Sunday, October 24, 2010

Daniyal Mueenuddin and Shawna Ryan

Marrie Stone interviews Daniyal Mueenuddin, author In Other Rooms Other Wonders and Shawna Ryan, author of Water Ghosts.

Download audio.

(Broadcast date: August 4, 2010)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pen on Fire Salon with Susan Straight and Andrew Winer

An Evening with Novelists Susan Straight and Andrew Winer will take place on Tuesday, November 16, at Scape Gallery in Corona del Mar, CA. You'll find more info here. It's bound to be another stellar evening, and it's almost sold out so, um, register soon. We hate turning people away....

Monday, October 18, 2010

John McNally on voice

John McNally, author of The Creative Writer's Survival Guide and After the Workshop, was on the show in October (linky here).

Here's more conversation with John, primarily about voice. Read on:

Style and voice. What does it mean to you?

Worldview. If you think about the style and voice of Twain¹s Huckleberry Finn, it¹s intrinsically linked to the narrator¹s (and author¹s) worldview,which is what separates memorable fiction from fiction that¹s forgettable.

Do you think in writing fiction, plot is the most important thing?
Style? Voice? What's most important, do you think?

Character and worldview. The characters have to be strong and
three-dimensional, but they also have to have a fiercely original way of seeing the world. By that, I don¹t mean quirky or odd. Again, think of Huck Finn or Holden Caulfield. Take away their worldview, and what do you have?

So if character and worldview are most important, then are you saying voice is what emerges from these two aspects?

Voice is a byproduct of character and worldview, yes. When I think of one of my favorite writers, a writer like Charles Portis, the way his characters see the world is what makes Charles Portis novels Charles Portis novels as opposed to, say, Margaret Atwood novels, which have their own distinct worldviews. But in a Charles Portis novel, when you mix his characters with their worldviews, you often get an absurd, deadpan comic voice. In The Dog of the South, for instance, the narrator says of another character, “He had sold wide shoes by mail, shoes that must have been almost round, at widths up to EEEEEE.” That’s this character’s view of the world: absurd. And it’s hilarious because it’s delivered flatly, in sentence after sentence, as though it’s not absurd. It’s worldview that hooks me into a novel, and it’s why I prefer Portis to Philip Roth. Roth is a great writer, but I prefer the way Portis’s characters see the world.

Do you spend a lot of time sketching out character, and that
character's worldview? Please say more about worldview as I've never heard anyone talk about voice the way you do.

I don’t sketch out characters at all, and I don’t think about worldview when I write. I think worldview is part of the writer’s DNA, even though it’s filtered through a character. Huck’s worldview is Twain’s worldview. The point of view narrators in a Richard Russo novel share Russo’s worldview. I don’t mean to say that the author agrees with everything a narrator does or how he or she behaves. Certainly, Humbert Humbert isn’t Nabokov. But I would say that they probably share certain sensibilities, and Humbert’s love of language and loving attention to detail are Nabokov’s, and how might somebody characterize the voice of the novel? Language that reads like music!


Friday, October 15, 2010


Here's what I woke up to find on my dining room table. Thanks to old friends, good friends, and new friends who are helping to make this one superfine day.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pen on Fire Salon with Maile Meloy and Mona Simpson

Last night's salon was another sold-out event and a wonderful evening with writers and books. Both authors talked about their current books, publishing, process, they signed, cake was eaten, wine was sipped. Laguna Beach Books brought the books, Scape Gallery loaned the site, and it seems it was another Pen on Fire Writers Salon Success. Thank you all!

to Travis Barrett and C.J. Bahnsen for additional photography. Thanks to Mike Boyle for recording the event for an upcoming podcast. Thanks to Jeannie Denholm and Diane Nelson, owners of Scape Gallery, for loaning their site. And thanks to Deb Cross, Nancy Klann, and Marrie Stone for helping with the door, with refreshments, and with whatever else came up. And thanks to Maile and Mona for braving L.A. traffic and spending hours on the freeway to make the event.

Today's Show

Join Marrie Stone this morning as she interviews Sharon Dogar, author of the YA novel "Annexed" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and Roy Peter Clark, author of "The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English" (Little Brown).

Tune in at 9 a.m. Pacific Time, 88.9 FM KUCI or listen online at and iTunes/radio: talk-news.

Thanks for listening!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sara Gruen and Dennis Palumbo

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett and Marrie Stone interview Sara Gruen, author of Ape House and Dennis Palumbo, author of Mirror Image.

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(Broadcast date: September 29, 2010)

Amy Bloom and Hilary Davidson

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett and Marrie Stone interview Amy Bloom, author of Where the God of Love Hangs Out and Hilary Davidson, author of The Damage Done.

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(Broadcast date: October 6, 2010)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Amy Bloom and Hilary Davidson on "Writers on Writing"

Tune in tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. PT to hear "Writers on Writing" with authors Amy Bloom, author of the short story collection of "Where the God of Love Hangs Out" (Random House) and Hilary Davidson, author of "The Damage Done" (Forge).

The show airs on 88.9 KUCI FM in Orange County, CA; at iTunes: news/talk radio; and streams live at

Claudia Dreyfus and Jeff Lindsay

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett interviews Claudia Dreyfus, author of Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids and What We Can Do About It and Jeff Lindsay, author of Dexter is Delicious.

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(Broadcast date: September 15, 2010)

John McNally and Ted Weinstein

Marrie Stone interviews John McNally, author of The Creative Writer's Survival Guide: Advice from an Unrepentant Novelist and literary agent Ted Weinstein.

Download audio.

(Broadcast date: September 1, 2010)