6.16.15 | Smithsonian/Zócalo Public Square
The Smithsonian/Zócalo Public Square asked me to write an essay about Julia Staab for their “What It Means to Be American Project.” I wrote about how Julia Staab became American in the unforgiving desert of New Mexico–whether she wished for that life of not, she had no choice.
“To become American is to accept a staggering loss of self—of the people we once were, in the places we once came from. It may take a generation, perhaps two. But inevitably, it transpires. The surge of conquering culture sweeps down through the generations, much as the spring floods scour the desert arroyos. Washed away, we must lay down new roots.” | READ MORE
6.15.15 | Washington Independent Review of Books
The poet Grace Cavalieri wrote an appreciation of American Ghost in the Washington Independent Review of Books, a wonderful independent book review site based in Washington D.C. “Hannah Nordhaus writes a detective story, although it’s not fiction, and a ghost story, although it’s not a chiller,” she writes. “It’s biography and history and the product of investigative research, yet everything of power, even scholarly process, must come from the heart, and so does this story.” You can read the essay here. | READ MORE
6.11.15 | Colorado Public Radio
Last week, I sat down with Ryan Warner, host of Colorado Matters, to discuss American Ghost, Julia Staab, the Santa Fe Trail, 19th-century gynecological care, and the fine line between history and lore. You can listen to the interview here.
5.31.15 | Writing the Unwritten – Boulder Weekly
A few weeks ago, I sat down for coffee with Elizabeth Miller of Boulder Weekly, to talk about American Ghost. The story ran this week – I think she did a fantastic job of getting at the heart of the ideas and sentiments that I hoped to convey by writing the book. You can read the article here. | READ MORE
5.13.15 | Kristallnacht
Margit Naarmann, the historian who traced my German relatives’ lives through the Holocaust and showed me around her corner of Westphalia when I visited in 2012, recently emailed a photo she found of my great-great-grandfather Jacob Nordhaus’ home on Kasselerstrasse 8 in Paderborn. | READ MORE
5.6.15 | Old Woman in a Nightgown
In the interest of crowdsourcing Julia Staab, I am sharing both family stories and ghost stories. I’m particularly keen on hearing from anyone who’s had an experience at the hotel.
This one wasn’t at the hotel, but it did occur in Santa Fe, and the woman who shared it feels very certain that her experience somehow involved Julia . Susan lives in New York, and when she heard the review of American Ghost on Fresh Air she quickly emailed me with this story. Here’s what she had to say. | READ MORE
5.1.15 | Jezebel Interview
4.19.15 | Crowdsourcing Julia Staab
Since American Ghost came out, I’ve received emails from a number of readers sharing their own memories of Julia Staab, her family, La Posada Hotel, her ghost, and ghosts in general. Distant cousins have sent me family photos of Julia’s siblings and nieces and nephews; hotel guests and Santa Fe visitors have sent me stories of their own ghost encounters.
I had always hoped that when the book came out, I’d gather more information about Julia’s life and family — tidbits that were hidden in family keepsake books or photo albums. I also was curious whether people continued to have encounters with the ghost of La Posada. Now I am beginning to hear some of those stories, and I’ve created a new blog on my website to share them as they come in.
4.9.15 | What I’m Reading
BookPage asked me recently to share with them what I’ve been reading lately. I can’t say there’s any rhyme or reason to my book selection these days: a little nonfiction, a lot of fiction. A little American West, a little Spanish Inquisition. And a lot of new work by friends like Bill Gifford, James Hannaham, Jonny Waldman and Gretchen Rubin, who all had books come out within a week of my own. But for BookPage, I decided to stick with the theme of the American West and wanderers along frontiers real and imagined. Here’s what I came up with. | READ MORE
3.11.15 | “Habits Interview” with Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin is author of The Happiness Project and the upcoming Better than Before, and is an authority on all things habits and happiness. I spoke with her last month about my own habits: good, bad, and ugly. Now the entire world knows that I crack my knuckles and am a cheap drunk. And also, how much my great-grandmother Julia Staab affected how I try to live my life. | READ MORE
3.2.15 | Forgive Yourself
The American Scholar asked me to write an essay recalling one piece of advice that was most helpful to my writing career. I wrote about Mrs. Bluitt, my fifth-grade gifted-and-talented teacher. She died two decades ago, but she towered huge over my development as a writer, and as a person. Here’s what I wrote. | READ MORE
2.3.15 | American Ghost Sneak Peak on Scribd