#85: Writer Leah Lax

Listen to the interview by clicking the arrow on the audio player below.

Another writer interview??? I know—I’ve done a string of them recently. For what it’s worth, I do have other sorts of people lined up. Coming soon on the podcast: a South African mediator, a retired homicide detective, and that elusive chimney sweep.

But first, yes, another writer, simply because I received an email from Leah Lax that went like this: ”I spent thirty years as a covered woman among the Hassidim—Jewish ultra-orthodox. Birth control was forbidden, so I had seven kids in ten years. Oh, and I’m a lesbian—my secret all those years.”

Needless to say, I had to learn more.

About Leah Lax: Leah Lax has published award-winning short fiction, prose poetry, essays, stage productions, a major opera (with an NPR broadcast), and soon, in 2015, a memoir–Uncovered. To learn more about her life and work, visit her website.

#84: Beatrice Hogg on Being Over 50 and Long-Term Unemployed

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When I first connected with Beatrice Hogg, she said she wanted to share her story to show people that “being over fifty and long-term unemployed isn’t the end of the world.” In this interview, she shares the events that derailed her original career, and she discusses her next steps.

About Beatrice Hogg: Beatrice M. Hogg was born in Greensboro, North Carolina and raised in the coal-mining town of Lawrence, Pennsylvania. She has a B.A. in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. Since moving to California in 1988, her articles and essays have appeared in many publications and anthologies. She spent over twenty years working in the social services field, including work determining eligibility for public assistance programs, unemployment insurance benefits, Social Security benefits, and Supplemental Security Income. For five years, she facilitated a writing workshop for women at St. John’s Shelter Program for Women and Children in Sacramento, CA. Genesis Press published her novel “Three Chords One Song” as an e-Book in 2012. She is working on “WTF: Five Years of Bad Decisions,” a book about her experiences as a long-term unemployed woman over fifty. Her short essays on family, music, and more can be found on her blog, Marvellaland.

#83: Athena Lark, U.S. Navy Veteran, Writer, and Adjunct Professor

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Athena Lark was a 17-year-old about to graduate from high school in Newark, New Jersey when her mother told her she had a choice: Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines.

In this interview, I spoke with her to learn how she reacted that day, how her career path has unfolded since then, what she thinks of her mother’s decision in retrospect.

About Athena Lark: After retiring from the U.S. Navy, Athena Lark graduated from the University of North Florida with a B.A. in Communications. She earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of California in Riverside and has has been published in literary journals including Gently Read Literature, Hippo Reads, and Whistling Fire, as well as many newspapers (The Florida Times Union, Jacksonville Business Journal, Jacksonville Advocate, The Albany Herald, UNF Spinnaker, and UNF Alumni Magazine). She is an adjunct professor in Texas and is currently writing her memoir, Sailor Girl, about her life in the U. S. Navy. Her debut novel, Avenue of Palms, was published in 2013.

#82: Amy Hale Auker, Writer and Rider

Listen to the interview by clicking the arrow on the audio player below.

When I ask people that pesky question, “What do you do?,” I often get more than one answer. When I spoke with author Amy Hale Auker, I learned that in addition to the writing life, she also lives the cowboy life,  camping out for days at a time in the mountains where she works. Notably, there seems to be very little tension between her riding and her writing; what I heard instead is that each feeds the other.

About Amy Hale Auker: Amy Hale Auker cowboys on a ranch in Arizona. She is the author of Rightful Place, 2012 WILLA winner for creative non-fiction, published by Texas Tech University Press. Her first novel, Winter of Beauty, was released by Pen-L Publishing in 2013. Her new novel is due out this fall. Find out more at www.amyhaleauker.com

Programming Note: Podcast Hiatus

I need to take a break for a few weeks; I just have too many balls in the air at the moment. So, the Work Stew podcast will resume on July 14, 2014.

Until then, dip into the podcast archives or browse through the essays. Better yetuse the radio silence to write an essay of your own. I’m always looking for new voices to add to the mix.

#81: Game Designer Jobe Bittman

Listen to the interview by clicking the arrow on the audio player below.

When I ask people what they do, I often get complicated answers: tales of time-consuming passions pursued in the wee hours of the night after long days spent earning a living doing something completely different.

In Jobe Bittman‘s case, he moonlights as a game designer, creating the storylines not for video games but for tabletop games. Think ‘Dungeons and Dragons’—but then stop thinking that because it’s trademarked, and Bittman actually writes for other games. He also contributes to Spellburn, a podcast about Dungeon Crawl Classics, one of the series for which he writes.

About Jobe Bittman: When asked for a bio, this arrived: “Jobe Bittman is a beaten and half-starved scribe-slave pressed into service by a sadistic demon prince. By day, he breaks all the internet. By night, he toils at freelance writing assignments and transcribes game designs at the behest of his dark master. His work has appeared in publications by Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, and Goodman Games. Please send meat.” So there you go.

#80: Jane Hodges, Leap Taker

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After the deaths of both her father and her uncle in a single year, writer Jane Hodges remembers being hit with “a pile of grief, followed by a pile of cash.” The money wasn’t enough to sustain her indefinitely, but it was enough to fund a radical change. In this interview, Hodges explains why the change she chose involved the purchase of a 12,000-square-foot elementary school near Mount Rainier.

About Jane Hodges: Jane Hodges is a longtime business/real estate journalist who has written for dozens of national and regional newspapers and magazines, a book author (Rent vs. Own, Chronicle Books 2012) and a creative writer transitioning into nonprofit work to marry those interests. A graduate of Dartmouth (BA) and Sarah Lawrence (MFA), she has since 2013 served on the board for Lit Crawl Seattle, is currently enrolled in the University of Washington nonprofit management certificate program, and has attended the Alliance of Artists Communities’ Emerging Program Institute.

#79: Entrepreneur Wilfred Martis

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I’m always drawn to stories that involve connecting a job to a childhood passion. In this interview, entrepreneur Wilfred Martis told me about his “jobby”—the first role he’s had that  melds his professional pursuits with his life-long passion for cars.

About Wilfred Martis: Wilfred is the founder of CHARIOTZ.com, a photo-based storytelling site for the custom and classic automobile markets. CHARIOTZ helps auto enthusiasts get inspired, discover new ideas, and then connect with modification/restoration businesses that can turn their dreams into reality.

Prior to founding CHARIOTZ, Martis was the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Soraa Inc., a leading developer of LED lighting products. Martis also spent 13 years at Intel, in several engineering, business and management roles, primarily focused on the consumer electronics and embedded markets. Most recently, he was the General Manager of Retail Consumer Electronics, where he was responsible for Intel’s Digital TV and Blu-ray business. Martis also founded and ran Vistify, an Internet Appliance start-up incubated by Panasonic.

Martis holds a BSEE from Bangalore University, India, an MSEE from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

#78: Communications Consultant Indira Nair

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Today I connected with Indira Nair, a friend and former colleague based in Kuala Lumpur. Indira is a seasoned communications professional who used to work for Malaysia Airlines.

Ever since Flight 370 went missing on March 8, I’ve found myself wanting to speak with Indira, not to speculate on what happened (there’s been plenty of that already) and not to dissect the airline’s handling of the crisis (it’s far too soon for a considered analysis). Instead, I hoped simply that Indira might share her perspective on this long, strange month—as a Malaysian, as a former employee of the airline, and as a veteran communications counselor. She did, and I’m grateful to her for sharing her views. 

About Indira Nair: Indira Nair, has more than 30 years of experience as a communications professional. Prior to founding her current firm, Influence 360, Nair served as Director, Communications for the Malaysian government’s economic transformation program (PEMANDU). Prior to that, she worked for Malaysia Airlines, where she played a key role in the airline’s turnaround as a member of the senior leadership team.

In the course of her career, Nair has also worked with a number of global communications agencies, including Edelman Worldwide, Burson-Marstellar, and Ogilvy Public Relations.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#77: Antonia Crane, Writer and Performer

Listen to the interview by clicking the arrow on the audio player below.

In this episode, I speak with Antonia Crane, author of SPENT, which Kirkus Reviews called the “revelatory, unapologetic life story of a San Francisco stripper and sex worker.”

Reading both SPENT and a recent article that Crane wrote for Playboy, I was struck by the complexity of Crane’s experience in the sex industry. While she endured plenty of dark and difficult times, Crane also describes finding the work empowering. In the interview, we discussed this tension; we also covered off on unionization and whether Crane would encourage a young girl to follow in her footsteps.

About Antonia Crane: Antonia Crane is an author, writing instructor, and performer in Los Angeles. Her memoir about her mother’s illness and the sex industry SPENT has just been published by Barnacle Books. She’s a columnist for The Rumpus, a contributing editor for The Weeklings, senior editor and founder of The Citron Review, and was a film consultant on Jill Soloway’s Afternoon Delight. As a winner of The Moth, True Stories Told Live, she’ll be competing in the Los Angeles Grand Championship on March 24, 2014. Her writing can be found in The Heroin Chronicles, Soft Skull Press’ Johns, Marks, Tricks & Chickenhawks: Professionals & Their Clients Writing about Each OtherThe New Black, The Rumpus, Dame Magazine, Salon, PANK magazine, Black Clock, The Believer, Frequencies, Slake, and The Los Angeles Review.