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Conversations from the Sun Valley Writers' Conference - 2015

Author Lawrence Wright

Marcia Franklin talks with journalist and author Lawrence Wright.

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Host Marcia Franklin talks with Lawrence Wright, a journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for his book, The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. The work is an investigation into the causes of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and the life of Osama bin Laden. The two discuss Wright’s thoughts on the death of bin Laden and the growing power of the terrorist group ISIS.

Franklin, who spoke with Wright at the 2015 Sun Valley Writers’ Conference, also talks with him about his newest book, 13 Days in September. It chronicles the tensions surrounding the Camp David Accords of 1978, as well as their legacy.

Wright, a staff writer for the New Yorker since 1992, is the author of seven other books, including Going Clear, about the Church of Scientology, and a memoir, In the New World: Growing up in America. He’s also written five plays and three movies.

Related Links:
Lawrence Wright’s website

Author Stacy Schiff

Marcia Franklin talks with author Stacy Schiff about her book 'The Witches.'

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On this week's Dialogue, Marcia Franklin interviews Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stacy Schiff about her 2015 work, "The Witches," which delves into the history and psychology of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. During the trials, as many as 185 witches and wizards were accused in 25 towns and villages. Authorities killed 20 people who were found guilty, as well as two dogs.

Schiff, who won a Pulitzer in 2000 for her book, "Vera," about the wife of Vladimir Nabokov, talks with Franklin about what drew her to the topic of the trials, the challenges she encountered writing the book, and the parallels she sees between the hysteria of the time and contemporary events.

The conversation was recorded at the 2015 Sun Valley Writers' Conference. Franklin has been conducting interviews there since 2005.

Schiff was a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for her biography of Antoine de Saint Exupery. She's also written "A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America," and "Cleopatra: A Life," which was a New York Times Bestseller. Her work is frequently published in magazines and newspapers, including The New Yorker and The New York Times Book Review.

Related Links:
Stacy Schiff’s website
PBS Secrets of the Dead episode on the Salem Witch Trials

Author Richard Ford

Marcia Franklin talks with author Richard Ford about his work and life.

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Marcia Franklin interviews author Richard Ford about the latest addition to his Frank Bascombe series, "Let Me Be Frank With You." The book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015 (won by Anthony Doerr of Boise). Ford won a Pulitzer for another book in the series, "Independence Day," along with the PEN/Faulkner Award.

Franklin asks Ford why he decided to write another book in the series, after previously saying he wouldn't. The two also discuss the themes in his works, Ford's use of language, how his dyslexia influences his creative process, and his thoughts on race relations in America.

Ford, 71, was born in Jackson, MS. He graduated from Michigan State University and started law school, but dropped out. Instead, he received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California, Irvine. Ford's writing career has included the novels "The Sportwriter,""Wildlife,""The Lay of the Land" and "Canada," as well as the short story collection, "Rock Springs."

Related Links:
Richard Ford’s Facebook page

'Comma Queen' Mary Norris

Marcia Franklin talks with New Yorker editor Mary Norris about her book.

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After spending more than 30 years behind the scenes as a query proofreader at The New Yorker magazine, Mary Norris decided to come out from behind the desk with a book that is part grammar tips, part memoir, called "Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen."

Host Marcia Franklin talks with Norris about the book, which has been described by critics as "laugh-out-loud funny," "tender" and "wise." The two discuss why she wanted write it, some of her grammar advice, how she and other editors have upheld the 'New Yorker standard,' and where she thinks the English language is heading.

Related Links:
Mary Norris' website
The New Yorker's Mary Norris page
'Comma Queen' video series

Novelist Dinaw Mengestu

Marcia Franklin talks with novelist Dinaw Mengestu about his works.

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Host Marcia Franklin talks with writer Dinaw Mengestu, whose novels often explore the dreams and challenges of immigrants to the United States.

Mengestu, who came to the U.S. from Ethiopia with his family when he was two, was a 2012 recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. His first novel, "The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears"(2008), was translated into 12 languages, and won the Guardian First Book Award. His most recent novel, "All Our Names"(2015), was named a best book of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and NPR.

Mengestu talks with Franklin about why he loves to write, the themes of his books, civil rights issues in America, and writers of the black African diaspora.

Related Links:
MacArthur Foundation page on Dinaw Mengestu

Journalist and Poet Jeffrey Brown

Marcia Franklin talks with NewsHour correspondent Jeffrey Brown about his poetry.

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Idaho Public Television viewers know him as a longtime correspondent and anchor for the PBS NewsHour. But Jeffrey Brown has developed another voice - as a poet.

Host Marcia Franklin talks with Brown about his first book of poetry, "The News: Poems." The 45 poems in the book reflect Brown's thoughts and emotions about his profession, including some of the stories he's covered. Several are also about his personal life.

Franklin talks with Brown about why he wanted to write a book of poetry. He also reads several of the poems and explains their background.

In an EXTRA Brown and Franklin talk more about Brown's job as chief arts correspondent for the NewsHour, and his mentor, the iconic news producer Fred Friendly.

Related Links:
PBS NewsHour page on Jeffrey Brown