Word By Word: Conversations With Writers host Gil Mansergh’s June conversation is with two multi-talented Marin County novelists: Christie Nelson, and her latest historical novel, Beautiful Illusion: Treasure Island, 1939 a tale of a plucky female reporter, a dwarf anthropologist, and a Japanese diplomat and dangerous deceit at the Golden Gate International Exposition held in the middle of San Francisco Bay; and Jeb Harrison, with his picaresque family saga, The Healing of Howard Brown which begins with a middle-aged man vowing to fulfill his dying father’s final wish, “Find your sister!”
Word By Word: Conversations With Writers host Gil Mansergh likes to present writers from different genres, today’s show features valuable insider perspectives on creating documentaries from filmmakers Michael Shapiro & Eric Mcintyre—the co-directors of Junkyard Alchemist, a celebrated short film featuring Sebastopol’s internationally acclaimed junk artists, Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent.
Gil Mansergh hosts a very special Word By Word: Conversations With Writers broadcast on North Bay Public Media, KRCB-FM. That is because the conversation is with the award-winning professor, novelist, screenwriter, historian and storyteller Greg Sarris and his new collection of Miwok stories entitled How the Mountain Was Made.
Greg is also serving his thirteenth term as Chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and explains, “The Miwok people’s most important contribution to Sonoma County
is our Creation Myths, yet they are known by very few people. For example, it is said that Coyote was sitting atop Sonoma Mountain when he decided to create the world and people. As a storyteller, my task is to reimagine and share these tales with my neighbors.”
Word By Word host Gil Mansergh welcomes listeners to a time of trysts and love nests on this month’s show. The object of desire is Jack London’s wife Charmian. Her story is shared with the world in Rebecca Rosenberg’s novel, The Secret Life of Mrs. London.
A familiar guest on Word By Word, Rebecca is the author of the photo book Lavender Fields of America, and historical novels about strong women including the forthcoming books in her Widows of Champagne series. Living on the border of the London’s famed “Beauty Ranch” (now Jack London State Park), sadly, she shares share another affinity with the Londons. Just like Jack and Charmian lost their under-construction home Wolf House to fire, Rebecca and her husband lost their home and lavender fields in the October firestorm that ravaged Sonoma County.
Word By Word host Gil Mansergh celebrates Valentine’s Day by chatting with the esteemed voice-over actor and teacher Samantha Paris with her new memoir Finding the Bunny.
Bobbi Block grew up in Los Angeles and started doing voiceovers for cartoons and commercials when she was 15-years-old. Since then, her voice can be heard in over 1000 regional and national commercials, and 200 animated half-hour TV shows. Discovering she had the gift of teaching her skills to others, she moved north, founded her VOICETRAX school for voiceover training in Sausalito, and legally changed her name to Samantha Paris.
On today’s Word By Word, host Gil Mansergh helps us travel back 112 years to join the hardy young men who spent a year and a day collecting specimens on the Galapagos Islands for the California Academy of Sciences (CAS). Our guide is Dr. Matthew J. James, Chair of the Sonoma State University Department of Geology, a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, science advisor to the Galápagos Conservancy, and a Governing Member of the General Assembly of the Charles Darwin Foundation.
His book Collecting Evolution: The Galapagos Expedition that Vindicated Darwin was written to “set the record straight” after overhearing a CAS staffer tell visitors that the expedition “arrived in San Francisco with the fires still burning from the 1906 earthquake.” In fact, the ship didn’t sail through the Golden Gate until Thanksgiving of the same year.
Before listening to this 2017 holiday gift books edition of Word By Word: Conversations With Writers, host Gil Mansergh wants to remind everyone that this is a very important year to include books as gifts.
Immediately following the firestorm that engulfed much of Sonoma County, Gil had survivors living and eating at his house. Since several rooms are lined with book shelves, he would often find them reading the titles and pulling down a personal favorite. “I love this book,” they would tell him. “It was in the den on the left side of the shelf, only mine had a blue cover.”
The point of this, is that books are important to us—and especially to fire survivors. They can be touchstones to the past—as well as harbingers of new beginnings.
So, what do outdoor sculpture creator Andy Goldsworthy, Presidents Grant and Obama, Philip Pullman’s prequel to his Golden Compass novels, a gigantic coffee table book of animal portraits, and a disaster which results in a sofware engineer having to keep a sourdough starter alive and happy by playing music have in common? These fascinating titles are all included among the gift books Gil talks about with Sheryl Cotleur, Michelle Bellah, the book buyers for the Copperfield’s Bookstores.
Several of Gil Mansergh’s previous Word By Word guests lost homes and businesses in the recent wildfires, and one of these, award-winning novelist and Sonoma State University fiction writing professor, Stefan Kiesbye his wife Sanaz and their dog Kurt escaped from the flames with just minutes to spare. His response was to write a piece for the Los Angeles Times he entitled “Your House Is On Fire, Your Old Life Is Gone.” Stefan shares his words and reflections with our listeners, with Gil, and with today’s other in-studio guest, Sharon Hamilton. Sharon’s award winning romance novels may feature finely-chiseled Navy SEALS, but almost a decade ago, she lost her beautifully landscaped Bennett Valley home to a fire—and her life was forever changed. Sharon recently wrote about this on a blog entry she calls “Rising From the Fire,” and she will also share this piece and her recent thoughts on-air.
CAUTION: This Word By Word conversation features tragic firestorm incidents which may trigger emotional responses for people impacted by the fire.
David Corbett and Word By Word host Gil Mansergh reprise a conversation they had about David’s very timely coming-of-age novel Do They Know I’m Running, a book that has become even more important with the recent changes to the DACA program and other proposals for immigration reform.
In addition, listeners hear David singing Louie Louie while Gil provides a baritone back-up. Later, Anthony Garcia plays the voice of The Rancher, and Gil is The Narrator for the novel’s opening pages.
Award winning travel writer, Inga Askamit shares how she created her piece about alfresco theatrics, Transcendant Summer Night.
Catherine Bramkamp chats about being a poetry judge for the anthology, as well as writing her poetic elegy, Wolf House: Jack London State Historic Park
Roger C. Lubeck talks about the seductivness of dancing in a story he calls Crush, and reads his poem, “Valley of the Moon.” In addition, Roger has been assigned the task of “official question answerer” by the anthology’s editor, Robert Digitale.
Word By Word host Gil Mansergh joins the conversation as well, by revealing some of the pitfalls of creating historical nonfiction in his “written in Elizabethan English” piece Exploring the Bay of Nova Albion for Captain Francis Drake.”
Linda Loveland Reid reads from the nonfiction piece that captured Press Democrat columnist Chris Smith’s attention at the Sonoma County Fair, Confessions of a Prune Picker.