All posts by Francesca Rheannon

About Francesca Rheannon

Francesca Rheannon is an award-winning independent radio producer. In addition to hosting Writer's Voice, she's a freelance reporter for National Public Radio and its affiliates. Recipient of the prestigious Nancy Dickerson Whitehead Award for reporting on substance abuse issues for her news series, VOICES OF HIV, produced for 88.5 WFCR public radio in western Massachusetts. She is also finishing a book on Provence (PROVINCE OF THE HEART) and working on a memoir of her father, THE ARGONAUTS.



Paul Kaplan talks about his biography, Lillian Wald: America’s Social and Healthcare Reformer. Wald was one of the most influential but least known people of the early 20th century. She founded the Visiting Nurse Service, but realized that to really tackle poverty, the conditions immigrants and their kids lived in needed to change. In treating the whole person, Wald changed the whole notion of social service for the poor.

Then, health and science journalist Susan Bohan talks about her book, Twenty Years of Life: Why the Poor Die Earlier and How to Challenge Inequity. It’s about how your zip code determines your health.

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We spend the hour with Howard Mansfield, first talking about his new book, THE HABIT OF TURNING THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN (Bauhan Press 2018). It’s about how American society treats property rights — and who pays the price. Then, we replay our 2013 interview with him about his book DWELLING IN POSSIBILITY: Searching for the Soul of Shelter. Continue reading


Delia Owens, WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING, Barbara Kingsolver & More

Delia Owens talks about her breakout novel, Where The Crawdads Sing. It explores isolation, connection and the healing power of Nature through the story of a young woman who lives as a hermit in a salt marsh.

Then, another novel, this time about Nature gone awry. We re-play our 2012 interview with Barbara Kingsolver about her book, Flight Behavior.

And finally, Francesca shares her story about a man who hunted healing plants in the wild regions of southern France. It’s from her memoir, Province of the Heart. Continue reading

Book Excerpt

“The Cure Hunter” from Province of the Heart

by Francesca Rheannon

In 2001, one week after the 9/11 attacks, I arrived in the rugged, sparsely populated region of southern France’s Haute Provence for a long-planned stay. I had come to write about my father’s role in one small corner of a decades-old war, World War II, but found myself paralyzed by 9/11 and the U.S. response. In this frightening new reality, the book seemed irrelevant. But, as I tried to come to grips with this world torn apart, an entirely different book emerged, one I came to call “Province of the Heart.”

I settled in a tiny village of no more than one hundred souls, in the shadow of the mountain where the great Provençal writer Jean Giono had once created a community of visionaries dedicated to the land and its people.

Over the eight months I lived there, that land and its people stitched my world back up again, through the deep succor of the relationship between humans and the natural world that embraced them. Yet my neighbors were no innocents living out of time; instead, they clung more fiercely to the beauty they had for knowing how much it was threatened.

The following is one story from Province of the Heart, “The Cure Hunter.” Continue reading



Native American writer and critic David Treuer talks about his latest book, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present. It’s a sweeping history of the resilience of Native America in the face of oppression and injustice. (Riverhead Books, January 2019.)

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Jules Feiffer, THE GHOST SCRIPT, Art Spiegelman, BREAKDOWNS & Amos Oz Remembered

We talk with the great cartoonist Jules Feiffer about the third graphic novel in his noir trilogy about the Hollywood blacklist of the 1940s and 50s, The Ghost Script. Then we replay part of our 2008 interview with comic artist Art Spiegelman. Finally, we remember the late Israeli writer Amos Oz and his last book, Dear Zealots. Continue reading


Writers Voice: Mary Pipher, WOMEN ROWING NORTH & Looking Back At 2018

We talk with psychologist and celebrated author Mary Pipher about her new book, Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing As We Age.

Then we take a look back at some of the critical issues covered by the authors we interviewed in 2018. We play clips from seven great conversations with authors Ashley Dawson, Lauren Markham, George Yancy, Anand Giridharadas, Nathan Schneider, Vandana Shiva, and Sy Montgomery.

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Writers Voice: Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, FRIDAY BLACK & Mark Russell Gelade, NAVIGATING BY STARS

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah talks about his award-winning story collection Friday Black. Then, we talk about the art of the really really short story with Mark Russell Gelade. His short-short story collection is Navigating by Stars. Continue reading



We talk with Ken Krimstein about Hannah Arendt — her life, her work, and her importance for our time. His book is The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt (Bloomsbury).

Then we listen back to my 2015 interview about another brilliant German Jewish woman of the 20th century, revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg.  We talk with Kate Evans about her graphic biography Red Rosa (Verso). Continue reading


Ariel Burger, WITNESS & Ani Tuzman, THE TREMBLE OF LOVE

Ariel Burger talks about his book WITNESS: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom. And we re-air our 2016 interview with Ani Tuzman about her novel based on the life of the 18th-century Jewish mystic, the Baal Shem Tov, The Tremble of Love. Continue reading

Web Extras

Ariel Burger Interview Segment: Elie Wiesel and Palestinian Rights

Despite his unquestionable moral force, there have been those who have pointed out that Elie Wiesel’s record of compassion faltered when it came to justice for the Palestinian people.

He was on record supporting the settlements that have taken over Palestinian land in the occupied territories and also in failing to publicly criticize Israel’s human rights violations.

In this segment from the extended interview with Ariel Burger, Francesca asks Burger about Wiesel’s stance toward Palestinian rights and he responds.

After the interview was recorded, Ariel Burger wrote Francesca the following about Wiesel’s work on behalf of victims of other genocides and mass murders, above all in Darfur.

Listen to the podcast interview here.

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We talk with Sy Montgomery, acclaimed author of Soul of An Octopus about her wonderful new book, How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals.

Then, we talk with journalist and author Earl Swift about his soulful and timely portrait of a 200-year-old crabbing community in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay that’s facing extinction from rising sea levels. His book is Chesapeake Requiem, A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island. Continue reading


Anthony Horowitz, FOREVER AND A DAY & Maxine Rosaler, QUEEN FOR A DAY

We talk with master of crime fiction Anthony Horowitz about his new James Bond novel, Forever And A Day (Harper Collins). It’s the prequel to the first Ian Fleming James Bond novel, Casino Royale.

Then, we talk with Maxine Rosaler about her story collection, Queen For A Day. It’s a poignant, trenchant and funny exploration of life with an autistic son. And finally, for Thanksgiving, we hear the Native American legend of how corn was given to the Abenaki people. Continue reading


George Yancy, BACKLASH

We spend the hour talking with Dr. George Yancy about racism in America and what white people can do about it.  His book is, Backlash: What Happens When We Talk Honestly About Racism in America?

It grew out of a 2015 New York Times op-ed, a letter entitled Dear White America and the vitriolic backlash he experienced from many white readers in response.  Continue reading


Chris Feliciano Arnold, THE THIRD BANK OF THE RIVER

We spend the hour talking with Chris Feliciano Arnold about his book, The Third Bank of the River: Power and Survival in The 21st Century Amazon (Picador USA, June 2018).

It’s a sweeping investigation of crime and corruption in the Amazon, all the more relevant now that the extreme right-wing politician Jair Bolsinaro has been elected President of Brazil. We originally spoke with Chris Arnold before the election,  but were able to get a post-election update from him to add to the program.

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