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.


  • How Bestselling Novelist Nickolas Butler Writes

    02/09/2021 Duración: 29min

    #PodcastersForJustice Internationally bestselling novelist and short story author, Nickolas Butler, spoke to me about working sh*tty jobs, the irony of his latest title, Godspeed, and defining the modern western. Nickolas is an Iowa Writers' Workshop grad and author of the award-winning novel Shotgun Lovesongs, The Hearts of Men, and Little Faith, and the story collection Beneath the Bonfire. His latest novel is Godspeed, described as "... an incisive portrait of working-class life, the meth epidemic, and the many stratified realities of this one America we all live in, separately." New York Times bestselling author, Ace Atkins, said of the book, “A fast-moving, highly addictive novel of ambition, obsession, and long-festering dreams of the haves and have nots." Nickolas has published articles, reviews, short stories, and poetry in publications such as Ploughshares, Narrative, and The New York Times Book Review, among others. Stay calm and write on ... And Stay Tuned: I’m cooking up some extras for fans of t

  • How Award-Winning Sci-Fi Author Charlie Jane Anders Writes

    26/08/2021 Duración: 30min

    #PodcastersForJustice Decorated speculative fiction and YA author and pundit, Charlie Jane Anders, chatted with me about the genesis of storytelling, how to weather 20 years of rejection, write through hard times, and her latest how-to for writers Never Say You Can’t Survive. "Being a writer doesn't have to mean you have a cool haircut and live in Brooklyn and go to fancy literary parties. It can mean that you're just someone who enjoys making up stories ... you don't even have to publish them." – Charlie Jane Anders Charlie Jane's novel Victories Greater Than Death – the first book in a new young-adult trilogy, April, 2021 – and 2019's Locus Award winner The City in the Middle of the Night – named one of the year's best books by the Guardian and others and optioned for TV by Sony. Her 2016 novel, All the Birds in the Sky, was #5 on Time Magazine's list of the year's 10 best novels, and won the Nebula, Locus and Crawford awards. Her latest is Never Say You Can’t Survive, a book about how to use creative wri

  • How NY Times Bestselling Novelist Jason Mott Writes

    19/08/2021 Duración: 28min

    #PodcastersForJustice New York Times bestselling author, Jason Mott, took a timeout to talk with me about the high-wire act of building Hell of a Book, talking about race in America, and NOT working with Brad Pitt. Jason is the author of The Returned, a New York Times bestseller that was turned into a TV series that ran for two seasons. His fourth novel is titled Hell of a Book, and is described as a "... funny and honest [work of fiction] that goes to the heart of racism, police violence, and the hidden costs exacted upon Black Americans, and America as a whole." The book has been named to dozens of "must read" lists for 2021 including Entertainment Weekly, The NY Post, GMA, USA Today, Fortune's 21 Most Anticipated Books Coming out in the Second Half of 2021 and more. Charles Yu, author of National Book Award winner Interior Chinatown called the book, "Playful, searching, raw and necessary..." Jason has BFA in fiction and an MFA in Poetry, both from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. His poet

  • Bonus: Matt Haig Reads an Excerpt from 'The Midnight Library' on Storybound

    11/08/2021 Duración: 26min

    Matt Haig reads an excerpt from The Midnight Library, backed by an original Storybound remix with Robert Wynia, and sound design and arrangement by Jude Brewer. Robert Wynia is a founding member of the Portland band Floater. Known for their progressive concept albums, Floater is famous for incorporating stylized storytelling into their work. Wynia also releases music under his own name and released his book Night Walks with its own accompanying soundtrack in 2020. Storybound comes to you from The Podglomerate and Lit Hub Radio. Season 4 is some of their most inspired work yet, so be sure to subscribe today on Apple Podcasts or wherever you tune in. Matt Haig is the author of 20 books including the #1 bestselling memoir, Reasons to Stay Alive, five novels – including How to Stop Time – and several award-winning children’s books. His work has been translated into over 40 languages. His latest novel is The Midnight Library, a runaway, #1 bestseller and reader favorite of 2020. It was a Goodreads Choice Awards B

  • How Bestselling Thriller Writer Samantha Downing Writes

    04/08/2021 Duración: 24min

    #PodcastersForJustice Internationally bestselling thriller author, Samantha Downing, took a break to chat about her "20-year, overnight" success, writing psychopaths, and how to write a novel in six months. Samantha's debut novel, My Lovely Wife – about a married couple teaming up to commit murder – was a #1 international bestseller that earned Edgar and ITW Thriller Award nominations and an Amazon Best Thriller of the Month selection. Her latest bestseller, psychological thriller, For Your Own Good, has been called “A perfect summer book,” by NPR and described as "...a twisted and compulsively readable spin on the teacher-student relationship." New York Times bestselling author B.A. Paris called it, a "... wonderfully dark, twisty and compelling thriller set in a prestigious private school." And the book has been recently optioned by Robert Downey Jr. and Greg Berlanti for a series adaptation at HBO Max. Stay calm and write on ... And Stay Tuned: I’m cooking up some extras for fans of the show in the comin

  • How NY Times Bestselling Novelist S. A. Cosby Writes: Part Two

    22/07/2021 Duración: 28min

    #PodcastersForJustice New York Times bestseller, and award-winning neo-noir novelist, S. A. Cosby, returned to chat about his creative process, cinematic heroes, and fantasy casting his new revenge tale, Razorblade Tears. “I loved Blacktop Wasteland...[A] fast-paced, bare-knuckle thriller.” -Stephen King S.A. is also an Anthony Award-winning short story writer for Best Short Story, 2019, and his short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. His lauded bestselling novel, Blacktop Wasteland, was Amazon's #1 Mystery and Thriller of the Year and #3 Best Book of 2020 overall, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, Winner of the LA Times Book Award for Mystery or Thrillers and a Goodreads Choice Awards Semifinalist. His newest, Razorblade Tears, hit The New York Times Bestseller List for the week of July 25, 2021, at number 10, and is described by ALA Booklist as "... a powerful blend of pulsing action, sensitive and subtle character interact

  • How Award-Winning Novelist Claire Fuller Writes

    16/07/2021 Duración: 32min

    #PodcastersForJustice Award-winning novelist, Claire Fuller, talked to me about getting shortlisted for the Women’s Prize For Fiction 2021, what inspired her new novel Unsettled Ground, and her creative process. Claire is an accomplished artist who studied sculpture at Winchester School of Art. She only started writing fiction at the age of 40, after many years working as a director at a marketing agency. She is now the author of four novels – including her award-winning debut Our Endless Numbered Days – and her latest is Unsettled Ground, on the Shortlist for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2021. The book is described as "...a tale of sacrifice and hope, of homelessness and hardship, of love and survival..." and, "... an unusual family held together by a string of lies ... and a sudden death that threatens to undo them all." In a starred review, Booklist called Unsettled Ground, "Devastatingly haunting." Claire’s also an award-winning short fiction writer and writing instructor. Stay calm and write on ... An

  • How to Reverse Engineer a Bestseller with Award-Winning Psychologist Ron Friedman

    08/07/2021 Duración: 32min

    #PodcastersForJustice Bestselling author and award-winning social psychologist, Ron Friedman, spoke to me about how remarkable artists and writers reverse engineer breakouts, and his new book Decoding Greatness. Ron is an expert on human motivation and founder of ignite80, a consulting firm that crunches data in neuroscience, human physiology, and behavioral economics to " smart leaders build extraordinary workplaces." His latest work of non-fiction is the bestseller, Decoding Greatness: How the Best in the World Reverse Engineer Success described as "...a game-changing approach to mastering new skills and succeeding faster." New York Times bestselling author of Deep Work, Cal Newport, said of the book, "Read this book if you want to upgrade from working hard to actually producing results that matter." Accounts of Ron's research have appeared on NPR, in major newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Guardian, and magazines such as Harvard Business Review a

  • How Award-Winning Sci-Fi Author Sarah Pinsker Writes

    01/07/2021 Duración: 29min

    #PodcastersForJustice Award-winning short story writer and novelist, Sarah Pinsker, talked to me about neural implants, meeting Ursula Le Guin, and her latest, We Are Satellites. Sarah Pinsker is the 2019 Nebula Award winner for Best Novel for A Song For a New Day. The lauded and eerily prescient novel was "...Set in our near-future world following a virus and violent attacks that led people to limit almost all interaction to the virtual space." Sound familiar? Her latest is We Are Satellites was named One of Buzzfeed’s Best Science Fiction Books of Spring 2021 and described as "...a fascinating novel that explores how technologies can transform family dynamics.” Sarah’s also a multi-hyphenate singer/songwriter whose Nebula and Sturgeon award-winning short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s, F&SF, as well as numerous other magazines, best-of anthologies, and been translated into multiple languages. Stay tuned after the interview for a sample of the We Are Satellites audiobook, excerpted courtesy of Pengui

  • How Award-Winning Debut Author Sanjena Sathian Writes

    22/06/2021 Duración: 26min

    #PodcastersForJustice Award-winning short story writer and debut novelist, Sanjena Sathian, talked to me about the true cost of the American dream, magical realism, and working with Mindy Kaling on the adaptation of Gold Diggers. Sanjena is an Iowa Writers' Workshop grad who started her career as a journalist and reporter in Mumbai and San Francisco. She has had nonfiction bylines in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Food & Wine, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, and more. Her debut novel is Gold Diggers, and is described as, "A magical realist coming-of-age story ... about Indian American identity, community ... and the underside of ambition." Already a Good Morning America Buzz Pick, New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, and a Vox Bookclub Pick, #1 bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng, said of the book, “Dizzyingly original, fiercely funny, deeply wise.” Stay calm and write on ... And Stay Tuned: I’m cooking up some extras for fans of the show in the coming we

  • How Bestselling Children's Book Author Crystal Swain-Bates Writes

    08/06/2021 Duración: 35min

    #PodcastersForJustice Award-winning children's book author and diversity publishing pro, Crystal Swain-Bates, spoke with me about what inspired her to launch her own publishing company and the challenges authors of color face. “When I recognized how underrepresented black characters were in children's books, I made it my life's purpose to fill the diversity gap...” – Crystal Swain-Bates Crystal is a celebrated illustrated kids' book author, entrepreneur, and indie publisher "... on a mission to positively reshape the way children of color all over the world see themselves." She has written and published 12 children's books, been featured by Forbes, Entrepreneur, Essence Magazine, CNN, and HuffPost, and her books have been used as props for hit television shows on BET. Her lauded and bestselling book Big Hair, Don't Care is one of Amazon's most highly reviewed black children's books. Crystal founded Goldest Karat Publishing to address the lack of diversity in children's literature and aims to help "... asp

  • Myth-Busting Book Publishing with Agent Lucinda Halpern

    02/06/2021 Duración: 34min

    #PodcastersForJustice 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 Susan Peirce Thompson (Bright Line Eating), Chris Bailey (The Productivity Project; Hyperfocus), Cait Flanders (The Year of Less), Paul Jarvis (Company of One), the new work of Nicola Kraus (The Nanny Diaries) and Jake Wood (Once a Warrior). She also shares publishing insights and motivation for writers and hosts both live and online programs for aspiring authors.

  • How NY Times Bestselling Author Lisa Scottoline Writes

    19/05/2021 Duración: 36min

    #PodcastersForJustice New York Times bestselling author and Edgar award-winner, Lisa Scottoline, spoke with me about what she learned from literary lion Philip Roth, impostor syndrome, and her latest book, Eternal. “I think all writing is writing, and all writing is good. And whether it gets published or not, it all ... makes you better.” – Lisa Scottoline Lisa is a #1 bestselling author of 33 novels. She's gone from law school standout to writing chart-topping legal thrillers over the course of her prolific career, has sold over 30 million copies of her books in the US, and been published in 35 countries. Her latest is Eternal and her first historical novel, a departure that she calls the culmination of her life's work. It's described as "... a sweeping and shattering epic of historical fiction fueled by shocking true events." “[Her] expansive WWII-era historical novel follows three childhood best friends as love, loyalty and sacrifice mix and their beloved Rome falls to the Nazis.” – GMA Lisa also write

  • 'Diving Deep' with Award-Winning Documentarian Mimi deGruy and Author Adam Skolnick

    12/05/2021 Duración: 49min

    #PodcastersForJustice Award-winning documentarian, Mimi deGruy, joined me and author Adam Skolnick for a deep dive into the genesis of her documentary exploring the legacy and environmental activism of her late husband, trailblazing ocean filmmaker Mike deGruy. “When Mike died, I felt like he left in mid-conversation, and I knew that he had so much more to say,” – Mimi deGruy Mike deGruy was a lauded filmmaker, biologist, and activist, who pushed the boundaries of cinematography and diving technology to explore never-before-seen ocean life and share it with the world. "In 2012, deGruy died tragically at age 60 in a helicopter crash in Australia while filming for [Academy Award® winning] director James Cameron." – KCRW The documentary, “Diving Deep: The Life and Times of Mike deGruy” was crowd-funded, directed, produced, and written by Mimi, Mike’s widow and filmmaking partner. "Told through the eyes of his wife ... the film celebrates [Mike’s] life, career, and what he passionately believed: we are destro

  • How Bestselling Crime Novelist Walter Mosley Writes

    05/05/2021 Duración: 27min

    #PodcastersForJustice Celebrated author, Walter Mosley, took a timeout to chat with me about how he didn't write a sentence he liked until age 35, the sprawling muse of Los Angeles, and his conflicted feelings after winning a big National Book Award. “Write your truth, and believe in it. And if your mother doesn’t like it ... too bad.” – Walter Mosley Walter is the first Black man to receive the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters for lifetime achievement in writing. The critically acclaimed author, playwright, screenwriter, and producer has written over 60 books including fiction (literary, mystery, and science fiction), writing guides, memoir, a YA novel, has won dozens of prestigious awards (including an Emmy), and been translated into 25 languages. His bestselling historical mysteries feature infamous, hard-boiled detective "Easy" Rawlins, a black PI living in the Watts neighborhood of LA. Blood Grove (Easy Rawlins Book 15) is the latest in that series a

  • How Critically Acclaimed Novelist Erik Raschke Writes

    21/04/2021 Duración: 01h04min

    #PodcastersForJustice Critically acclaimed novelist, short story writer, and educator, Erik Raschke, stopped by this week to talk about coming-of-age in Denver, Colorado, how The Beat Generation influenced his writing, and how your children consume you. Erik Raschke is a native to Denver, Colorado – and admittedly, one of my oldest friends. He became a dual Dutch and American citizen in 2013, teaches writing at the University of Amsterdam and is a certified New York public school teacher. Erik's first novel, The Book of Samuel, was translated into Italian and nominated for the prestigious Printz award. His short story, Winch (Portland Review), was nominated for the 2018 Best American Short Stories. His latest is To the Mountain, a novel described as "... an absorbing tale of sacrifice, hope, and the bond between father and son." NY Times bestselling author Margaret Coel called the book, “A deeply affecting tale of a father’s love for his autistic son ... Raschke’s lyrical prose evokes both the awesome wilder

  • How #1 NY Times Bestselling Author Mark Greaney Writes

    14/04/2021 Duración: 29min

    #PodcastersForJustice The #1 New York Times bestselling author, Mark Greaney, dropped by to chat about hanging out with Tom Clancy at The Pentagon, the elements of a great spy novel, and the latest in The Gray Man series. "Even if you finish a whole book and it doesn't get published, I promise you you're a much better author at the end of that process than you were at the beginning..." – Mark Greaney Mark's debut international thriller, The Gray Man, was published in 2009 and became a national bestseller and highly sought-after Hollywood property. He's released ten in that series to date including the #1 New York Times bestseller One Minute Out. The Gray Man series has drawn comparisons to giants of the field including Brad Thor, Daniel Silva, and – of course – Tom Clancy. Mark is also the #1 New York Times bestselling author or co-author of seven Tom Clancy novels – he co-wrote Clancy’s final three Jack Ryan thrillers prior to his passing. Mark's latest outing with The Gray Man is Relentless, a book best

  • How to Research Historical Fiction with Award-Winning Author Patrick Hicks

    07/04/2021 Duración: 36min

    #PodcastersForJustice Award-winning author, poet, and Emmy-nominee, Patrick Hicks, joined me this week to talk about his unique research process, how stories choose their authors, and how to talk about The Holocaust. "Whatever scares you to write... that's what you should be writing." – Patrick Hicks Patrick is the award-winning author of over ten books, including The Collector of Names, Adoptable, This London, and the critically acclaimed novel, The Commandant of Lubizec. He is the Writer-in-Residence at Augustana University as well as a faculty member at the MFA program at Sierra Nevada University. He has been published widely in literary journals including Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Guernica, The Utne Reader, and many others. His poetry has appeared on NPR, The PBS NewsHour, and American Life in Poetry. The Emmy-nominated writer also hosts a weekly radio broadcast Poetry from Studio 47 that airs on NPR affiliates. Note: I’m cooking up some extras for fans of the show in the coming weeks you won’t w

  • How Award-Winning Artist & Author Jason Naylor Writes

    25/03/2021 Duración: 32min

    #BoulderStrong Brooklyn-based designer, artist, and creative director, Jason Naylor, rapped with me about his mission to inspire hope, how to write bite-sized wisdom for an attention-starved world, and why "love is the answer to everything." “Be yourself, be brave, be proud of who you are, be kind, be loving, be happy, and be colorful.” – Jason Naylor As a designer, Jason has won two CLIO bronze medals and a Golden Novum Design Award. But it's his "live life colorfully" credo and independent artwork that have found him fame. Jason's popularity has grown during the pandemic through his inspiring and intensely colorful murals. Jason has worked around the world to brighten communities through his public art installations. His first book is Live Life Colorfully: 99 Ideas to Add Joy, Positivity, and Creativity to Your Life, a "...quirky, illustrated mix of inspiring words, tips and tricks, and challenges from [the] award-winning artist." You may recognize his distinctive style from his collaborations with bran

  • How NY Times Bestselling Author Matt Haig Writes

    17/03/2021 Duración: 36min

    #PodcastersForJustice Internationally bestselling author, Matt Haig, spoke with me about how the novelist became an accidental "mental health expert," why writers need resilience, and the process behind The Midnight Library. "The only reader you're ever going to truly know ... is yourself." – Matt Haig Matt's the author of 20 books including the #1 bestselling memoir, Reasons to Stay Alive, five novels – including How to Stop Time – and several award-winning children’s books. His work has been translated into over 40 languages. His latest novel is The Midnight Library, a runaway, #1 bestseller and reader favorite of 2020. It was a Goodreads Choice Awards Best Fiction Book of 2020, a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, Amazon, the New York Public Library, among many others. The New York Times said of the book, "An absorbing ... vision of limitless possibility, of new roads taken, of new lives lived, of a whole different world available to us somehow, somewhere, [perhaps] exactly what’s wanted in

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