Over at CBR, we’ve been asking authors, publishers, booksellers, and other literary types just a few questions about what they’re reading, writing, publishing, and selling. Just 5 quick questions. We’ll be posting their responses over the coming weeks in this new series, “5 Questions for …”
We start today with local fave, author/writer/journalist/speaker/professor/storyteller/all-around-wordsmith Michele Weldon, whose latest book, Escape Points, was published in September 2015 by Chicago Review Press. The memoir was named an Editor’s Choice by Booklist in 2015, and was voted a finalist in nonfiction memoir by the Society of Midland Authors in 2016.
5 Questions for … Michele Weldon
CBR: What new writing projects are you working on right now?
MW: I am writing new essays and gathering previously published essays into a collection of nonfiction, Act Like You’re Having A Good Time: Essays on Life, Work and Meaning. I have been writing essays for four decades now and really love the genre. I wanted to have available in one place my best work, which spans the decades, and also has my latest pieces, which are unpublished. I see it as a mix of about 70/30, with the majority being new work. The title comes from what my mother used to say to the six of us (my five brothers and sisters and me) growing up. She believed that if you acted in a positive manner, you would likely end up feeling that way. And, it turns out, she was mostly right. I write opinion pieces connected to the news two to four times a month for outlets from USA Today to The Washington Post, Medium, and Cosmopolitan. But then, these longer essays for the book are more fluid. Coming off the recent publication of my fifth book, Escape Points: A Memoir, I wanted to work on a project that was not as intense as a memoir, and I could polish these smaller pieces as needed. I wanted to have a reference of personal essays that touch on work and the meaning of what you do every day.
CBR: Who are some of your favorite writers?
MW: Isabel Allende, Amy Tan, Elizabeth Berg, Nancy Horan, Sandra Cisneros, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Malcolm Gladwell, Erik Larsen, Chimamande Adichie, so many. Too many to mention.
CBR: What are you reading right now?
MW: I just got Jane Hamilton’s The Excellent Lombards, and I just finished When in French: Love in a Second Language by Lauren Collins.
CBR: Which books are on your to-read list?
MW: The Miles Between Me by Toni Nealie, Epic Measures by Jeremy Smith, Trying to Float by Nicolaia Rips, and Exonoree Diaries by Alison Flowers.
CBR: If you could write one book about any topic—fiction or nonfiction—what would that book be?
MW: I want to write a nonfiction book about unacknowledged women pioneers in obscure fields, maybe investigate five or six of them, perhaps women in uncelebrated sciences or researchers working behind the scenes always, but making a huge contribution in the arts, education, policy. I already can see the cover: Badass.
Michele Weldon is an award-winning journalist and author as well as a prolific and accomplished storyteller across many platforms and genres, with the continuous thread through her work of compelling narrative. She taught journalism at the graduate and undergraduate levels at her alma mater, Northwestern University’s Medill School, where she led the redesign of the freshmen undergraduate curriculum with groundbreaking instruction in Reporting & Writing and Multimedia Storytelling. She also taught courses in twenty-first-century media, enterprise reporting, magazine storytelling, narrative journalism, and journalism methods, and she served as writing coach for graduate students. Weldon is the author of several books, including Closed My Eyes: Revelations of a Battered Woman, Writing to Save Your Life, A Mother And Her Sons, and, most recently, Escape Points.
For more information about Michele, visit http://micheleweldon.com/about/
You can catch Michele Weldon during Printers Row Lit Fest:
“Memoir: Struggle & Strength: Joan Barnes and Michele Weldon in Conversation With Barbara Mahany”
Sunday, June 12
Hotel Blake/Dearborn Room