Petra Mayer

Petra Mayer is an associate editor and resident nerd at NPR Books, focusing on genre fiction. She brings to the job passion, speed-reading skills, and a truly impressive collection of Doctor Who doodads.

Previously, she was an associate producer and director for the weekend editions of All Things Considered. She handled all of the show's books coverage, and she was also the person to ask if you wanted to know how much snow falls outside NPR's Washington headquarters on a Saturday, how to belly dance, or what pro wrestling looks like up close and personal.

Mayer originally came to NPR as an engineering assistant in 1994, while still attending Amherst College. After three years spending summers honing her soldering skills in the maintenance shop, she made the jump to Boston's WBUR as a newswriter in 1997. Mayer returned to NPR in 2000 after a roundabout journey that included a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a two-year stint as a producer at the Prague headquarters of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. While at Columbia, she made a three-part documentary on pirate radio in America.

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8:40am

Sat July 26, 2014
Commentary

We Can Be Heroes — With Some Glue And A Little Fabric

Originally published on Sat July 26, 2014 1:32 pm

Twelve-year-old Hayley Lindsay spent almost a month working with her dad on this Toothless the Dragon costume. There are sawn-off crutches in the front legs so she can comfortably walk on all fours.
Petra Mayer

The San Diego Comic-Con is in full swing — celebrating not just comics, but movies, TV, books, video games and really cool costumes. It's called cosplay: the art and science of dressing up like your favorite character.

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8:11am

Sat July 19, 2014
Book Your Trip

Watch Out For That Butterfly: The Lure Of Literary Time Travel

Originally published on Sat July 19, 2014 11:45 am

Guy Pearce aboard his time machine in the 2002 movie version of H.G. Wells' classic novel.
The Kobal Collection

Where would you go, if you had a time machine? Ancient Egypt? Tang Dynasty China? The Globe Theater, in 1599? Or maybe to the 25th century, because who knows, Buck Rogers might actually be there.

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7:03am

Sat July 12, 2014
Author Interviews

History In The Groove: Q&A With Author (And 78 Collector) Amanda Petrusich

Amanda Petrusich and the beginnings of her 78 collection.
Bret Stetka

If you've ever enjoyed the ghostly weird-old-America wail of Robert Johnson, the deep blues of Charley Patton or Skip James' guitar wizardry, you can thank the 78 collecting community — those dedicated (okay, obsessive) folks who hunt down the rare old shellac records that hold so much of our musical past.

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7:03am

Sat May 10, 2014
Author Interviews

Questions For Earl Swift, Author Of 'Auto Biography'

Originally published on Sun May 11, 2014 5:16 pm

Earl Swift traced the history of this '57 Chevy wagon and all of its owners — here it is, rusting quietly on the lot of owner number 13, Tommy Arney, in January 2010.
Earl Swift

This '57 Chevy station wagon was once pristine, the epitome of American automotive glory: two-tone green, with sweeping fins and enough chrome to blind pedestrians. But by the time journalist Earl Swift came across it, those days were gone, and it was subsiding gently into a heap of rust and torn upholstery.

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8:07am

Sun April 20, 2014
Book News & Features

'Traveling Pants' Author Tries Traveling In Time

Author Ann Brashares became a young adult superstar more than a decade ago with the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, a feel-good series of books about the adventures of four best friends and a really great pair of jeans. It was eventually made into a couple of movies.

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5:08am

Sun December 29, 2013
Arts & Life

Winging It: Biking Around Again In Margaritaville

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 11:53 am

NPR's Petra Mayer has finally learned how to ride a bike.
Izolda Trakhtenberg

I love Key West, and I go there as often as possible: pina coladas, drag queens, shady hammocks, feral chickens — it's the best. There's just one problem: everyone gets around the island by bike, and I've never learned to ride one. Obviously that had to change.

Why didn't I learn? I really don't remember, and neither did my mom, when I asked her about the one time my parents tried to teach me. "You got on a big bicycle that was so big you couldn't really turn the wheels and got discouraged."

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7:03am

Sat December 14, 2013

4:21am

Sat November 23, 2013
Television

Allons-y! Why We've Been Traveling With 'Doctor Who' For 50 Years

Originally published on Sat November 23, 2013 11:18 am

Jenna Coleman plays Clara, companion to Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith. The relationship between the Doctor and his companions is at the core of Doctor Who's long-lived appeal.
Adrian Rogers/BBC

This afternoon, millions of fez-wearing fans around the world will tune in to a very special episode of Doctor Who. The venerable British sci-fi series turns 50 today — though the time traveling alien Doctor himself is probably somewhere on the wrong side of 1,000.

From scrappy, low-budget beginnings (bubble-wrap monsters, anyone?), Doctor Who has become a global phenomenon. Only soap operas can match it for longevity and popularity. So what's the secret to the Doctor's appeal?

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3:03pm

Tue October 22, 2013
Author Interviews

'Boxers & Saints' & Compassion: Questions For Gene Luen Yang

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 4:00 pm

Gene Luen Yang broke out in 2006 with American Born Chinese, the first graphic novel nominated for a National Book Award. It weaves three stories — about a Chinese-American boy, a terrible stereotype named Chin-Kee and the mythical Monkey King — into a complex tapestry of identity and assimilation.

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7:03am

Thu October 10, 2013
Book Reviews

Austen Unvarnished: Q&A With Jo Baker, Author Of 'Longbourn'

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 3:21 pm

The world of Jane Austen — gracious country houses, empire-waist dresses, card parties and suppers and genteel raillery and a touch of social anxiety — is familiar literary ground. And no house is more familar and comforting than Longbourn, home to Elizabeth and Jane Bennet. But what goes on behind the scenes? Who irons those dresses and prepares those suppers?

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