First Draft with Sarah Enni

Boisterous, eloquent, and just the tiniest bit zany, Cynthia Leitich Smith, New York Times best-selling author of TANTALIZE and RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME, took me out for tacos and taught me a thing or twelve. I loved hearing her wise words on diversity in YA, paying it forward with newer writers, and writing 200 drafts of a single picture book.


Cynthia Leitich Smith Show Notes

Dear Sugar

Kathi Appelt  and Austin SCBWI

Greg Leitich Smith

Varian JohnsonDon Tate

Brett Hartman


Ming Doyle, illustrator for Cynthia’s graphic novels

Deborah Noyse at Candlewick press (editor)

SANTA KNOWS illustrated by Steve Bjorkman (edited by Mark McVeigh at Dutton)



Joss Whedon


Sara Zarr 

Ellen Oh’s post on Cynsations


Judy Blume


Direct download: Cynthia_Leitich_Smith.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 1:36pm PDT

Myra McEntire, author of the HOURGLASS series, is as refreshing as a cool glass of sweet tea, and it was a joy to sit with her and talk British TV, living with intention, and handling life’s unexpected curveballs. 


Myra McEntire Show Notes

The Kingsport Mets

Trixie Belden series 

Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris

WTF With Marc Maron (podcast)

Stuff You Should Know (podcast)

Stuff You Missed In History Class (podcast)

The Spy Museum podcast, SpyCast

Mental Illness Happy Hour (podcast)

The Domestic CEO (podcast)

Get It Done Guy's Quick Dirty Tips (podcast)

The Savvy Psychologist (podcast)

Welcome to Night Vale (podcast)

SIMS homeless blog, Alice and Kev, The Story of Being Homeless in The SIMS 3

Horton Foote

Keeping Up Appearnces (BBC sitcom)

Absolutely Fabulous

Vampire Diaries

Kevin Williamson (writer for VD)

SUPERFUDGE by Judy Blume

Stephanie Perkins

THE SHADOW GATE, Myra McEntire’s middle grade series on Storybird with Molly O’Neill

Veronica Roth

CJ Redwine, Jodi Meadows, MG BuehrlenCourtney C Stevens (hear Court's podcast interview here!)

Direct download: Myra_McEntire_3.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 11:51am PDT

The delightful Alison Cherry, author of RED and FOR REAL (out December 9!) talks traumatic revision experiences, life foreshadowing, “guerrilla friending” — and her cats give us some all-star background purring.


Alison Cherry Show Notes

Author Solutions

Literary agent Holly Root

Strauss opera, Die Frau ohne Schatten (The Woman without a Shadow)

Lorrie Moore

Harvard Bookstore

CHAOS WALKING trilogy by Patrick Ness

Wendy Loggia, Executive Editor at Random House Children's Books/Delacorte Press 

The Amazing Race

Project Greenlight


Pete Holmes


Corey Ann Haydu

Kirsten Hubbard

Lindsay Ribar

Kara Thomas (Taylor)

Maureen Johnson, "Don't be afraid to suck."


Holly Root, "Keep your eyes on your own paper."

Direct download: Alison_Cherry_2.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 8:43pm PDT

Talking with the wise and lovely Courtney C. Stevens, author of FAKING NORMAL and THE BLUE-HAIRED BOY, about building a writing community, writing how rock climbing made her a better writer.

Courtney C Stevens Show Notes

Stephenie Meyer


Ruta Sepetys and Sharon Cameron

Harper Impulse series

Rae Ann Parker, Kristin TubbHannah Dills 

Margie Lawson

Direct download: Courtney_C_Stevens.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 8:28am PDT

Talking to Kaitlin Ward, whose debut novel BLEEDING EARTH is due out in Fall 2015, about the SIMS, teen horror, how she recovered from losing her first agent, and what video games inspire her.


Kaitlin Ward Show Notes

WHEEL OF TIME series by Robert Jordan

THE GIVER by Lois Lowry

THE GOLDEN COMPASS by Phillip Pullman

REDWALL by Brian Jacques


ERAGON by Christopher Paolini



TWILIGHT by Stephenie Meyer

Absolute Write

YA Highway

THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers (and the sequel, PLEASE REMAIN CALM)

Goosebumps, Fear StreetChristopher Pike

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Michelle Schusterman (listen to her First Draft interview here!)

ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell

Upton Sinclair

Direct download: Kaitlin_Ward_2.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 1:05pm PDT

I meet up with Stephanie Kuehn at a lovely holiday retreat in Vermont, where she set her Morris-award-winning debut, CHARM AND STRANGE. Steph is deeply thoughtful and incredibly silly in equal measure, which makes her simply delightful. As we sat on a back porch with kids playing in a nearby hammock, we talked about Steph’s boarding school days, romanticizing Vermont, movie making, how starting to run gave her the confidence to start writing, and the experience of winning the Morris Award. I also refer to Mark Zuckerberg as a “millionaire.” Sorry for the downgrade, Zucks.

Stephanie Kuehn Show Notes

Debra Driza

Corrine Jackson

Veronica Roth


COMMITTING JOURNALISM by Dannie Martin and Peter Y. Sussman

Dannie Martin

The Wicker Man (film)

The Conformist (film)

Vertigo (film)

Direct download: Stephanie_Kuehn_2.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 11:40am PDT

The conversation continues, with Libba Bray, Printz award-winning YA author of THE DIVINERS and GOING BOVINE, discussing how she came to children's literature, the struggle to balance honesty with self-preservation, and writing with depression.

Libba Bray Part 2 Show Notes

Laurie Halse Anderson

David Levithan

Rachel Cohn

Francesca Lia Block

Angela Johnson

Aaron Zimmerman, New York Writers Coalition

Ann Brashares

Sweet Sixteen

Cecily von Ziegesar

Holly Black

SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder

Save The Movie, by Peter Suderman in Slate (the "why are all movies the same?" article)

Cynthia Leitich Smith

Scott Westerfeld

Justine Larbalestier

John Green

Nova Ren Suma

Robin Wasserman

Emily Lockhart

Maureen Johnson

Barry Lyga

C. Alexander (Sandy) London

Adele Griffin

Matt de la Pena

Shannon Hale

Sara Zarr

Jon Skovron

Maggie Stiefvater

Judy Blume

"Miles and Miles of No Man's Land," Libba Bray’s post about depression

Stephanie Perkinsblog post about depression

"The Shame of Depression," by Myra McEntire

HELTER SKELTER by Vincent Bugliosi, Curt Gentry


CARRIE by Stephen King

Direct download: Libba_Bray_Part_2_2.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 12:35pm PDT

The only thing better than getting to chat with YA icon Libba Bray (author of New York Times best-selling series A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY, Printz award-winner GOING BOVINE, and genuinely terrifying historical paranormal THE DIVINERS, among others) about writing was getting to chat with her about life. Libba is as hilarious as she is wise, and our conversation was so fun, I decided to cut it into two parts rather than leave an hour or more on the cutting-room floor. In this episode, Libba talks about having her rock collection stolen as a kid, that one time Wes Anderson helped stage a play she wrote, and talks about how growing up in Texas set her head at a certain tilt.

Libba Bray Show Notes

Seven Samurai, directed by Akira Kurosawa

Citizen Kane

The Legend of Boggy Creek

The Planet of the Apes

American Gigolo

The Exorcist

Christopher 'Kit' Marlowe

Lois Lowry (her BEA speech)




FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS by Ernest Hemingway


Aaron Sorkin

Harold Pinter

The Thin Man

Bringing Up Baby

The Marx brothers

Neil Simon plays

Woody Allen

Pitch Perfect

Agent Sarah Burnes

No Country For Old Men

HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT by Natalie Standiford


David Sedaris

Johnny Thunders

Singin’ In The Rain

Fitness Focus Form and Function with Marky Mark

Richard Simmons

Cindy Crawford


Peter Marks, theater critic of the New York Times and the Washington Post

New York International Film Festival


Direct download: Libba_Bray_Part_1_2.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 8:36am PDT

Meeting with Natalie Standiford was like stepping into a world where all my teen fantasies about what life as a writer would look like (amazing NY apartment, effortlessly chic clothes, a separate office with built-in shelves and a bass amp in the corner). It was only made better by the fact that Natalie’s books - HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT, THE BOY ON THE BRIDGE, CONFESSIONS OF THE SULLIVAN SISTERS and so many more - are beautiful, thoughtful, and filled with quirky nuance, just like the books I dreamed (dream!) of writing. Natalie is so sweet and welcoming, and had wise, wise words about building up an immunity to writer’s block, writing about real-world fairylands, and finding creative release outside the written word.


Natalie Standiford Show Notes


Sarah Burnes, agent at The Gernet Co., who represents Natalie (and me!)

Annie Hall, film

Jane O’Connor, FANCY NANCY

Hilary Knight (illustrator of Eloise)


Parachute Publishing

GOSSIP GIRL by Cecily von Ziegesar

THE CLIQUE by Lisi Harrison

THE DATING GAME by Natalie Standiford

Disney ELLE WOODS books

Harold and Maude (movie)

BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore and her blog post about starting over

Darcey Steinke, adult novelist

Rene Steinke

David Levithan, author and editor at Scholastic, the “camp counselor of the YA writers.”

Dan Ehrenhaft (Editorial Director, Soho Teen, guitarist of Tiger Beat)

Libba Bray (novelist, lead singer of Tiger Beat)

Barnabas (Barney) Miller (author, drummer of Tiger Beat)


Direct download: Natalie_Standiford_2.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 11:32am PDT

Q&A Show Notes

Support the podcast here!

Find podcast extras here!

Jenn from Appleton video

NAME OF THE ROSE, Natasha Romanov comic by Marjorie Lu

Junot Diaz

BookPeople in Austin

The Strand in NYC

Parnassus Books in Nashville

The Last Bookstore in LA

Politics and Prose in D.C., and Modern Times coffeeshop

NIMONA by Noelle Stevenson (aka Gingerhaze)

Alison Cherry



Direct download: Mini-Ep_QA.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 9:24am PDT

Cat Winters, author of Morris Award finalist IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS and THE CURE FOR DREAMING (out Oct. 14!) is kind, thoughtful, and soft-spoken, but don’t be surprised if she tells you she was wandering the Oregon woods on the last full moon.

Cat Winters Show Notes


The Mandrell Sisters

The Smurfs

THE THORN BIRDS by Colleen McCullough

Judy Blume

REBECCA by Daphne Du Marier

SCBWI (The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators)

Boardwalk Empire

The Watcher in the Woods (Disney movie)

Something Wicked This Way Comes (movie)


THE GHOST NEXT DOOR by Wylly Folk St. John

The Cottingly Sisters

The Man Who Believed In Fairies, article on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by Tom Huntington

Kristen Lawrence Halloween Carols ("Dark Glass")

THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern

SLASHER GIRLS AND MONSTER BOYS from Jessica Garrison at Dial

DRACULA by Bram Stoker

Direct download: Cat_Winters_2.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 5:00am PDT

Marie Lu is small only in a strictly physical sense. Her books are big - New York Times best-seller big - and her creativity, both as a novelist and an artist, is awe-inspiring. The written word taught Marie a new language, got her through high school, led her to take a chance on leading a creative life at a pivotal moment as college came to an end, and is now giving her the chance to see the world. Marie has truly inspiring things to say about when to recognize that you aren’t good enough for a story, how her visual thinking shows in her work, and what the push for diversity in YA has taught her.

Marie Lu Show Notes

IN THE FOREST OF THE NIGHT by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

David Eddings

Terry Brooks

Kristin Nelson, Marie’s agent

Pike’s Peak Writer’s Conference

The graphic novel of Rachelle Mead’s VAMPIRE ACADEMY 

Heather Brewer’s vampire series, EIGHTH GRADE BITES

Kaari with Caravan Studios

Rainbow Rowell’s project writing a graphic novel

Kiersten White and Jim DiBartolo on IN THE SHADOWS


Ellen Oh


"Yes, No, Meh" With Marie and Veronica Roth on CNN

Direct download: Marie_Lu_2.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 1:33pm PDT

A chat with Beth Revis, author of the New York Times best-selling ACROSS THE UNIVERSE series, including a new book from that world, THE BODY ELECTRIC, due out Oct. 7! Beth talks about the ten years she spent writing before her breakout novel, and how invaluable the writing community has been to keeping her sane. 

Beth Revis Show Notes

The Biltmore Estate

The Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis

Sweet Valley High series

The Babysitter’s Club series

THINGS FALL APART by Chinua Achebe

NIGHT by Elie Weisel

DEAD MAN’S HAND, edited by John Joseph Adams

PETTICOATS AND PISTOLS, edited by Jessica Spotswood

Firefly, television show

Jessica Spotswood, Marie LuAndrea Creamer 

Beth’s Pinterest board





RUIN AND RISING by Leigh Bardugo

Direct download: Beth_Revis.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 9:08am PDT

Meagan Spooner, author of LARK ASCENDING (out Oct. 1!), the final installment of the Skylark Trilogy, and is co-author of the Starbound Trilogy with Amie Kaufman. Meagan is bright, cheery and welcoming, with the self-assuredness of a girl who has crossed the globe more than once. We talk about her roots in the theater, how fairy tales are the OG fanfic, and that one time her house burned down.

Meagan Spooner Show Notes


CONTACT by Carl Sagan

THE GIVER by Lois Lowry


Odyssey writing workshops

Claire Legrand (listen to her podcast interview here!)

Shel Silverstein


IN A DARK, DARK ROOM by Alvin Schwartz and Dirk Zimmer

Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner

The Tolkien quote about the "leaf-mould of the mind"

Sarah Maas, Susan Dennard, Amie KaufmanErin Bowman

Direct download: Meagan_Spooner_3.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 11:21am PDT

Rachel Fershleiser Show Notes

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in NY

Eat Your Feelings: Stories of Food, Jews & Your Mom, with Jami Attenberg and friends

BooksmithBook People, and Tattered Cover (bookstores)

Stock Tips zine Kickstarter

Tumblr's Reblog Book Club

ELEANOR AND PARK and FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell

Gingerhaze on Tumblr (Noelle Stevenson)

Simini Blocker on Tumblr

Ampersand from YadyKates on Etsy

YA Highway on Tumblr

WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign


I, Too, Am Harvard

Planned Parenthood Saved Me

Emily Schultz, author of JOYLANDSpending Stephen King’s Money

Maureen JohnsonCoverflip

 SO MUCH PRETTY by Cara Hoffman

President Obama Tumblr Q&A

YA author Leigh Bardugo

Hot Key Books Young Writers competition, previous winner Katie Coyle


Last Night’s Reading

Emily Books

Emily Hughes, who runs Random House’s Tumblr

Veronica Roth

THE MAN OF MY DREAMS by Curtis Sittenfeld

Nick Harkaway

Jennifer Close

Tana FrenchGillian FlynnMegan AbbottLaura Lippman

THE UNKNOWNS by Gabriel Roth

CALIFORNIA by Edan Lepucki



Emily Gould, author and co-owner of Emily Books

Celeste Ng, author

Direct download: Rachel_Fershleiser_2.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 6:34am PDT

Gretchen McNeil, author of YA books POSSESSTEN3:59, and GET EVEN (out this week, from Baltzer + Bray!) welcomed me to her home in L.A. for a great conversation about the pros and cons of fast drafting, grassroots marketing, and how to balance being a writer and an extrovert. And her adorable puppy Wolfgang makes an appearance, too!

Gretchen McNeil Show Notes

The 24 Italian Opera songs

TITHE by Holly Black

WICKED LOVELY by Melissa Marr

Stanislavski acting questions


Boris Karloff

Amy Lukavics

T.S. Ferguson (Amy's editor at Harlequin TEEN)

Stephanie Perkins

Leigh Bardugo

RT = Romantic Times Book Lover's Convention

ALA = American Library Association

Cindy Pon

Diane Setterfield, THE THIRTEENTH TALE

Direct download: Gretchen_McNeil_2.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 9:55am PDT

Heidi Schulz Show Notes


Australorp breed of chickens

J.M. Barrie, author of PETER PAN and PETER PAN AND WENDY

Peter Pan (2003 film)

Brooks Sherman, Heidi’s agent

John Hendrix, illustrator for HOOK’S REVENGE

Heidi’s drawing of a sad robot being launched into space 

Claire Legrand, MG author

Emma Trevayne, MG author

KidLit authors Beverly ClearyDiana Wynne Jones, and Judy Blume


Authors of creeptastic things, Stephen King and V. C. Andrews

Direct download: Heidi_Schulz_2.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 8:33pm PDT

Michelle Schusterman, author of the I HEART BAND series and the forthcoming THE KAT SINCLAIR FILES and MAUDEVILLE, is the kind of girl whose conversation feels more like a hug than a handshake. She’s so open-hearted, curious, and kind, it’s no wonder she’s always worked with middle and high school students, across the globe. 

Michelle Schusterman Show Notes

Savvy by Ingrid Law

Michelle’s agent Sarah Davies

Jordan Hamessly, Michelle’s editor


The Coffeehouse Mystery books by Cleo Coyle

Direct download: Michelle_Schusterman.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 8:04am PDT

My good friend and YA author Kirsten Hubbard takes the mic to ask me a few questions for this mini-episode Q&A! We talk about why the podcast got started, why it's been so irregular to date, where it's going in the future, and a discussion of writing while traveling.

Direct download: Minisode-_QA.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 12:21pm PDT

Kara Taylor (soon to be Thomas) has a quick wit and an infectious laugh. In addition to being smart, sharp and funny, she’s a gifted and ambitious writer, crafting YA novels by day (the PREP SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL series and a forthcoming book in 2016 from Random House) and TV shows by night. I caught up with Kara at her home in Long Island, and she gave me the rundown of her almost accidental television writing gig, how having a chip on her shoulder helps get words on the page, and why city life just isn’t for her.

Kara Taylor Show Notes

Clip from Jon Stewart bit about Long Island wanting to secede

Janet Evanovich

Article on how much money California is losing because TV and movie productions are locating in other cities.

Article on the writer of Lethal Weapon

Direct download: Kara_Taylor.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 1:03pm PDT

Claire Legrand has a sweet heart and a dark imagination - a combination that has made for two magical middle grade novels (THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS and THE YEAR OF SHADOWS), and a forthcoming YA, WINTERSPELL, due out September 30 from Simon & Schuster. We met at her home in Princeton, New Jersey to talk scary stories for kids, earning honor badges in life, and finding time amidst the "author" madness to actually write.


Claire LeGrand Show Notes

Claire LeGrand’s agent Diana Fox

Claire’s blog post about leaving New York

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

Lucy Ruth Cummins with S&S

Sarah Watts, artist for covers with S&S

Karl Kwasny, artist for Year of Shadows with S&S

E.T.A. Hoffmann's original Nutcracker

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

Story by Robert McKee

Direct download: Claire_LeGrand_2.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 9:25am PDT


Ellen Oh has been called a force of nature, and it’s true - the woman can get things done. But she’s also a fierce friend and loving mom, whose nearly decade-long quest to publication with debut novel PROPHECY was started because she couldn’t find books that reflected her story, or the Korean history she found so fascinating. Ellen can be series, sure (I mean, she _was_ a lawyer), but her laugh is infectious and she’s a laser-focused ball of energy when it comes to talking about history, how her kids are her toughest critique partners, and of course, spearheading the We Need Diverse Books campaign.

Direct download: Ellen_Oh_2.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 9:51am PDT


The lovely Cristin Terrill invited me over to discuss theater, Sir Ian McKellen buying tea, and her recent decision to admit a planned sequel to her debut novel, All Our Yesterdays, was not a workable project. Cristin is funny and quick, and her kindhearted vibe may have something to do with the fact that she knows she has a safety net: dog grooming school.

Direct download: Cristin_Terrill.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 9:47am PDT

Petite and a bit quiet, Lindsay Smith has a bit of a mysterious vibe. And once she starts talking, it only gets more interesting! YA's John le Carré, Lindsay is a history buff who is fluent in Russian, and her debut novel, SEKRET, and its follow-up, SKANDAL (due in April 2015 from Roaring Brook Press) explore what would happen if Russia were hiding paranormally-enhanced super-humans behind the iron curtain during the Cold War. Pretty awesome stuff. Lindsay invited me over to talk 20th century politics, the round-the-clock nature of D.C.'s creative types, and the sheer terror of trying to write for adults.

Direct download: Lindsay_Smith_2.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 7:44am PDT


Caroline Tung Richmond is a smiling, stylin’ ball of endless positive energy, and with her debut novel set to come out in September (THE ONLY THING TO FEAR, 9/30/14 from Scholastic) I was jazzed to meet up with her in Rockville, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. Caroline is full of incredible advice for writers in the trenches, and gives us a perspective on how being a new mother is hurting and, in some ways, helping her writing process. Also, she schools me on awesome sci-fi references — though Stark Trek fans should be warned that Caroline admits her memory of Deanna Troi’s fate may be a bit hazy. (But we won’t hold that against her - she has mad TNG cred.)

Direct download: Caroline_Richmond_copy.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 11:36am PDT

Direct download: Robin_Talley.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 7:49am PDT

The inaugural First Draft podcast! A discussion with the lovely Sumayyah Daud, 24-year old author of the forthcoming BEGIN AGAIN, about radical happiness, Bill Shakespeare’s butt jokes, and #WeNeedDiverseBooks.


Direct download: Sumayyah_Daud_Podcast_copy.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 7:56pm PDT