Episode 21: Ben Montgomery


Ben Montgomery
is an enterprise reporter at the Tampa Bay Times and the author of “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail.”

Montgomery’s book focuses on Emma Gatewood, who at the age of 67, through-hiked the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. She was the first woman to ever do so, and later became the first person, male or female, to hike the trail two and then three times. Montgomery’s book doesn’t just chronicle Gatewood’s hikes, but seeks to understand why she took to walking at such an advanced age.

Since joining the podcast, “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk” went on to become a New York Times bestseller, and Montgomery has written another book. “The Leper Spy: The Story of an Unlikely Hero of World War II” is being published by Chicago Review Press, and will be available on Oct. 1, 2016.

As a reporter, Montgomery was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and won the Dart Award and Casey Medal for a series of stories called “For Their Own Good.” Those stories examined abuse at Florida’s oldest reform school, at times called the Florida School for Boys and the Dozier School for Boys.

He is also the founder of Gangrey.com, a blog devoted to sharing and talking about the best narrative journalism being done in magazines and newspapers around the country. The podcast is a spin-off of that blog.

You can follow Montgomery on Twitter @gangrey.

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Episode 20: Wil S. Hylton

Wil S. Hylton wrote the book “Vanished,” which focuses on the modern-day search for one American bomber that crashed over the Pacific Islands during World War II. That bomber carried 11 men, who for decades, were listed as missing in action. Finding that lost bomber gave closure to the families of those men, but it also took an amazing feat of detective work and amazing modern technology.

“Vanished” came out in November 2013 and has garnered praise from newspapers and magazines around the country. Time Magazine said the book contains “passages so expressive that we’re constantly reminded we’re in the hands of a phenomenal writer.”

Hylton is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine. His work has also been featured in Harpers, GQ, Esquire and Rolling Stone, among many others magazines. He’s profiled US Attorney general Eric Holder among many others and written about the doomed Air France Flight 447. He’s also written about mothers who make the agonizing decision to abandon their children at safe havens.

Since talking with Matt Tullis on the podcast, he has continued writing for The New York Times, including the piece “The Mysterious Metamorphosis of Chuck Close,” which was published in July 2016.

You can also find out more about Hylton by visiting wilshylton.com.

Episode 19: Mike Sager

Mike Sager is a bestselling author and award-winning reporter who has been called the beat poet of American journalism. He currently works as a writer at large for Esquire Magazine, and is also the editor and publisher of The Sager Group, a consortium of multimedia artists and writers.

Sager recently co-edited the book, “Next Wave: America’s New Generation of Great Literary Journalists.” He’s also released a collection of his own magazine stories called “The Someone You’re Not,” as well as a novel titled “High Tolerance.”

Sager began his journalism career in the Washington Post newsroom, working for Bob Woodward. He went on to write for dozens of high profile magazines, including GQ, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Vibe, Spy and Interview, among many others. In 2010, he won a National Magazine Award for profile writing for his story on former NFL quarterback Todd Marinovich.

Episode 18: Flinder Boyd

Flinder Boyd is a former professional basketball player who now writes longform journalism. For 10 years, he played as a point guard in the lower and upper levels of many professional European basketball leagues.

Now he’s writing, often about basketball. His story “20 Minutes at Rucker Park” profiles a young man’s cross-country journey on a Greyhound bus to New York City’s streetball Mecca.

That story was published on SB Nation Longform. It was subsequently a Longform selection and named by Longreads a Top 5 Longread of the Week. It was also a Nieman Storyboard recommended reading selection and earned Boyd Longread’s Favorite New Writer Discovery in 2013. Finally, Sports on Earth called the story a Top 20 sports story in 2013. To top things off, the story was anthologized in Best American Sports Writing 2014.

He’s written two other stories for SB Nation Longform; a profile of NBA player Chris Copeland and a first-hand account of the corruption and chaos of playing professional basketball in Slovakia.

Since joining the podcast, Boyd has started writing for many other outlets, including Rolling Stone, Newsweek and Fox Sports, where he wrote about Rafael Palmeiro in April 2016.

Boyd has also written for The Classical, Sports On Earth and BBC online among others. You can follow him on Twitter @FlinderBoyd.

 

Episode 14: Susan Dominus

Susan Dominus is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine. She’s written about everything from higher education to organizational psychology. She also writes celebrity profiles. The most recent focused on Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter Fame. The other was about Stephen King and family of writers.

The Radcliffe piece — “Daniel Radcliffe’s Next Trick is to Make Harry Potter Disappear” — followed the Harry Potter star as he promoted the independent film “Kill Your Darlings.” The story shows just how much life as Harry Potter has affected the young actor.

“Stephen King’s Family Business” centered around a family get-together in Maine, where the King family of writers got together to discussion the early days of Stephen’s career and the new generation of writers he raised.

Episode 13: Jeanne Marie Laskas

Jeanne Marie Laskas is a correspondent for GQ and the director of The Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of seven books, including “Hidden America,” as well as the award-winning trilogy of memoirs: “Fifty Acres and Poodle,” “The Exact Same Moon,” and “Growing Girls.”

Since joining the podcast, Laskas turned her story about concussions in the NFL, “Game Brain,” into the book “Concussion,” which has since been turned into a feature film starring Will Smith.

On this episode of the podcast, we talk with Laskas about her profile of Vice President Joe Biden“Game Brain,” and her most recent GQ story, “Oops, You Just Hired The Wrong Hitman.”

Formerly a contributing editor at Esquire, and a weekly columnist (“Significant Others”) at The Washington Post Magazine, she has been writing for national magazines for twenty years, with work appearing in The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, Allure, Ladies Home Journal, and many others.

Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including Best American Magazine Writing and Best American Sports Writing.

Episode 12: John Woodrow Cox

When John Woodrow Cox talked with Matt Tullis on the podcast, he was working at the Tampa Bay Times and writing short narratives. Since then, Cox joined the Washington Post, where he is an enterprise reporter who has written about a flawed sexual assault investigation in the Marines and about a 10-year-old who has HIV.

At the Times, Cox was a general assignment reporter in Pinellas County. He covered breaking news and led long-term investigations into frivolous government spending, military contract fraud and Florida’s prescription pill epidemic. He also wrote feature stories, including the “Dispatches from Next Door” series for the Floridian magazine. These stories are very short — just 500 words long — but painstakingly reported. They tell a full story in a very short amount of space.

We talked with him about two such stories, one about a woman who is only able to find peace on the ocean. The other is about a senior citizen always on the look for that special young woman who will save him from loneliness. We also talked about writing cops and crime stories and how it can help form a narrative sense.