E.B. Bartels

Nonfiction mafia.

Tag: EB Bartels

Five years of living in Cambridge!

This week marks five years that I have been living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. To celebrate, I spent the better part of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday tweeting about some of my favorite things about this city. Click here to see the thread on Twitter or here to see a more-easily-readable version of the thread.

I’d love to hear what some of your favorite Cambridge spots are — leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!


Mortified: Natick!

Come see me read this Friday 8/30 at 7:00pm in a very special Mortified show at the Morse Institute Library in Natick, Massachusetts. This Mortified show will consist of not only the usual hilarious stories of preteen embarrassment but it will also include a piece about the craft of storytelling. The writing teacher in me is very excited.

Tickets are free! Click here to register.

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Terese Marie Mailhot, interviewed by Céillie Clark-Keane

The summer is winding down, but don’t despair––August’s Non-Fiction by Non-Men is a special one, once again featuring my former GrubStreet student, Céillie Clark-Keane, as a guest interviewer, in conversation with Terese Marie Mailhot! Enjoy.

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on August 20, 2019.

Terese Marie Mailhot is from Seabird Island Band. She is the New York Times bestselling author of Heart Berries: A Memoir. Her book was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for English-Language Nonfiction and was selected by Emma Watson as the Our Shared Shelf Book Club PiCCK for March/April 2018. Heart Berries was also listed as an NPR Best Book of the Year, a Library Journal Best Book of the Year, a New York Public Library Best Book of the Year, a Chicago Public Library Best Book of the Year, and was one of Harper’s Bazaar‘s Best Books of 2018. She is the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award, the Electra Quinney Award for Published Stories, a Clara Johnson Award, and she is also the recipient of the Spalding Prize for the Promotion of Peace and Justice in Literature. She teaches creative writing at Purdue University.

This month’s guest Non-Fiction by Non-Men interviewer is Céillie Clark-Keane. Céillie lives in Boston, where she currently works as a managing editor. She has a Master’s in English Literature from Northeastern University, and her work has been published by Ploughshares onlineElectric LiteratureBustle, and more.

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Malaka Gharib

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on July 17, 2019.

Photo credit: Andrew Castro

Malaka Gharib is a writer and artist and the author of the graphic memoir I Was Their American Dream. She is also a journalist at NPR in Washington, and reports about global health and development. In her free time, she loves making mini zines, doodling, and leaving nice messages for people on the bus. See her work on her Instagram.

You can read an excerpt of I Was Their American Dream on The Nib.

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Audrey Murray

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on June 28, 2019.

Audrey Murray is a redhead from Boston who moved to China and became a standup comedian. The co-founder of Kung Fu Komedy, Audrey was named the funniest person in Shanghai by City Weekend magazine. Audrey is a staff writer for Reductress.com and a regular contributor at Medium.com; her writing has also appeared in McSweeney’s, LitHubLARBThe GothamistPaste MagazineNarratively, China Economic Review, Nowness, Architizer, and on the wall of her dad’s office. Audrey has appeared on NPR and The Comedy Center: Live from the Table; the Lost in AmericaListen to This!, and Shanghai Comedy Corner podcasts; and on CNN, RTN, and ICS. She recently published her first memoir, Open Mic Night in Moscow. Follow her on Twitter at @ACMwrites.

Wellesley Writes It: Dr. Kwan Kew Lai

In my second interview since I started back editing for Wellesley Underground as their Wellesley Writes It editor, I corresponded with Dr. Kwan Kew Lai, Wellesley ’74 and author of Lest We Forget: One Doctor’s Experience with Life and Death During the Ebola Outbreak.

Here’s the beginning of the interview:


Kwan Kew Lai ’74, M.D., D.M.D., is an infectious disease specialist who has volunteered her medical services all over the world and the author of Lest We Forget: A Doctor’s Experience with Life and Death During the Ebola Outbreak. In 2004, after the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, she spent three weeks in India, caring for survivors. She soon left her position as a full-time Professor of Medicine in Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine at UMass Memorial Medical Center and created a half-time position as a clinician, dedicating the other half of her time to humanitarian work.

Since 2005, Lai has volunteered as a mentor to health workers addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Vietnam, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, Malawi and has provided earthquake relief in Haiti and Nepal, hurricane relief in the Philippines and drought and famine relief in Kenya and the Somalian border. She has also worked with refugees of the Democratic Republic of Congo and internally displaced people in Libya during the Arab Spring and South Sudan after the civil war and treated Ebola patients in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Most recently, she served as a medical volunteer in the Syrian refugee camps in mainland Greece and in Moria refugee camp on Lesvos, Greece for refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran and the countries of the Sub-Saharan Africa and in the world’s biggest refugee camps for the Rohingya in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Lai has blogged extensively about her experiences.

Originally from Penang, Malaysia, Lai came to the United States after receiving a scholarship to attend Wellesley, where she studied molecular biology. “Without that open door I would not have gone on to become a doctor,” Lai wrote in her Doctors Without Borders bio

Lai has received numerous awards for her work, which include being a three-time recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award. In 2017, she was awarded Wellesley College Alumnae Achievement Award. In addition, Lai is the lead author of many publications and presentations. Her research has included HIV studies, infection control, hospital epidemiology, and antibiotic trials. She has served on many committees, task forces, and boards, including the Governor’s Advisory Board for the Elimination of Tuberculosis in Massachusetts. She is also an avid marathon runner and paints when she is inspired.

Wellesley Underground’s Wellesley Writes it Series Editor, E.B. Bartels ’10, had the chance to converse with Lai via email about Lest We Forget and about her experiences at Wellesley and beyond. E.B. would also like to make note that Lai made time to answer these questions even while busy with her 45th Wellesley Reunion! 


EB: How did Lest We Forget come about? What inspired you to write the book?

KKL: I first became aware of the Ebola outbreak in March of 2014, I began to follow it very closely. I read about Ebola when I was in my training as an infectious disease specialist. It is a deadly viral infection but it usually occurs in Africa and I knew that it would be unlikely for me to see a patient with this infection. In the summer of 2014 when WHO finally acknowledged the seriousness of the situation, the nightly TV images of people desperate to get into a hospital and bodies lying in the streets because they were too infectious to be touched, moved me. I knew I had to be in West Africa to volunteer.

I started blogging a few years ago when I went to volunteer to enable my family and close friends to keep abreast of my situation and so I did the same when I started volunteering in the Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU). Deeper into my volunteering I was very moved by the courage and resilience of the patients and the dedication and dogged determination of the people who worked alongside me and who risked their lives working in the frontline. After my first stint in West Africa, I was interviewed by NPR international health correspondent, Nurith Aizenman, about my experience and she had urged me to write a book. I had thought about that as well before she brought it up but I was too taken up into my second stint of Ebola volunteer by then. When I was in Sierra Leone doing my second Ebola volunteering, I was also contacted by an agency who wanted to represent me with either writing a book or making a documentary. However just before I left for Sierra Leone, I signed with my first agent about my book on Africa which is about my experiences as a volunteered doctor in HIV/AIDS and my work in the refugee camps. I did not feel it was ethically right to deal with another agency. Nevertheless, writing a book about Ebola became more urgent, I wanted to write this in honor and memory of the people afflicted by Ebola and the frontline bola fighters who put their lives on the line. It took me awhile for me to convince my agent to present my book on Ebola first before my book on Africa.

Go to Wellesley Underground for the complete conversation!


Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Mira Jacob

Shout out and major THANK YOU to Erin Greene who made this interview possible thanks to her CITYterm connections!

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on May 14, 2019.

Mira Jacob is the author and illustrator of Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations. Her critically acclaimed novel The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing was a Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers pick, shortlisted for India’s Tata First Literature Award, and long-listed for the Brooklyn Literary Eagles Prize. It was named one of the best books of 2014 by Kirkus Reviews, the Boston Globe, Goodreads, Bustle, and The Millions. Her writing and drawings have appeared in The New York TimesElectric LiteratureTin HouseLiterary HubGuernicaVogue, the Telegraph, and Buzzfeed, and she has a drawn column on Shondaland. She currently teaches at The New School, and she is a founding faculty member of the MFA Program at Randolph College. She is the co-founder of Pete’s Reading Series in Brooklyn, where she spent 13 years bringing literary fiction, non-fiction, and poetry to Williamsburg. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, documentary filmmaker Jed Rothstein, and their son.

“How I Stopped Being Afraid of My Own Brain” on Electric Lit

For the full piece, see it on Electric Literature.
Published on May 8, 2019.

My grandmother, Genevieve Beckers Bartels.

Writing nonfiction is always personal, in my opinion. You are putting your thoughts, feelings, and point of view out there, even if you are hiding behind the safety of research or criticism. This essay that I published today on Electric Literature is, at its core, a book review, but it is also the most personal thing I have published to date.

Thank you for reading it, and for your thoughtfulness and your care with this subject matter. A special thank you to my editor, Jess Zimmerman, who helped me so much with shaping this piece and clarifying my ideas, and, of course, thank you to my dad who helped me with this essay, and with so many other things, more than he realizes.

But if you only take one thing away from this piece, it better be that you need to go out and buy and read Marin Sardy‘s book The Edge of Every Day ASAP!

There is still time to sign up for Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Online!

If you are regretting not signing up for my Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Online course at GrubStreet, have no fear! The new class start date is May 1 so you still have plenty of time. Sign up today!

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Learning from Women and Gender-Non-Conforming Writers (Online)
ONLINE, May 1 – June 5

  • Based on my interview series Non-Fiction by Non-Men.
  • Open to all writers of all levels.
  • 6-week course.
  • Scholarships available!
  • Did I mention it is ONLINE so you can take it from ANYWHERE?!

As writers, we are constantly trying to generate empathy––to have our readers understand what it is like to be in our shoes. Therefore, some of the richest material out there has come from stepping beyond the boundaries of the “traditional” canon and taking a look into the lives and lesser-heard perspectives of marginalized writers. With that in mind, in this class, we will celebrate and learn from some of the incredible contemporary women and gender-non-conforming writers of nonfiction, with a special emphasis on queer and trans women, and women of color, and use their work as a jumping-off point for our own. (Note: while our readings will focus on women and gender non conforming folks, by no means is this course only for students who identify as such. We welcome students of any gender identity to take the course!)

Each week, we will study both the works of these writers and interviews with each of them discussing their craft, taken from the site Fiction Advocate’s interview series Non-Fiction by Non-Men. The reading list will include but is not limited to: Eula Biss, Jennifer Finney Boylan, Nicole Chung, Edwidge Danticat, Daisy Hernández, Samantha Irby, Margo Jefferson, Morgan Jerkins, Suki Kim, Scaachi Koul, Michelle Kuo, and Nina MacLaughlin.

You will also use what you learn to write your own essays, inspired by the works we have read. Each week, students will be assigned readings by several contemporary women and/or gender-non-conforming authors, a writing assignment based on a prompt shaped by the readings, and a couple classmates’ essays to read and provide feedback on. The instructor will also provide feedback on your essays each week.

You will leave this course with the beginnings of several new pieces of your own nonfiction writing, a broadened knowledge of the range and possibilities in writing contemporary nonfiction, a better sense of the many diverse voices expanding the boundaries of nonfiction, and an understanding of useful techniques and strategies for conducting interviews, figuring out your own writing process, and understanding the craft of creating nonfiction. Plus, you will have the chance to be a guest interviewer in the Non-Fiction by Non-Men series and publish an interview of your own on Fiction Advocate.

(Though this class highlights primarily female and non-binary writers, we have several other classes featuring writers often underrepresented or marginalized by the literary industry, including an upcoming class on writing queer fiction , and a few others that are still in the works. If there is a particular topic or identity you’d like to see explored, please email programs@grubstreet.org.)

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Grace Talusan

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on April 16, 2019.

Grace Talusan is author of the memoir The Body Papers, winner of the 2017 Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing for Nonfiction. She was born in the Philippines and came to the United States with her parents at age two. She has published essays, long form journalism, fiction, and book reviews in BrevityCreative NonfictionBoston MagazineThe Boston GlobeThe Rumpus, and many others. She has degrees in English from Tufts University and the University of California, Irvine. Her writing has been supported by the Fulbright, Hedgebrook, Ragdale, the Massachusetts Cultural Council and others. She teaches writing at Tufts University and GrubStreet, and in fall 2019, will be the Fannie Hurst Writer-in-Residence at Brandeis University.


Together hiking the Appalachian Trail from April to October, 2015!

E.B. Bartels

Nonfiction mafia.

Mara Wilson Writes Stuff

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Hope Ewing

Words, Booze, Feminism, for hire.


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T is for

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Pedals to Petals

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Wellesley Underground

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Soundtracks for Books

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Arrested Misérables

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i don't like fun

a collection of sorts