Episode 54: Matt Tullis

On this episode, former podcast guest Steven Kurutz fills in for Matt Tullis, but only because our regular host is the one being interviewed.

Earlier this month, Tullis’s book, “Running With Ghosts: A Memoir of Surviving Childhood Cancer” was published by The Sager Group. The books expands upon “The Ghosts I Run With,” which was published by SB Nation Longform in April 2015.

In “Running With Ghosts” Tullis, who’s now 41, recounts the months he spent at Akron’s Children’s Hospital fighting for his life, and the years that followed, when he struggled to understand why he’d survived cancer when many of his fellow patients—and even some of his care providers—didn’t.

The book, according to Kurutz, is emotionally honest and moving and, although it’s a personal story based on memory, incredibly well reported.

Tullis is, of course, the host and producer of Gangrey: The Podcast. He’s also the director of the Digital Journalism program at Fairfield University. He is an associate editor for River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative, and has been noted in Best American Sports Writing three times and Best American Essays once. He was a daily newspaper reporter for about 10 years, culminating at the Columbus Dispatch, and has written for SB Nation Longform, Sports on Earth, Nieman Storyboard and Yahoo!’s The Post Game, among many other publications.



Episode 53: Thomas Lake

Thomas Lake is a senior writer at CNN Digital. He just published a three-story series titled “The Trigger and the Choice,” which examines multiple aspects of police shootings.

Prior to joining CNN, Lake was a senior writer at Sports Illustrated. Some of his most amazing stories include “2 on 5,” which won the Henry Luce Award for most outstanding story for 2008 across all Time Inc. publications; “The Boy They Couldn’t Kill,” which was named one of the 60 best features in the history of Sports Illustrated; and “The Boy Who Died of Football,” which was anthologized in Next Wave: America’s New Generation of Great Literary Journalists. Lake has also been anthologized in Best American Sports Writing four times.

One of his first big projects at CNN was authoring the book, Unprecedented: The Election that Changed Everything. That book was published just one month after the November 2016 presidential election.

Lake participated in the virtual roundtable discussion, “Getting The Story,” which was published in Creative Nonfiction. That discussion, which podcast host Matt Tullis moderated and Lake, Chris Jones, and Ben Montgomery participated in, became the inspiration for Gangrey: The Podcast.

Lake has also been on the podcast once before, in Episode 45: Michael Brick. In that episode, several of Brick’s friends remembered the talked about Brick and his stories, many of which were compiled in the book Everyone Leaves Behind a Name. Brick died in February 2016 of colon cancer.


Episode 52: David Grann

David Grann is a New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning staff writer at The New Yorker magazine. His latest is book, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. The book was published in April by Doubleday, and explores one of the most sinister crimes and racial injustices in American history.

Grann’s first book, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, was adapted into a major motion picture and is in theaters now.

He’s also the author of The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, which contains many of his New Yorker stories. That book was named by Men’s Journal as one of the best true crime books ever written.

Grann’s stories have appeared in The Best American Crime Writing; The Best American Sports Writing; and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He has previously written for the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, and The New Republic.

Episode 51: Glenn Stout

Glenn Stout is the series editor of Best American Sports Writing and the author of the book “The Selling of the Babe: The Deal that Changed Baseball and Created a Legend.”

Over the last year, Stout has been working with nonfiction writers when it comes to developing book proposals. From July 14-16, he’ll be doing a workshop on that subject at the Archer City Story Center in Archer City, Texas. Stout will also be on the faculty of the story center’s week-long literary nonfiction workshop, which takes place July 23-30.

Archer City is the hometown of Larry McMurtry, and is the inspiration for the setting of his novel “The Last Picture Show.” The story center is just about a year old, and is starting to offer more workshops that aim to help all sorts of storytellers.

Host Matt Tullis will also be doing a workshop on developing a podcast there this summer. That workshop will take place the the weekend of August 11-13.

Episode 50: Michael J. Mooney

Michael J. Mooney is a contributing editor at D Magazine in Dallas. He’s also written for GQ, ESPN The Magazine, Grantland, and Outside Magazine, among many others.

This is his second time visiting the podcast. He was the guest on Episode 2, when we talked about his story “The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever.” That story was ultimately included in Best American Sports Writing.

On this episode, Mooney talks about his story, “My Brother, the Murderer,” which ran in D Magazine in January 2016. He also talks about his piece “Weekend At Johnny’s,” which he wrote after visiting and drinking in many of the bars that Johnny Manziel has frequented. That piece ran in B/R Mag, an extension of Bleacher Report.

He is also the co-director of the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, which is held every July in Grapevine, Texas. We talk about that conference, and what is in store this year.

Mooney is the co-director of the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, held each year in Grapevine, Texas. In this episode, he talks about some of the plans for the upcoming conference, which is always incredibly popular among literary journalists.



Episode 49: Tom Junod

Tom Junod is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com. He joined ESPN after spending nearly 20 years at Esquire, which he left after former editor-in-chief David Granger was fired earlier this year.

Junod is one of the most decorated magazine writers of his generation. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award 11 times, and has won twice. His story, “The Death of Patient Zero,” won the June L. Biedler Prize for cancer writing earlier this year. He’s been anthologized in The Best American Magazine Writing, Best American Sports Writing, Best American Political Writing, Best American Crime Writing and even Best American Food Writing.

For Esquire’s 75th anniversary issue, editors at the magazine selected his 9-11 story “The Falling Man” as one of the top seven stories in the magazine’s history.

In this episode, Junod talks about the first story he reported for ESPN (his second story overall), a piece titled “Eugene Monroe Has A Football Problem.” The story is about the retired NFL lineman who spoke out earlier this year about the NFL needing to change its policy toward marijuana.

He also talks about a piece that just went live on ESPN.com, titled “In Defense of Participation Trophies.”


Episode 48: Steven Kurutz & True Story

Steven Kurutz, a features reporter for the New York Times, where he writes about style, culture and design. Kurutz wrote the piece “Fruitland” for Creative Nonfiction magazine’s new series, True Story. The story expands upon a piece he wrote for the New York Times in 2012 headlined “A Time Capsule Set to Song.” That story was about two brothers who put out a record in the 1970s, but didn’t receive fanfare for three decades.

Prior to joining the New York Times, Kurutz was a staff writer at the Wall Street Journal and Details. He is the author of “Like a Rolling Stone: The Strange Life of a Tribute Band,” which was published by Random House, and which the New York Times called “heartfelt and often hilarious.”

Also joining the podcast on this episode is Hattie Fletcher. Fletcher is the managing editor of Creative Nonfiction, and is editing each installment of True Story. The new series publishes one big work of creative nonfiction every month in a mini-magazine. It started in October with Kurutz’s Fruitland.

Fletcher edited a virtual round-table discussion titled “Getting the Story” that I conducted with Chris Jones, Ben Montgomery and Thomas Lake in 2012 on journalism as creative writing. That discussion ran in the Winter 2013 issue of Creative Nonfiction, and ultimately inspired this podcast.

If you’d like to subscribe to True Story, click here.