Page One Podcast

Ep. 17: Barbara Graham: What Jonah Knew

Episode Summary

In Episode 17, we interview bestselling author Barbara Graham about the stories and struggles behind writing her debut novel, What Jonah Knew, published by Harper this summer. In this very honest conversation, Graham shares her profound joy in writing fiction for the first time—her lifelong dream and the cost of finding her way to this side of writing. “For me, writing fiction, writing this novel, is the most fun I've ever had, the hardest thing I've ever done and the absolute most fun.” In this special episode, we discuss how spirituality can influence and support the writing process and how seeming deadends can lead to fortuitous opportunities. Graham is a Buddhist practitioner and speaks with grace, grit and humor. What a gift to hear her wisdom and learn more secrets about the craft and how writing fiction “opens you to more possibilities for getting to truths that otherwise you would be confined and not be able to write.” I hope you enjoy it!

Episode Notes

Page One, produced and hosted by author Holly Lynn Payne, celebrates the craft that goes into writing the first sentence, first paragraph and first page of your favorite books. The first page is often the most rewritten page of any book because it has to work so hard to do so much—hook the reader. We interview master storytellers on the struggles and stories behind the first page of their books.

About the guest author:

Barbara Graham is a bestselling author, essayist, and playwright, who has written for Time; O, The Oprah Magazine; Glamour; More; National Geographic Traveler; and Vogue. She is a columnist for and has two granddaughters. She is the author/editor of the New York Times bestselling Eye of My Heart: 27 Women Writers Reveal the Hidden Pleasures and Perils of Being a Grandmother, her non-Hallmark take on the complexities of being a grandparent in the 21st century. She’s also the author of Women Who Run with the Poodles: Myths and Tips for Honoring Your Mood Swings, a national bestseller that offers a satirical look at the dark side of the self-help movement. Barbara’s plays have been produced Off-Broadway and at theaters around the country. What Jonah Knew is her first novel.

About the host:

Holly Lynn Payne is an award-winning novelist and writing coach, and the former CEO and founder of Booxby, a startup built to help authors succeed. She is the author of four historical fiction novels, and her debut novel, The Virgin's Knot,was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers book. Her books have been published in eleven countries and translated into nine languages. She recently finished her first YA crossover novel inspired by her nephew with Down syndrome and her love of Shel Silverstein's poetry. She lives in Marin County with her daughter and enjoys mountain biking, surfing and hiking with her dog. To learn more about her books and private writing coaching services, please visit

If you have a first page you’d like to submit to the Page One Podcast, please do so here.

As an author and writing coach, I know that the first page of any book has to work so hard to do so much—hook the reader. So I thought to ask your favorite master storytellers how they do their magic to hook YOU. 

After the first few episodes, it occurred to me that maybe someone listening might be curious how their first page sits with an audience, so I’m opening up Page One to any writer who wants to submit the first page of a book they’re currently writing. 

If your page is chosen, you’ll be invited onto the show to read it and get live feedback from one of Page One’s master storytellers. Page One exists to inspire, celebrate and promote the work of both well-known and unknown creative talent.  

You can listen to Page One on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Pandora, Stitcher and all your favorite podcast players. 

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