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Arnold Adoff, Virginia Hamilton and their children Jamie and Leigh in 1971
Antiochiana

Just about every place has a local hero, a hometown kid who grew up to make their mark on the world. In Yellow Springs, Ohio, one hometown hero made her mark on the world of children’s literature.

Although she passed away in 2002, Virginia Hamilton’s legacy continues through her large and varied body of work written for young people. It’s also been kept alive by her husband Arnold Adoff, by her children Leigh and Jaime, and by the recent publication of a biography for young readers.

In 1996 at the time this interview was recorded Virginia Hamilton was probably the best known author then living in Ohio. I had the opportunity to interview Virginia along with her husband, the poet Arnold Adoff, in conversation together with me. That was a very special day in the Book Nook.

Publishers will often send out advance copies of books so that I will have the opportunity to read them before the books are officially published. I am always reading something and I'll usually finish a book before starting the next one. Usually. Now and then I'll receive a book by one of my favorite writers and I'll instantly drop whatever book I was reading so that I can start reading the latest by one of those authors whose work I treasure. Philip Kerr was one of those authors.

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.

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.

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.

 

Over the years that I have been interviewing authors on the radio I have had the pleasure to converse with some of the more interesting people on the planet. One of my favorite guests has been Gene Logsdon. Gene made half a dozen appearances on the program.

On May 4, 1970 a terrible event transpired on the campus of Kent State University. Ohio National Guardsman fired their rifles into a crowd of students. Four students died and a number of others were injured. The carnage was the end result of a cascading chain of troubling events that had unfolded over one horrific weekend in northern Ohio.

In his book "67 Shots - Kent State and the End of American Innocence" Howard Means examines the escalating turbulence which ultimately led to this horror. It should have never happened. But it did. It is good to remember. Lest we forget.

Manhattan was once a place where ordinary people could afford to live. People with dreams. People with low paying jobs. Even starving artists. Molly Prentiss has set her debut novel in New York City as the 1970's are ending. Her book is populated by distinctive characters from the period; a barmaid who has followed her dreams and moved to the city from the wilds of Idaho, an art critic for the New York Times who has a rare perceptive gift, and a struggling painter who has fled the Dirty Wars in his native Argentina.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is our community-wide BIG READ selection this year and it was an excellent choice. The author came to Dayton for the kick-off of this year's BIG READ and when you listen to this interview you'll discover how she first found out about the orphan trains (they really existed) and why she decided to write the novel when she did. As it turned out her window of opportunity for conducting interviews with actual orphan train riders was closing fast. There are very few of them still living today.

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