Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Radio Show that Celebrates Literary New England

HALLIE EPHRON: Cindy Wolfe Boynton's new weekly Literary New England Internet radio program came roaring out of the gate in December.

Already her Internet radio program has hosted literary lights like Nathaniel Philbrick, Chris Bohjalian and Jenna Blum, and upcoming guests include Anita Diamant, Elinor Lipman, and Hillary Jordan!

I’ll be on it, live this coming Monday, Jan. 16, talking about the fun and craft of suspense writing, as well as giving away copies of my latest, Come and Find Me.

The show broadcasts every Monday at 8 PM EST. It can be streamed from this site. Archived episodes are there, too.

Cindy, welcome to Jungle Red! Tell us about the show. How did it come about?

CINDY WOLFE BOYNTON: I love books. I love to travel. And I love New England. And I'd written a multimedia Literary New England travel app for iPhones, etc.

That turned out to be just The. Best Project. Ever. The app (which will be released within the next few months) includes destinations related to classic books and authors (like the Mark Twain House (photo on right) or where E.B. White wrote “Charlotte’s Web), and that inspired, contemporary books and authors (like The Perfect Storm’s Gloucester harbor or Wally Lamb’s Three Rivers).

Writing it gave me the chance to reach out to, and interview, some of my favorite authors, as well as countless book lovers like myself. I thought, “Boy, I’d love to do something more with this.” So, the Literary New England Radio Show was born. And I have a ball putting it together.

HALLIE: What is it about New England that makes it so rich in literary talent?

CINDY: Alison Hawthorne Deming, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great-great-granddaughter, answered that question perfectly on my Jan. 9 show. when she talked about New England’s history as a place where people practice “high thinking and plain living.”

Our nation started here. Stories have been lived and told here not just since the Mayflower landed in 1620, but for centuries before. There is a great, palpable sense of belonging that I believe draws and inspires people. That sense of place and history and life—lived in every imaginable circumstance and time—is a powerful thing.

HALLIE: What have you discovered so far about the pleasures and pitfalls of being an on-air, live interviewer?

CINDY: I’m a better writer than I am a talker, so that’s a challenge. My mouth often can’t keep up with my brain, so being cognizant of that—speaking slowly and clearly; not getting ahead of myself—can be a challenge. I mean, what literary lover wouldn’t get giddy talking with Chris Bohjalian, Jenna Blum or Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great-great-granddaughter?

HALLIE: Tell us about the path you took to get to your own radio show?

CINDY: I’ve been a journalist pretty much all of my life. I got my first reporting job when I was 18, after walking into the newsroom of my town’s small, daily newspaper and telling the editor that not hiring me would be a huge mistake. What nerve I had! I think at that point, I had written two journalistic articles—both for my high school newspaper. But I woke up that morning sure I wanted to be a reporter, and that it didn’t matter no real training. I was smart. I was clever. I could figure it out.

HALLIE: I love it! Sheer chutzpah.

CINDY: Instead of throwing me out of the newsroom, the editor gave me a shot to prove myself—and I guess I did. Since then, I’ve freelanced for papers like The New York Times and the Boston Globe. I teach English and journalism. I also write poetry and am a playwright and solo performer.

In fact, I’m currently staging and performing the one-act, one-woman play I wrote last year about taking care of my mother with Parkinson’s disease, called Right Time to Say I Love You.

HALLIE: Wow! Where can we see you perform?

CINDY: I'm gearing up right now to perform it in the Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s Winter One-Act Competition at the end of this month! So if you’re near Manhattan, please come and vote for me!

HALLIE: Tell us about some of the guests you have lined up for future shows?

CINDY: Hillary Jordan will be live on the show Jan. 30 to talk about When She Woke, which is the January Literary New England Book Club book. Andres Dubus III—National Book Award finalist for House of Sand and Fog—will be on in February to talk about the paperback release of his memoir Townie, as will Alan Lightman to talk about his new novel “Mr g.”

The Feb. 13 episode will be dedicated to romance novels, including New England authors who write some of the more steamy ones, so that will be really fun.

HALLIE: What are you hoping Literary New England will look like a year from now?

CINDY: Right now, my focus is on the product—on creating the most interesting and dynamic show possible each week that showcases all aspects of literary New England. It’s tremendously exciting. There are so many possibilities -- being picked up by, and aired on, traditional
radio; doing regular, live broadcasts from bookstores and great literary sites; having the show be financially self-sufficient. Financial support is from donations made via our website.

HALLIE: Well, I'll be tuned in, that's for sure! Cindy will be checking in today to chat, so please chime in!


  1. The show sounds great, Cindy. Thanks for steering us to her, Hallie. It's not something I would have found on my own. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for NPR to pick it up!

  2. Thanks, Edith! I saw that you found and "liked" the Literary New England Facebook page this morning -- terrific! Hope others do as well. Sooooo many great authors to talk with, and books to talk about! Today, I'm interviewing novelist Jennifer McMahon about the books on her nightstand. She'll be featured on the Jan. 23 show.

  3. I'm so happy to have found out about your show, Cindy! And it's true - writers, past and present, are so thick on the ground in New England that you could examine the work of a different author every week for the next ten years and never have to repeat yourself.

  4. Oh, Jennifer McMahon! She writes the most wonderfully creepy suspense novels that really stick in your head. She does what would seem impossible -- writes little girls without exploiting the subject matter. I'm a fan. Should be a great interview, Cindy.

  5. Hey, Cindy! How wonderful..and of course we'll all be tuning in. (Does one "tune in" on the internet?)

    We'll have to chat about beginnings--I got my first job in broadcasting--in radio--because I was such a newbie I didn't now enough to know that no one should hire me. It's a great story (And too long to put in these comments!) ..but shows how you can find your calling in the most unlikely of ways!

    Can you talk a bit about preparation? Are you a studier? Or do you "Larry King" it? (You know he insists he doesn't do any prep work at all..I say, that's unlikely!)

    Welcome to Jungle Red!

  6. This is fascinating Cindy--so glad you're visiting us today! i would love to hear a bit more about how you went about developing an "app".

    And I wish I would be in NYC for your show--you are a woman of many talents!

    And ps, I'm a Jennifer McMahon fangirl too:)

  7. Cindy, the show sounds terrific. You mentioned Nathaniel Philbrick -- I just last night finished one of his early books, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, the story that inspired Melville to write Moby-Dick. Horrific and fascinating--and the portrayal of Nantucket in the early 19th century is so intriguing.

    Good luck with the show!

  8. Good luck with the show, Cindy. I'm really far from New England but envious about the amount of literary talent you have there (most of my Jungle Red sisters to begin with!) I started out in BBC radio so I have a great affection for that medium.

  9. Hallie, I am so very happy to have discovered Jungle Red Writers, because it just keeps coming with wonderful interviews like this.

    Cindy, I miss my home back in New England so, so much, yet hadn't fully realized why. Then I read your comment here about Alison Hawthorne Deming's observation of New England's lived history that includes thinking as a value.

    I was born in Salem and recall living and playing on Becket Street around the corner from the House of the Seven Gables and other literary streets in Salem and Marblehead. I spent many days sitting on the step outside the Olde Pepper Candy shop across from the old house and think about the characters in the stories as if they were still there, as if they lived. Generations of a part of my family had lived in that very neighborhood.

    It never leaves me. North Shore thoughts are always playing around in my head. I have never adjusted well to life away from Massachusetts, and I am giving up the thought of ever being able to do that. I love other places certainly, but I've had little success in living away. I have to reconcile myself to being a New Englander in absentia and resolve now to do so. I wonder how well I might be able to do that.

    My "new" home is lovely but it isn't my home. Nothing in its structure reflects my sense of space and relationships. It is a good place. But it isn't me, and I am unsorted. So. I resolve to unbury those things I have for so long covered up. The never-realized hope of fitting in anywhere but New England must be that person here, as here is where I am for awhile.

    Looking forward to listening to your show. I anticipate a few days of archival listening. Thank you.

  10. Hank -- You ask whether I study or wing it? I study!! Although I admit I did just recently have an interview I had to wing because for a variety of reasons, but that thankfully turned out great. But I do tend to prepare, because I feel strongly that others can tell when you don't really know what you're talking about. Also, if you are a listener willing to tune in -- or an author or anyone willing to let me interview you -- I should give you nothing but my best. As a journalist, I've also learned that the best stories come from unexpected places that you generally have to dig for a bit. So if I dig before I start talking/interviewing, I have better odds at finding some gems!

  11. Hi Cindy,
    As I told you the other day, GREAT name and concept for the show, and too bad we missed each other at the Moby Dick Marathon.

    What a great story about how you got started in journalism.

    Good luck with the show, I tried to tune in Monday but had trouble with my IPAD - which has been giving me a lot of trouble lately in internet site hookups.

    Headed for the archives! (On a real computer)

  12. Hi Cindy! Thanks for visiting today. Your show sounds like the sort of thing I love to listen to when I'm in the UK on BBC 4. (Actually, I listen to BBC 4 streaming when I'm in Texas, and am now going to listen to you, too. Sometimes technology is a wonderful thing!)

  13. "My "new" home is lovely but it isn't my home. Nothing in its structure reflects my sense of space and relationships. It is a good place. But it isn't me, and I am unsorted."

    Oh, Reine! This tugged at my heart. Some of us are just very "placed" people -- I know I felt "unsorted" when I lived outside Montana. Maybe you need a New England room in your new home to help you feel the vibe! Good luck with that "re-sorting."

  14. New Yorker magazine, as you know, features writers reading works by their favorite short story authors, and of course Moth presents story tellers. Do shows such as these or others influence your work?

  15. Leslie, thank you. You are very kind. I will be okay. I am thinking I need some redecorating! Writing is a great way to redecorate atmosphere and revisit the pleasures of home.

  16. Hi Cindy- On my mission to listen to back interviews on Lit New England but can't find the page to access the archives. Hoping you can help with this. It sounds like a program I will enjoy!

  17. Archived episodes are labeled "On Demand." Follow this link and scroll down THANKS SO MUCH to everyone for taking the time to comment and listen. You've given me many things to think about, and I am most appreciative. Let's all please keep in touch!

  18. CIndy--I have a recurring nightmare, which we must discuss! In the dream I'm on TV, live, doing an interview-and I have NO IDEA why.

    On live TV, I have to figure out why the person is there..without letting the audience know I am clueless.

    Can you imagine? Thanks so much for being here...