Jodi Picoult, Helen Macdonald and Tom Barbash interviews

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In our last episode for 2014, Ryan Van Winkle talks to Tom Barbash, Helen Macdonald and Jodi Picoult about elephants, New York and how writing can help people deal with change and grief. 

Jodi Picoult is the author of 23 books including My Sister's Keeper. Her latest novel Leaving Time debuted at number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. The book tells the story of Alice Metcalf, and elephant researcher, and her daughter Jenna. Following Alice's disappearance, Jenna uses Alice's diaries to find out more about her mother and what might have happened to her. Jodi speaks to Ryan about the research she undertook for the book - including learning how to run an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee and working with an elephant researcher in Botswana - and how she planned the structure of a book with multiple narratives.

Helen Macdonald's recent memoir, H is for Hawk, won the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize for non-Fiction. After the sudden death of her father, Helen coped with her grief by returning to a childhood obsession and training a goshawk. "The goshawk was everything I wanted to be: it didn't know about grief, it was very solitary and it was also very powerful and full of rage... It took me a good few years to get enough emotional distance from that year to be able to write it as a book"

The book is a raw and very personal reflection of a traumatic period in Helen's life and her storyis intertwined with that of writer TH White and his struggles with the difficulties in his life and attempts to train his own goshawk in 1936.

Finally, Ryan talks to the author of one of his favourite books of the year, Stay Up With Me a short story collection by Tom Barbash. Tom explains how some of his stories were put together, and the power of drafting: "I do like the fact that I'm not quite getting at in the beginning".

Podcast contents

00:00 - 01:26 Introduction
01:27 - 14:10 Jodi Picoult interview
14:11 - 23:57 Helen Macdonald interview
23:58 - 38:11 Tom Barbash

Book Talk is produced by Colin Fraser of Culture Laser Productions.

Filed In: Book Talk Tags: book talk, interviews