the short story is...

In July 2014, I took a huge road trip across the U.S. to visit authors I admired where they live, work, and play. The road trip may be over (I’ve settled in Los Angeles), but the interviews, and the podcast, continue. Now it’s 2019, the year when First Draft turns five. And I’m expanding the types of creators I interview on the show, to bring some surprising and unusual points of view into this ongoing conversation about the pursuit of creative fulfillment, and the professional side of artistic endeavors.

Photo credit: Kirsten Hubbard, 2014

Photo credit: Kirsten Hubbard, 2014

the longer story is...

From July 1 to Sept. 5, 2014, I drove more than 6,000 miles and recorded more than 40 interviews with authors for what has become the First Draft podcast. It was a lemonade-from-lemons desperation project, and one of the most insane things I’ve ever done. It made my mother quite nervous.

In the summer of 2014 I was going through a breakup, and I'd just had my book get oh-so-close to selling, but no cigar. I was re-writing a project that was going nowhere, and listening to hours upon hours of podcasts to feel sane. I was sorely in need of inspiration.

I was relocating from Washington, D.C. to Seattle, and I decided to reach out to every young adult and middle grade author I knew along the way to see if they'd be down to meet up and be interviewed. Armed with a Zoom H2N mic, a laptop with GarageBand, and nothing to lose, I set out on the road.

From Vermont to Little Rock, Asheville to San Diego, the writers I met shared such incredible wisdom and advice. When I parked my disgustingly dirty Prius in my mother’s driveway Sept. 5, I had driven more than 6,600 miles, interviewed 48 authors, and recorded more than 60 hours (a full two and a half days) worth of audio. Though my trip was over, the podcast had just gotten started. When I relocated to Los Angeles in 2015, I continued to seek out my favorite writers, and over the next few years I spoke to dozens of New York Times best-selling writers, as well as winners of the Caldecott Award, the William C. Morris Young Adult Debut award, the Michael El. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature, and the National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

Then, in 2018, something fun happened: I got to talk to folks who were telling stories in different ways. Newberry Award winning illustrator Dan Santat; creator of Avatar: The Last Airbender Michael DiMartino, Associate Director of Events Programming for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books Maret Orliss, owners of the first brick-and-mortar romance book store in the U.S., Bea and Leah KAW-CH, among others. I really loved taking a lateral step from purely prose writers to learning about other forms of storytelling, and exploring the nuts-and-bolts work done by people who support and enable creators, too.

So now it’s 2019, the year when First Draft turns five. And I think it’s time to freshen up. I’m going to expand the types of creators I interview on the show, to bring some surprising and unusual points of view into this ongoing conversation. First Draft will continue to bring honest, meaningful conversations with storytellers about their unique perspectives on the creative process, and to provide more transparency about the professional side of creative endeavors every Tuesday.

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