Archive for the 'Ghosts' Category

A new conversation with author and Queen City Ghostwalk Guide Thea Lewis, whose new book is Haunted Inns and Ghostly Getaways of Vermont, published by The History Press

This week's Write the Book Prompt is adapted from a suggestion in Thea Lewis's new book, Haunted Inns and Ghostly Getaways of Vermont, with Thea's kind permission. If you find yourself awake at 3 o’clock some morning, get up, settle yourself somewhere comfortable, and listen for sounds in your house that you can not explain. Listen until you’re good and spooked, and then write about the experience.

Good luck with this prompt and please listen next week for another!

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

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Interview from the archives with Vermont author Howard Norman, whose new novel is Next Life Might Be Kinder. This is our first of two interviews, during which we talked about an earlier novel, What Is Left The Daughter? 

This week's Write the Book Prompt is about ghosts and hauntings, a theme that exists in some of Howard Norman's work. Don't think horror, don't think "ghost story," but consider what haunts you. Or what haunts a character. Or even what haunts a story, a setting, a situation. Then write about it, but try to keep it subtle. Write about a haunting in a way that makes a reader do a double take, as if  she just saw something flit by out of the corner of her eye. Did I just see that?

Good luck with this prompt and please listen next week for another!

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


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Write the Book's 300th (!) episode features an interview with Philip Graham, author of two story collections, The Art of the Knock and Interior Design; a novel, How to Read an Unwritten Language; and The Moon, Come to Earth, an expanded version of his series of McSweeney's dispatches from Lisbon. He is also the co-author (with his wife, anthropologist Alma Gottlieb) of two memoirs of Africa, Parallel Worlds (winner of the Victor Turner Prize), and Braided Worlds. Dzanc Books will reprint The Art of the Knock, Interior Design, and How to Read an Unwritten Language as ebooks this summer.

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is inspired by the interview you heard today with the author Philip Graham. We spoke about the appearance of objects in written work. As Philip mentioned, his 1979 short story, “Light Bulbs,” chronicled how a couple coping with the “empty nest” grew to form relationships with the light bulbs in their home, almost as a substitute for their absent children. This week, as you work, consider the objects that show up in your work. In particular, pay attention to those objects that already exist there. Try to understand what they might be doing for your story, and how your appreciation of their existence might deepen what you’re writing.

Good luck with this prompt and please listen next week for another.

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

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Vermont Author Jennifer McMahon, whose new novel is The Winter People, published by Doubleday. I also spoke with Jennifer in 2011. That interview is available here.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by my conversation with Jennifer McMahon. You may recall that during the interview, I asked about the way she used a short list of spare details and events to draw the reader into the narrative. In that opening, which is actually a journal entry, her narrator, Sara Harrison Shea, quickly lists several people: Papa, Auntie, Jacob, and Constance. She mentions a place called the Devil’s Hand, where Papa had forbidden his children to play. Most chillingly, she mentions the first time she saw a sleeper--a person she knows to be dead, who is up and walking around. For your writing prompt this week, play with openings that draw in a reader. Look at the action of a story or novel that you’ve been working on, and think about how you might list intriguing characters and events without giving too much away and without overwhelming a reader.
This might not be the right way to begin. But playing around with these ideas might open up some new avenue of storytelling for you. 

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students, long since graduated).
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Bestselling British author Diane Setterfield, whose latest book is Bellman & Black, published by Atria/Emily Bestler Books. Her first novel, The Thirteenth Tale, sold over 3 million copies in 38 countries.

Today’s Write The Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Diane Setterfield. When Diane is writing and is confused about which way to go or is stuck: she puts out of her mind that she’s writing a novel and imagines, what if I was just on the phone with my mother and telling her about this? How would I tell her? She just writes it down as if she’s telling it to her mom. This doesn’t necessarily result in something finished, but it almost always gets her through that difficulty of not knowing and from that, provides a jumping off point for what she does need to do. This works particularly well, she says, when she knows the content that needs to go in, but is struggling to figure out HOW to present it. Writing can be like staging a play, according to Diane. You might know what the props are and where the actors are standing, but what is the lighting? What do you, the writer, want highlighted in the scene? For example, what do you want foregrounded, and what is just visible in the darkness?

Good luck with this exercise, and please listen next week for another. 

Music credits:  1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (which was a Vermont band in 2008, featuring several South Burlington High School students, now grads.)

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Award-winning writer Margot Livesey, author of the new novel, The Flight of Gemma Hardy, published by Harper.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write about a character who, for some reason, assumes another identity. The character can be acting on a dare, trying to escape something or someone, or just testing him- or herself to see if s(he)can get away with it. What name will the character choose? What job will she pretend to have? Where will she say she's from? What history will he choose to give himself? How will assuming another identity affect your character's self-esteem? Will she feel excited? Guilty? Will he have to solicit help from others to make this work? Play around with a fictional life for your fictional character.

Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another!

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Interview from the Archives with author Margot Livesey about her latest book, The House On Fortune Street.

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to describe a place you know very well from the perspective of a narrator who has never been there and has only just arrived. The place can be a city, a village, a house, a farm, a specific room-whatever you like.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen 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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Interview with Julie Metz, graphic designer and author of the memoir Perfection.

This week's Write the Book Prompt comes to us from a listener in Westford, Vermont. Mark Peloquin writes that he's had good luck with this prompt:

Describe your room as a child.  Describe why you felt safe there or perhaps, why you did not.  Describe what you would see when you looked out the window or through the key hole. Describe any things that were on the walls and why there were significant.

Good luck with this prompt, many thanks to Mark for sending it, and please listen next week for another.

Excerpt of Perfection read with permission from Hyperion Books.

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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Interview with Richard Russo, Novelist, Pulitzer Prize Winner and Author of That Old Cape Magic.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by the subject matter of Richard Russo's novel, That Old Cape Magic. Write about a childhood vacation. This can be a recollected vacation from when you were a child, or an imagined vacation seen through the eyes of a fictional child. As you write, focus on details of place.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Excerpt of That Old Cape Magic read with permission from Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

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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Thea Lewis, Vermont author of Haunted Burlington: Spirits of Vermont’s Queen City, and founder of the Queen City Ghost Walk.

Prompt: This week’s Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the interview you heard today with Thea Lewis. Write from the perspective of a ghost. How would it be if everyone who could see you were afraid of you? Would you haunt a place or a person? Would you be helpful or frightening? Who do you suppose you were you in life, and what happened to bring you to this point?

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another…

Readings by Thea Lewis, from Haunted Burlington: Spirits of Vermont’s Queen City (Charleston: Haunted America, The History Press, 2009). Copyright © 2009 by Thea Lewis. Recorded with permission from The History Press.

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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