Successful Southern Writers Talk to Your Students!

In April 1996, two authors from the first season of the KET series Signature—Bobbie Ann Mason and Ed McClanahan—spent an hour each talking to students live via satellite about the writing process and how they earn their livings as writers. Students discovered what nurtured and inspired these successful authors, learned more about their daily work habits, and gained insight into how they turn ordinary experiences into novels, plays, and short stories.

In SignatureLIVE, Mason and McClanahan took questions from callers as well as from a studio audience of high school and college students.

In 1995, the two also communicated with high school students via a computer bulletin board for Kentucky teachers. To read the transcripts of those conversations, choose either Ed McClanahan or Bobbie Ann Mason.

Ed McClanahan on SignatureLIVE! in the KET studio

More about Signature, the series ...

In its first season, which premiered in 1995, Signature presented hour-long, intimate profiles of the lives and careers of Mason, McClanahan, and a third Kentucky writer, playwright Marsha Norman. The next season of Signature premiered in the fall of 1997. It featured two more Kentucky natives—George C. Wolfe, a Tony-winning playwright and director, and Barbara Kingsolver, a commercially and critically successful author of novels, poetry, and nonfiction—as well as Virginia native Lee Smith, a bright and prolific author of novels set in her native Appalachia. In Kentucky, tapes of these programs, along with a teacher’s guide, are available from KET Tape Duplication at (800) 945-9167. Outside Kentucky, they are available from The Annenberg/CPB Collection, (800) LEARNER.

More about the authors ...

Bobbie Ann Mason

The dislocating pace of social change is reflected in Bobbie Ann Mason’s novels and short stories, which are filled with both tragedy and quirky comedy. In Signature, Mason visits her hometown of Mayfield, KY, which is rich in the memories she has drawn on for her work. She discusses her award-winning novels In Country and Feather Crowns and reads from two well-received story collections, Love Life and Shiloh and Other Stories. The program includes an excerpt from the Norman Jewison film of In Country as well as commentary from Roger Angell, the New Yorker editor who encouraged Mason’s early writing.

Bobbie Ann Mason on SignatureLIVE! in the KET studio
Ed McClanahan on SignatureLIVE! in the KET studio
Ed McClanahan

The humor and style of Ed McClanahan’s work reflect his experiences growing up in Maysville and Brooksville as well as his “beatnik” years in early 1960s San Francisco. In Signature, McClanahan reads from his critically acclaimed novel, The Natural Man, which was compared to The Catcher in the Rye, and his autobiographical Famous People I Have Known. The program also includes excerpts from a film version of one of his short stories, “The Congress of Wonders.”

The first season of Signature—Contemporary Southern Writers was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kentucky Center for the Arts, and the Annenberg/CPB Project. The second season was funded by the Annenberg/CPB Project.

Questions? Call or e-mail the KET Education Division, (800) 432-0951.

Top of Page

KET Education