Philosophy Prof Pens Mystery Novels to Reach Millennial Thinkers

“PHILOSOPHY GIVES MEANING TO PEOPLE’S LIVES.” Dr. Kelly Oliver believes that statement. It’s why she feels privileged to teach philosophy at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s why she’s written 20 scholarly nonfiction books and launched a millennial feminist noir mystery series featuring Jessica James, a young & wry philosophical cowgirl detective. “Writing novels, I start with some social issue, the same kind of social issues that motivate and inspire my nonfiction and my work in philosophy,” Dr. Oliver explained. Her desire to write nonfiction books, like Hunting Girls: Sexual Violence from The Hunger Games to Campus Rape and Carceral Humanitarianism: Logics of Refugee Detention stems from the same inspirational impulse that generated Wolf, Coyote, and F.O.X.  Dr. Kelly will reveal her creative process next week on The Studio with Cheryl on solar-powered KRUU.

An Easy-to-Keep Resolution for 2013

Cedar Rapids, Iowa Cultural Professional Rob Cline

Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Arts & Culture Professional Rob Cline

Rob Cline, my second guest on “The Studio,” captured my attention by writing an article for The Iowa Source. His title–Reading Resolutions for 2013: Rob’s 365 Short Stories–mesmerized me. Short stories are the genre I most love to read. Bookcases all over my house are stocked with books of short stories I bought during different eras in my life. I’ve read them all, but for years I’ve longed for the time and discipline to sit down and reread them. Many times I’ve thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to read a short story every single day?’ Once I even taught a high school class where that’s exactly what we did; the students and I silently read (then discussed) a different  story–most were short, shorts–during each and every class. The stories the students wrote for that class surpassed many I’d seen from other writing students; could all that reading have made a difference? (Yes, is my guess.)

Well, here it is: day 26 of 2013, and I have Rob Cline to thank for the peaceful half-hour or so I’ve spent each day revisiting texts that feel like old friends from long ago. Right on target, today I finished Story #26 (“Returnings” by Tim Gatreaux). Honestly, I think this is one resolution I’m likely to keep straight on through to December 31st. Did you know June 21st, the longest day of the year, is International Short Story Day? Maybe that day I’ll stage some kind of celebratory read-in for reaching the nearly-half-way-there point.

As it turns out Rob Cline does much more than sit around thinking up fantastic New Year’s resolutions. As a Cedar Rapids Arts and Cultural Professional, he wears a lot of hats and they’re all related to forging meaningful connections between artists and audiences. Rob earned a B.A. and an M.A. in Teaching with an emphasis in English, Philosophy and Secondary English Education at the University of Iowa. Specializing in marketing, writing, editing, and public speaking, he’s currently the Director of Marketing and Communications for the University of Iowa’s Hancher Auditorium, the Grants Manager of the Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids, and the Series Coordinator for Outloud, the Metro Library Network Author Series.

While maintaining these positions, Robb also somehow managed to write and self-publish a partially autobiographical mystery in 2012. Murder By the Slice features a pizza delivery driver whose hobby of devising rules of peaceful pizza delivery is interrupted by the murder of one of his customers. Tune in to learn more about Rob’s 365 Short Stories project and his many other creative endeavors.

Murder by the Slice by Rob Cline

Murder by the Slice by Rob Cline

College Professor Pens Legal Thrillers

Mary Vermillion, Author of Seminal Murder

Mary Vermillion, Author of Seminal Murder

A Professor of English at Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Mary Vermillion pens legal thrillers to highlight social issues. So far, she’s written three books in her Mara Gilgannon mystery series. The fictional Mara, a radio talk show host, has gotten entangled in mysteries involving a small town resisting the opening of a new Walmart store and a rape charge involving college basketball players. Seminal Murder, the latest installment in the series, focuses on crimes taking place in an artificial insemination clinic.

Mary teaches a broad range of courses, including Shakespeare, Creative Writing, and Law and Literature. She and her students host book clubs with inmates at Anamosa State Penitentiary. Mary and a colleague recently  toured England with students.

Mary will be featured Friday, Sept. 14th at 1 PM CT on “Writers Voices.” The show will be rebroadcast Monday, Sept. 17 at 8 AM.  Listen in at