Episode 9—Inside the Reporting Mind of John Scheinman

Written by Brendan O’Meara

“You know what? It’s like when you ask a girl on a date. How scary it can be. It’s terrifying sometimes.”—John Scheinman

“I was always a conversation person. I would literally say this, ‘I’m going to earn your trust and you will never be misquoted.’ They loved it!”—John Scheinman

This week I interview my friend and colleague John Scheinman, who won the Eclipse Award for feature writing for his piece about legendary Maryland horse trainer Dickie Small. The piece, titled Memories of a Master, is a long, sweeping profile that took John about three months to craft. Give it a read.

We get into the use of voice recorders versus notebooks, something I find fascinating as different reporters use different methods for gathering information. We also talk about the anxiety that comes from having to interview people and I think that may be particularly helpful to others who feel the same way.

And, of course, there’s John’s Bookshelf for the Apocalypse, the books he’d keep in his survival pack that he could never part with should the world melt down around us. He is the second person to say this is a stupid question in two weeks. Does that mean I should give it up? Not yet. If next week’s guest says it’s stupid maybe I’ll consider.

John’s Bookshelf for the Apocalypse

The Book of Nightmares by Galway Kinnell
Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York by Luc Sante
Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell
The Honest Rainmaker: The Life and Times of Colonel John R. Stingo by A.J. Liebling
Life by Keith Richards
The Great Deep: The Sea and Its Thresholds by James Hamilton-Patterson
Blues People: Negro Music in White America by Leroi Jones
Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story by Nick Tosche

Thanks again for listening. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast and sign up for my email newsletter that brings you my book recommendations for the month and anything you may have missed from the podcast.

Episode 8—Maggie Messitt on Shi#y First Drafts and Making Documentaries on Paper

maggie messitt, the rainy season

Written by Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables by Maggie Messitt (@maggiemessitt):

“I really embrace the shitty first draft.” 

“I was always into true stories, almost at an obsessive level.” 

Maggie Messitt wrote a gem of a book in The Rainy Season: Three Lives in the New South Africa. 

We talk about a lot of stuff, certainly about process and the challenge of writing book-length narrative. Maggie is a writer, author, teacher, hiker, dog owner, reporter, super kayaker, all-round liver-of-life. 

Also I introduce a new segment called the Bookshelf for the Apocalypse. What’s this? Should the world be ravaged by global pandemic, zombies, meteor strike or nuclear winter, and you were allowed ten books to keep in your survival pack, what would they be?

Hmm….

Below you’ll find a list of books Maggie mentioned that you may want to check out. Thanks for listening and I ask that you please subscribe to the podcast and sign up for the email newsletter.

Thanks so much!

Maggie’s Bookshelf for the Apocalypse

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadimann

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, An American Childhood, A Writing Life, all by Annie Dillard

Notes from No Man’s Land by Eula Biss

The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit

Open City by Teju Cole

Portrait with Keys by Ivan Vladislavic

A dictionary

What is Justice? by Robert C. Solomon and Mark C. Murphy

Episode 7—Richard Gilbert Bought a Farm

Richard Gilbert, author of “Shepherd: A Memoir,” stopped by the podcast in 2014.

Written by Brendan O’Meara

[Tweetables to come!]

Richard Gilbert is the author of Shepherd, a memoir about his days on an Ohio farm fulfilling a lifelong dream to become a farmer. He raised flocks of sheep, got hurt, dealt with ragweed allergies, the list goes on and on. It’s a wonderful book and I think after listening to Richard you’ll want to devour it and also follow his great blog, Draft No. 4, and follow him on Twitter @richardsgilbert.

The audio to the podcast kinda sucks. For that I’m sorry. There are some points where my Skype connection got real choppy. Other times the audio gets uneven. I’m sorry, but brighter days are coming. Subscribe to Hashtag #CNF on iTunes and sign up for the weekly emailer that updates you on the week’s posts. That’s it! Enjoy!

Hashtag #CNF Episode 6: Three Days in Gettysburg

He’s back for more. Brian Mockenhaupt wrote the compelling Byliner Original Three Days in Gettysburg about the war front hitting home.

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I wrote this on Amazon about the piece:

Brian Mockenhaupt, an intrepid and elite reporter of the living, turns his eye to those long gone. And as we near the 150th anniversary of that bloodiest battle at Gettysburg, Mockenhaupt, through his deft skill as an information gatherer, writes a compelling story about friendship, love, and loss in the most famous battle of the Civil War and its putrid wake for those left behind.

It culminates with President Lincoln presiding over a newly created memorial to the felled Union soldiers, a speech where he turns the volume down so we may hear the ghosts of Gettysburg.

And in this latest episode of Hashtag #CNF, Mockenhaupt talks about the challenges of writing historical narrative with nothing to consult but the archives.

Like what you hear? Subscribe on iTunes and subscribe to my blog. If you do, I’ll send you a signed copy of Six Weeks in Saratoga.

Hashtag #CNF Episode 5—Sheri Booker

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Written by Brendan O’Meara

Sheri Booker’s memoir Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner City Funeral Home chronicles her near-decade long experience immersed the culture of death. Everything from picking up bodies to preserving them in the inner sanctum of Wylie Funeral Home.

In it Booker learns that death knows no age and that a funeral home is every bit a part of a community as a church. She also answers the age-old question of whether bodies move on the embalming table or not.

Hashtag #CNF Episode 4: Harrison Scott Key

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Written by Brendan O’Meara

I get to interview some pretty cool people doing this humble little podcast. In this latest episode, I speak with Harrison Scott Key about his award-winning essay The Wishbone. The Wishbone won Creative Nonfiction’s Southern Sin essay contest. It is a wildly funny essay about his father bending the rules to win a football game … a pee-wee football game … in which he recruit’s his 14-year-old son—Harrison—to suit up as the team’s integral 11th player.

In this interview we talk about comedy writing and where Key developed his comedic sensibility. Enjoy and share!

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast here.

Follow me on Twitter @BrendanOMeara and give me a ‘like’ over at Facebook. Looking to reach 1,000 true fans and there’s PLENTY of room available.

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Hashtag #CNF Episode 3 Part 2: Brian Mockenhaupt

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Written by Brendan O’Meara

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In Part 2 of my interview with Brian Mockenhaupt, freelance journalist and author of the Byliner.com original The Living and the Dead, Brian talks about publishing with Byliner, what America learns from its wars, and the burden of telling such a heavy story. Enjoy.

If you or anyone you know would like to be on the podcast, please email me at brendan@brendanomeara.com and, as always, feel free to leave comments.

Listen to Part 1 of my interview with Brian Mockenhaupt here.

Please ‘like’ me on Facebook. Makes me feel good. I also give away stuff.

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Hashtag #CNF Episode 3: Journalist Brian Mockenhaupt Part 1

[subscribe2]Written by Brendan O’Meara

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Sometimes you have a great conversation and it lasts ten minutes. Other times you have a great conversation and it lasts 90 minutes. The latter was true for me and Brian Mockenhaupt, a journalist cut from the fabric of Jon Krakauer and Sebastian Junger.

I broke this interview up into chunks. Please enjoy the first installment as we talk about his award-winning masterpiece The Living and the Dead.

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Hashtag #CNF Episode 2—Author/Nonfiction Editor Tom McAllister

Written by Brendan O’Meara

If you thought Hashtag #CNF was just a one-and-done kind of podcast, you’ve got another thing coming. I’m at least giving this thing a shot at a sophomore slump. Suckers.

To quote Ren from Ren and Stimpy, “Hark! Hark!” I’ve got a fun one for you today, and every day, so long as you click play.

Let’s face it, it had to be since author and Barrelhouse nonfiction editor Tom McAllister joined me to talk about Bring the Noise: The Best Pop Culture Essays from Barrelhouse Magazine.

McAllister is the author of Bury Me in My Jersey: A Memoir of My Father, Football, and Philly. He is also a professor of creative writing at Temple University and, most recently, is the editor of Bring the Noise. As McAllister riffs in his hilarious introduction, BTN is a treatise “on the the stupid things we love”. Yes, there’s the stupid things we love, but BTN shows how beautiful these stupid things are when in the hands of seventeen artful storytellers whose personal stories elevate popular culture to the adult table.

In it you’ll find professional wrestling, roller derby, Barry Bonds, stalking Aaron Grenier, and the “never-ending reality of The Hills” and, in true Barrelhouse style, the Patrick Swayze question.

I allowed myself one book purchase at AWP Boston. This was it. Best $15 I spent all weekend.
I allowed myself one book purchase at AWP Boston. This was it. Best $15 I spent all weekend.

Hashtag CNF Episode 1: Author Susan Kushner Resnick

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Written by Brendan O’Meara

I can’t tell you how excited I am to start this new venture called Hashtag CNF, a podcast about reading and writing with authors in the genre of creative nonfiction. Batting lead off is author Susan Kushner Resnick. We talked about her latest book, You Saved Me Too.

An iTunes subscription link will be available soon. In the meantime, you can subscribe to my blog here to get email updates of my latest entries and interviews. For now, enjoy the great insights Susan shared about her wonderful book.

Click on the image to buy the book:

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