Actress Catherine McNabb reads "Small-g City" on Februray 19!

Actress Catherine McNabb reads “Small-g City” on Februray 19!

That’s right, I’m in a Radio Daze! Thanks to actress Catherine McNabb, excerpts from Small-g City will be featured Friday, February 19 on KPTZ, Radio Port Townsend 91.9 FM. Phil Andrus hosts the reading on his “Tossed Salad” program, which will include a short interview with the author (that’s me). Catherine’s reading starts at 3:30 PM; the author interview (approximately 15 minutes) will precede the reading. You can listen in at

Disclosure: I first met Catherine McNabb in 1992 when we were both in a production of “A Christmas Carol.” We’ve been friends ever since. This is the third time she’s selected my work for a reading and I’m both thrilled and humbled. Catherine agreed to a brief interview about her story sharing work. Here’s the official scoop:

Q: Through your radio presentations, participation in Port Townsend Shorts (a monthly short story reading program) and other performance activities you have proven yourself an advocate of the written word. Where does your interest in presenting stories come from and why is doing this important to you?

A: I love stories. I enjoy poetry, find biographies and history fascinating but I love stories. I love the idea that someone created characters, their actions, their worlds, their interactions and I find I am antsy to know what happens to them. If a story is good enough I get very invested in the characters. I admit sometimes I peek at the ending.

Q. How do you choose a story for performance?

A. It helps if the story has action. I don’t mean car chases and such but more dialogue or things happening to or by the characters rather than long descriptive text. I think reflective material is best left to the individual to read. Then there is the practical. If a story is too long (the ideal is 20 minutes) and cannot be edited then I can’t use it for the radio. I also wouldn’t want to attempt to read something longer than 30-40 minutes with just one voice. If there is a longer piece and it has dialogue I get others to read with me.

Q. What is your favorite story sharing experience?

A. When the room is totally silent after you read and there is an audible release of breath.

Q. Which authors do you most enjoy reading out loud?

A. I loved reading Merrill Markoe because she is so funny and she loves to write about dogs. I love to make people laugh and I love dogs so she has all the bases covered.

Q. Do you need to be a little bit crazy to perform dialogue between multiple characters?

A. If you believe you really ARE the multiple characters. I think there is a diagnosis for that. Dialogue for multiple characters can be tricky unless all the characters are distinct. For instance, if all are women of the same age, part of the country, like-minded in outlook and one person is reading on the radio it can be a bit confusing for the audience. I probably wouldn’t choose to read something like that.

Q. Vocal characterization is an art. How do you balance what’s in the text with what you infer from:
1. Reading between the lines?
2. Your imagination?

A. The author’s meaning is not always clear, sometimes purposely so. Part of what the author has to do is let go of their interpretation because the person reading (unless they have access to the author) has to put their own spin on things. I think that can be exciting. I just choose a path and stick with it. It is better than mush.

Q. What would you like the readers of this blog to know that we haven’t covered in the above questions?

A. I want to thank all the authors out there, including you, for giving me great material to work with.

Q. What’s up next for you, after reading Small-g City?

A. I just finished reading the stories of Rebecca Makkai, author of The Borrowers, Hundred Year House and the collection of short stories, Music for Wartime. It was a two evening PT Shorts and the author was there. So between Small-g City and that I haven’t had much time to look ahead. I am always on the lookout for great stories.

Mark your calendar now! Small-g City reading by Catherine McNabb and interview with author S. D. Matley on Friday, February 19, in the three o’clock hour of “Tossed Salad” with host Phil Andrus, Radio Port Townsend 91.9 FM.

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