Your backstage pass to the world’s most prolific authors

JD Barker
Christine Daigle
Kevin Tumlinson
Jena Brown

What does it take to succeed as a writer? Join hosts J.D. Barker, Christine Daigle, Kevin Tumlinson and Jena Brown as they pull back the curtain and gain rare insight from the household names found on bookshelves worldwide.

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Bestseller Emily St. John Mandel is well versed in the realm of writing science fiction novels. Drawing upon decades of story elements from her favorite sci-fi books, she creates stories that are true to herself while sticking to the rules of the genre. Emily has written six novels, winning notable acclaim from people like President Barack Obama, and had Station Eleven adapted for TV by HBO. To purchase her latest novel, Sea of Tranquility, follow the link below.


EMILY ST. JOHN MANDEL is the author of six novels, including Sea of Tranquility, The Glass Hotel, and Station Eleven, which was a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Her work has been translated into thirty-two languages. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • Who is Olive?
  • How to write yourself into a character
  • Why does post-apoc do so well?
  • Why characters are always more important than setting
  • How involved Emily was with Station Eleven’s adaptation


J. D. Barker –

J. Thorn –

Zach Bohannon –

Emily St. John Mandel –

Sea of Tranquility

Three Story Method: Writing Scenes – 

Best of BookTook – 

The Carbon Almanac – 

Story Rubric –  

Nonfic Rubric –  

Scene Rubric – 

Proudly sponsored by Kobo Writing Life –

Music by Nicorus – 

Voice Over by Rick Ganley – and recorded at Mill Pond Studio –

Contact – 

*Full disclosure: Some of the links are affiliate links.


  1. Christopher Wills

    2 years ago  

    Interesting interview today. I read Station Eleven a couple of years ago. A fascinating idea and beautifully written. Interesting that Emily is considered to write literary level fiction yet does not appear to have had the commensurate education some might assume would be necessary for that.
    I love the fact that she handwrites at the start of her process. I don’t know what it is about handwriting, maybe it is the slow pace that lets one think more about the words. I’ve tried dictation using various software but I find it too fast for me to get anything I think is decent onto the screen. So in terms of speed, dictation is the hundred metre sprint, typing is the 1500 metres and handwriting is the marathon. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve not heard any bestselling authors say they dictate their books and marathon appears apposite to write a bestselling novel.
    My main takeaway from this episode is the staple of commitment. Emily became a writer after she gave up dancing. It doesn’t matter why she gave up dancing, but she became a writer by committing to writing. I’ve yet to see or hear anything to contradict the fact that writing success comes from commitment.
    Great interview.

  2. J. Thorn

    2 years ago  

    Wow. Never thought about your point on dictation versus handwriting or typing. That’s a fascinating observation.

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