Stephen Usery interviews authors of mysteries, thrillers, and crime fiction.

We’ve got a double header this time around. Up first, I recently spoke with Edgar Award winner Tom Franklin and Pushcart Prize winner Beth Ann Fennelly. Tommy and Beth Ann are married and both teach at the University of Mississippi, where she is his boss as the chair of the creative writing program.

Beth Ann is a prize winning poet and essayist, and Tom's literary novels full of crime and violence have brought him much acclaim, including the CWA Golden Dagger for Crooked Letter Crooked Letter. They decided to team up for the new novel, The Tilted World, a story of orphans, moonshiners and revenuers set against the backdrop of America's greatest natural disaster, the Mississippi River flood of 1927.

Up next, if you've seen the documentary Cocaine Cowboys about the Colombian drug trade in America in the 70s and 80s, the name Griselda Blanco may send shivers down your spine. She was one of the cruelest of an already mean lot to come to the States and make piles of cash while selling piles of blow. Blanco was murdered last year in her native Colombia. 

Jennie Erin Smith is an American journalist, who published the highly entertaining book, The Stolen World; A Tale of Reptiles, Smugglers, and Skullduggery. She researched Blanco's life and death, turning up a lot of never printed before information for the original feature piece: Cocaine Cowgirl: The Outrageous Life and Mysterious Death of Griselda Blanco,The Godmother of Medellin.

Direct download: CASE043-FRANKLIN-FENNELLY.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 9:55pm EDT

This episode of Mysterypod is a bit different, as the true crime book in question, Murder in Mississippi, isn't available in the USA yet. However, I'm a huge fan of Australian author John Safran's (not to be confused with American novelist Jonathan Safran Foer)radio and television work, and the murder in question took place in Mississippi, just a couple hundred miles down the road from my current home in Memphis.

Richard Barrett was a notorious white supremacist from Rankin county, Mississippi who was murdered in 2010. The previous year, John Safran had interviewed and pranked him for his television mini-series John Safran's Race Relations on ABC1 (Australian Broadcasting Corporation television). Hearing of Barrett's death, allegedly at the hands of a young African-American man named Vincent McGee, Safran came to Mississippi to research what he thought would be a rather straight-forward story of a black man killing a virulent racist. What he found was a lot of contradictions in each of the men's lives.

We talk about Safran's growing up as a secular Jew in Australia, his satirical documentaries, and paint the broadest of strokes about his insightful and often funny book dealing with the lives and a death which were way more complex than outsiders could even imagine.

You can listen to his current radio program here:
Sunday Night Safran

And here is his recent radio mini-series interviewing true crime writers:
John Safran's True Crime

The book Trailer for Murder in Mississippi:

John Safran's Murder in Mississippi from PenguinAustralia on Vimeo.

An excellent sketch from John Safran Vs. God where he acts an atheist missionary in Salt Lake City, Utah:

Direct download: CASE42-JOHNSAFRAN.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 9:22am EDT