Vick Mickunas

Host - Book Nook

Vick Mickunas introduced the Book Nook author interview program for WYSO in 1994. Over the years he has produced more than 1500 interviews with writers, musicians, poets, politicians, and celebrities. Listen to the Book Nook with Vick Mickunas for intimate conversations about books with the writers who create them.  Vick Mickunas reviews books for the Dayton Daily News and the Springfield News Sun.

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Vick Mickunas and Chris Tebbetts
Peter Hayes / WYSO

Chris Tebbetts grew up in Yellow Springs. When he was in high school he worked as a page for the Yellow Springs Library. Chris is a novelist who has written a number of books for middle grade readers. Chris has found a niche as an author who collaborates with other writers. His best known partnership is as the co-author on a series for middle school readers with the novelist James Patterson. In this interview Chris talks about what it was like to grow up in Yellow Springs and how he became a writer. Chris was back in the area to teach at the Antioch Writer's Workshop.

Original air date September 10, 2001.
 

Over the years that I have been hosting this program I have had numerous opportunities to interview legendary novelists. I have learned that when such an opportunity presents itself I must do whatever I can to make it happen because I might never get another chance to speak to a particular writer.

When I was in kindergarten I fell in love with postage stamps and became a passionate stamp collector. This early hobby turned me into a huge admirer of the United States Post Office. A small boy trying to build a stamp collection had to be creative. Des Moines had many tall buildings and a number of them were the home offices for insurance companies. My dad worked at one of them so I was aware that these buildings contained many floors filled with secretaries at desks laboring at typewriters. There were hundreds of desks with many young women seated nearby.

Have you ever considered writing your memoir? Have you had an interesting life? Do you believe you can express yourself in print in a compelling way? And what if you had to illustrate every chapter of your memoir with a painting that you created to depict the events that you were describing? Now that would be difficult, wouldn't it?

If you have been listening to this program for a while you know that I'm quite fond of a good detective novel. "Burn What Will Burn" by C.B. McKenzie is one of the more unusual detective novels that I have read lately because it has the detective novel vibe but there really are not any detectives involved.

 

The first time I heard the name Studs Terkel it caught my attention. Such a distinctive name. My father was talking about him. Dad was from Chicago and that is the city that will always be associated with Studs.

Over the years Studs Terkel became one of my heroes. He was a perceptive interviewer, writer, historian, radio host, progressive, public intellectual, and raconteur. I never dreamed that one day I would be interviewing the great interviewer himself.

Readers love to try to pigeonhole books and authors. So do reviewers. We seem to need to have some points of reference. Someone will claim that a writer is like Hemingway or Faulkner or heaven forbid, Cormac McCarthy. They want to have definable genres that people can recognize. This novel is crime fiction. That one is chick lit. Or maybe this is grit lit? Chick lit veering into grit lit?

When we look back at the Civil War period of American History we often have a tendency to examine things that we consider to have been clear cut. For example; Ohio was a free state or Kentucky was a slave state. In his book "The Rivers Ran Backward - the Civil War and the Remaking of the Middle American Border" Christopher Phillips makes the case that things were not really like that in the border states between the Union and the Confederacy. Rather than divisions that could be described as black or white, slave or free, there were infinite shades of gray (and blue).

Over the years that I have been hosting this program I have witnessed a lot of changes on the book publishing landscape. Technology has had an impact. Electronic books are now popular. Almost anybody can publish a book now if they want to do so.
 

Book publishing has been going through consolidations. Back in the 1990's there were many more authors who went out on book tours. We used to get several passing through the WYSO studios each week for live interviews. Those days are gone.

Kent Haruf was one of the great American novelists that you might have never heard about. Haruf took a long time writing his books and he didn't even get published until late in life. His first book "The Tie that Binds" came out in 1984. That was followed in 1990 by "Where You Once Belonged." That second book only took him six years to write but he felt like he had to rush because he needed the money. He was so unhappy with it that before it even came out he wrote his editor a letter delineating all the flaws he felt were in it.

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