Episode 195: The Art of Writing Memoir — Interview with Steven Gaines

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Hey there word nerds!

Today I am delighted to have author and journalist Steven Gaines on the show!

Steven is the bestselling author of a number of biographies and nonfiction books including Philistines at the Hedgerow: Passion and Property in the Hamptons and The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story of the Beatles.

His journalism has appeared in several major publications such as Vanity Fair and The New York Times, and he is  the co-founder and past vice-chairman of the Hamptons International Film Festival.

After decades of writing the life stories of others, Steven’s latest work, his memoir One of these Things First, showcases a defining moment in his own life.

Listen in as we chat about the literary art of writing a memoir that is both truthful, and tells an engaging story for readers.

In this episode Steven and I discuss:

  • How to identify the juicy moments of your life to craft into a memoir.
  • Finding, but not clinging, to the “tent pole” of your story.
  • Pushing the story forward and staying true to the events.
  • The role of humor in memoir, and how to do it right.
  • The when, where, and how of releasing your story to the world.

Plus, Steven’s #1 tip for writers.

About Steven Gaines

Steven Gaines is the bestselling author of Philistines at the Hedgerow: Passion and Property in the Hamptons, The Sky’s the Limit: Passion and Property in Manhattan, The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story of the Beatles, and Simply Halston, the biography of the fashion designer, among other books.

His journalism has appeared in Vanity Fair, the New York Observer, The New York Times, and New York magazine where he was a contributing editor for 12 years. The co-founder and past vice-chairman of the Hamptons International Film Festival, Gaines has lived on the east end of Long Island for more than 40 years.

His memoir, One of These Things First, is now available in both hardcover and paperback.

To connect with Steven check out his website at www.stevengaines.com.

One of These Things First

This book follows the story of Gaines as a 15-year-old Jewish boy in 1960’s Brooklyn and his trajectory from his grandparent’s bra and girdle store to, after a failed suicide attempt, a private room in one of the most exclusive psychiatric hospitals in the world.

Here he meets a brilliant young psychiatrist who promises to cure him of his homosexuality and provide him with the normalcy he longs for. At the hospital he also meets a Broadway producer, the husband of superstar Mary Martin, who opens a new world for him, an editor who claims she was President John F. Kennedy’s lover and other eccentric, wealthy neurotics, who make him feel like “Eliza Doolittle at the psycho country club.”

Now a journalist, novelist and biographer who has chronicled some of the 20th century’s most notable artists such as the Beatles and fashion designer Halston, Gaines takes a wry look back at his early years and coming out in Brooklyn.


If you decide to check out the book, we hope you’ll do so via this Amazon affiliate link, where if you choose to purchase via the link DIY MFA gets a referral fee at no cost to you. As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!


Link to Episode 195

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Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome!

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