Author Interviews

Talking with published writers about their PC service, current life, writing their books, their advice for other writers — and what is in the works.

1
Fiction that matters — An Interview with Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)
2
Talking with Ambassador Vicki Huddleston (Peru)
3
Talking with Madeline Uraneck (Lesotho)
4
Talking China with Michael Meyer
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Talking with Sandi Giver (Uganda), author of ONE OF US
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Talking with Mary Dana Marks (Iran), author of WALLED IN, WALLED OUT
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Talking with Mark Walker (Guatemala)
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Talking with Larry Berube (Morocco)
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Talking to Lenore Myka (Romania)
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Talking with Frank Rothman, author of BROOKLYN NY TO BOCAIUVA, BRAZIL

Fiction that matters — An Interview with Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)

  Fiction that matters—An Interview with Mark Jacobs (Paraguay) Interviewed by Kurt Baumeister, The Oddville Press http://arthousemedia.com/oddville/interview-jacobs.html (Mark Jacobs (MJ) and Kurt Baumeister (KGB) KGB— You’ve published quite a bit of short fiction, some of it in hallowed literary venues like The Atlantic, Shenandoah, and The Kenyon Review. And you’ve won several prizes for this work. But you’ve also published a few straight spy thrillers. Talk about the impulse to work in different subgenres of fiction—I’ve always hesitated to refer to literary or serious fiction as a genre, but many do so let’s go with it—do you get different satisfactions out of writing serious fiction as opposed to what we think of as “popular” work? MJ— It’s good to connect with you, Kurt. I appreciate the question. A few years ago, I was disappointed to get a turn-down on a story from the editor of one of the prestigious literary magazines. He seemed to like the story I’d sent . . .

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Talking with Ambassador Vicki Huddleston (Peru)

  Ambassador Vicki Latham Huddleston (Peru 1964–66) is a retired career Senior Foreign Service Officer who recently published a memoir, Our Woman in Havana: A Diplomat’s Chronicle of America’s Long Struggle with Castro’s Cuba. Over her thirty year career in foreign affairs she has worked for the Department of State, USAID, and the Department of Defense. Her last government assignment was as U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from June 2009 through December 2011. Before that she was Chargé d’Affaires ad interim to Ethiopia, United States Ambassador to Mali, Principal Officer of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and U.S. Ambassador to Madagascar. She was Chief of United States Interests Section in Havana from 1999–2002 and was earlier the Deputy and then the Coordinator of the Office of Cuban Affairs. Prior to joining the Department of Defense, she was a visiting scholar . . .

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Talking with Madeline Uraneck (Lesotho)

  Madeline Uraneck (Lesotho 2007-09) is an educator and writer who has visited sixty-four countries through her role as International Education Consultant for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, several Peace Corps assignments, and her passion for world travel. Her writing has appeared in K–12 curriculum materials, educational handbooks on culture and policy, and publications including WorldView Magazine, Hotline, Global Education, WorldWise Schools, and Isthmus, for which she received a Milwaukee Press Club award. • Madeline, tell us a little about yourself. I’m an Okie, raised by liberal parents in oil country and America’s Bible Belt.  My dad said I had to go to college out of state, so I ended up at Grinnell College in Iowa, then University of Wisconsin in Madison, both bastions of the Midwest, to study Psychology then Education. I’ve been in and out of Wisconsin for 50 years now, from the campus demonstrations of the late 60s . . .

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Talking China with Michael Meyer

   In the March/April issue of The Writer’s Chronicle I published this interview with Michael Meyer (China 1995-97) about his China books. Michael is one of what I call the “China Gang” who in the late ’90s went to China with the first groups of PCVs and wrote books about their host country. The RPCVs are, besides Meyer, Craig Simons (China 1996-98), Rob Schmitz (China 1996-98), and Peter Hessler (China 1996-98). — John Coyne   Michael Meyer is a recipient of the Whiting Writers Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar award, and a two-time winner of a Lowell Thomas Award for travel writing. His stories have appeared in The New York Times, Time, Smithsonian, Slate, the Financial Times and [on] This American Life. He has also had residencies at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy. He is a current fellow . . .

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Talking with Sandi Giver (Uganda), author of ONE OF US

In June 2017 Sandi Giver published One of Us: Sex, Violence, Injustice.  Resilience, Love, Hope with Peace Corps Writers. She describes the book this way: It is “a book with a mission, challenging societal perceptions, and a community of love :-).” Here Sandi answers some questions put to her by Peace Corps Worldwide. • Where and when did you serve in the Peace Corps? In Pader, Uganda from 2009 to 2011. What was your Peace Corp project assignment? I was a Community Health/Youth Development Specialist. Tell us about where you lived and worked. Pader  is a small village with one main road linking the simple market and small stores. It is a former internally-displaced-persons [IDP] camp established during the 21+ years of conflict by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) with the Ugandan government. Originally, I lived on a compound in a thatch-roof hut. Due to the potential safety risk that a villager might . . .

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Talking with Mary Dana Marks (Iran), author of WALLED IN, WALLED OUT

  In April, Mary Dana Marks published Walled In, Walled Out: A Young American Woman in Iran with Peace Corps Writers. She describes her book this way: “A young American woman comes of age in Iran, threading her way through the venerable history and culture of this ancient, proud Muslim land to find her own unique role.” Here she talks of her Peace Corps experience, her career, and how she came to write Walled In, Walled Out. • Where and when did you serve in the Peace Corps? I was a Volunteer in Iran from 1964 to 1966. What was your Peace Corp project assignment? I was part of a large TEFL group, Iran 4, which trained at the University of Michigan during the summer of 1964. We studied Farsi, of course, and Iranian history and culture. Working with U of M’s summer English Language Institute students, we trained to be teachers . . .

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Talking with Mark Walker (Guatemala)

  Mark Walker recently published Different Latitudes: My Life in the Peace Corps and Beyond with Peace Corps Writers. Read more about Mark,  his writing and his book. • Mark, where and when did you serve in the Peace Corps? I served in Guatemala from 1971 to 1973. What was your Peace Corps project assignment? My Peace Corps program was a soil fertilization project that operated under the auspices of the Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture in cooperation with the University of North Carolina through a contract with USAID. We inventoried soil productivity in our site by taking soil samples and sending them to UNC for analysis. We also tested the productivity of new seed varieties (corn, wheat, beans and potatoes) which were treated with different types of fertilizers. Tell us about where you lived and worked in-country. Initially, I was sent to one of the highest points in Central America, Ixchiguan, in the highlands . . .

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Talking with Larry Berube (Morocco)

  Last month Larry Berube (Morocco 1977–79) published with Peace Corps Writers his memoir Nuns, Nam & Henna: A Memoir in Poetry and Prose.  The poems and prose are recollections from his boyhood experiences at St. Peter’s Orphanage in Manchester, New Hampshire, from the age six to twelve; his time as a young soldier in the U.S. Army with the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam; and as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco where he worked in small villages of the Middle Atlas Mountain region of Morocco on various water projects. We talked to Larry recently about his life and his new book. •   Larry, you were a PCV from ’77 to ’79. Where were you and what was your job? I was in Beni Mellal, Morocco, which was a provincial capital. But my work took me to small villages in the Middle Atlas mountain region. My job was leading a local government surveying team, which . . .

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Talking to Lenore Myka (Romania)

  Lenore Myka is the author of King of the Gypsies: Stories (BkMk Press, 2015), winner of the 2014 G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction, and a finalist for the 2016 Chautauqua Prize. A recipient of a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, Lenore’s fiction has been selected as distinguished by The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Non-Required Reading series. Her award-winning work has appeared in New England Review, Iowa Review, Massachusetts Review, West Branch, and Alaska Quarterly Review, among others. She received her MFA in Fiction from Warren Wilson College and an MA from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University. She was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Romania from 1994 to 1996, and is currently working on a novel set in her hometown of Buffalo, NY. • Lenore, what is your academic background? I studied English Literature as an undergraduate at the University of Rochester, and . . .

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Talking with Frank Rothman, author of BROOKLYN NY TO BOCAIUVA, BRAZIL

  In May Franklin D. Rothman (Brazil 1967–69) published his memoir Brooklyn, NY to Bocaiúva, Brazil: A Peace Corps Love Story with the Peace Corps Writers imprint. Here Frank talks about his Peace Corps days, life after Peace Corps and the writing of his memoir. • What was your Peace Corps project assignment in Brazil? Clubes Agricolas/Rural Community Action in Minas Gerais State (MG). The statewide project in selected municipalities in the interior of the state was conducted in coordination with State Secretaries of Agriculture and Education. Following a pre-assignment drop-off in the municipality of Carandaí, I expressed my desire to be assigned there, to join Lavonne Birdsall, who would be extending for her third year. Tell us about where you lived and worked. In the town of Carandai, I lived in a rented room known locally as the Palácio do Urubu (Vulture’s Palace). The property owner and his family lived . . .

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