19 episodes

Writer's Voice features author interviews and readings, as well as news, commentary and tips related to writing and publishing. We also talk with editors, agents, publicists and others about issues of interest to writers. Francesca Rheannon is producer and host of Writer's Voice. She is a writer, an independent radio producer and a broadcast journalist.

Writer's Voice with Francesca Rheannon Francesca Rheannon

    • Arts
    • 4.4 • 14 Ratings

Writer's Voice features author interviews and readings, as well as news, commentary and tips related to writing and publishing. We also talk with editors, agents, publicists and others about issues of interest to writers. Francesca Rheannon is producer and host of Writer's Voice. She is a writer, an independent radio producer and a broadcast journalist.

    Howard Mansfield, CHASING EDEN and more

    Howard Mansfield, CHASING EDEN and more

    We spend the hour with Howard Mansfield, first talking about his new book, Chasing Eden: A Book of Seekers. It’s about those who long to build a better life for themselves and others.

    Then, we replay our 2019 interview with Mansfield about his book The Habit of Turning the World Upside Down. It’s about how American society treats property rights — and who pays the price.

    Writers Voice— in depth conversation with writers of all genres, on the air since 2004.

    Like us on Facebook at Writers Voice with Francesca Rheannon or find us on twitter @WritersVoice.

    Love Writer’s Voice? Please rate us on your podcast app. It really helps to get the word out about our show.



    Chasing Eden

    It’s a cliché that America is the place where people reinvent themselves, seeking for a better life for themselves and often others. It’s a theme that, in one way or another, runs through many of Howard Mansfield’s wonderful books.

    But in Chasing Eden, out in October 2021 from Bauhan Press, he drills down into the stories of some quintessential American seekers.

    They include a young man shepherding the last of the Shakers through their twilight years. An African-American doctor who achieves the American Dream by changing the boundaries of the color line, crossing over and back, rewriting the definition of race. And forty thousand Africans newly freed from slavery in the US, taking possession of the forty acres promised them, only to have their land taken away within months.

    These and other stories in Chasing Eden take us on a journey through the ways Americans have gone in pursuit of happiness. They prompt us to contemplate our own pursuit of happiness, with its costs and rewards.

    Howard Mansfield is the author of some ten books. His articles and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, American Heritage and many other publications.

    The Habit Of Turning The World Upside Down (Encore)

    (In 2019 Writer’s Voice spoke with Howard Mansfield about The Habit Of Turning The World Upside Down.)

    In America, private property is supposed to be sacred. But whose private property is sacred?

    Is the land of ranchers and farmers on the US southern border sacred when Donald Trump wants it to build his wall? Is the land of West Virginians and Pennsylvanians sacred when gas companies take it to drill and frack gas? How about people in New Hampshire and Massachusetts when oil and gas companies take it for their pipelines?

    While reporting on citizens fighting natural gas pipelines and transmission towers planned to cut right across their homes, author Howard Mansfield saw the emotional toll of these projects. “They got under the skin,” he writes. “This was about more than kilowatts, power lines, and pipelines. Something in this upheaval felt familiar. I began to realize that I was witnessing an essential American experience: the world turned upside down. And it all turned on one word: property.”

    Mansfield’s book The Habit of Turning the World Upside Down tells the stories of Americans living in a time in which everything is in motion, in which the world will be turned upside down, again and again.

     

     

    • 58 min
    Thor Hanson, HURRICANE LIZARDS AND PLASTIC SQUID & Beth Shapiro, LIFE AS WE MADE IT

    Thor Hanson, HURRICANE LIZARDS AND PLASTIC SQUID & Beth Shapiro, LIFE AS WE MADE IT

    Today we have two fascinating interviews, both about how human beings are changing the other species with whom we share the planet.

    Later in the show, we talk with evolutionary biologist Beth Shapiro about how humans deliberately change species. Her book is Life As We Made It: How 50,000 Years Of Human Innovation Refined And Redefined Nature.

    But first, Thor Hanson tells us about how many species are evolving to adapt to human-caused climate change. His book is Hurricane Lizards And Plastic Squid: The Fraught And Fascinating Biology Of Climate Change.

    Writers Voice— in depth conversation with writers of all genres, on the air since 2004.

    Like us on Facebook at Writers Voice with Francesca Rheannon, on Instagram @WritersVoicePodcast or find us on twitter @WritersVoice.

    Love Writer’s Voice? Please rate us on your podcast app. It really helps to get the word out about our show.



    Thor Hanson

    We are in the midst of the Sixth Mass Extinction, thanks to human destruction of habitat through encroachment, pollution and excess carbon emissions. But the news isn’t all bad: Nature is amazingly resilient, thanks to evolution.

    While not true for all, some species are adapting: grizzlies in Alaska are shifting their diet to include more berries, as salmon stocks are threatened by warming waters. Brown pelicans are moving north, and long-spined sea urchins south, to find cooler homes. Squid are getting smaller as their food supplies shrink.

    In Hurricane Lizards And Plastic Squid, biologist Thor Hanson explores the ways Nature is adapting to our penchant for destruction. A story of hope, resilience, and risk, the book is a reminder of how unpredictable climate change is as it interacts with the messy lattice of life.

    Hanson is a biologist and author of several previous books, including Buzz, The Triumph of Seeds and The Impenetrable Forest.



    Beth Shapiro

    People have been changing other species for 50,000 years. Human pressure helped drive the mammoths and other large animals of the Pleistocene to extinction, for example. Plant and animal breeding for desired traits is millennia old.

    But now, with new genetic engineering tools like CRISPR, our power to shape the evolution of other species is practically godlike.

    We talk with evolutionary biologist Beth Shapiro about the benefits–and potential harms–these godlike powers could bring with them. Benefits like making coral reefs more resilient to ocean warming; harms like changing species in ways that don’t anticipate problematic knock-on effects. Beth Shapiro explores these issues in her book, Life As We Made It.

    • 59 min
    David Graeber, The Dawn of Everything

    David Graeber, The Dawn of Everything

    We talk with archeologist David Wengrow about the groundbreaking book he co-authored with the late David Graeber, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity.

    Writers Voice— in depth conversation with writers of all genres, on the air since 2004.

    Like us on Facebook at Writers Voice with Francesca Rheannon, on Instagram @WritersVoicePodcast or find us on twitter @WritersVoice.

    Love Writer’s Voice? Please rate us on your podcast app. It really helps to get the word out about our show.



    David Wengrow

    We’ve all grown up thinking that the trajectory of human civilization proceeded from so-called primitive egalitarian hunter-gatherer societies to the invention of agriculture with more and more complex social class structures to the modern era of global capitalism with its inevitable hierarchies.

    The lesson seems to be: if you want civilization, you just have to put up with inequality and ever more social control by the powers that be. But is that really true?

    In The Dawn of Everything, David Wengrow and his co-author, the late anthropologist David Graeber, say human beings have been far more creative in their social arrangements than conventional wisdom can fathom.

    For example, there have been highly complex and technologically advanced hunter-gatherer societies. There have also been radically egalitarian agricultural societies like the ancient Mexican one at Teotihuacán. Others, like those in pre-Columbian North America, have flipped back and forth on a seasonal basis between ceremonial authoritarianism and everyday participatory democracy.

    Wengrow and Graeber’s groundbreaking book lays out the case in fascinating detail that many other worlds are possible in human society: things don’t have to be the way they are because people are endlessly ingenious in devising the societies they want to live in. And they’ve been doing that for hundreds of thousands of years.

    “We are projects of self-creation,” they write. “What if we approached human history that way? What if we treat people from the beginning, as imaginative, intelligent, playful creatures who deserve to be understood as such?”

    One review called The Dawn of Everything a “history book for the 99%”. That was a nod to David Graeber, who was one of the original organizers of Occupy Wall Street, with the slogan “we are the 99 Percent.” Graeber died suddenly in September 2020.

    David Wengrow is Professor of Comparative Archaeology at University College in London.

    Read or Listen to an excerpt from The Dawn of Everything 

    Next week on Writer’s Voice

    We talk with conservation biologist Thor Hanson about his book Hurricane Lizards And Plastic Squid: The Fraught And Fascinating Biology Of Climate Change. Also, evolutionary biologist Beth Shapiro tell us about her book Life As We Made It: How 50,000 Years Of Human Innovation Refined And Redefined Nature.

    • 57 min
    Ten Best Author Interviews of 2021

    Ten Best Author Interviews of 2021

    It’s that time, folks! The time for Ten Best Of The Year lists. We play excerpts from ten of our favorite episodes in 2021:

    Hugh Raffles, The Book Of Unconformities; Michael Mann, The New Climate War; Heather McGhee, The Sum Of Us; Elizabeth Kolbert, Under A White Sky; Michaeleen Doucleff, Hunt, Gather, Parent; Cal Flynn, Islands of Abandonment; Nina Burleigh, Virus; Elizabeth Hinton, America on Fire; Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois;  and Eyal Press, Dirty Work.

    Writers Voice— in depth conversation with writers of all genres, on the air since 2004.

    Like us on Facebook at Writers Voice with Francesca Rheannon, on Instagram @WritersVoicePodcast or find us on twitter @WritersVoice.

    Love Writer’s Voice? Please rate us on your podcast app. It really helps to get the word out about our show.



    We start out with our January interview with Hugh Raffles, telling us about The Book Of Unconformities: Speculations On Lost Time. The book was A New York Times Editor’s Choice for 2021. Read an excerpt.

    Listen to the full interview

    Next, In a year of escalating climate disasters, we spoke in February with famed climate scientist Michael Mann about The New Climate War. The book won numerous accolades, including being listed by several major publications among the best books of 2021. Listen to the full interview.

    And also in February, we spoke with Heather McGhee about her groundbreaking book, The Sum Of Us. It was longlisted for the National Book Award. Listen to the full interview.

     

    March saw our interview with New Yorker environmental writer Elizabeth Kolbert, talking about her book, Under A White Sky: The Nature of the Future. Read an excerpt and listen to the full interview.

    In May, we spoke with NPR reporter Michaeleen Doucleff about her parenting self-help book Hunt, Gather, Parent. Watch a video about Hunt Gather Parent and listen to the full interview.

    In June, Scottish writer Cal Flynn told us about her book, Islands of Abandonment. It was shortlisted for the British Academy Book Prize, among other honors. Listen to the full interview.

     

    In July, we caught up with Nina Burleigh to talk about the systemic failures behind the US’s botched response to the COVID pandemic. Her book is Virus: Vaccinations, the CDC, and The Hijacking Of America’s Response To The Pandemic. Listen to the full interview.

    The coronavirus, along with the climate crisis, were of course two of the three big issues dominating the news cycle in 2021. The third was police violence after the murder of George Floyd unleashed nationwide ...

    • 58 min
    THE FOOD PHILOSOPHE, A Story for the Solstice by Francesca Rheannon

    THE FOOD PHILOSOPHE, A Story for the Solstice by Francesca Rheannon

    Francesca Rheannon reads her story “The Food Philosophe.” It’s about a Winter Solstice feast in Provence that led to some delicious life lessons.

    Writers Voice— in depth conversation with writers of all genres, on the air since 2004.

    Like us on Facebook at Writers Voice with Francesca Rheannon, on Instagram @WritersVoicePodcast or find us on twitter @WritersVoice.

    Love Writer’s Voice? Please rate us on your podcast app. It really helps to get the word out about our show.



    The Food Philosophe by Francesca Rheannon

    Twenty years ago, Francesca Rheannon spent several months living in southern France. Soon after her arrival in the Fall of 2001, she became good friends with a couple living in the old Roman town of Apt. She had been introduced to them — Michel, a chef, and his wife, Marie-Jo — by her friend, the writer Fabienne Pasquet.

    On December 21, Marie Jo and Michel threw a dinner party to celebrate the Winter Solstice. The food was divine, the wine likewise, and the company convivial — and Francesca ended up learning a profound lesson about the French Art of Living. Francesca wrote up her experience in the story, “The Food Philosophe,” part of a longer memoir of her sojourn in Provence, titled Province of the Heart.

     

    • 28 min
    Ben Sheehan, WHAT DOES THE CONSTITUTION SAY? & Noah Feldman, THE BROKEN CONSTITUTION

    Ben Sheehan, WHAT DOES THE CONSTITUTION SAY? & Noah Feldman, THE BROKEN CONSTITUTION

    We talk with Ben Sheehan about his book, What Does The Constitution Say? A Kids Guide To How Our Democracy Works.

    Then we talk with constitutional scholar Noah Feldman about his terrific new history of Lincoln and the civil war from a constitutional perspective, The Broken Constitution: Lincoln, Slavery, and the Refounding of America.

    Writers Voice— in depth conversation with writers of all genres, on the air since 2004.

    Like us on Facebook at Writers Voice with Francesca Rheannon, on Instagram @WritersVoicePodcast or find us on twitter @WritersVoice.

    Love Writer’s Voice? Please rate us on your podcast app. It really helps to get the word out about our show.



    Ben Sheehan

    These days, the signs that the US Constitution is endangered are growing all around us. From voter suppression laws, to measures to outlaw civil rights protests to flaunting the constitutional right to reproductive freedom, the assault on our constitutional rights is terrifying.

    The checks and balances that keep the our three branches of government in equilibrium is being eroded by the ever-growing power of the executive and the judiciary. Meanwhile, civics seems to have largely been dropped from school curriculums.

    Ben Sheehan’s book for kids, What Does The Constitution Say? is a welcome corrective to the lack of civic awareness in the US. Featuring fun facts and illustrations, the book is a clear and simple guide to understanding how our American government really works.

    Ben Sheehan is a former executive producer at Funny Or Die. He’s spearheaded several efforts to boost voting and voting education.

    Ben Sheehan is also the author of OMG WTF Does the Constitution Actually Say?

    Fun quizz and study guide to What Does the Constitution Say?

    Noah Feldman

    The US Constitution, the document we all revere for its protection of rights, was founded on a terrible compromise —the protection of slavery in order to preserve the Union of states both slave and free.

    But after the Civil War, the Constitution profoundly changed. It became an Emancipation Constitution with the addition of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments.

    How that happened is at the heart of Noah Feldman’s book, The Broken Constitution. It’s the first book to tell the story of how President Lincoln broke the Constitution in order to remake it. It offers a riveting narrative of his constitutional choices and how he made them.

    Noah Feldman is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard University, a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Bloomberg. His books include Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Justices and Divided By God: America’s Church-State Problem and What We Should Do About It. He’s also the host of the podcast Deep Background with Noah Feldman.

    Read an Excerpt from The Broken Constitution

    Read Feldman’s op ed, Lincoln Broke the Constitution. Let’s Finally Fix It 

    • 1 hr 18 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
14 Ratings

14 Ratings

abt41253 ,

10 best titles

This episode is so interesting! I now have 10 new (to me) books to read. The host gets right to the point and elicits such fascinating responses from the authors. I'm a fan.

bullcbull ,

SPECTACULAR

Francesca Rheannon has an amazing show and often has me wondering why she hasn't become the next Katie Couric or Barbara Walters with her impressive array of questions, continuing the conversation while keeping us the audience entranced and enticed and always wanting more My favorite author interview by far is John Elder Robinsons I have both of his books and am currently awaiting a third because I am personal touched by ASD and Francesca Rheanon's interview allows me a chance to let others listen into a bit of our world and understand because they are the ones who refuse the books and there's no way I'd ever get them to read it her interview has had a few willing that have either borrowed my book or bought them for themselves However even when the author or book has no personal interest to me this show has me entertained and delighted!!!!!

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