SpeakEasy Blog

Writers and Storytelling: Anne Nelson

Anne Nelson is the author of Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right a ground-breaking exploration of the coalition of fundamentalists and oil who helped bring Trump to power. Nelson began her professional career on the editorial staff of The New Yorker. In 1995 she became the director of the International Program of the Columbia School of Journalism. She has taught and conducted research on digital media and development at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs since 2002. Nelson is the recipient of the Livingston Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Bellagio Fellowship. Her 2001 play The Guys, dealing with the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, has been produced in 50 states and 15 countries, and as a feature film starring Sigourney Weaver. Nelson is a member of the New York Council for the Humanities and the Council on Foreign Relations.

How has the current state of things impacted your writing life?
I was scheduled for a national book tour for Shadow Network in March and April (including House of Speakeasy*). All ten events were cancelled –including the Virginia, Arizona, and Los Angeles Book Festivals. I’ve continued to do radio and podcast interviews for the book from home, because Shadow Network reports on right-wing electoral strategies that have gone into overdrive going into the 2020 elections.

*Editor’s note: You can listen to the story Anne would have told live at Joe’s Pub on our podcast.

What are the ways you’ve been connecting to your community?
I’ve become much more active on Twitter as @anelsona, sharing and receiving important new research from my readers and an international community of academic researchers. This has touched on issues such as right-wing fundamentalist strategies to curtail LGBT civil rights and women’s access to health care, as well as new information on Russian election-tampering.

How do you stay focused?
With great effort and long walks in Riverside Park

What daily writing or creative practices help ground you?
I work in the mornings and early afternoons, walk (socially distanced) in the late afternoons. I have regular conference calls and email chains with other cutting-edge political researchers.

Do you have words of comfort or advice to share with readers?
This too shall pass. But in New York City, we will go through another period of shock, followed by a period of mourning. Many people are already quoting my play and film The Guys, which portrayed the experience of the city after 9/11. We will mourn together, again.

What writer do you wish you could share with the world?
Willa Cather

What are you reading right now for solace or escape?
The Backyard Birdsong Guide: A Guide to Listening, by Donald Kroodsma

If you could live inside a fictional world, which one would you choose?
The one I hope to write someday.

Are there any quotes you use to inspire you now or anytime?
“There you have the secret of good work: to plod on and still keep the passion fresh.” George Meredith

What is a favorite line from your recent work that you think would resonate with the SpeakEasy community?
“History teaches us that a nation neglects its democratic institutions at its peril. The ‘associations’ lauded by Alexis de Tocqueville require constant renewal. The challenge of modernity is to use technology and organizations not to exploit divisions, but to seek common ground.”



Writers and Storytelling: Mahogany L. Browne

Mahogany L. Browne is a writer, organizer & educator. Interim Executive Director of Urban Word NYC & Poetry Coordinator at St. Francis College. Browne has received fellowships from Agnes Gund, Air Serenbe, Cave Canem, Poets House, Mellon Research & Rauschenberg. She is the author of Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice, Woke Baby &… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Maggie Paxson

Maggie Paxson is a writer, anthropologist, and performer. Fluent in Russian and French, she has worked in rural communities in northern Russia, the Caucasus, and upland France. She is the author of Solovyovo: The Story of Memory in a Russian Village, and her essays have appeared in the Washington Post Magazine, Wilson Quarterly, and Aeon. Her newest… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Nina Burleigh

Nina Burleigh is an award-winning journalist, and the author of six books, including the New York Times bestseller The Fatal Gift of Beauty and, most recently, Golden Handcuffs: The Secret History of Trump’s Women. On November 12th, she will be speaking at House of SpeakEasy’s Seriously Entertaining show, For Good Measure alongside James Geary, Maggie Paxson, and Monique Truong.   What is your… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…James Geary

James Geary is the author of four previous books, including the New York Times bestseller The World in a Phrase, and is the deputy curator at Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism. A sought-after speaker and avid juggler, he lives near Boston, Massachusetts. On November 12th, he will be speaking at House of SpeakEasy’s Seriously Entertaining show, For… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Monique Truong

Monique Truong is the author of three novels—The Book of Salt; Bitter in the Mouth; and now, The Sweetest Fruits, and her work has been published in fifteen countries. Her awards and honors include the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship, the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, the Asian American Literary Award, and the American Academy… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Kwanza Osajyefo

Kwanza Osajyefo is the author and creator of BLACK, a comic that asks: what if only black people had superpowers. Kwanza has been a part of the comics for nearly 20 years. Beginning his career as an online producer at Marvel before moving into other media roles. He later returned to comics and launched DC Comics’… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Torrey Maldonado

Torrey Maldonado is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Tight and Secret Saturdays. He is a teacher in Brooklyn, New York, where he was born and raised. His books reflect his students’ and his experiences. On September 17, he will be speaking at House of SpeakEasy’s Seriously Entertaining show, No Sleep Till, alongside William Dalrymple, Nicole Dennis-Benn, and Helen Phillips.… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Helen Phillips

Helen Phillips is the author of, most recently, the novel The Need. Her collection Some Possible Solutions received the 2017 John Gardner Fiction Book Award. Her novel The Beautiful Bureaucrat, a New York Times Notable Book of 2015, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the New York Public Library Young… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Trish Hall

Trish Hall is a writer and journalist who worked for the New York Times for more than two decades. She initially joined the paper as a food reporter and eventually oversaw all the feature sections as a member of the masthead. For almost five years, she served as the Op Ed editor. She expanded the… Continue Reading

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