WYSO

Books - Fiction

21 years ago I had the opportunity to talk to Donald McCaig about his epic Civil War novel "Jacob's Ladder." He came through Dayton on his book tour and stopped at our studios that afternoon for a live interview. I was charmed.

He shared his fascinating personal story about how he had made the transition from a "Mad Men" style Madison Avenue advertising man to become a writer and a sheep rancher in rural Virginia.

And then there was the book; what a magnificent story he tells in "Jacob's Ladder." 21 years later it remains one of my favorite novels about our Civil War.

I have interviewed James Lee Burke more times than any other author. He is now in his early eighties and he is just as productive as he ever was. He put out another novel last January and we had him back on the program. He has another one coming out in January, 2019 and I am hoping he'll want to do an interview for that book, too.

Julia Keller returned to the program to discuss the latest installment in her series that features Bell Elkins. These books are set mostly in the small town of  Acker's Gap, West Virginia. As this series has moved forward Bell Elkins has experienced quite a shift in her position in the world. Bell used to be the county prosecutor. Then she put herself in the position of allowing herself to be convicted of a murder and she was sent to prison. As this story begins she has been released from prison and has returned to Acker's Gap to rehabilitate herself.

We live in highly compressed times. Everything is moving super fast; social media, the news cycle, climate change, political scandals, you name it. And with this barrage of information our attention spans are getting overloaded. Many readers would never consider bothering to read a 300 page book. Not enough time they would say. Too busy.

Peter Blauner returned to the program to discuss his second book in a series that features an NYPD detective named Lourdes Robles. Robles is an unlikely law officer, she has had a difficult past, her father is serving time in prison. Fortunately for Lourdes she has had a great mentor named Sully who we met in the first book "Proving Ground." Sully is retired now but Lourdes has maintained that relationship and as this book reaches a stunning conclusion Sully is very much involved in the ultimate result.

In 2002 I had a very special guest come out to our studios in Yellow Springs to see me. Kathi Kamen Goldmark had been to Yellow Springs many times before. She was a graduate of Antioch College. On this particular occasion she came here for only one reason, to do this interview live in our WYSO studios.

Try to picture a scenario in which the United States has been taken over by corporations and that corporate power rules the land. Imagine that many of our leaders are being complicit with our corporate overlords and that corruption, shady deals, and money laundering have become the hidden hallmarks of power. In this fictional world Donald Trump is still our president but just about everything else is different. I realize this seems absurd and inconceivable.

I did not know it at the time but I began heading down the path to recording this interview with John Straley when I was in the third grade. I remember it like it happened yesterday. We had eaten lunch in the cafeteria at St. Augustin's School in Des Moines. Then I went out to play during recess with my best pal. His name was Jimmy Percival. We were over admiring the rose bushes blooming in front of the convent when an older kid, a fourth grader we didn't know came running over to us and starting beating up my buddy, Jimmy.

Reading books can be such a joyful experience. There are so many things to like about it. One of my favorite things is discovering a writer who has just published her first book and realizing that their work is something special. Then I have the eager anticipation ahead of waiting for them to write many more!

"Mississippi Blood" by Greg Iles
Original recording made in 2017

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