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Novelist Recounts Launching A Book Tour In The Middle Of A Pandemic

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

Years go into the crafting of a novel. But in just a few months the world changed as the COVID-19 pandemic came to stay.

One Iowa writer's third novel was scheduled to launch in June 2020. Her publisher moved the launch back because of the pandemic. The book tour became virtual. But that was just the first setback for Kali White Vanbaale's year: a derecho storm. A cancer diagnosis. And the death of her father.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with White Vanbaale about how writing became something to cling to.

"I remember I had a morning I looked in the mirror and I literally didn't recognize myself. Like physically I had lost all my hair, my face was really puffy and swollen and my body was covered with all these new surgical scars and later radiation burns," she said. "But in the midst of it what I realized I could, that I could still write. ... And even if I was only able to write just an article or one page or paragraph or even a sentence for the day, it helped me stay connected to a piece of myself that still felt familiar."

Later in the hour, we hear from Michael Luick-Thrams about a mobile museum touring the state looking at the forgotten history of Iowans at war between 1914 and 1941.


  • Kali White VanBaale, author of "The Monsters We Make"
  • Michael Luick-Thrams, historian
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa