Narrative journalism and the reporters who write it
Author Archives: matttullis
Matt Tullis is the author of Running With Ghosts: A Memoir of Surviving Childhood Cancer. He is the director of Digital Journalism at Fairfield University, and is the host and producer of Gangrey: The Podcast.
Allison Glock is the type of writer who succeeds in a variety of genres. She writes young adult fiction. She’s an executive producer for the NBC series “The Blacklist.” She’s written for the New Yorker and Garden & Gun magazine. She’s written poetry, and produces short documentary films.
Glock got her start doing longform narrative for magazines, but has transitioned to film and TV out of economic necessity. She’s doing amazing work there, including her work on The Blacklist, and videos made by her production company, Holler Beach Productions. One of the videos produced was about southern women.
Across the River is a riveting look at a high school football team in a part of New Orleans few of us ever hear about. It’s a team made up of players and coaches who have to deal with shootings and murder on a regular basis.
Jason Fagone is a narrative writer for the San Francisco Chronicle who focuses on in-depth stories and investigations. His most recent piece is headlined “The Jessica Simulation.” It’s about a man who used a website that created chatbots to bring his dead girlfriend, or memories of her, back to life.
“Joshua was able to use this website project assembler to create a custom chat bot simulation of his dead girlfriend Jessica, and he began to talk, have these very long, intense emotional conversations with this simulation of Jessica and then things go very weird,” he said.
“Sidecountry” is a collection of stories Branch has written for the New York Times about sports and athletic activities that take place outside of the mainstream sports world. Included in the book is “Snow Fall,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 2013.
There are other stories, like the one about a bowler who rolled his first perfect game and died just minutes later. Branch also includes his piece on a Rubik’s Cube competition (this story was anthologized in Best American Sports Writing 2019), and his series on the Lady Jaguars, a girls basketball team that never won a game.
“I just love the idea of trying to illuminate a story that otherwise wouldn’t get illuminated,” Branch says.
The book is what Andrews calls a semi-biography, semi-celebration of Jeff Goldblum. It also looks into the shifting nature of fame and celebrity. The book came about after Andrews wrote a piece on Goldblum for the Post when the actor released his debut jazz album.
While Andrews didn’t talk with Goldblum for this book – the actor, or his publicist, passed, he did talk to upwards of 80 people who have worked with Goldblum. He also read every single interview that Goldblum’s given, and watched every single movie Goldblum has appeared in.
Flynn’s book is certainly about peacocks, but also so much more. It’s a reported memoir that examines his life as a reporter and how it has impacted his family, and how the animals he takes care of fits into that. He gives credit for this book idea to his editor, Sean Manning.
Flynn has spent his life writing about traumatic events that involved other people. He won a National Magazine Award for his story “The Perfect Fire.” The story is about six firefighters who died in a warehouse fire in Massachusetts, and ran in the July 2000 issue of Esquire.
He’s written about Tamir Rice, the 12 year old Cleveland boy who police killed in a city park. He’s written about mass killings in New Zealand and Norway.
Flynn has written three books. He’s a correspondent for GQ. Aside from books and magazine work, Flynn has also written for television, film, and audio.
Hannah Smith is a reporter, writer, producer, and host of the first season of a new podcast called The Opportunist. That first season was focused on a woman named Sherry Shriner, the leader of an online cult that believed most humans were alien reptiles out to kill them.
The Opportunist is produced by Kast Media. As a podcast, it will focus on true stories of regular people who turn sinister simply by being opportunistic. The second season is set to start in June.
Smith got started in the world of podcasting at Maximum Fun, working on comedy and interview podcasts. She worked on a parenting show called One Bad Mother, as well as the award-winning courtroom comedy Judge John Hodgman.
She’s worked in almost every kind of genre of podcasting, including news, comedy, audio drama, and narrative nonfiction.
Smith is part of the Los Angeles live storytelling community, where she performs true stories from her own life. She is an Angelino who was raised in Middle America. This contrast of rural and urban, of culture and religion, informs her approach to storytelling.
In “Rock Force,” Maurer dives into one relatively small battle during World War II and shows us the men who were there.
Maurer has frequently embedded with American soldiers. In 2003, he followed the 82nd Airborne Division during the initial invasion of Iraq and wrote articles for the Fayetteville Observer in North Carolina.
He returned to cover the soldiers more than a dozen times, most recently in 2010, where he spent ten weeks with a Special Forces team in Afghanistan.
The piece is about how Gruen, the famed author of “Water for Elephants,” was left broke and seriously ill after fighting for six years to free an incarcerated man who she thought was innocent.
Kahler and Gruen are close friends. Kahler says it was cathartic for Gruen to talk about what she had been through. The story got a lot of traction when it was published on March 24, giving more attention to the case of Charles Murdoch, the man Gruen is trying to free.
This was definitely a different type of writing and reporting for Kahler. She’s made a name for herself as a New York Times best-selling author of historical narrative nonfiction. She’s done so under the name of Karen Abbott, although she legally changed her name in 2020, and will now write as Abbott Kahler.
Her first book, “Sin in the Second City,” is about two sisters who ran a famous brothel in Chicago in the early 1900s. Her book “Liar Temptress Soldier Spy” is about four women who worked undercover during the Civil War. Her most recent book, “The Ghosts of Eden Park,” is about a bootleg king in Cincinnati and a shocking murder in 1927. It was an Edgar Award finalist for best fact crime book.
Kahler has written for the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other publications. She also maintains the Wicked History Blog, which presents old photos and short reported pieces that describe the photos. She’s currently working on her fifth book, “Then Came the Devil.”