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I’m honored that two renowned California authors, novelist Felicia Luna Lemus and journalist Chanan Tigay, were able to visit my classes at UNCW this week via the magic of Skype!

Felicia Luna Lemus visited my undergraduate Forms of Fiction class, where we are reading her beautiful novel Like Son, which her publisher (Akashic Books) describes as “A post-punk story of outsiders, family, inherited drama, and love set in downtown New York, Los Angeles, and Mexico City.”

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Felicia graciously answered questions from students about her research into the Edward Weston photograph of Nahui Olin that inspired the book, her own writing process, and the years of revision she spent working to find just the right voice for her protagonist, Frank Cruz.

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Everyone was charmed by Felicia’s grace, wit, and good humor!

Then acclaimed journalist Chanan Tigay visited my graduate Creative Nonfiction class and answered questions about his long-form narrative essay, “The Special Populations Unit” about Arab soldiers who served in the Israeli Army, which appeared in McSweeney’s. TigayPhoto Chanan generously talked about his research and gave advice on a wide variety of subjects ranging from how to gain the trust of interview subjects and the most important question to ask (“Always end by asking, ‘Is there anyone else you think I should talk to?'”) to what it was like to interview Hillary Clinton! (FYI, he said, she’s just as charismatic as Bill in person and just as smart.)

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We were all especially thrilled to hear about his forthcoming book, Unholy Scriptures: Fraud, Suicide, Scandal—and the Bible that Rocked the Holy City, due out next winter from Ecco/HarperCollins. In it Chanan describes the mysterious case of a 19th century Jerusalem antiquities dealer who tried to sell the British Museum a manuscript that may have been a precursor to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Chanan’s research took him around the world from Berlin to Jerusalem to London and beyond. He ultimately visited eight countries on four continents. That’s dedication in pursuit of a story!

It was a treat to get to speak to both Felicia Luna Lemus and Chanan Tigay. Skype is an amazing technology that really is bringing the world closer together, and it’s such a great tool for the classroom. It certainly brought California closer to my classes at the University of North Carolina Wilmington this week!

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