Episode 82: Chris Jones

Back in November, podcast host Matt Tullis talked with Chris Jones. Tullis wanted to talk with him about writing for a book he’s working on, a book focused on how to report and write narrative journalism. 

Tullis talked with Jones about writing for about 30 minutes. They talked about how Jones wrote “The Things That Carried Him,” which Jones won a National Magazine Award for in 2009. They talked about his Zanesville zoo story and his Roger Ebert profile and his Kenneth Feinberg profile

They also talked about Jones making the move to screenwriting. 

Jones made quite a career for himself at Esquire. He was regularly included in Best American Sports Writing for work he did for ESPN The Magazine. Now he’s a writer for the Netflix show Away. The show is loosely based on Jone’s Esquire story with the same title. That show will likely be released later this year.

Jones was on the podcast back in January 2014. At the time, he talked about his Feinberg piece, as well as a story he wrote about what happened on Air Force One immediately after President John F. Kennedy was killed.

Episode 81: Kim Cross

Kim Cross is a freelancer who writes for a number of publications. Most recently, Bicycling Magazine published her story “Noel and Leon: What Happens When Two Strangers Trust the Rides of Their Lives to the Magic of the Universe.” 

The story is about two bicyclists who were riding in opposite directions on thousand-mile journeys. They just so happened to cross paths in the middle of a desert. Cross first heard about these two men five years ago, and fought long and hard to find a home for the story.

This is the second time Cross has been on the podcast. She was on in September 2015, when we talked about her book What Stands in the Storm: A True Story of Love and Resilience in the Worst Superstorm in History. 

Cross has written for a number of publications, including ESPN, Outside, Bicycling Magazine, Garden and Gun, and more. She has been included in Best American Sports Writing twice, including in 2019, for her story “The Redemption of Artis Monroe.”

Episode 80: Eva Holland

Eva Holland is the author of the book “Nerve: Adventures in the Science of Fear.” 

Nerve is a hybrid of memoir and reported science. It’s focused on Holland encountering and overcoming the things she was most fearful of, and the science behind it all.

The book came about after a few things happened back in 2015. First, Holland’s mom died unexpectedly. That was one of Holland’s greatest fears in life. And then, she was in a series of serious car crashes. 

“I rolled my car into a ditch in April 2016, and I had been thinking about the idea of a book about fear actually that day while I was driving on the highway,” Holland says. “That night in the hospital, I was like, yeah, okay, you’ve got to do the book about this now because obviously the universe is sending you some kind of sign.”

This is Holland’s first book. Most of what she has done as a writer over the last decade are magazine pieces. She is a successful freelance writer, working as a correspondent for Outside magazine. She’s also written for Esquire, including a piece that helped pave the way to the book, Wired, Pacific Standard, AFAR, Smithsonian, and National Geographic News

This is Holland’s second visit to Gangrey: The Podcast. She was on the show back in March 2014

Nerve goes on sale on April 14.

Episode 79: Finding Stories To Tell

How do some of the best narrative journalists find the stories they report and write about? This episode focuses on how four different reporters landed on stories that are still read and talked about today.

In the first part, Luke Dittrich talks about how he ultimately decided to head to Joplin, Missouri, to report and write a story for Esquire that won him a National Magazine Award.

In Part II, Eli Saslow of the Washington Post talks about how he landed himself in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, for the first piece in his Pulitzer Prize winning series on food stamps.

In Part III, Pamela Colloff discusses the genesis of her National Magazine Award winning series The Innocent Man. She wrote that piece for Texas Monthly. Colloff is now a senior reporter at ProPublica and a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine.

Finally, Part IV is a snippet of a TedX Tampa talk that Michael Kruse gave, in which he discusses his story about Kathryn Norris, a woman who disappeared and was missing for 16 months, before someone found her body — in her own home. 

The first three parts all come from Gangrey: The Podcast archives. As usual, you can listen to every episode of the podcast, for free, on the website. 

Episode 78: Bronwen Dickey

Bronwen Dickey is a contributing editor at The Oxford American and the author of Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon.

In October 2019, her story “The Remains” was published by Esquire. The story looks at forensic anthropology, and one case in particular.

“The story is about a young man named Christian Gonzalez, who came to this country when he was very, very young with his family, and grew up in East Texas and considered himself, as did his friends and family, to be American,” Dickey says. “And then he was deported after kind of a weird conflagration of events, and he was deported to Mexico. He really did not know his home at all and felt very lonely there. He tried to get back into the United States, and he died in the South Texas desert.

Dickey opens The Remains with a scene that is very detailed, showing the forensic anthropologists doing their work on the remains of Christian Gonzalez. That work was done many years ago, though, which means Dickey had to recreate the scene through solid reporting.

“Recreation is one of the parts of writing that I enjoy the most,” Dickey says, “Because it’s kind of like going on a historical scavenger hunt a little bit, trying to find the details that’ll fit into the puzzle of the picture you’re trying to build.”

Dickey has written for The Oxford American, Esquire, Outside, Men’s Journal, Garden and Gun, the New York Times, and so many more publications. She’s received the Hearst Editorial Excellence Award in reporting, and a Lowell Thomas Award in travel journalism. 

Her story “Climb Aboard, Ye Who Seek the Truth,” was published by Popular Mechanics, and was a finalist for the 2017 National Magazine Award in feature writing.

Episode 77: New Stories We Tell

This episode features clips from four of the women included in the new anthology, “New Stories We Tell: True Tales by America’s New Generation of Great Women Journalists.” The book was recently published by The Sager Group.

The book is the third in a series of anthologies celebrating women in longform journalism, featuring more than 50 great writers from the 1950s to the present. The first was “Newswomen: Twenty-Five Years of Front Page Journalism,” and was published in 2016. That book was followed two years later by “The Stories We Tell: Classic True Tales By America’s Greatest Women Journalists.”

Four reporters who have been on the podcast are included in the new book: Pamela Colloff, Vanessa Grigoriadis, Janet Reitman, and Brooke Jarvis. Additionally, the book’s editors, Kaylen Ralph and Joanna Demkiewicz, have been guests on the podcast. They helped with “Newswomen,” and talked about that book in 2016. They are the editors of “New Stories We Tell.”

In this episode, you’ll hear from them, as well as clips from Colloff, Grigoriadis, Reitman, and Jarvis. You’ll also hear from Mike Sager, the founder and publisher of The Sager Group.

Clips came from the following episodes:

• Pamela Colloff, Episodes Three and 63

• Vanessa Grigoriadis, Episodes 30 and 55

• Janet Reitman, Episode 10

• Brooke Jarvis, Episode 33

• Kaylen Ralph and Joanna Demkiewicz, Episode 44

Kelley Benham French (2013)

This episode is a rebroadcast of the interview Matt Tullis did with Kelley Benham French in February 2013. They talked about her three-part series “Never Let Go,” which focused on the birth of her and Thomas French’s daughter. Juniper was born at 23 weeks and 6 days, weighing just one pound-four ounces.

The series was a hit. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2013. And it was expanded into a book, which French wrote with Tom. That book is titled “Juniper: The Girl Who Was Born Too Soon,” and was released in September 2016.

Kelley Benham French is currently a professor of practice at the University of Indiana. She recently reported and co-wrote a piece for the USA Today titled “The Long Road Home.” It was about a woman who believed she was a descendant of some of the first slaves in America, and who was trying to figure out who they were.