First Draft Episode #230: Miranda Popkey
Miranda Popkey, essayist and debut author of Topics of Conversation.
The presenting sponsor for this episode is The Slow Novel Lab, a six-week online writing and creativity course developed and taught by bestselling and award-winning novelist Nina LaCour (listen to her First Draft episodes here and here). The next six-week session of The Slow Novel Lab begins on February 16th, and you can enroll today by going to NinaLaCour.com.
This episode was brought to you in part by Adeline’s Aria by Laynie Bynum, the first in her new Infernal Echo series, out Jan. 28 from Fire and Ice YA!
Links and Topics Mentioned In This Episode
Miranda is best friends with Zan Romanoff, author of A Song to Take the World Apart, Grace and the Fever, and the forthcoming Look (listen to her First Draft interview here, and her mailbag episode here!). You can read them write about their friendship in The Atlantic’s Friendship Files here, and in the Two Bossy Dames newsletter here (and they shout out First Draft, too!)
At her dad’s house, Miranda read whatever was around, including such “dad” trope classics as David McCullough’s Truman. However, Robert Caro’s The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power was a little too much for her as a young reader (but she loves the Caro books on Johnson now, which also includes Master of the Senate and Means of Ascent)
Mysteries have always been a particular favorite for Miranda, especially—as a young reader—Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene and Agatha Christie (the Hercule Poirots, not the Miss Marple, please). But she was also very into Rebecca Wells’ Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood series.
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (and the movie) were Miranda’s “Oh… sex!” moments… mine was Anne Rice Interview with a Vampire (and the movie)
A famous creative writing course at Yale was “Daily Themes”
Anne Fadiman (author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down and The Wine Lover’s Daughter: A Memoir) is a creative nonfiction professor at Yale
Poet Louise Gluck (author of Faithful and Virtuous Night: Poems) was Miranda’s Poetry teacher at Yale, and later in Miranda’s professional life Louise encouraged Miranda to write fiction
Among the professors teaching at Washington University are more experimental writers like Kathryn Davis, author of Duplex: A Novel and The Silk Road: A Novel, and Danielle Dutton, author of Margaret the First: A Novel and Sprawl
Dorothy, A Publishing Project is run by Danielle Dutton and her husband, fellow author and Washington University professor Martin Riker
Rachel Cusk’s Outline trilogy (Outline, Transit, and Kudos) was a major inspiration for MIranda as she chose to break traditional storytelling mold by writing a series of conversations
Miranda read Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald in her MFA program, and was interested in how Sebald experimented with the “slippage of the narrative ‘I’”
Ben Marcus, author of Notes From the Fog: Stories, while he was a visiting professor at Washington University, encouraged Miranda to turn a series of short stories into a novel, which became Topics of Conversation
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Have a question about writing or creativity for Sarah Enni or her guests to answer? To leave a voicemail, call (818) 533-1998.
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