Armistead Maupin

Photo: Alan Light

We’re kicking off the start of LGBTQ Pride Month with a conversation with one of the leading literary figures in the gay rights movement of the late 20th century.

Armistead Maupin started writing stories in 1974 that were published in a small newspaper in the San Francisco area. Those serialized stories were known as tales of the City.

Finally, in 1978, Maupin published the first Tales of The City book, the 1st of several in the series.

Drawing on his own experience as a gay man, Maupin’s books feature a broad community of diverse characters and backgrounds.

Importantly, Armistead Maupin was one of the first writers to directly address the AIDS crisis.

I first met him in 1987, but the conversation you’re about to hear is from 13 years later, when we talked about his novel The Night Listener.

So here now, from 2000, Armistead Maupin.

Armistead Maupin celebrated his 78th birthday last month. He lives in New Mexico.

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Susanna Kaysen

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Tomorrow, May 19, is Mental Health Action Day.

So today on Now I’ve Heard Everything, a 1994 conversation with a woman whose own mental health crisis became a bestselling book, then a major potion picture.

In 1967, at the age of 18, Susanna Kaysen’s family had her hospitalized for treatment of depression. She was told she would be there for two weeks. She was actually there for 18 months, after being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder..

Years later Kaysen drew on her experience to write her memoir Girl, Interrupted. I met her the following year.

So here now, from 1994, Susann Kaysen.

Girl, Interrupted was made into a movie in 1999 starring Winona Ryder as Susanna.

Susanna Kaysen is 73 now.

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Jeffery Deaver

As a young man, Jeffery Deaver was a journalist. Then he was a lawyer for a while. But then his first love, writing, took over, and Deaver became a mystery and suspense writer.

And he was very good at it, but his real smash-through success came in 1997, with his novel about a quadriplegic police detective named Lincoln Rhyme.

Since then, Deaver has written 15 Lincoln Rhyme books, and is one of the world’s most acclaimed suspense authors.

I had known Jeffery Deaver years before the series began, and we talked about his first Lincoln Rhyme book, The Bone Collector, when it was published.

So here now, from 1997, Jeffery Deaver.

Jeffery Deaver turned 72 last week. His 15th Lincoln Rhyme mystery, The Midnight Lock, was published last yaer.

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Colleen McCullough

Let me take you back four and a half decades, and tell you about one of the most popular books of the late 1970s, a family saga said in Australia, called The Thorn Birds.

But if you happened to miss the book, The Thorn Birds was also a hugely popular TV miniseries in the early 1980s .

The author of The Thorn Birds was Australian-n-born Colleen McCullough.

Just 4 years after the TV miniseries, I first met Colleen McCullough when she wrote a novella called The Ladies of MIasslonghi.

And I was as enthralled as I’m sure you’re about to be by Colleen McCullough’s Witt and Good humor.

So here now from 1987, Colleen McCullough

Colleen McCullough died in 2015. She was 77.

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Robert Fulghum

Photo: Petr Novák, Wikipedia

Back around 1988 or ’89, you could hardly go anywhere without seeing a little book written by a former Unitarian minister called All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

Readers all over the world were struck by the simplicity and elegance and wisdom of that little book.

That man was Robert Fulghum, and his book stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for two years.

Here’s how he summed up the book when he and I first talked about it in 1988:

A year later, we met again, to talk about his sequel, a book called It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It.

So here now, from 1989, Robert Fulghum.

Robert Fulghum will be 85 in June. He lives in Utah and the Greek island of Crete.

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Judith Martin

Where has everybody’s manners gone? Doesn’t anybody have good manners anymore ?

For over 40 years, syndicated columnist Judith Martin — better known as Miss Manners — has been helping people navigate the often confusing Waters of good manners .

In her polite but firm way, Martin answers readers questions about what constitutes good manners and good etiquette in today’s world.

In 1990, Martin wrote a book called Miss Manners Guide For The Turn of Tthe Millennium. And that was when I had one of many conversations that I’ve had with her over the years.

And as we get into this interview, keep in mind that this was in 1990, before the internet, before instant messages, before cell phones, voicemail, and whatever else has come along since.

So here now, from 1990, Judith Martin.

Judith Martin is 83 now. She lives in Washington, DC.

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Barry Levinson

Barry Levinson is an Oscar-winning film director and screenwriter. But it also turns out he’s a pretty good novelist.

The man famous for such films as Diner, Rain Man, and Good Morning, Vietnam wrote a novel in 2003 called Sixty-Six.

Like his Baltimore-based movies, Sixty-Six was the story of young men dealing with momentous changes in their lives and in the society around them.

When his book was published, Levinson went on an author tour, and that’s when I had the chance to meet him.

So here now, from 2003, Barry Levinson.

Barry Levinson will be 80 years old next month. His most recent project: he was co-executive producer of last year’s Hulu mini-series “Dopesick.”

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Patricia Cornwell

Many authors, maybe even most authors, labor in obscurity for months or years before finally hitting it big with a bestseller .

But Patricia Cornwell hit it big with her very first book, Post Mortem in 1990. And in the three decades since then, she has sold over 100 million books.

Her wildly popular mysteries feature a medical examiner named Dr. Kay Scarpetta. Cornwell based the character loosely on a real life medical examiner for whom she worked briefly in the 1980s.

I first interviewed Patricia Cornwell when Post Mortem was published. The interview you’re about to hear is our second interview, a year later, when her second book, Body of Evidence was published.

So here now, from 1991, Patricia Cornwell.
Patricia Cornwell will be 66 in June. She lives in Massachusetts.

Her latest Kay Scarpetta mystery, Autopsy, the 25th book in the series,was published in 2021.

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Richard Marcinko

SHave you ever done a job so well that your boss is punished you for it?

That’s what former Navy SEAL team 6 Commander Richard Marcinko said happened to him.

Marcinko joined the Navy in the late 1950s, and became a part of the underwater demolitions unit. After a tour in Vietnam, Marcinko became a Navy SEAL.

After the 1979 hostage rescued attempt, Marcinko was chosen to form, and be the first commander of, the elite SEAL team. Team Six.

After three years in that role, Marcinko was given a new assignment: form a unit to test the Navy’s vulnerability to terrorism.

That new project, called Red Cell, is what got Marcinko in hot water, he says, because he exposed vulnerabilities the Navy didn’t want to acknowledge.

He was actually sentenced to prison in 1990. More on that in a moment. But in 1992 Marcinko wrote a memoir called Rogue Warrior. And that’s when I first met him.

This would be the first of many interviews I would have with Marcinko over the next few years, as he told many of his military stories in the form of novels loosely based on his experiences.

So here now, from 1992, Richard Marcinko.

Richard Marcinko died on Christmas Day 2021. He was 81.

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Art Spiegelman

While there have been thousands of books written about the Holocaust, and Nazi Germany, and the horrors of the concentration camps, few have been as powerful in the telling as Art Spiegelman’s Maus.

Originally a serialized comic strip, Spiegelman published Maus in book form in 1986, with volume 1, and in 1991 with volume two.

And despite its unusual format — it is nonfiction — It is the story of the Holocaust as told to Art Spiegelman by his father, a Polish Jew who survived the a concentration camps.

While it has been labeled history, biography, autobiography, and more, spiegelman himself doesn’t quite know how to categorize it.

I first met Art Spiegelman in 1991, upon publication of the second volume of the Maus story.

So here now, from 1991, Art Spiegelman.

Art Spiegelman celebrated his 74th birthday last month.

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