As a freelance writer who crafts character-driven narratives that explore history, science and culture, I enjoy collaborating with other creative partners in storytelling. The mediums range from books, articles and short fiction to talks and film. I typically work with agencies, nonprofits, filmmakers and science partners to find the story of a few people, and then we delve in for the deepest impact. The methods usually combine oral history, original research and reporting.
My writing about people, food, health and science has appeared in Smithsonian, The Washington Post, Outside, The Christian Science Monitor, Science, and Oxford American.
I use storytelling to reveal connections between people and their worlds. My upcoming non-fiction book, Cork Wars, weaves a narrative with three real-life character stories, gathered from in-depth interviews with surviving family members, personal collections, and recently declassified government records. A longtime proponent and practitioner, I’ve shared storytelling techniques and strategies as a writing instructor and TEDx speaker on Creative Storytelling Through Teams.
My new book, Cork Wars: Intrigue and Industry in World War II, features spies, international intrigue, and a patriotic national WW2 tree-planting campaign with 4-H kids, gardeners, and politicians. And it’s ready to order! I shared part of the story at the International Oak Society conference in Davis, California. View upcoming book signings and events»
With the International Reporting Project, I gained a view inside Mali’s music scene (Washington Post) and spoke with Amadou and Mariam for Afropop Worldwide. Related stories follow a country doctor at his clinic, show how Malian musicians have engaged in defeating malaria, and how simulation experts in Africa and beyond compete to track malaria’s shape-shifting ways.
Soul of a People: The WPA Writers’ Project Uncovers Depression America (Wiley) explores America in the 1930s through writers who found their voices in that crisis. The book provided the basis for an award-winning documentary Smithsonian film, Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story. An article in Poets & Writers explores the story’s meaning today. Listen to an NPR interview with Jacki Lyden on All Things Considered.
For The War of 1812 and the Rise of the U.S. Navy (National Geographic), co-author Mark Collins Jenkins and I combed personal collections and manuscripts in the Library of Congress for vivid and forgotten firsthand accounts, including powder monkey Samuel Leech, who lived to see both sides of the war at sea.