Writing’s a bitch – and so’s Neil Gaiman

Posted by on Jan 24, 2010 in Authors, Books, Ripley, Writing | No Comments

While catching up on the New Yorker stack composting beside the bed, I read a profile of Neil Gaiman, the prolific and versatile author of spooky kid and adult books, comics, graphic novels, screenplays, and more, who described himself as having the good fortune of being a “facile” writer. The Londoner lives in rural Wisconsin, […]






Every writer needs a healthy diversion…

Posted by on Dec 17, 2009 in Authors, skateboard, skateboarding, Writing | No Comments

… mine is slopping together amateur videos, like this one of my sons and their friend during a trip to Portland: And here’s one my son Leo filmed and edited himself. He even “wrote” the music (in GarageBand):






My interview with National Book Award winner, Colum McCann

Posted by on Nov 23, 2009 in Authors, Books, Journalism, seattle, Writing | No Comments

When Colum McCann won the National Book Award last week, for his wonderful novel, “Let the Great World Spin,” he became the first Irish author to win the award (and dedicated it to his fellow Irish-American, Frank McCourt, who recently died). In July, Colum came to Seattle to read at the Seattle Public Library. Afterward, […]






Favorite (& best) libraries: New York + Seattle

Posted by on Nov 7, 2009 in Authors, Books, Newspapers, Ripley, Writing | One Comment

Like most non-fiction writers, I’ve spent untold hours in libraries and archives all over the country. I love these places, homes to the printed words that help bring my subjects to life – old court cases, manuscript collections, century-old books, and microfilmed newspapers. I’ve been fortunate to have lived in two cities with spectacular libraries […]






Ten work-habit tips from a dead crime writer (Ross Macdonald)

Posted by on Oct 28, 2009 in Authors, Books, Writing | No Comments

During a recent road trip from Seattle through Idaho, Montana and North Dakota (and back), I had the chance to read a few books and writers who’ve long been on my list, including recent works by Walter Mosley and Laura Lippman, plus two oldies – Walker Percy’s “The Moviegoer,” and Ross MacDonald’s first novel, “The […]






Interview with Seattle author-blogger Molly Wizenberg of Orangette

Posted by on Oct 16, 2009 in Authors, Books, Journalism, Writing | No Comments

After reading about her in Sunset magazine earlier this year, I heard Wizenberg speak at the University of Washington (where I happened to be visiting a panel called “Journalism on the Brink” – see my May 11 post). She was there to discuss her recently published book, “A Homemade Life,” which grew from her popular […]






On author Jim Harrison’s memoir, “Off to the Side”

Posted by on Oct 7, 2009 in Authors, Books, Journalism, Writing | One Comment

I came across Harrison’s 2002 memoir at Powell’s Books during a recent trip to Portland, just before dropping my two sons off at a weeklong, late-summer skateboarding camp. Two-thirds of the way through the book, Harrison quotes William Faulker’s advise that all a writer needs is a pencil and tablet. [This is from Faulkner’s interview […]






Journalism on the Brink? Probably…

Posted by on May 11, 2009 in Authors, Books, Journalism, Newspapers | No Comments

But the brink of what? A couple months ago I sat in on a panel discussion at the University of Washington, where Seattle-area journalists, bloggers, and academics wrestled with the question that grows more complicated and harder to answer by the day.






More newspaper woes

Last week, the family and I visited San Francisco for spring break, in keeping with our practice of visiting cities for vacation. (Last year: Philly)  I had been invited to give a talk to the Sonoma County Historical Society, an hour north of San Francisco, in Santa Rosa, home town of cartoonist Robert “Believe it […]






Death of a newspaper

Posted by on Mar 23, 2009 in Journalism, Newspapers, Ripley, Writing | No Comments

As a pre-launch to this blog, it seemed an appropriate inaugural post to comment on last week’s closing of the print edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which will now become the largest daily newspaper in America to be available only on the Web. The “P-I,” as it’s known here in Seattle, is owned by the […]