10 Minute Writer's Workshop

10 Minute Writer's Workshop

United States

A peek into how great writers conjure and craft their work. From creative rituals to guilty distractions, writers reveal what it really takes to get pen to paper.


Workshop 29: Josh Ritter  

In this episode of the 10-Minute Writer’s Workshop, singer-songwriter, musician and novelist Josh Ritter – who might say writer first, musician second. It was a song that spun into his 2011 novel Bright's Passage. Josh Ritter’s songs draw deeply from the narrative traditions of American and Scottish folk music he studied after dropping out of the neuroscience program at Oberlin. They're little stories of character and place...wild prairies, snake oil salesman, teenage lust, and adults running out of road. Josh describes his most recent album Sermon on the Rocks as “messianic oracular honky-tonk.” We caught up with him at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, New Hampshire, the day it was announced that Bob Dylan would be rewarded the Nobel Prize. So we focused on songwriting... let’s call this the 10-Minute Songwriter’s Workshop. Music: Josh Ritter, "Henrietta, Indiana" (used with permission)

Workshop 28: Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer  

Legal decisions are rarely read for pleasure. And though read and re-read and excerpted and quoted, they are not always quotable. Clocking in at an average of just under 5000 words, they can sound jargony, pompous and bone-dry in the wrong hands. Today's 10-Minute Writers Workshop asks an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States about what goes into writing an opinion. Justice Stephen Breyer was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1994 and is an exuberant advocate for participatory democracy, animated explainer of the reasoning behind decisions and author of several books. I spoke with Justice Breyer in the green room at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, just before talking with him about his most recent, The Court and the World - American Law and the New Global Realities for Writers On A New England Stage.

Workshop 27: Cynthia Ozick  

The novelist, short story writer and essayist Cynthia Ozick's best known piece of writing is called The Shawl, a brutal, phantasmal story of a woman and two children marching to a Nazi concentration camp. The Holocaust and Jewish identity are recurring topics in Ozick's fiction and criticism. Growing up in the Bronx, she was called Christ-killer, and humiliated for not singing Christmas carols at school. Now 88, her 7th volume of criticism, Critics, Monsters, Fanatics, And Other Literary Essays, was published recently, in July 2016. Ozick's last public reading was 6 years ago, but, happily, we got her on the phone from her home in Westchester County, New York. Photo: Ric Kallaher Music: Podington Bear

Workshop 26: Andre Dubus III  

Andre Dubus III's memoir Townie told the story of his violent childhood on the wrong side of the tracks. Writing was his way out, and he's made more than good, with multiple NYT bestsellers, an Oprah’s Book Club pick, and an Oscar-nominated film adaptation (for his novel The House of Sand and Fog). And he gets out there, as a public speaker and writing instructor for graduate programs, seminars and retreats. We caught up with him at New Hampshire Writers’ Project's annual Writers’ Day. Photo of Virginia & Andre by Karen Kenney

Workshop 25: Kelly Link  

Kelly Link is one of a handful of writers to manage to be wondrous, fantastical and ominous at the same time. As Kirkus says, her work is “like Kafka hosting Saturday Night Live, mixing humor with existential dread.” Her most recent collection, Get in Trouble, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. She and her husband manage Small Beer Press. Photo © 2014 Sharona Jacobs Photography

Workshop 24: Chuck Klosterman  

Essayist, novelist, columnist, sportswriter and former ethicist for the New York Times Magazine, Chuck Klosterman has got a wildly original voice. That makes sense for a guy who's written about glam metal bands in North Dakota, or whether you should hire a detective to trail your spouse. He's author of several best-sellers including Sex, Drugs & Cocoa Puffs and most recently But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past.

Workshop 23: Judy Blume  

Anyone who's ever been an awkward adolescent knows that for decades now, dog-eared copies of Judy Blume's books have been passed around school playgrounds like secrets, or read under the covers after lights out. Her best known books - Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Deenie, Blubber, and Forever - offered young readers plain language and shame -free stories about periods, bullying, sexual urges and, even 'going all the way'. Judy Blume finally tells her own story with In the Unlikely Event. It’s set in 1952, when three planes crashed into her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey. We sat down with her in the greenroom at the Music Hall in Portsmouth before a Writers on a New England Stage live event.

Workshop 22: Donald Hall  

Donald Hall is now 87 and no longer writing poetry, a pursuit he calls "a young man's game" which takes "too much testosterone." But Hall, former Poet Laureate of both New Hampshire and the United States, long ago cemented his place in literary history. In this episode of the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop, Virginia and Sara traveled to Hall's home in Wilmot, NH, to speak to him - getting lost along the way, and, ultimately, finding themselves right at home.

Workshop 21: Helen Simonson  

The bestselling author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - and bonafide Charming British Lady - Helen Simonson lets us in on her writing process, her thoughts on sunshine, and the perils of HGTV. Her latest novel, set in 1914, is The Summer Before the War.

Workshop 20: Aaron Mahnke of Lore  

A bona fide podcasting star, Aaron Mahnke has turned his love of the darker side of history into the spooky smash hit, Lore, which he researches and authors. He's also the author of four thrillers, a veteran of self-publishing, and handy with an 80s film reference.

Workshop 19: Richard Russo  

Richard Russo is the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Empire Falls and Nobody’s Fool - both were adapted into films starring Paul Newman. He returns to the fictional working class town of North Bath for his most recent novel, Everybody's Fool. We sat down with him on the darkened stage of an eerily empty theater before an extended interview at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, NH.

Workshop 18: Joe Hill  

As a writer, Joe Hill's family name gave him a leg up. Instead, he chose to create his own. We sat down with the best-selling author just before his appearance at Writers on a New England Stage at the Music Hall in Portsmouth, NH, where he was discussing his latest thriller, The Fireman.

Workshop 17: James McBride  

"Kill 'em and leave" was James Brown's commandment to his band before every show...it's also the title of a biography of the soul legend, the latest by James McBride. The National Book Award winner is also a musician and composer. We sat down with him just before his appearance at the Writers in the Loft series at the Music Hall Loft in Portsmouth, NH.

Workshop 16: Partners in True Crime, Kevin Flynn & Rebecca Lavoie  

In this episode, married co-authors Kevin Flynn & Rebecca Lavoie. Together, they have written four true crime books, most recently Dark Heart: A True Story of Sex, Manipulation, and Murder. They are also two of the eponymous crime writers behind the podcast Crime Writers On...

Workshop 15: Olivia Laing  

We are thrilled to say the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop has picked up a ton of new listeners, so, we're bringing you this bonus episode to say thank you! and welcome...we are ecstatic to have you! On this episode, author, columnist and critic Olivia Laing. Her most recent work, The Lonely City, is part memoir, part searching exploration of loneliness and artists whose outsider experience inspired their creativity, from seeming social gadfly Andy Warhol to the reclusive Henry Darger.

Workshop 14: Anatomical Historian Alice Dreger  

Alice Dreger is a historian of science, anatomy, and medicine, known for her work studying and advocating for people born with atypical sex disorders. She famously resigned from Northwestern University in protest of academic censorship, and gained some infamy on Twitter for live-tweeting her son's sex education class. We had a delightful chat with her about her writing process in advance of the paperback release of her book, Galileo's Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science.

Workshop 13: Alexander Chee  

Alexander Chee is a careful craftsman of language. As we came to find out, when we talked to him from Argot Studios in NYC, he is as measured, unassuming and thoughtful in his speech. A retiring man, who prefers to write in transient spaces, he also just so happens to have penned the most hotly anticipated literary novel of 2016 - The Queen of the Night, a sophomore work fifteen years in the making*. *He assures us it only took eleven or twelve.

Workshop 12: Tom Gjelten  

Long-time NPR reporter and five-time author Tom Gjelten recently visited the studios here at NHPR. We, of course, couldn't resist talking to him about his latest book, A Nation of Nations, and asking him for ten minutes.

Workshop 11: Uber YouTuber, Grace Helbig  

We spoke to YouTube superstar and writer of books Grace Helbig after the publication of her second tongue-in-cheek guide, Grace & Style: The Art of Pretending You Have It. She gave us a glimpse at her writing process backstage at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, NH before a Writers on a New England Stage event.

Workshop 10: Chris Bohjalian  

Chris Bohjalian has written some thrilling novels tackling some tough subjects - Armenian genocide, the ethics of midwifery, and, most recently, sex trafficking - but he speaks about the process of writing with humor and aplomb.

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