In Seven Questions, we interview writers, editors, designers, and others in publishing. Today we talk to Angela Ledgerwood, host of the popular literary podcast Lit Up, a weekly conversation with some of the world’s most celebrated writers. She’s chatted with Ann Patchett, Maggie Nelson, and Colson Whitehead, with episodes featuring Trevor Noah, Affinity Konar, and Jade Chang on the way. Ledgerwood is also Cosmopolitan’s Books Editor-at-Large, where she’s interviewed some of her favorite women including Senator Elizabeth Warren, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and her writing has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, Marie Claire, Interview, and more.
(Photo credit Sidney Benson)
What books are open on your desk right now?
Siri Hustvedt’s upcoming book, A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex, and the Mind and a galley of The Idiot by New Yorker staff writer Elif Batuman. It’s described as a portrait of the artist as a young woman, so I’m intrigued. Human Acts by Han Kang coming out in early ‘17 is there too.
Who is your dream podcast guest, living or dead?
Siri Hustvedt. That dream is coming true later this month. I’ve been amazed by her intellect and the breadth of her knowledge about art, neuroscience, and psychology for many years. My ultimate wish would be to witness Siri, the artist Louise Bourgeois, and Charles Dickens chatting amongst themselves. I’d simply be a fly on the wall.
What emerging author or first book are you most excited about?
I’m eager to read Julie Buntin’s debut novel Marlena, about two girls who go feral and embark on a year that explodes their lives.
Name a book you bought for its cover.
The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir—I’ve still not read it because I think I’m afraid of what I’ll find inside. I look at it daily—one day I’ll take the plunge.
If you could spend a year writing anywhere in the world, where would it be?
A quiet spot overlooking the ocean on the Amalfi Coast in Italy. I’ve never been, but in my fantasy I’d wake early to write and drink coffee from a room overlooking the ocean. A daily swim and walk would be mandatory. As would limited internet.
What strategies do you have for encouraging writers to open up on Lit Up?
I was given excellent advice from a dispute resolution specialist about how to get people to relax in certain situations. Not that the writers I have on are in conflict with me, I hope! Building a rapport begins with eye contact and touch. Often having a casual chat about what’s going on in the world to break the ice is helpful, as is trying to find common ground early in the conversation. I never start with the most personal questions. I have to get a sense of who the person is in front of me and what they’re comfortable with before I delve more deeply.
Typing or longhand? Typing for work, longhand for pleasure.
Morning or night? Morning.
Coffee or tea? Both!
Beer or wine? Wine.
Mountains or sea? Sea.
Hardcover or paperback? Paperback.
Novel or short story? Novel.
Highlight or underline? Underline.