Anna Sale Discusses New Book 'Let's Talk About Hard Things,' And We Talk About Gun Violence, Mother's Day, And More

Anna Sale

Gabriela Hasbun
Gabriela Hasbun
Anna Sale, author of Let's Talk about Hard Things. She's also the creator and host of Death, Sex & Money, the podcast from WNYC Studios.

West Virginia native Anna Sale is host of the popular podcast “Death, Sex & Money.” It’s a podcast that talks about, as she says, “the things we think about a lot and need to talk about more.” Sale’s new book, “Let’s Talk About Hard Things,” is about having frank conversations about topics that can make us uncomfortable, including relationships and death.

“If you are ill, what are the kinds of last conversations you want to have with the people you love? And not try to act like it’s not happening,” Sale told Inside Appalachia co-host Caitlin Tan.
We’ll be talking about some hard things ourselves in this episode. We’ll hear two difficult conversations—one with a person locked in prison, and another with teenagers who lost a friend to gun violence.

We’ll also hear stories that are about lighter topics, like the history behind Mother’s Day, and we’ll go on a nature hike with biologists who are restoring wetlands for frogs and salamanders.

In This Episode:

Grieving Community Remembers Late Teenager

KJ Taylor

Kyle Vass
Candles and sentimental objects are arranged to honor the life of KJ Taylor in Charleston, W.Va on Friday, April 9, 2021.

In 2020, non-suicide gun deaths went up by 26 percent across the U.S. This year’s numbers haven’t been much better. So far this year, 5,986 people have already died from a non-suicide related gun shot. Amid this surge in gun violence, reporter Kyle Vass looks at how one shooting has affected young people in Charleston, West Virginia.

A Prepaid Call For Help

The pandemic has made it harder for everyone to communicate , whether you’re talking through a mask or trying to figure out Zoom. People in prison are even more restricted. This week, we’ll hear a documentary called “A Prepaid Call for Help: Prisons in a Pandemic,” produced by Madison Buchanan, a college student at Morehead State University. She spoke with someone in a Virginia prison about what the COVID-19 pandemic has been like for prisoners. We’ll also hear about Buchanan’s inspiration behind the project. The documentary was created through Appalshop’s Appalachian Media Institute and is part of a larger series, “A Mask on the Mountains: Dimensions of COVID in Appalachia.”


Appalachian Forests Hope To Attract Amphibians

Frogs and salamanders will get a new place to breed, thanks to a restoration project in the Laurel Highlands of Western Pennsylvania. The project is headed by Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of State Parks, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Wetland Restoration LLC and Beran Environmental. The groups hope that a newly-restored wetlands area of Ohiopyle State Park will attract the amphibians as well as other animals. The Allegheny Front’s Kara Holsopple brings us a story about the project.

Ann Reevs Jarvis

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia
Anna Jarvis is from Grafton, W. Va. and is known as the creator of Mother's Day.

Mother’s Day Creator Unhappy With Holiday Commercialization

Mother’s Day just passed, and in its honor, we’ll take some time to hear the story of the West Virginian who created the holiday. Mountain State native Anna Jarvis started Mother’s Day in 1908 at a church in downtown Grafton, West Virginia. But she didn’t love what she saw it turn into — a commercialized greeting card holiday. This backstory is chronicled in the book, “Memorializing Motherhood: Anna Jarvis and the Struggle for Control of Mother’s Day” by Katharine Antolini.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Duncan Slade spoke with Antolini about Jarvis’s story and how the death of Jarvis’ own mother inspired her to create the holiday.


Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by Dinosaur Burps, Nathan El and Wes Swing.

Roxy Todd is our producer. Jade Artherhults is our associate producer. Our executive producer is Andrea Billups. Kelley Libby is our editor. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Zander Aloi also helped produce this episode. You can find us on Twitter @InAppalachia.