In 1976, Jo read that author Saul Bellow was scheduled to speak at SMU’s Literary Festival and contacted him to request an interview, which he granted.
The interview was Bellow’s first since the announcement of his Nobel Prize for Literature. That interview, published in the Southwest Review, SMU’s literary quarterly, would be awarded the John H. McGinnis Award for nonfiction in 1977.
This began a tradition at the Festival that would last nearly a decade. Each year, Jo would interview several writers to be featured at the Festival and publish the interviews in the Southwest Review.
Among the writers she interviewed were Bellow, Margaret Atwood, Donald Barthelme, Erskine Caldwell, John Cheever, Margaret Drabble, William Gass, Iris Murdoch, D.M. Thomas, and her childhood idol, Eudora Welty.
In 1984, Jo gave up her tenured position at SMU to concentrate on writing.
She and Willem moved to New York City, and what followed were four nonfiction works: Listen to the Voices (1988), a collection of the previously published interviews with writers; Mother, I Have Something to Tell You (1987); Take Two (1989); and Feast Here Awhile (1993).
Her work was also published in a number of newspapers and magazines, including Woman’s Day and D Magazine, where she was a longtime contributing editor and monthly columnist.
She wrote about family, and food and travel, and everything under the sun.
A small sample of Jo's writing for D Magazine
D Magazine March 1979
Pictures of My Daughter
By Jo Brans
Even when she was an infant, I could see in her eyes that she had a will of her own.
By Jo Brans
Relationships, like people, change with the passing years; sometimes a ’good’ divorce is the best thing that can happen to a couple.