Casey Cep (l) and Lara Prescott (r)

Casey Cep (l) and Lara Prescott (r)

Photos by: Kathryn Schulz (l) and Trevor Paul (r)

This episode of “Literary Arts: The Archive Project,” features a panel discussion between authors Casey Cep, Lara Prescott, and moderator Pamela Paul of The New York Times, from the 2019 Portland Book Festival. Cep and Prescott are both New York Times best selling debut authors who have drawn inspiration from famous figures in literary history. Cep’s nonfiction book, “Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee,” explores the true-life murder trial that inspired Harper Lee to research and write “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Prescott’s novel, “The Secrets We Kept,” is inspired by the true story of the CIA plot to infiltrate the hearts and minds of Soviet Russia with the greatest love story of the twentieth century: Boris Pasternak’s “Doctor Zhivago.” The women discuss their works, historical inspirations, and writing craft in this fascinating conversation.


Casey Cep is a writer from the Eastern Shore of Maryland. After graduating from Harvard with a degree in English, she earned an M.Phil in theology at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The New Republic, among other publications. “Furious Hours” is her first book.

Lara Prescott received her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas, Austin. She was previously an animal protection advocate and a political campaign operative. Her stories have appeared in The Southern Review, The Hudson Review, Crazyhorse, Day One, and Tin House Flash Fridays. She won the 2016 Crazyhorse Fiction Prize for the first chapter of “The Secrets We Kept.” She lives in Austin, Texas.