and other fun things. She also writes about taking joy in everyday life. She inspired me for years, and Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn&#39;s <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Full-Catastrophe-Living-Wisdom-Illness/dp/0385303122">Full Catastrophe Living </a>continues to inspire me.<br /><br /><strong>What are some examples of pop culture that got agoraphobia or mental illness incredibly wrong?</strong><br />Remember <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bflYjF90t7c">when Jessie Spanow took too many pills and danced around in Zack&#39;s bedroom screaming, &quot;I&#39;m so excited! That I just can&#39;t hide it! I&#39;m so -- SCARED.&quot; </a>No one has ever actually had a breakdown while singing one of the Pointer Sisters&#39; many thrilling jams. It&#39;s physically impossible.<br /><br /><img alt="&lt;--break-&gt;" src="/sites/all/modules/wysiwyg/plugins/break/images/spacer.gif" title="&lt;--break--&gt;" /><br /><strong>What&rsquo;s comfort food for you these days?</strong><br />Cereal. Good Lord, does that take me to a special place. Especially Special K or Kix. I can&#39;t do Cap&#39;n Crunch anymore because it&#39;s too dangerous. I can&#39;t believe they feed that to little kids. It&#39;s the sharpest cereal and will easily cut your gums. Oh, but it&#39;s so delicious.<br /><br /><strong>Were there any other competitors for <em>Agorafabulous</em> in terms of a book title?</strong><br />Nah, <em>Agorafabulous!</em> was pretty much it from the start. I enjoy a good invented word.<br /><br /><strong>I heard you say in an interview that you needed to change a few things in the book for legal purposes (which is common for memoir). I&rsquo;m not asking for specifics, but what types of things did you need to change?</strong><br />Oh, names, exact locations, etc. Had to generalize some stuff. Memoir can&#39;t be journalism, because it involves other people&#39;s stories and lives and they didn&#39;t necessarily give me permission to turn them into book characters.<br /><br /><strong>If you wrote another memoir, one say, about comedy or another aspect of your life, is there anything you learned in the process of writing <em>Agorafabulous</em> that you&rsquo;d apply the next time around?</strong><br />I&#39;d stay on Prozac the whole time instead of deciding that I was totally fine, going off the drugs, and then having a mini nervous breakdown while completing the edits and having to move home to my parents&#39; house for two months. Best to avoid that sort of thing (note: I&#39;m on so much Prozac now. It&#39;s delicious.)<br /><br /><strong>You shared a lot of intimate information about yourself in the book. Have there been any instances where it&rsquo;s been uncomfortable to meet a reader/fan who knows so much about you?</strong><br />Sometimes people overidentify and think that they really know you in totality when they only know a certain part of you. Like any author, I&#39;m a lot more than just one book. But I consider it a real gift when somebody says &quot;I feel like you&#39;re my friend&quot; or &quot;I relate to you so much&quot; because I know it comes from a really good place. It means they&#39;ve connected with the book on a deep emotional level, and that&#39;s what I wanted when I wrote it. I wanted to give people comfort and companionship.<br /><br /><strong>I&rsquo;ve been in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy myself, for different issues, and I liked that it definitely felt I was doing work on myself, but it could definitely feel like work. What were some of the most challenging discussions or &ldquo;assignments&rdquo; you were given in therapy?</strong><br />Talking back to a voice that insists you kill yourself -- that&#39;s tough stuff. It gets tiresome, especially when that voice is in your head constantly while you&#39;re awake. But it&#39;s a really important task, and certainly a worthwhile one.<br /><br /><strong>How do you know now the gray area between feeling a little antisocial and homey versus something leading to a slippery slope?</strong><br />Well, when I haven&#39;t left the house for 48 hours, I know I need to force myself. I&#39;m a freelance writer so this is a not uncommon occurrence, but surely there&#39;s some garbage I need to take out after two whole days of inside-ness. Or maybe I just ought to take a walk around the block. Sometimes it&#39;s enormously hard to get myself to do these basic things. Again, Prozac is my friend.<br /><br /><strong>You have over 13,000 followers on <a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/sarajbenincasa">Twitter</a>. For Twitterers salivating at the thought of an audience that big, is there anything you can do to increase your audience, or is trying too hard instant death?</strong><br />I&#39;d say liveTweeting major events like the Oscars or a presidential debate -- those are good ways to pick up more followers. Join in on some mass social event, get into the conversation, and be funny or profound or relatable or all three of these things or any two of these things in combination.<br /><br /><strong>How do you balance social networking time and work time?</strong><br />For me they are often one and the same, particularly if I&#39;m promoting a blog post I&#39;ve done for, say, <a href="http://www.vice.com/author/sara-benincasa">Vice </a>or <a href="http://www.xojane.com/author/sara-benincasa">XOJane</a>or <a href="http://www.newnownext.com/author/sbenincasa/">NewNowNext</a>, or if I&#39;m promoting a live appearance. I definitely spend too much time on social networking stuff. For example, I&#39;m supposed to be working on a TV treatment for Agorafabulous! but instead I decided to Facebook chat my friend <a href="http://www.harikondabolu.com/">Hari Kondabolu</a>in London. He&#39;s actually over there making TV, so our chat reminded me to get back on task with the treatment. Having highly motivated friends with whom to waste time online can sometimes end up being a good thing.<br /><br /><strong>You got your masters in education but you ended up not teaching. What did you gain from that degree that helped you do what you do now?</strong><br />I&#39;d say I gained an enormous respect for public school teachers, not that that particularly influences what I do now. I gained a lot of time in front of captive audiences, so that was good for comedy. Learned about some popular YA literature -- also a good thing. Got to immerse myself in teen culture, which was excellent research for what I&#39;m working on now.<br /><br /><strong>I hear you&rsquo;re working on a YA book. What challenges have you found working in that genre that&rsquo;s different from memoir or comedy?</strong><br />Kids are great B.S. detectors, and they can tell if you&#39;re talking down to them or if you&#39;re forcing a theme or a message. It&#39;s easy to be authentic and sound real when you&#39;re writing your own true (or mostly true) stories -- it&#39;s harder when you&#39;re inventing a world.<br /><br /><strong>If you did a new one-woman show, what do you think the topic would be?</strong><br />I used to think it&#39;d be about sex, but now I co-host a podcast called<a href="http://cavecomedyradio.com/sexandotherhumanactivities"> &quot;Sex and Other Human Activities&quot; </a>and I really get my fill of talking about that subject. Maybe it&#39;d be about feeling like a lady-impostor because I&#39;m bad at cooking and cleaning and I don&#39;t have a husband or a baby. But I totally want a husband and a baby and cooking and cleaning skills. I just don&#39;t have any of these things at present. Well, I&#39;m working on cooking.<br /><br /><strong>Who were some of your favorite interviewees that you had for Tub Talk and what made them so great?</strong><br />Well, Tub Talk was on Nerve and I later revamped it as Gettin&#39; Wet with Sara Benincasa on YouTube. <a href="http://thecomicscomic.typepad.com/thecomicscomic/2008/05/video-tub-talk.html">Jonathan Ames was on<em> Tub Talk</em></a>, and he was delightful. <a href="http://blog.worshiptheglitch.com/post/169973501/sara-invites-comedian-reggie-watts-into-the-tub-on">Reggie Watts</a> and I had pizza delivered to the bathtub on one Tub Talk episode. On Gettin&#39; Wet, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGTh1JC5sbM">Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer</a> were pretty fun, and <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEKvkIGN0jY">James Urbaniak</a> was a delight.<br /><br /><strong>Do you do any impressions aside from <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEW12XLUM7A">Sarah Palin</a>?</strong><br /><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07EklknkYes">Michele Bachmann </a>is my spirit animal.<br /><br /><strong>Who would you recommend as a comedian more people should know?</strong><br />The aforementioned Hari Kondabolu is a delight. So is my amazing friend <a href="http://druckerbrothers.com/">Mike Drucker.</a><br /><br /><strong>I have a theory that there are a lot of women out there who are feminists but are just afraid to admit it, because they worry doing so would render them unattractive. What they need just to get used to saying it, and it thus loses its scariness. Thoughts?</strong><br />I guess I&#39;ve never worried about it. I&#39;m a feminist, and I&#39;m hot as sh*t. Hot as a fresh, steaming pile of dogsh*t on a freezing winter morning. Mmm, that&#39;s real sexy. But yeah, a lot of girls think that if they call themselves a &quot;feminist&quot; everyone will think they are uptight and boring and unf*ckable. This is patently untrue. I guess we extremely hot feminists just need to keep stating who and what we are in order to hopefully bring some of these other chicks out of the closet.<br /><br /><strong>How does it feel to be the 307th person interviewed for Zulkey.com?</strong><br />It feels like my soul has been gently exfoliated. And I thank you for it.</p></p> Fri, 23 Mar 2012 15:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/claire-zulkey/2012-03-23/sara-benincasa-interview-97567 Author Patricia McNair mines Midwestern roots for inspiration http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-06/author-patricia-mcnair-mines-midwestern-roots-inspiration-94638 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-December/2011-12-06/book-launch-photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>New Hope is a fictional place but thanks to <a href="http://patriciaannmcnair.com/" target="_blank">Patricia Ann McNair</a>, it’s a place full of pain, heartbreak, faith and friendship. New Hope is the setting of <em>The Temple of Air</em> – the latest collection of stories from McNair. It’s no accident that McNair mines a Midwestern setting – the Columbia College professor has spent almost her entire life in the region. And while her experiences shape her stories, they aren’t entirely autobiographical. <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> recently spoke with McNair about her stories and characters—and to learn more about how she approaches writing.&nbsp;</p><p>Patricia Ann McNair reads Tuesday evening at the <a href="http://hopleaf.com/" target="_blank">Hop Leaf</a> in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. That’s part of the reading series <a href="http://tuesdayfunk.org/" target="_blank">Tuesday Funk</a>.</p><p><em>Music Button: Boards of Canada, "Hey Saturday Sun", from the album The Campfire Headphase, (Warp)</em></p></p> Tue, 06 Dec 2011 14:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-06/author-patricia-mcnair-mines-midwestern-roots-inspiration-94638