Episode 196: Finding the Right Voice — Interview with Nathaniel Philbrick

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Hey there word nerds!

Today I have the pleasure of hosting award-winning author Nathaniel Philbrick on the show!

Nathaniel is the New York Times bestselling author of Valiant Ambition, Sea of Glory, and The Last Stand, as well as a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his book Mayflower. His book In the Heart of the Sea which not only won the National Book Award, but was made into a major motion picture a few years back starring Chris Hemsworth.

Nathaniel is also the author of Second Wind, which is a memoir chronicling a pivotal moment in his writing career. This book was originally published way back in 1999 by a small New England Press and has now been given another publication run by Penguin.

Listen in as we chat about the return of this awesome book, and get an inside look into Nathaniel’s meticulous writing process.

In this episode Nathaniel and I discuss:

  • Reading the room, and other skills to cultivate when speaking about your book.
  • The challenges of writing memoir vs. nonfiction.
  • Why you need to be remorseless in editing.
  • Ways to escape being landlocked on your own writing island.
  • How to make your memoir universal.

Plus, Nathaniel’s #1 tip for writers.

About Nathaniel Philbrick

Nathaniel Philbrick is the New York Times bestselling author of Valiant Ambition, National Book Award winner In the Heart of the Sea, Pulitzer Prize finalist Mayflower, Sea of Glory, and The Last Stand. He is also the author of Why Read Moby-Dick? and Away Off Shore. He lives on Nantucket with his wife Melissa.

His memoir Second Wind: A Sunfish Sailor, an Island, and the Voyage That Brought a Family Together, originally published in 1999 by a small New England press, has been re-released by Penguin and is available now.

To connect with Nathaniel check out his website at www.nathanielphilbrick.com.

Second Wind: A Sunfish Sailor, an Island, and the Voyage That Brought a Family

Second Wind: A Sunfish Sailor, an Island, and the Voyage That Brought a Family Together chronicles Philbrick’s sailing comeback, a year that proved to be pivotal in the writer’s career. It is Philbrick’s memoir of confronting middle age and his journey to reclaim the national sailing championship that he’d won 15 years before.

In this charming memoir of midlife by the bestselling author of Mayflower and In the Heart of the Sea, Philbrick recounts his attempt to recapture a national sailing championship he’d won at twenty-two.

“There had been something elemental and all consuming about a Sunfish. Nothing could compare to the exhilaration of a close race in a real blow—the wind howling and spray flying as my Sunfish and I punched through the waves to the finish.”

In the spring of 1992, Nat Philbrick was in his late thirties, living with his family on Nantucket, feeling stranded and longing for that thrill of victory he once felt after winning a national sailing championship in his youth. Was it a midlife crisis? It was certainly a watershed for the journalist-turned-stay-at-home dad, who impulsively decided to throw his hat into the ring, or water, again.

With the bemused approval of his wife and children, Philbrick used the off-season on the island as his solitary training ground, sailing his tiny Sunfish to its remotest corners, experiencing the haunting beauty of its tidal creeks, inlets, and wave-battered sandbars. On ponds, bays, rivers, and finally at the championship on a lake in the heartland of America, he sailed through storms and memories, racing for the prize, but finding something unexpected about himself instead.


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 196

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