Episode 31: Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

 Author photo by Ben Krantz.

Author photo by Ben Krantz.

Episode 31

Born and raised in New Orleans, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton studied creative writing at Dartmouth College and law at UC Berkeley. Her debut novel, A Kind of Freedom, was a 2017 National Book Award nominee, a New York Times Notable Book of 2017 and a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice. Her work has been published in The New York Times Book ReviewOprah.comLenny LetterThe Massachusetts ReviewGrey Sparrow Journal, and other publications. 

This episode is sponsored by Scrivener

Discussed In This Episode

“If I were a grandmother looking down on my generations, I would think, ‘God, what happened here?’” Taking inspiration from the spirit of your family. Strengthening the weakest parts. “Sometimes the problem is you’re at the wrong stage at the story.” The book’s motor. Bringing characters to life with research. 1940s New Orleans. The War on Drugs. “It really showed the degree to which they’re compromised from the very beginning.” Confronting Hurricane Katrina without telling a Katrina story. Deciding when to drop in on characters’ lives. Stop forcing; go for a walk. Telling big stories in little, identifiable ways. Not turning issues into pathologies. “It denies their humanity if you don’t recognize the fact that they’re still thriving.” 100 rejections. Djerassi. What you learn from the book that’s not published. Listen to your inner voice. Writing in bursts. Childcare. Treat it like a job. Finding your schedule.

Recommended Reading

A Kind of Freedom, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
“The Long, Winding Path to One Debut Novel’s Publication,” Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
Black Life in Old New Orleans, Keith Medley
The Floating World, C. Morgan Babst
An American Marriage, Tayari Jones

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Courtney