Tomorrow through Friday we’ll feature exclusive outtakes from this month’s Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference at the University of North Texas. This year’s correspondents: veteran journalists Lee Hancock and Charlie Lewis, whose bios you’ll find below. (In case you missed it, last year’s conference included talks by Jeanne Marie Laskas and Thomas Lake on sportswriting and voice; Pulitzer winner Isabel Wilkerson on finding the perfect characters; and Pulitzer-winning author Richard Rhodes on the writing life.) This week’s schedule of Mayborn 2013 recaps:
Tuesday: The Tampa Bay Times’ Kelley Benham and her husband, Pulitzer Prize winner Tom French, talk about “Never Let Go,” the narrative series that chronicled the birth of their extremely premature daughter, Juniper. Benham’s project was a 2013 Pulitzer Prize finalist in feature writing and is the subject of a book in progress, co-written by the couple. (This and most other posts have been edited lightly for length and clarity.)
Wednesday: Reporting and writing tips from National Magazine Award winner and storyteller extraordinaire Skip Hollandsworth of Texas Monthly.
Thursday: Hollandsworth’s rollicking keynote address on the longform narrative that became the movie Bernie. A taste:
Here’s lesson No. 2 you got to learn about being a reporter: You walk in with a good face. So when you go in to talk to somebody, do not look judgmental. I don’t care how much you hate them. I don’t care if it’s a serial killer. Don’t look judgmental. Show an intelligent curiosity. Nod your head when they talk. Here’s one thing I’ll do: Somebody’ll say something and I’ll go, “Uh huh,” like they put it together for me. And they could be saying, “I walked down the street to the 7-Eleven.” “Okay, I got it.” You want to make them feel like they’re important.
Friday: Nearly 3,000 words of collected wisdom from Mayborn presenters including best-selling author Susan Orlean; Westword writer Allen Prendergast, Washington Post Managing Editor Kevin Merida; Washington Post columnist Donna Britt; author Caroline Alexander; Esquire and Outside contributor Kevin Fedarko; Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson; literary agent Bonnie Nadell; Dallas Morning News bureau chief and author Alfredo Corchado; Pulitzer winner and author Ron Powers; author and Bloomberg News executive editor for projects/investigations Amanda Bennett; author Paul Hendrickson; and Mayborn instructor and former Time magazine staff writer Cathy Booth Thomas.
Lee Hancock is a Texas-based freelance writer. In 30 years of daily news coverage, investigative projects and narrative reporting, she has worked for the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., and the Dallas Morning News. She is in her final term in the MFA program in creative nonfiction at Bennington College in Vermont. She has recently written for Texas Monthly, Consequence magazine, and Acts of Witness, the quarterly online magazine of the Ochberg Society For Trauma Journalism.
Charlie Lewis is a freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience in business and technical writing and editing. She is Texas-based and in her final term in the MFA program in creative nonfiction at Bennington College in Vermont. Her personal essay, “Apartment No. 9,” was selected for publication in the 2011 issue of Ten Spurs: The Best of the Best from the Literary Nonfiction of The Mayborn Conference.