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The Creative Nonfiction Podcast with Brendan O'Meara
Conversations with badass writers, filmmakers, and producers about the art and craft of telling true stories.
Category: Literature
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by Brendan O'M...
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February 15, 2019 12:00 AM PST

"The freak-of-nature-tiger was actually a man-made disaster," says Dane Huckelbridge, @huckelbridge.

You’re here because you love listening to badass writers, filmmakers, and producers talk about the art and craft of true stories. I try and unpack their journey and how they go about the work, so you can apply those tools of mastery to your own work.

Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and hand this episode over to a friend you think would benefit from it. If you want to leave a written review please do. Feel free to email me with kind words or questions. I might just read them on the air. And keep the conversation going on Twitter @BrendanOMeara and @CNFPod. You are the social network. Subvert the algorithm, man. Rage against the algorithm (great podcast name by the way).

If you need any more evidence of Dane’s cool, check out his Twitter handle is simply @huckelbridge. Dane has written for the Wall Street Journal, the Daily Beast, Tin House, The New Republic, and New Delta Review. He is the author of Bourbon: A History of the American Spirit; The United States of Beer: The True Tale of How Beer Conquered America, From B.C. to Budweiser and Beyond; and a novel, Castle of Water, which has been optioned for a film. He grew up in Cleveland. Went to Princeton. And he lives in Paris with his French wife. Happy Valentine’s Day, holy shit.

Dane’s book was originally going to be a chapter in a book of man-eating animals, but this story got bigger and bigger and bigger. It’s a brilliant exploration of the tiger as well as British colonialism and how the this tiger was a man-made disaster.

Let’s get it on, here’s @huckelbridge, the coolest dude living in Europe.

February 08, 2019 12:00 AM PST

"You build good habits but the terrain going forward should be unknown to you," says Connor Ratliff.

Hey, What’s up there CNFers, today’s guest is none other than Connor Ratliff, actor, comedian, writer, and performer for the Upright Citizen’s Brigade:

Hey, it’s The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I speak to badass writers, filmmakers, and producers about the art and craft of telling true stories. I trace their origin stories and get to the heart about how they go about the work.

Go on and subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts and head over to brendanomeara.com for show notes to this show and every other episode. There you can also subscribe to my CNFin’ monthly reading list newsletter. Book recommendations and what you might have missed from the world of the podcast. Once a month. No spam. Can’t beat it.

Like I said, Connor Ratliff is on the show and you might wonder why the hell I invited an improv performer who works with the likes of Chris Gethard, Amy Poehler, Jason Mantzoukas, Zach Woods, and countless others.

Thanks also to our sponsor in Goucher College’s MFA in nonfiction and thanks to you, kind listener.

February 01, 2019 12:00 AM PST

"Clarity is a goal I want to be working toward. The more clear a piece of writing is, the more honest it feels," says three-time guest Bronwen Dickey (@BronwenDickey).

Bronwen is the author of "Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon" and a kick-ass journalist, writer, and teacher.

Little change of pace with this episode as it is just us talking shop for an hour.

Keep the conversation going on Twitter @BrendanOMeara and @CNFPod.

Head over to brendanomeara.com for show notes and to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Once a month. No spam. Can't beat it!

Thanks to Goucher College's MFA in Nonfiction for the support!

January 25, 2019 03:00 AM PST

J. Hope Stein, author of the book of poems "Little Astronaut", stopped by the show to talk about her wonderful writing and how she draws power from the sheer act of doing.

Follow her on Twitter @poetrycrush and follow me and the show @BrendanOMeara and @CNFPod!

January 18, 2019 03:00 AM PST

"Don't worry if you go through a fallow period. It doesn't mean there's something wrong with you," says Leanna James Blackwell.

Leanna James Blackwell (@baypathmfaCNF) stopped by the show to talk about her True Story essay "Lethe," as well grabbing hold of ideas, dealing with fallow times, and finding community.

This episode is brought to you by Goucher College's MFA in Nonfiction.

Join me on Twitter @BrendanOMeara and @CNFPod to keep the conversation going!

Subscribe to the show and consider leaving a review on iTunes/Apple Podcasts.

January 11, 2019 05:43 AM PST

"I always felt this indescribable pull to create something I'm proud of. 'Look. I made this,'" says Harrison Scott Key.

Harrison Scott Key came back to the show to talk about his amazing work. Since that day way back in 2013, Harrison has published his first memoir The World’s Largest Man about his father, which also won the Thurber Prize for the funniest book in the country. And his latest book, Congratulations, Who Are You Again? Was my single favorite book from 2018.

Do you subscribe this here podcast? You can find it just about anywhere and if you dig this show and others, link up to it on your social media platforms. You are the social network, CNFers. Rage Against the Algorithm. And if you have a minute or two, please give the show a rating over on Apple Podcasts. Follow the show @CNFPod on Twitter and @BrendanOMeara on Twitter. It also has a Facebook page. This is where we continue the conversation and I’d love to hear from you.

January 03, 2019 07:55 PM PST

"We all need little successes," says today's guest Vanya Erickson.

Vanya Erickson, author of the memoir Boot Language. You can find her at vanyaerickson.com, that’s Erickson with a CK, and follow her on Facebook @vanyaerickson.author. In this episode we talk a lot about how she survived her often brutal upbringing. It was one of emotional and physical abuse from two parents who couldn’t be more different.

Subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. Follow the show on Twitter @CNFPod and me @BrendanOMeara. It has a Facebook page too. Go check it out. I’ve curtailed my social media use by a LOT. I check Twitter only on my computer and only once a day to connect with you. If you’ve taken the time to say something nice or engage, I’ll do my best to reply or retweet or otherwise give you a high five. And if you dig the show, share it with your circle. That’s how this thing grows. Trust and passing it hand to hand. I’ll play the long game. Like it or not, I’m not going anywhere. Sucka.

Thanks to Goucher College's MFA in nonfiction and the noun despair for their support.

December 28, 2018 06:20 AM PST

"When I experience something interesting that happens I need to compose it in words," says Laura Hillenbrand.

In many ways this is the logical conclusion of The Creative Nonfiction Podcast. This is the Tony Soprano cut-to-black moment, Walter White dying beside his precious meth lab, or Gollum plummeting into the fires of Mt. Doom with the Ring of Power clutched in his hand.

This interview with the one and only Laura Hillenbrand was about two years in the making and through unshakable endurance on both sides we were able to get this done and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by this in the least.

For those who don’t know, Laura is the best-selling author of Seabiscuit: An American Legend and Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience, and Rddemption. I think best-selling is an understatement. Unbroken spent a staggering 42 weeks at No. 1 on the New York Times Best seller list. Both books were made into Oscar-nominated movies with Gary Ross directing Seabiscuit and Angelina Jolie directing Unbroken. Laura won the National Magazine Award in 2004 for her New Yorker article “A Sudden Illness,” which describes the acute onset of chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, that has been with her since the 1980s.

If you haven’t subscribed to the show, be sure to do that wherever you get your podcasts. If you dig the show, please consider leaving an honest review over on iTunes.

You can follow me and the show on Twitter @BrendanOMeara and @CNFPod. Like the Facebook page, it’s just The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, and feel free to follow me on Instagram where I post cool audiograms of the shows as well as stupid drawings I do when I need to decompress. Always compressin’ over here.

Head over to brendanomeara.com for show notes and to subscribe to my monthly newsletters where I share my reading recommendations for the month, articles, and what you might have missed from the world of the podcast. It’s a little bite of goodness to start your month. Once a month. No spam. Can’t beat it.

Thanks again to our sponsors in Goucher College’s MFA in Nonfiction and Creative Nonfiction Magazine. And, hey, happy New Year, friend. And thanks for being on this CNFin’ journey with me. Here’s to 2019.

December 21, 2018 05:00 AM PST

Welcome my CNFin’ buddy, how are YOU, doing? I’m @BrendanOMeara, Brendan O’Meara in real life and this is @CNFPod, or The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I speak to badass writers, filmmakers, and producers about the art and craft of telling true stories.

If you want to get better at the form, you’ve come to the right place. This is our little corner of the Internet. If you’re here for the first time, welcome, welcome, crack open a notebook, pour yourself a cup of coffee and settle in, CNFers.

Where to start, where to start? My guest is Debbie Millman. Yes, you heard that correctly. Your ears did not deceive you. I didn’t bother digging too deep into Debbie’s origin story because there are several podcasts where she dives into that and I wanted to spare her from repeating herself. Maybe I was too timid in that regard, but I figured I’d steer the ship toward other things.

At this point in the introduction is usually where I riff …. on what’s going on, maybe offer some insights into how you can improve your work by sharing something I find helpful. But...sometimes the most helpful thing is getting the cuss out of the way.

In 17 words Debbie Millman is a writer, designer, educator, artist, brand consultant, and host of the podcast Design Matters.

But in a single word? Debbie is an inspiration. She made a name for herself as a graphic designer and branding guru after years and years of rejections, failures, and false starts. She’s persistent sometimes, she admits, to a fault.

Her writing is tight and playful. It’s deep, meaningful, resonant, and beautiful to look at as most of her essays are illustrated in her whimsical way of inking and penciling.

As for her career in branding, If you’ve seen the Burger King logo, various Pepsi products, Tropicana, Haagen Daas, and Twizzlers (totally twisted) then you’ve seen her work. If it makes the supermarket look prettier, odds are Debbie had a hand in that.

She was the president of Sterling Brands for 20 years, and under her stewardship grew the company from 15 employees to 150.

But after a decade of being a titan in her field, from 1995 to 2005, often at the expense of her own creative projects, her writing, her drawing, her painting, she was granted the opportunity to host an internet radio program that, I must add, she had to pay to produce, called Design Matters. This was in 2005.

14 years later and she’s still doing it and for my money she, along with Joe Donahue of WAMC Northeast Public Radio, are the best interviews around. I have a reason for this and I talk about this with Debbie.

She has interviewed Milton Glaser, Malcolm Gladwell, Anne Lamott, Seth Godin, Shepard Fairey, and hundreds more. Design Matters is a testament to her endurance and generosity. It wasn’t until she had done the show for several years that it really began to gain traction, win awards, and become the behemoth that it is today.

I could go on and on and I must apologize for my titanic nerves in this episode. I mean I suffer from them all the time, but this one was especially bad, for that I’m sorry, but getting the chance to speak to Debbie for nearly an hour was such an esteemed an honor that I had trouble keeping my you know what together.

You made it this far so I must say thanks for listening. I do this for you guys so you know that even the best of the best deal with the same bullshit we’re all dealing with.

If you haven't already, consider subscribing to the show on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher and subvert the algorithms across the social platforms. If you liked the show, share it with just one friend. Email them the link or share it on social media. And tag me @BrendanOMeara and @CNFPod so I can toast to your awesomeness.

Consider leaving an honest review on iTunes as well. I want to see it hit 100 ratings. We’re gonna get there in 2019, but it starts with you. If you have five minutes to spare, please give the show some love.

I also have a monthly newsletter where I send out my reading recommendations, cool articles, and anything you might have missed from the world of the podcast. Once a month. No spam. Can’t beat it.

Thanks to our sponsors in Goucher College’s MFA in Nonfiction as well as Creative Nonfiction Magazine.

December 14, 2018 06:00 AM PST

Today's guest is Alexandra DiPalma, freelance podcast producer to the max! Man, you're gonna love hearing all about her. @LSDiPalma on Twitter.

Be sure to subscribe on iTunes and wherever you get your podcasts. Visit brendanomeara.com to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Once a month. No spam. Can’t beat that.


I’ve done 130 of these podcasts starting incredibly raw with the most primitive ways of recording till now where I even have a boom arm to hold up the microphone.

Yet, yet...I ponied up some $200 to buy a podcasting class package from Creative Live (no affiliation) and in that bundle was a class by Alexandra DiPalma, the brilliant freelance audio producer whose list of credits includes Food For Thot and Seth Godin’s Akimbo.

She also is the foreman of Seth Godin’s Podcasting Fellowship so you could say Alexandra knows her shit.

Be sure to follow her and her shows on Twitter. Hit her up on the internets and hit up the show @CNFPod and @BrendanOMeara. Facebooky is The Creative Nonfiction Podcast. Give us a follow, like the page, join our little community of badass true story tellers. Rising tides float all boats. Thanks, moon.

Thanks to our sponsors in Goucher College's MFA in Nonfiction and Creative Nonfiction Magazine.

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