The Book I Had to Write

The Book I Had to Write

This is the podcast where leading authors -- memoir writers, coaches, journalists, thought leaders, and others -- talk about writing their most compelling books. Get the stories behind how they wrote some of today’s most influential nonfiction. And learn tips and secrets to getting your own book done--and why publishing one could change your life. Subscribe in Go to to sign up for transcripts, show notes, special offers, and more.


April 18, 2022 1 min
Coming May 8, 2022, a new podcast where leading nonfiction authors talk about writing their most compelling books -- and why that journey matters to anyone who wants to publish. Season 1 guests include Abigail Thomas, Gayle Jessup White, Robert Glover, Allison K Williams & more.
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What do you do when you want to read a book that’s not already out there?

And what’s the difference between keeping a journal and writing for publication?

In S1E1 of TBIHTW, writer and editor Karen Propp explores these and other questions. She tells the story of how she came to write her memoir, In Sickness &  In Health: A Love Story.

Karen based her book on extensive journals she’d kept during her late ex-husband’s prostate cancer...

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Paul talks with the NYT-bestselling memoirist and teacher, Abigail Thomas. Her memoir, Safekeeping (2000), is a marvel of technical innovation, enviable humor, and just plain old heart. She’s clear-sighted about her own failings, as well as other people’s, but she never seems to judge anyone.

In this episode Abigail Thomas shares the backstory of how she came to write Safekeeping, how the memoir was initially turned down by all the...

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Paul talks with the best-selling author Dr. Robert Glover about how the publication of the book, No More Mr. Nice Guy, helped him to create a platform, and to launch himself as internationally-recognized men’s dating and self-improvement expert. To date, NMMNG has some 6000+ reviews on Amazon.

In the interview, Dr. Glover discusses how he came to write his book, and how fear of success almost derailed that project. And he talks abo...

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Growing up, Gayle Jessup White had heard that her African American family was somehow related to Thomas Jefferson. But it wasn’t until advances in DNA technology, along with methods pioneered by historians exploring the African American experience in the U.S., helped her uncover her direct link to not only Thomas Jefferson, but also Sally Hemings, the enslaved woman with whom Jefferson had had 6 children.

The result is a new book, ...

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If you’ve spent time in the world of creative nonfiction, chances are you’ve come across today’s guest, Allison K. Williams.

As the “Unkind Editor,” she builds on a decade of experience with hundreds of clients to dole out straight talk on writing and publishing.

And as’s social media editor and cofounder of “The W...

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Today’s guest on TBIHTW is Brad Listi, best known as the creator of the OTHERPPL with Brad Listi podcast. Hailed by everyone from The New Yorker to Electric Literature as a go-to literary podcast, OTHERPPL boasts over 770+ episodes, making it also one of the longest running literary podcasts as well.

Brad Listi’s new book, Be Brief and Tell Them Everything, is a work of autofiction which follows a middle-aged LA writer and podcaste...

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It can be difficult for writers to learn to put our stories front and center. That was originally the case with today’s guest, Lilly Dancyger. She originally set out to memorialize her father, Joe Schactman, through a book that would feature artwork and stories she’d collected from friends.


Schactman was a highly original artist and sculptor who was part of the same 1980s East Village art scene that included David Wojnarowicz and...

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This week, we’re featuring an episode from a great new show called The Bleeders.

The Bleeders is a podcast (and support group) about book writing and publishing. The podcast emphasizes “transparent conversations with authors, agents, and people in the publishing industry about how to write and sell books.”

The title is a wry nod to the famous Hemingway quote: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and ...

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In this episode, I talk with writer and editor Sari Botton. Back around 2010, Sari started an interview series at The Rumpus called “Conversations with Writers Braver Than Me.” At the time, as a writer of first-person nonfiction, she felt paralyzed by the fear of hurting those closest to her.


By definition, memoir and essays inevitably include stories about the people in our lives. But figuring out what the lines are – who we fee...

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May 1, 2023 1 min

Paul is back with a new season of The Book I Had to Write!

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May 23, 2023 25 mins

About this Episode

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Paul interviews author and cultural critic Stephen Marche about his new book On Writing and Failure. We delve into the challenges faced by writers in the digital age, and the evolving landscape of publishing, and discuss the inherent failures that are part of writing process, and...

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Paul interviews writer, scholar, and archival expert Julija Šukys, author of Siberian Exile: Blood, War, and a Granddaughter’s Reckoning. Part way through this project, Šukys received documents that pointed to her grandfather’s possible complicity in Holocaust-era war crimes. Their conversation traces this major discovery and how it changed h...

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"There's a big gap between the dream and the published book--what's happening there?" asks book coach Joelle Hann (aka the Brooklyn Book Doctor). Joelle joins host Paul Zakrzewski to talk about why writers face resistance when they start their books, the sense of power that happens when you finish, & the big shifts happening in Big 5 publishing right now.

Looking to season 3, we're going on a journey! We'll be tweaking the show for...

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I Want to Hear from You!

As season 2 wraps up, I want to make ...

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I’ve just wrapped up season 2 of The Book I Had to Write, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the show.

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