Debra Gwartney joins Letโ€™s Talk Memoir for a conversation about the difference between character and narrator in memoir, navigating writing about loved ones, why memoirists need to hold their own feet to the fire, and what question every memoir asks.

Also in this episode:

  • Memoir and essay recommendations
  • Craft book suggestions
  • Tips for avoiding common pitfalls when writing memoir


Debra Gwartney is the author of two book-length memoirs, Live Through This, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and I Am a Stranger Here Myself, winner of the RiverTeeth Nonfiction Prize and the Willa Award for Nonfiction. Debra has published in such journals as Granta, The Sun, Tin House, American Scholar, The Normal School, Creative Nonfiction, Prairie Schooner, and others. Sheโ€™s the 2018 winner of the Real Simple essay contest. Sheโ€™s also a contributing editor at Poets & Writers magazine and received a Pushcart Prize in 2021 for her essay โ€œSuffer Me to Pass,โ€ from VQR.

Debra is co-editor, along with her husband Barry Lopez, of Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape. She lives in Western Oregon.




Ronitโ€™s essays and fiction have been featured in The Atlantic, The Rumpus, The New York Times, The Iowa Review, The Washington Post, Writerโ€™s Digest, American Literary Review, and elsewhere. Her memoir WHEN SHE COMES BACK about the loss of her mother to the guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and their eventual reconciliation was named Finalist in both the 2021 Best Book Awards and the 2021 Book of the Year Award and a 2021 Best True Crime Book by Book Riot. Her short story collection HOME IS A MADE-UP PLACE won Hidden River Artsโ€™ 2020 Eludia Award and will be published in 2022. She is host and producer of the podcasts And Then Everything Changed and The Body Myth.

More about WHEN SHE COMES BACK, a memoir.

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