A WORD ON WORDS with Adam Haslett

"I was someone who wrote endlessly in journals, not for an audience but because I needed to get stuff out, to get things in words."

One day at lunch, I remember my cohost, Mary Laura Philpott, raving about a galley she had just read called IMAGINE ME GONE, which sounded like an utterly heartbreaking yet fascinating book.

Imagine my delight when we learned Mary Laura would get to interview the author, Adam Haslett!

IMAGINE ME GONE tells the story of Michael, his family's eldest child, who suffers from depression and anxiety. The book is written from the POV of five family members, showing how Michael's life deeply affects each person. Mary Laura and Adam talk about Adam's interest in writing about the interior life, the unconventional way he came to the craft, and how he has integrated pieces of his own story into novel writing.

A WORD ON WORDS with Helen Ellis

I think housewives are powerful and slightly deranged. But so am I.

Years ago I read a debut novel by a woman named Helen Ellis. Her book was EATING THE CHESHIRE CATand I loved it.

Then I heard nothing of Helen Ellis for sixteen years.

Until she resurfaced with a brilliant book of short stories last year called AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE (which you must read). And as you can see by my enthusiasm-runneth-over energy, I could not wait to interview Helen, to get a peek into her dark, humorous mind.

Helen Ellis is a powerhouse, y'all, and it's time she become a household name.

In our delightful chat, Helen and I talk about living as a Southerner in "the Ultimate North," whether the New York or South is a more sinister place, when it's okay not to be nice, and why Maybelline lipstick may be the world's most frightening fashion accessory. 

A WORD ON WORDS with Yaa Gyasi

"If I had known how much research it was going to take when I started writing this, I never would have written it."

This week, my intrepid co-host Mary Laura Philpott takes the reins and chats with literary wonder Yaa Gyasi about her brilliant debut novel, Homegoing. Gyasi's novel tells the story of two half sisters born in Ghana in the 18th century. The girls grow up never knowing each other, then their lives diverge even further—one marries a British slaver, the other is sold into slavery—and the book follows their descendants to the present day. 

Yaa and Mary Laura talk how this novel was born, the importance of family lineage, and about LeVar Burton. 🦋 Check it out!

A WORD ON WORDS with Robert Hicks

"If you read the book and you decide that I'm not [honest] then call me on it."

Franklin, Tennessee-based author Robert Hicks joined me to talk about his latest novel THE ORPHAN MOTHER, a poignant tale of freedwoman Mariah Reddick, who wrestles with the pain of loss and searches for truth behind the death of her son.

A Word on Words with Megan Abbott

Gymnasts start at age three or four. So how do they really know what they really want, and how do the parents know when their [own] desires have taken over?

I had a blast talking with one of the most talented novelists of our time, thriller writer Megan Abbott. We touched on her latest book, YOU WILL KNOW ME, a fascinating look into the life of a gymnastics prodigy and who the ambition for greatness really belongs to—child or parent? We also talked about why genre distinction doesn't really matter (a good story is a good story, y'all).