Josh Raulerson

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Eric Fuentecilla / Penguin Books

As the year comes to a close, we’re looking back on our favorite Essential Pittsburgh stories and guests from 2014. Today we’re highlighting some of our favorite author interviews from the year.

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Tomorrow and Tomorrow” is a science fiction novel set in Pittsburgh, or rather a full-scale computer simulation of Pittsburgh, created in the aftermath of a terrorist attack that has destroyed the city. The book came out this summer and received good early reviews.

By the time this segment aired, the movie rights had been optioned by Sony Pictures -- an auspicious start to the literary career of cyberpunk author Thomas Sweterlitsch, a long-time Pittsburgher.

Among other things, WESA Morning Edition host Josh Raulerson asked Thomas when he started writing stories.

“I started writing when I was seven -- that’s my earliest notebook I still have. I remember very clearly writing stories about G.I. Joe. I think I was obsessed with the movie “Red Dawn.” So, all my stories were G.I. Joe/”Red Dawn” mashups. So, it’s kind of fun for me to go back because my mom had saved all of these notebooks that I’d filled up over the years, and they were just full of little horror stories that I was writing when I was nine and ten years old.”

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

The last time author Jonathan Auxier stopped by the program, he had summer reading recommendations for children. He recently stopped by our studio and spoke with WESA’s man of letters, Morning Edition host, Josh Raulerson to offer up some book suggestions for young readers.

Jonathan Auxier Suggests 

Jacket Design by Eric Fuentecilla
Eric Fuentecilla / Penguin Books

There aren’t too many writers whose first attempt at a novel gets published- and even fewer have the movie right to their debut scooped up immediately by a major film company.

If Thomas Sweterlitsch's experience in literature has been anything but ordinary, that’s because his first novel, Tomorrow And Tomorrow, has been too.

The book tells the story of John Dominic Blaxton, an investigator living in the future who explores a digital recreation of Pittsburgh, in order to explore the city a decade after it was reduced to dust by a nuclear detonation.

Lisa Kirchner

Lisa Kirchner’s book Hello American Lady Creature: What I Learned as a Woman in Qatar has been compared to Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller Eat, Pray, Love. Kirchner doesn’t mind the comparison, after all both books deal with a woman’s journey of self-discovery. Although guest host Josh Raulerson thinks Kirchner's book has a little more humor than Gilbert's bestseller.

Kirchner made her trip to Qatar to help out with Carnegie Mellon University's new campus and she had some very challenging times while over there. The hardest change for Kirchner was the heat.

Breznican

Watch any movie about friends reuniting and it’s a near guarantee one of the characters will be a writer.

With Anthony Breznican it’s a case of life imitating art. The senior writer for Entertainment Weekly magazine came home to Pittsburgh for a high school reunion, which coincides with the release of his first novel, Brutal Youth.

The story is inspired by Favorite Hour, an Elvis Costello song that was released in 1994, the year Breznican graduated high school.

The story is set at a crumbling, Catholic high school in Western Pennsylvania called St. Michael the Archangel. The school is a dumping ground for troubled kids and for kids of protective parents who are trying to shelter them from public school.

Breznican said that this ironic combination creates "sort of a perfect Darwinist mix of survival of the fittest."

Between these groups, the book shows the two different types of people in difficult situations.

Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

After stints in New York and Berlin Steve Sokol came to the Steel City to head the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. He talks with WESA Morning Edition host Josh Raulerson about his reading choices which, as you might expect from someone whose job addresses world affairs, includes books with an international focus.

Pittsburgh writer Tim Sweterlitsch talks with WESA Morning Edition host Josh Raulerson about his wide-ranging interests in fiction.

Josh Raulerson/90.5 WESA

Dr. Mario Fischetti is a clinical psychologist with the Pittsburgh Psychoanalytic Center, and the moderator of its ongoing "Reading Fiction with Freud" discussion series. He talks to WESA host Josh Raulerson about neuroses in novels.

Josh Raulerson/90.5 WESA

As a civil engineer, and as a reader of fiction, Katie Bates is interested in "why people act the way they do." She talks with 90.5 WESA Morning Edition host, Josh Raulerson about her reading choices, from Anne Applebaum to Tom Vanderbilt.