Writers on a New England Stage

A co-production of New Hampshire Public Radio and The Music Hall in Portsmouth. To view the schedule and purchase tickets, click here or call the box office at (603) 436-2400

Note: Some events require the purchase of a book voucher and are not available online; call or visit the Music Hall box office to purchase tickets to these shows.

Half lecture, half intimate conversation, Writers on a New England Stage brings world-class authors to New Hampshire to read from their latest works and talk to us about themselves, their process, and their stories. The series is hosted by Word of Mouth's Virginia Prescott.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Recently, the author of The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series Alexander McCall Smith sat down with us in the Portsmouth Music Hall green room to talk about his writing process. The conversation is part of a series we call the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop.

What's harder to write -- the first sentence or the last?

I think the first sentence is harder and is immensely important, because in a lot of cases that’s the only sentence someone is going to read. And so you have to be very powerful in your first sentence.

Writers On A New England Stage: Alexander McCall Smith

Nov 23, 2015
Sara Plourde

  Today on Word of Mouth it's Writers on a New England Stage with Alexander McCall Smith, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth.  Best known as the author of The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, McCall Smith made his living for many years as an esteemed lawyer, medical law professor, and international authority on medical ethics and bioethics. He was born in what is now Zimbabwe, and helped found a law school in neighboring Botswana. It is there that he set his first novel about  Precious Ramotswe, who brought the innate curiosity and traditional wisdom honed as a child in the Kalahari desert to bear as Botswana's first ever lady detective.

Alexander McCall smith joined us shortly after publication of The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine, the 16th novel in a series that's sold more than 20 million books worldwide and been translated into 40 languages. 

Writers On A New England Stage: Patti Smith

Nov 17, 2015
(C) Hear and There Photography, CC BY 4.0 / http://on.fb.me/1QGOtR4

On today's show, it's Writers on a New England Stage with Patti Smith, recorded live at the Music Hall in Portsmouth. A poet, musician, and photographer, Smith is often called “the godmother of punk”. She co-wrote the radio hit "Because the Night" with Bruce Springsteen, but soon afterward she stepped off stage to move to Detroit and raise her family. It was with the publication of Just Kids in 2010 that she transformed from downtown cult figure to National Book Award-winning writer. 

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Recently, the multi-talented poet/artist/rock legend Patti Smith joined us to discuss her latest memoir, M Train, for our program Writers on a New England Stage. Before the show, we sat down with Patti in the greenroom of the Music Hall to talk about her writing process. The conversation is part of a series we call the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop.

What's harder to write - the first sentence or the last?

Writers On A New England Stage: Stacy Schiff

Nov 9, 2015
David J. Murray, ClearEyePhoto.com

On today's show it's Writers on a New England Stage with Stacy Schiff, recorded live at the Music Hall in Portsmouth. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of biographies of Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov, Benjamin Franklin, and Cleopatra, is known for discovering the real overlaid by popular mythologies. Her most recent book takes on the enduring fictions of one of the most confounding and hysterical events in American history: the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

As David McCullough says, "history in the hands of Stacy Schiff is invariably full of life, light, shadow, surprise, clarity of insight... Few writers combine as she does superb scholarship and an exceptional gift for language with amazing reach and agility of mind. "

Schiff, a Pulitizer Prize-winning author and historian, joined us at The Music Hall in Portsmouth for our program Writers on a New England Stage, to talk about her newest book, The Witches: Salem, 1692.

10-Minute Writer's Workshop: Salman Rushdie

Oct 9, 2015
David J. Murray, ClearEyePhoto.com

Salman Rushdie is a Booker-Award-winning novelist and the prolific author of a number of novels, non-fiction books, children’s books, story collections, and essays. He joined Virginia at the Music Hall in Portsmouth to talk about his latest novel, Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights.  It’s a fantasy, a fairy tale for grown-ups, and the book, as he told us at the Music Hall, “...may be his weirdest,” adding, “I’m no stranger to weird.”

Writers On A New England Stage: Diana Gabaldon

Aug 28, 2015
David J. Murray / ClearEyePhoto.com

On today’s show, it’s Writers on a New England Stage with scientist turned novelist Diana Gabaldon, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Gabaldon is author of the phenomenally popular Outlander series – an addictive blend of historical fiction and fantasy based on the premise of time travel. Outlander plays with the past, overthrows traditional gender roles, and has inspired a cable television series that Buzzfeed called, “The Feminist Answer to ‘Game of Thrones.’ ” Her latest novel is the eighth in the Outlander series, Written in My Own Hearts Blood.

Writers On A New England Stage: Tom Brokaw

Aug 27, 2015
David J. Murray / ClearEyePhoto.com

Today on Word of Mouth, it’s Writers on a New England Stage with Tom Brokaw, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. As a pillar of network news and the author of “The Greatest Generation” books, Brokaw is beloved as an eye-witness to world-shaping events and much more quiet heroics.  When diagnosed with incurable cancer in 2013, Brokaw did not want the spotlight turned on him.

Writers On A New England Stage: Sue Monk Kidd

Aug 26, 2015
David J. Murray / ClearEyePhoto.com

On today’s show, it’s Writers on a New England Stage with Sue Monk Kidd, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. The author of The Secret Life of Bees explores the roots of American racism with The Invention of Wings, a novel about the unlikely alliance between a southern woman and a slave.

David J. Murray / ClearEyePhoto.com

On today’s show, a special presentation of Writers on a New England Stage with David Brooks, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. The New York Times columnist, author, and commentator known as the “liberal’s favorite conservative”, Brooks climbed the ladder of America’s media elite by sparring with civility against left-leaning pundits on TV and NPR.

Writers On A New England Stage: Anne Rice

Aug 24, 2015
© David J. Murray / ClearEyePhoto.com

NHPR and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with author Anne Rice who reinvented a genre when she published Interview with the Vampire nearly 40 years ago.

Writers On A New England Stage: E.O. Wilson

Nov 6, 2014
David J. Murray, ClearEyePhoto.com

NHPR and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with biologist, ecologist and two-time Pulitzer prize-winning author E.O. Wilson. Wilson has spent decades researching some of the biggest scientific riddles of our time - from the origins of human social behavior to saving disappearing species of plants and animals. He’s out with a bold new book that takes on nothing less than The Meaning Of Human Existence. He’ll discuss his ideas on where we came from, what we are and where we’re going.

Carl Hiassen's "Bad Monkey"

Jun 26, 2014

Word of Mouth presents a special rebroadcast of Writers on a New England Stage with Carl Hiassen, presented by NHPR and The Music Hall and recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Hiassen joined Virginia on stage last June to talk about “Bad Monkey,” a volume of comic crime fiction. It is now available in paperback

Word of Mouth presents a special rebroadcast of Writers on a New England Stage with Bill Bryson, presented by NHPR and The Music Hall and recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. He joined Virginia Prescott on stage last October to talk about his book “One Summer: 1927.” It is now available in paperback.

Writers On A New England Stage: P.J. O'Rourke

Apr 30, 2014
Photo(s) by David J. Murray, ClearEyePhoto.com

NHPR and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with P.J. O'Rourke recorded live at the Music Hall in Portsmouth. The journalist, satirist, bestselling author, and frequent Wait Wait Don't Tell Me panelist has written humorously about some of the worlds' scariest conflict zones and got us laughing about economics and political flim-flammery in Washington as a writer for Rolling Stone, The Atlantic and seventeen books of nonfiction.

Photo by David J. Murray / ClearEyePhoto.com

NHPR and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with B.J. Novak, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth.

Best known for his role as “Ryan the Temp” on The Office, Novak talks with us about his debut collection of short stories One More Thing which he thinks is even more revealing than a memoir.

We’ll also get his take on his rising fame, and the not-so-heavy burden of being a celebrity author.

Photo(s) by David J. Murray / ClearEyePhoto.com

NHPR and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Justice Sotomayor sat down with Virginia Prescott to discuss her memoir, My Beloved World. She's not permitted to comment on current cases, which gave Virginia plenty of time to discuss Justice Sotomayor's childhood in the Bronx, what it was like to throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium and counseling a Sesame Street character, Abby Cadabby on possible career choices.

Photo(s) by David J. Murray / ClearEyePhoto.com

NHPR

and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with Doris Kearns Goodwin, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. The Pulitzer prize-winning historian and biographer of several American presidents shifts to the progressive era with, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt William Howard Taft & The Golden Age Of Journalism.  The book follows two presidents who became friends and later bitter rivals, as well as a chronicle of the dawn of investigative journalism in America.

This broadcast was made possible with support from TransCanada.

via PatriciaCornwell.com

NHPR and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with Patricia Cornwell. Her best-selling Kay Scarpetta crime fiction series introduced millions of readers to forensic pathology – and inspired popular TV shows from CSI to Dexter. After her 21st Scarpetta novel, Patricia Cornwell reflects on the process of turning grisly real-world crimes into absorbing fiction.

Photo by David J. Murray, ClearEyePhoto.com

A conversation with author Bill Bryson about his new book, One Summer: America 1927 recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth.

Writers on a New England Stage is a co-production of NHPR and The Music Hall. 

 A conversation with historian and biographer A. Scott Berg about his new book, Wilson, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth.

Writers on a New England Stage is a co-production of NHPR and The Music Hall. 

Margaret Atwood

Sep 26, 2013
Courtesy the Lavin Agency

Margaret Atwood’s novels are imaginative and  satirical, and her post-apocalyptic predictions eerily accurate. Atwood has just finished her Maddaddam trilogy, set after a bio-engineered plague has wiped out a wantonly consumerist America governed by corporations.

Atwood talks about her latest novel, and then sits down for a conversation and questions from the audience for this edition of Writers On A New England Stage, a co-production of NHPR and The Music Hall in Portsmouth.

Image courtesy The Music Hall

The new season of Writers On A New England Stage includes events with Margaret Atwood, Bill Bryson, Woodrow Wilson biographer A. Scott Berg, and crime novelist Patricia Cornwell.

The authors will read from and discuss their latest works, and then sit down with Word Of Mouth host Virginia Prescott for a discussion and to answer audience questions.

You can see the full lineup and purchase tickets by clicking here.

News of author Elmore Leonard's death hit a lot of people hard, not only fans of the hard-boiled writer, but also writers, who spent the day on social media posting and sharing lessons they'd learned from Leonard's prose. Back in 2007, Elmore Leonard joined Laura Knoy for Writers On A New England Stage, a co-production of NHPR and The Music Hall. You can listen to that program from our archives right here.

John Irving

Aug 20, 2013
Kevin Flynn for NHPR

From the youth spent at Philips Exeter Academy that pervades his body of work, through his studies with Kurt Vonnegut at the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop – known for producing authors the like of Pulitzer winners John Cheever and Philip Roth - John Winslow Irving has emerged as a true literary heavyweight, distinctly American of voice, and one of the most influential cultural exports to come out of New Hampshire.

Joseph Ellis

Jul 3, 2013
Courtesy of The Music Hall

“As usual, Ellis combines powerful narrative with convincing analysis. His tale of the crucial summer of 1776 shows how political and military events wove together to create a new nation. Read this book and understand how America was born.” –Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs

Carl Hiaasen

Jun 26, 2013
David J. Murray, cleareyephoto.com

The #1 New York Times bestselling author is back doing what he does best: spinning a wickedly funny, fiercely pointed Florida tale in which the greedy, the corrupt, and the degraders of pristine land get their comeuppance in a mordantly ingenious, diabolically entertaining fashion.

Hiaasen joined us in Portsmouth to talk about Bad Monkey and his other books on Friday, June 14th.  First, he shared his thoughts on storm-chasers, Hollywood monkeys, and what not to do with a dead raccoon.  Then he sat down with Virginia Prescott for a great interview about Florida scam artists, his foray into YA, and the twisted true stories behind his twisted fictional plots.

Writers on a New England Stage is a co-production of New Hampshire Public Radio and The Music Hall in Portsmouth.

Dave Barry

Feb 21, 2013
Monte Bohanan, The Music Hall

The Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist joins us with his first solo adult novel in over a decade – the darkly comic Insane City. The book is a riotous tale of a destination wedding gone awry with Russian gangsters, angry strippers, a pimp as big as the Death Star, a very desperate Haitian refugee on the run with her two children from some very bad men, and an eleven-foot Burmese albino python named Blossom.

Jared Diamond

Jan 9, 2013
David J. Murray / cleareyephoto.com

Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize-winning and bestselling author of Collapse and Guns, Germs, and Steel, takes the stage to discuss his latest foray into a field he has made his own -- a biological analysis of human history.

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