The Writer Files: Writing, Productivity, Creativity, And Neuroscience



Kelton Reid studies the habits, habitats, and brains of a wide spectrum of renowned writers to learn their secrets of productivity and creativity. Tune in each week to learn how great writers keep the ink flowing, the cursor moving, and avoid block. Explore our archives at to find interviews with notable guests that include bestselling authors John Scalzi (Old Man's War), Greg Iles (Natchez Burning), Jay McInerney (Bright Lights, Big City), Kevin Kelly (founder of WIRED magazine), Emma Donoghue (Oscar Nominee for Room), Maria Konnikova (The Confidence Game), Andy Weir (The Martian), Dan Buettner (The Blue Zones), Austin Kleon (Steal Like an Artist), Daniel Pink (When), and serial guest hosts: neuroscientist Michael Grybko, journalist Adam Skolnick, and short story writer Robert Bruce.


  • Myth-Busting Book Publishing with Agent Lucinda Halpern: Redux

    22/12/2023 Duración: 39min

    NOTE: This is an updated replay of an amazing chat I had with Lucinda Halpern, Founder and President of Manhattan-based literary agency Lucinda Literary LLC turned author. Lucinda’s new book, Get Signed: Find an Agent, Land a Book Deal, and Become a Published Author (2/6/2024, Hay House) “... lets readers in on the secrets to writing a book agents will battle over.” Congrats Lucinda! President and Founder of Manhattan-based agency Lucinda Literary, Lucinda Halpern, gave me an insider’s take on why literary agents can't just be deal-makers anymore. Lucinda Halpern is a literary, lecture, and PR agent with over 15 years of experience on both the corporate and agency sides of publishing. Specializing in "books that change the way people work, behave, and live," she represents authors writing in the categories of business, health, lifestyle, popular science, narrative nonfiction, memoir, and upmarket fiction. Her agency, Lucinda Literary, boasts a roster of authors including New York Times bestselling authors Su

  • How Acclaimed Debut Novelist Jo Segura Writes

    15/12/2023 Duración: 43min

    Acclaimed debut novelist, Jo Segura, spoke with me about her love of the romance writing community, why natural history and archaeology are her jam, and her debut romcom RAIDERS OF THE LOST HEART. Jo Segura’s debut, Raiders of the Lost Heart, is described as an adventure romance about “Rival archaeologists [who] must team up on a secret Aztec expedition, [that] could leave their careers—and hearts—in ruins. Entertainment Weekly called it, “Romancing the Stone meets Indiana Jones in this thrilling adventure romance.” And Publishers Weekly said of the book, “Segura’s rip-roaring debut is sure to put her on the map." The book was named a LibraryReads Pick and Indie Next pick for December, Entertainment Weekly’s 41 New Fall Books We're Most Excited To Read, and Book Riot’s 8 Of The Best Romance Books With Action. [Discover The Writer Files Extra: Get 'The Writer Files' Podcast Delivered Straight to Your Inbox at] [If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click FOLLOW to automatically see new int

  • The Art and Craft of TV Drama with Aaron Tracy: Part Two

    08/12/2023 Duración: 41min

    Yale educator and TV writer/producer, Aaron Tracy, returns to chat with me about surviving the WGA writer’s strike, finally teaching the podcast at Yale, and his latest audio thriller on Audible, Nowhere Man, starring Lee Pace and Zosia Mamet. Aaron Tracy also teaches “The Art and Craft of Television Drama” at Yale University, and his TV credits include Law & Order: SVU, Fairly Legal, The Tap, and Sequestered, a serialized thriller that ran two seasons, for which he was Creator and Executive Producer.  He is also a Creator, Director,  and Exec. Producer of scripted audio dramas for iHeartRadio, Audible, and Spotify, with various production partners including: Supreme: The Battle For Roe, his 9-part audio drama starring Eva Longoria (feat. Maya Hawke and William H. Macy); Murder in Bermuda (feat. Mary-Louise Parker); and many others. His most recent is Nowhere Man, a noir political thriller Executive Produced by and starring Lee Pace, with co-stars Zosia Mamet, and Chazz Palminteri. “Set in the mid-1980s, Nowh

  • How National Book Award Winner & Bestselling Author James McBride Writes: Redux

    01/12/2023 Duración: 32min

    NOTE: This is an updated replay of an amazing chat I had with New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award winner, James McBride. His latest novel, THE HEAVEN & EARTH GROCERY STORE, was named Amazon’s #1 Book of the Year Pick, and Barnes & Noble's Book of the Year, among many other accolades for 2023. Congrats James! New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award winner, James McBride, spoke to me about eschewing literary fame, his friendship with Spike Lee, and his latest novel THE HEAVEN & EARTH GROCERY STORE. James McBride is a musician, screenwriter, and award-winning author of New York Times bestselling Oprah’s Book Club selection Deacon King Kong, the National Book Award–winner The Good Lord Bird (now a Showtime limited series starring Ethan Hawke), and the American classic The Color of Water. His debut novel, Miracle at St. Anna, was turned into a 2008 film by Oscar-winning writer and director Spike Lee, with a script written by McBride.  The author’s latest novel, The Heaven &

  • How Publishing Legend Charles Scribner III Writes

    22/11/2023 Duración: 40min

    Publishing legend, art historian, and author, Charles Scribner III, spoke with me about growing up surrounded by publishing, Hemingway’s Three Rules to Life, and his memoir/family history SCRIBNERS: FIVE GENERATIONS IN PUBLISHING. Charles Scribner III is an art historian, author, editor, and lecturer, who received his BA, MFA, and PhD from Princeton University in art and archaeology.  He worked in publishing for nearly thirty years and is a prominent authority on Caravaggio, Bernini, Rubens, and other artists. He has written biographies on Rubens and Bernini; articles for Vanity Fair, Art & Antiques, among other publications; and has lectured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery, the Smithsonian, Christie’s, and various universities.  His forthcoming family history, Scribners: Five Generations in Publishing, is about the inside story of 5 generations – over 150 years – at the legendary publishing house of Charles Scribner's Sons. “The author, the fifth of the Charleses to work at that house

  • How #1 NY Times Bestselling Author Jim Butcher Writes

    17/11/2023 Duración: 34min

    #1 New York Times bestselling author, Jim Butcher, spoke with me about how he outlined a hit 20-novel series (years before he had an agent), why all steampunks wear goggles, and the second book in his Cinder Spires series, THE OLYMPIAN AFFAIR. Jim Butcher is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Dresden Files, the Codex Alera, and the Cinder Spires novels. The long-anticipated second novel in his Cinder Spires series is The Olympian Affair, described by the author as “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets Sherlock meets Hornblower,” in a series “... about noble families, magic-wielding warriors, and airship battles.” Library Journal called it “... an exciting epic fantasy, set in the sky and filled with airships, magic, and the connections of blood and found family." And New York Times bestselling author David Weber said of the book, “It’s steampunk meets magic with a dose of sci-fi for seasoning.” [Discover The Writer Files Extra: Get 'The Writer Files' Podcast Delivered Straight to Your Inbox at

  • How #1 NY Times Bestselling Author Susan Wiggs Writes: Part Two

    10/11/2023 Duración: 35min

    #1 New York Times bestselling author, Susan Wiggs, returns to chat with me about her island writing hideout, rescuing two puppies at the same time, holiday genre tropes, and her latest Christmas book THE TWELVE DOGS OF CHRISTMAS. Susan Wiggs is the award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of over 50 published novels, with over 25 million copies in print, published in 30 countries, and translated into over 20 languages. Her latest, The Twelve Dogs of Christmas: A Novel, is described as, “The ultimate holiday gift from New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs: a delightful novel about a Christmas transport of rescue puppies that’s guaranteed to warm readers’ hearts.” #1 New York Times bestselling author of Must Love Flowers, Debbie Macomber, said of the book, "Don't miss this charming Christmas tale of thawing hearts, escaping dogs, and finding home. I couldn't help digging into this book with both paws." [Discover The Writer Files Extra: Get 'The Writer Files' Podcast Delivered Straight to Your

  • How Literary Critic & Publishing Insider Bethanne Patrick Writes: Part Two

    03/11/2023 Duración: 33min

    Longtime literary critic and publishing insider, Bethanne Patrick, is back to chat with me about the return of her hit podcast Missing Pages, her front-row seat to the sea change in publishing, and her life-affirming first memoir LIFE B. Bethanne Patrick is a world-renowned literary critic, author, and host of the chart-topping and Signal Award-winning podcast Missing Pages. Her work appears frequently in the Los Angeles Times as well as in The Washington Post, NPR Books, and Literary Hub. Missing Pages is back – the Webby Award-nominated podcast named a “must-listen” by The Washington Post and The Guardian – has a second season on deck that features authors, experts, publishing insiders, and a circus of NYC media elites. Host Bethanne Patrick sits down with notable guests to set the record straight on the secretive world of book publishing again. From the rise of Colleen Hoover and book bans across America to the idea of who owns what in fan fiction, Missing Pages investigates it all.  Bethanne also recently

  • How #1 NY Times Bestselling Author Andrew Child Writes

    27/10/2023 Duración: 36min

    #1 NY Times bestselling author, Andrew Child, spoke to me about his lifelong obsession with storytelling, working with Jack Reacher co-author and brother Lee Child, and their latest in the series THE SECRET. In addition to four Reacher novels, Andrew Child – the pen name of author Andrew Grant – has also written his own hit thriller series including RUN, False Positive, False Friend, False Witness, Invisible, and Too Close to Home.  His brother Lee Child is the creator of the international bestselling, award-winning, 28-book series of Jack Reacher novels, and winner of Author of the Year at the 2019 British Book Awards. NPR said of the books, “The Reacher novels are easily the best thriller series going,” and James Patterson said of the brother’s collaboration, “Two Childs are better than one.” [Discover The Writer Files Extra: Get 'The Writer Files' Podcast Delivered Straight to Your Inbox at] [If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click FOLLOW to automatically see new interviews. And dr

  • How Acclaimed Debut Novelist Molly McGhee Writes

    20/10/2023 Duración: 33min

    Critically acclaimed debut novelist, Molly McGhee, spoke with me about the best day of her life, her part in The Great Publishing Resignation, losing a parent, and her first book JONATHAN ABERNATHY YOU ARE KIND. Molly McGhee writes fiction and essays and taught in the undergraduate creative writing department at Columbia University where she also graduated with an MFA in fiction. Her debut novel is Jonathan Abernathy You Are Kind, described by The New York Times as a story about, “... debt-laden citizens [who] are recruited to ‘audit’ others’ dreams — all in the name of productivity.” In a starred review Booklist said of the book, “… a superlative state-of-the-nation novel like no other. Full of astoundingly resonant and eminently quotable points about labor, capital, and depression, this wondrous literary creation brilliantly captures the excessive demands of contemporary work.” Molly has worked in the editorial departments of McSweeney’s, The Believer, NOON, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and helped launch a ho

  • How Award-Winning Climate Journalist Amy Westervelt Writes

    18/10/2023 Duración: 42min

    Bonus Episode – Climate Edition: Award-winning investigative journalist and Executive Podcast Producer, Amy Westervelt, spoke to me about her accidental career in climate accountability, the greatest threat to free speech, and her deep dive into the origins of climate denial. Amy Westervelt is an independent investigative climate journalist who has been on the climate beat for more than 20 years, reporting for a wide range of outlets over the years, including Inside Climate News, The Guardian, The Nation, The Intercept, NPR, and many others. She is the Executive Producer of the independent podcast production company Critical Frequency, and in 2021, she helped produce This Land S2—an investigative podcast revealing the forces behind efforts to unravel tribal sovereignty in the U.S.— nominated for a Peabody Award in April 2022. In 2020 she produced Unfinished: Short Creek with Stitcher which was named a best podcast of the year by The New Yorker and The Atlantic She also hosted her award-winning climate podcast

  • How Acclaimed Debut Novelist Isa Arsén Writes

    13/10/2023 Duración: 34min

    Critically acclaimed debut novelist, Isa Arsén, spoke with me about humanizing machines and the creative process, how to write soft sci-fi, and her genre-bending, “timey-wimey” literary debut SHOOT THE MOON. Isa Arsén is an author and audio engineer based in South Texas and has published several short stories and pieces of experimental interactive media. Shoot the Moon is Arsén’s debut novel, inspired by her own childhood in New Mexico. Named a BookBub Best Book of Fall and Shondaland Best Book for October 2023 among others, it has been described as “...a puzzle box time travel story,” about an “... [intelligent] but lonely NASA secretary and her relentless drive to live a big life in a world that would keep her small.” Publishers Weekly called it an, "Innovative . . . [novel that] navigates the back-and-forth of the story’s time-travel events, threading them into the highlights of women’s scientific achievements." [Discover The Writer Files Extra: Get 'The Writer Files' Podcast Delivered Straight to Your Inb

  • How #1 NY Times Bestselling Author Laurell K. Hamilton Writes: Part Two

    06/10/2023 Duración: 46min

    #1 New York Times bestselling author, Laurell K. Hamilton, returns to talk about how her writing process has evolved over the last 30 years, how to find words, wisdom, and mental wellness, and celebrating the 30th in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series with SLAY. Laurell K. Hamilton is the trailblazing, genre-bending author of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, and the Merry Gentry, Fey Detective series, and is considered an influential pioneer in the urban-fantasy genre. In the 30th novel of the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Hunter series, Slay, wedding bells are ringing. “But before Anita can make it to the altar, she must face an obstacle more daunting than any supernatural threat.” Laurell K. Hamilton is one of the most successful and popular paranormal fiction authors publishing today, has published over 40 novels, and has sold more than 20 million copies of her books. [Discover The Writer Files Extra: Get 'The Writer Files' Podcast Delivered Straight to Your Inbox at] [If

  • How Booker Prize-Winning Author Anne Enright Writes

    29/09/2023 Duración: 36min

    Bestselling, Booker Prize-winning author, Anne Enright, spoke to me about eagles and moles, the interior engineering of a novel, her love of Irish poetry, and her latest THE WREN, THE WREN. Anne Enright won the Man Booker Prize and the Irish Fiction Award for her novel The Gathering. She has also been awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Irish Book Awards, and was the first Laureate for Irish Fiction (2015-2018). Her latest novel The Wren, the Wren, was named a Most Anticipated Book of the Year by TIME, The Millions, Literary Hub, and others, and is described as the story of “... three generations of … women who must contend with inheritances―of poetic wonder and of abandonment by a man who is lauded in public and carelessly selfish at home.” The New York Times called it, "... a powerful, thoughtful book by one of the great living writers on the subject of family," and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan said of the book, “The Wren, the Wren is an ele

  • How Bestselling Author & TV Producer Dwain Worrell Writes

    22/09/2023 Duración: 42min

    Bestselling author and award-winning screenwriter, Dwain Worrell, spoke to me about making the move from the writers' room to the cafe, the art and science of suspense, and his debut novel ANDRONE. Dwain Worrell is an award-winning Marvel and Disney+ TV producer, filmmaker, and novelist whose writing credits include Marvel’s Iron Fist, CBS’s Fire Country, Amazon Studios’ The Wall, and the Disney+ series National Treasure, among others. Dwain also worked as a translator of Mandarin Chinese in Beijing for nearly a decade. His bestselling debut novel, Androne, is described as a “... near future … highly cinematic and propulsive story [centered] around a terrifying event called the Ninety-Nine, where all major military installations on Earth [are] eviscerated, heralding humanity's start of a war with an unknown enemy.” Niels Arden Oplev, Director of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo called the book “A crazy-cool ride into the unknown …. [Androne] reads like a high-end videogame on steroids with a destiny of Shakesp

  • How #1 NY Times Bestselling Author Jennifer Lynn Barnes Writes

    15/09/2023 Duración: 36min

    #1 New York Times bestselling author, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, spoke to me about how to write seven novels in 18 months, the psychology of fiction and fandom, and her latest YA mystery, THE BROTHERS HAWTHORNE. Jennifer Lynn Barnes is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 20 acclaimed young adult novels, including The Inheritance Games trilogy, Little White Lies, Deadly Little Scandals, The Lovely and the Lost, and The Naturals series. Her latest is The Brothers Hawthorne, described as “Knives Out-esque” by Publishers Weekly, it is a story of [two brothers] “Drawn into twisted games on opposite sides of the globe, [who] —with the help of their brothers and the girl who inherited their grandfather’s fortune—must dig deep to decide who they want to be and what each of them will sacrifice to win.” Jen is a Fulbright Scholar with advanced degrees in psychology, psychiatry, and cognitive science including a Ph.D. from Yale University, and “ one of the world's leading experts on the psychology of f

  • How #1 NY Times Bestselling Author James Rollins Writes

    08/09/2023 Duración: 33min

    #1 New York Times bestselling author, James Rollins, spoke to me about his alter ego, veterinarian Dr. Jim, how to write two staccato-paced novels a year, and his latest Sigma Force installment, TIDES OF FIRE. James Rollins is the #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of the Sigma Force series, six standalone adventure thrillers, a novelization of the Indiana Jones franchise, and many others totaling over 44 novels (even he can’t remember the exact number). His latest in his most popular series is Tides of Fire: A Sigma Force Novel, [set on] “ international research station in the Coral Sea [that] comes under siege during a geological disaster that triggers massive quakes, deadly tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. To stop the world from burning, it’s up to Sigma Force to uncover a secret buried at the heart of our planet…” Publishers Weekly said of the book, "The X-Files meets Seal Team Six in Rollins’s imaginative, pulse-pounding 17th Sigma Force thriller . . . . Rollins’s gleeful everything-but-the-kitch

  • How Internationally Bestselling Author Lucy Clarke Writes

    01/09/2023 Duración: 34min

    Internationally bestselling author, Lucy Clarke, spoke to me about how her love of travel morphed into a destination thriller, building your readership organically, and the chewy female dynamics in her latest novel THE HIKE. Lucy Clarke is a Sunday Times bestseller and the author of eight destination thrillers including Waterstones Thriller of the Month, The Castaways, Richard and Judy Book Club pick, One of the Girls, and most recently, The Hike.  Told in alternating perspectives her latest thriller “explores the wild side of female friendship and the transportive power of the wilderness.” New York Times bestselling author Sarah Pearse said of the book, “THE HIKE transports you to the Norwegian wilderness where a group of female friends are pushed to their absolute limits and beyond.” Lucy’s novels have sold over a million copies and are published in over 25 territories worldwide. An adaptation of her book The Castaways was filmed on location in Fiji and Greece, and the five-part series is airing on Paramoun

  • How to Write with ADHD and Coach Skye Waterson

    30/08/2023 Duración: 32min

    Bonus Episode: ADHD Coach, researcher, and Doctoral Candidate, Skye Waterson, spoke to me about writing a dissertation with neurodiversity, conquering burnout, and her unconventional approach to writing routines for writers with time blindness and more. Skye Waterson is the Founder of Unconventional Organization, a worldwide, research-based ADHD support service that has helped academics, playwrights, and authors with ADHD “ strength-focused writing routines so they can meet their goals while managing struggles with executive functioning” An academic with over seven years of experience working in adult education, she has studied in various fields, including Psychology, Sociology, and Public Health, and is now a Doctoral Candidate in Population Health. [Discover The Writer Files Extra: Get 'The Writer Files' Podcast Delivered Straight to Your Inbox at] [If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click FOLLOW to automatically see new interviews. And drop us a rating or a review wherever y

  • How Acclaimed TV Writer/Producer Adam Lorenzo Writes

    25/08/2023 Duración: 50min

    Acclaimed TV and movie writer, Adam Lorenzo, spoke to me about owning a college bar … while still in college, his work ethic and what keeps him hustling pages, and his latest college survival guide ALL I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED FROM MY COLLEGE BAR. Adam Lorenzo is a writer/producer who works in both live-action and animation who started as a joke writer, selling material to Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update''; Jimmy Kimmel; and David Letterman, which resulted in his first staff-writing job, on The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn (co-created and executive produced by Letterman). Other notable TV credits include the Emmy-winning Everybody Loves Raymond, Are We There Yet? (starring Terry Crews and Ice Cube), and Everybody Hates Chris, based on the life of Chris Rock. Before successfully pursuing his dream of being a writer, he owned a college bar... while still a student at Syracuse University. The author’s debut in publishing, naturally, is All I Need To Know I Learned From My

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