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Archive for the 'Fiction' Category

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Award-Winning Swiss Author Peter Stamm, whose new novel is To the Back of Beyond (Other Press). 

This week we have two Write the Book Prompts, both generously suggested by my guest, Peter Stamm, who has used them in classes he’s taught. The first is to look at another person’s random receipt and see what it suggests that could become a story or a poem. What was purchased, and where? What was the cost? The date? The cashier’s name? Was it an expensive item? Was it on sale? Let the details collect for you and write. The other prompt is to find inspiration in a graveyard, looking at gravestones. Usually these only suggest a name, the dates of a life, but sometimes also family members, a cause of death, a war, a favorite quotation. See what these suggest to you about this person, and if a character might begin to present him or herself to you as you study the grave.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Jennifer Egan, whose new novel is Manhattan Beach (Scribner). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Jennifer Egan, who - as you’ve just heard - discovers her story as she writes it, knowing only the time and place when she begins. This prompt is very much in keeping with that approach. She suggests, “Write without knowing what you are writing. Cover the screen of your laptop and write continuously for 15 minutes. Print and read.  Viola!”

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Award-winning author Joan Wickersham, whose memoir The Suicide Index, was a finalist for the National Book Award. We discussed her story collection, The News From Spain (Vintage Contemporaries).

I love the way that Joan Wickersham was able to write seven stories that vary thematically but are all titled The News From Spain. Can you think of another context for this title? That’s this week’s Write the Book Prompt. Consider ‘The News from Spain’ as a concept, and write.  If you haven’t read her book, and so don’t know what contexts to eliminate, try that much harder to think of applications that might seem a little wacky or outside the normal frame. Or maybe go read her book!

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Vermont Author Nancy Hayes Kilgore, whose new novel is Wild Mountain (Green Writers Press). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest Nancy Hayes Kilgore, who is a pastoral counselor and has been a parish pastor as well. She suggests considering, “What was your first spiritual experience? Where were you? What could you see and feel? What were your senses telling you at that time? What spiritual awakening might have come out of the moment?” Consider these questions, and use them as inspiration as you begin to write.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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A series of excerpts of past Write the Book Interviews with guests who have had some association with the Vermont Book Award, which will again be presented this Saturday, 9/23/17, at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. 

Missing from these excerpts are two related authors: Thomas Christopher Greene, president of VCFA, which founded the award, and Tanya Lee Stone, one of this year's judges. I simply didn't have time to excerpt all of the interviews I wanted to! But listen to their full interviews by clicking the links on their names. 

Good luck with your work in the coming week! 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Bestselling novelist Dean Koontz, whose new book, The Silent Corner (Bantam) marks the start of his new suspense series, featuring FBI agent gone rogue, Jane Hawk.

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is inspired by the conversation you just heard with Dean Koontz. Early in Dean’s new book, the reader encounters this definition of the term Silent Corner: “Those who are truly off the grid and cannot be tracked by any technology, yet are able to move about freely and use the Internet, are said to be in the silent corner.” Think about how much of our activity is tracked;  ATM and debit cards, credit cards, GPS technology, security cameras, and smart phones are all eminently capable of tracking our actions and movements.

How do you feel about that? Does it make you feel at risk, or safe? Write a short story, an essay, or a poem using your reaction to this phenomenon as a starting point.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion. 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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Nadine Budbill, daughter and literary executor of the late David BudbillVermont poet, playwright and author. We discuss David's life and work, in particular one of his last publications, Broken Wing, a beautiful Vermont allegorical tale about a rusty blackbird with a broken wing. A story of loneliness, survival, tenacity and will, Broken Wing is also about music and race and what it is like to be a minority in a strange place. With a brief conversation as well from Dede Cummings, whose press published the novel. (GWP

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to read some of David Budbill's work and let it inspire you in your own writing. His work was frequently included on the Minnesota Public Radio show The Writers' Almanac. Those poems can be accessed here.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion. 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Interview from the archives with professor of English and former director of the creative writing program at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, Eric K. Goodman. We discussed his then-new novel Twelfth and Race (Bison Books).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to write a poem, a scene, or a story in which race plays some role. Write without thinking or planning. When you finish a draft, set it aside and think a little bit about what you’ve decided you’re trying to say or portray before you revise. When you finish, will you show it to anyone else?

Do you find race a hard subject to tackle? Why or why not?

Good luck with this prompt and tune in next week for another.  

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Novelist Tiffany McDaniel, whose debut is The Summer That Melted Everything (St. Martins Press). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt has to do with the play of expectation that was central to Tiffany McDaniel’s debut novel, The Summer That Melted Everything. Her characters are not always who we expect them to be. The young man who calls himself the devil commits acts of kindness. The older man whose name implies goodness and piety is not who everyone always thought him to be. In your own world, consider a recent misunderstanding - perhaps you underestimated or misread someone, or someone underestimated or misread you - and write about that experience.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

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Acclaimed nonfiction writer Jean Zimmerman, whose novel, The Orphanmaster, was published in 2012 by Viking.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write about an interaction between two people who do not share a common language.

Good luck with this prompt and tune in next week for another...

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

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