47min beginner

Enjoy classic interviews from some of the greatest writers of the last half-century to spark your own creativity and inspire you to become a better writer.

Episode descriptions

Maya Angelou
1. Episode: Maya Angelou
5min

In this 1990 interview, Maya Angelou tells of being a "voluntary mute" as a child, until a neighbor persuaded her to read poetry aloud. Angelou reads one of her poems, "Seven Women's Blessed Assurance."

Amy Tan
2. Episode: Amy Tan
5min

In this 1990 "Today" show interview, author Amy Tan explains what inspired her second novel, "The Kitchen God's Wife," and the anxiety of writing a second book when a first book has been a bestseller.

Kurt Vonnegut
3. Episode: Kurt Vonnegut
4min

Author and satirist Kurt Vonnegut warns of the impending reality of an America owned and run by foreigners -- a situation he imagines in his novel "Hocus Pocus."

Alex Haley
4. Episode: Alex Haley
7min

Author Alex Haley describes the nine years of research he did in 58 libraries on three continents to confirm family stories passed down through generations, then the three years it took to write "Roots."

Nora Ephron
5. Episode: Nora Ephron
3min

Writer Nora Ephron discusses the parallels between her novel "Heartburn" and her own high-profile marriage and divorce, which she used as inspiration and tried to turn into a "funny" story

Anne Rice
6. Episode: Anne Rice
5min

In a 1990 interview in her New Orleans mansion, writer Anne Rice talks about setting her latest supernatural story, "The Witching Hour," in her own home, and gives NBC's Katie Couric a tour.

Eudora Welty
7. Episode: Eudora Welty
5min

In this 1976 interview, Mississippi writer Eudora Welty describes growing up in a culture that relished storytelling, and how that has influenced her and other Southern writers, from William Faulkner to Tennessee Williams.

John Updike
8. Episode: John Updike
4min

Novelist John Updike discusses Bech, a title character in two of his books who, like Updike, struggles with fame and public recognition. Unlike Updike, he suffers from writer's block.

Steve Martin
9. Episode: Steve Martin
3min

As he eats breakfast and reads the newspaper in the "Today" show studio, comedian Steve Martin answers questions about his writing, then reads an essay, "Poodles: Great Eating," from his book "Cruel Shoes."

Joan Didion
10. Episode: Joan Didion
5min

Writer Joan Didion discusses her novel "A Book of Common Prayer" and describes how a book "unfolds as you write it."

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Maya Angelou
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