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Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Author Whitney Terrell told the story of a female soldier in his novel, The Good Lieutenant. His consultant for that book, Angela Fitle, lived it in the Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom II. They share their thoughts on the female experience of war. Then children's author Brian Selznick reveals what it was like to condense his novel Wonderstruck​ into the screenplay for the just-released film version.

In the early 2000s, an artist from Japan came to study at the Kansas City Art Institute. She made a big impression on the arts community here ... and it made one on her as well. She shares the story behind "Thank You for Teaching Me English," now on display at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.

Courtesy Mary Anne Andrei

Author Ted Genoways is coming to town this Saturday for a reading from his book, The Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Farm. Why he advocates for more stories of ordinary Midwesterners.

Plus, there are no women composers in the Kansas City Symphony's classical composer series. Why is there a gender gap in classical music? 

Guests:

Gordon C. James / Courtesy of Agate Publishing

Sometimes, a haircut isn’t just a haircut.

When he was growing up in Kansas City, author Derrick Barnes felt like a new kid after visiting his barber.

“Man, to get my haircut on Thursday means that when I showed up to school on Friday, I would look so fresh, and people would pay attention to me,” he told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Courtesy Andrew Johnson

In his new book, Kansas City writer Andrew Johnson stares down the tiny occurrences that make up everyday life, using observations about small things, such as people's habits of speech and social media comments, to raise big questions about humanity.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Chances are good that you've heard of Dan Brown before. (Does The Da Vinci Code ring a bell?) Today, the mega best-selling author talks about about his latest thriller, Origin, and explains why he thinks God won't survive the next hundred years. Then, we find out how reframing the gun control debate can help prevent more children being killed in gun violence.

After a photo of local high school students drinking alcohol from cups arranged in a swastika went viral, many alumnae have spoken out, focusing on a code of conduct at the school. We ask, what should schools do to respond to hate speech?

Plus, Kansas City native Derrick Barnes has written a new children's book, Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut

Guests:

Elena Seibert / gretchenrubin.com

If you've ever worked with someone who had trouble following through, or dealt with a kid who's constantly pushing your buttons, you'll want to hear this conversation. Best-selling author and Kansas City native Gretchen Rubin says peoples' reactions to expectation influence their behavior in a big way.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Overland Park writer Jen Mann was inspired to create her People I Want to Punch in the Throat blog by, well, all the people she wants to punch in the throat. Today, we speak with the New York Times best-selling author about the latest installment in her snarky series, and about the people she's worked with who almost — almost! — forced her to fisticuffs.

A local writer and playwright tells us about her irreverent grandma, who she calls an "R-rated black Yoda."

Then: Dolores Huerta co-founded the National Farmworkers Association with Cesar Chavez, but she may be one of the least-known activists in American history. In light of a new documentary coming out this month, we hear more about Huerta from her great-niece, who lives in KC.

Guests:

Have you ever revisited a favorite book from your childhood . . . to find that it is actually racist? As our society's thoughts on race continue to evolve, we'll consult the author of the new book Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: The Hidden Racism of Children's Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books.

From Oxford-educated surgeon to body-builder to Cerner executive, Daphne Bascom joins us to talk about the journey that now brings her to community health at the YMCA.

Plus, Dodge City, Kansas-native Robert Rebein just published a new memoir on his home state.

Guests:

The New York Times calls him "one of the most acclaimed travel writers of his time." In this encore presentation, a chat with William Least Heat-Moon about his Kansas City roots, his new novel and how he got his name.

Guest:

  • William Least Heat-Moon

Taber Andrew Bain / Flickr - CC

As V-E Day approaches, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Rick Atkinson discusses the lasting impact and significance of World War II. Then, many consumers remain wary of check-cashing and payday-lending businesses. We speak with a professor of city planning who worked as a check casher in New York City to research the industry and find out why low- and middle-income Americans are using them in increasing numbers.

Courtesy Unbound Book Festival

On a recent Wednesday morning at his home Columbia, Missouri, Alex George was ignoring his day job. He’s an attorney and author whose second novel, Setting Free the Kites, was released in February. But on this day he was working on neither writing nor lawyering.

At 1215 South Jefferson Avenue in St. Louis, a red brick building housed a chemical plant, owned by a black man who always dreamed of running his own business on a city block full of black business owners. In a new memoir to his father, the owner of Du-Good Chemical whose dreams became a reality, Kansas City writer Lewis Diuguid takes us back to that city block where he grew up.

Plus, how a favorite childhood pastime of catching bugs became an academic career for one KU grad student. 

Guests:

Candice Millard

Apr 14, 2017
Paul Andrews / http://paulandrewsphotography.com/

She's a bestselling author who has written books about James Garfield, Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. We talk with Candice Millard about how she found her niche of writing about the lesser-known incidents in a historical figure's life, and how her work and her life have intersected.

Guest:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

For all the times that scientific research has improved our lives, there are other times when science got it horribly wrong. Today, Dr. Paul Offit describes the lessons we have learned, and should be learning, to separate good science from bad.

Baylor University

Not every undocumented migrant crossing our southern border makes it. Remains of those who die in the attempt are found in the open and in unmarked graves. Meet the anthropologist using forensics to return skeletal remains to waiting families. Then KU's Lisa McLendon says "it's all about attitude" when it comes to grammar. Her passion for sentence structure and punctuation led her to write a workbook about it.

Missouri Auditor's Office

Today, bestselling author and political activist Francine Prose shares her thoughts on the importance of the written word. She says the First Amendment is under threat, and explains why what we write counts now more than ever. Then, we speak with Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway, who says certain executive payments the University of Missouri System awards break the law.

A rural farm in Kansas. A wealthy family with a dark secret. A missing young woman. That's the basis of a new book by a local author. She shares how a real-life small Kansas town — and her background as a criminal defense attorney — helped inspire her novel.

Then, a look at how police department throughout the country (including in KC) are using technology that mines cell phone data.

The New York Times calls him "one of the most acclaimed travel writers of his time." A chat with William Least Heat-Moon about his Kansas City roots, his new novel and how he got his name.

Guest:

  • William Least Heat-Moon

Universal Pictures

How many times has terrible science kept you from enjoying a sci-fi movie? From hits like I Am Legend to the classic Soylent Green, we explore the science behind these (and other) movies, and how they relate to real life.

After 122 literary agents rejected her work, Kansas novelist Bryn Greenwood finally found a publisher in August for All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. She reflects on her own experiences that lead to the complicated fictional tale of a young girl who grows up on a meth compound, and falls in love with an ex-con nearly 20 years her senior.

We're used to mosquito bites here in the Midwest, but if you've found yourself intensely scratching a single, long-lasting bite for weeks, you've probably been bitten by the oak mite. The science behind these pesky critters that have made Kansas City their home, plus, another peek into nature with a writer who sowed his ideas in his gardens.

Guests:

Before becoming one of today's most popular mystery writers, Canadian Louise Penny was a CBC journalist and radio host. She struggled while pursuing her childhood goal of writing a book, but finally found her stride, and fame,  in a series of novels around the central character of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Out in Western Kansas, not too far from Dodge City, is the town of Jetmore. It’s home to about 900 people, including the Bradshaw family. Young Crystal Bradshaw had a happy childhood there, but one thing was missing, so she set out to solve a family mystery.

She ended up writing an important book about Kansas – before she even went to college.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Even if you're not a fan of science fiction, you've probably heard of George R.R. Martin. (Does Game of Thrones ring a bell?) Melinda M. Snodgrass is no slouch herself, having written and edited for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Together, they edit a book series called Wild Cards, which could soon be adapted for television.

ProjectManhattan / Wikimedia--CC

Children’s literature is becoming more and more diverse, but choosing which books to share with children can still be difficult. 

KCUR’s Central Standard recently welcomed Kansas City authors Christine Taylor-Butler and Traci Sorell to a discussion of how representations of race in children’s literature have changed over time.

Here are their recommendations for books with diverse and nuanced characters and storylines.

Christine Taylor-Butler, children’s book author:

“First crushes are enduring" but celebrity crushes bring “a whole new level of potency" says Dave Singleton, co-author of Crush: Writers Reflect on Love, Longing and the Lasting Power of Their First Celebrity Crush. Up to Date host Steve Kraske, along with KCUR staffers and listeners reveal their celebrity crushes and learn why they endure.

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