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Archive for the 'Novels' Category

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Vermont Author Stephen P. Kiernan, whose new novel is The Baker's Secret (William Morrow). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by our guest, Stephen P. Kiernan. The book he’s now writing involves the difficult task of describing art. Stephen recommends reading W.H. Auden’s "Musee des Beaux Arts," one of the best examples he can recommend of writing inspired by a painting. In this case, the painting is “The Fall of Icarus,” by Pieter Brueghel. Here's a link to the poem and the painting. Have a look, then find a work of art that’s unfamiliar to you, and write about it. Stephen says, having now done both for different projects, he finds writing about music easier than writing about art, because like narrative, music occurs through time. Both have movement, crescendo, culmination, completion… A painting is a moment apprehended that does not have narrative.

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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Thirteen-year-old novelist Emily Rose Ross, the youngest author I've ever interviewed (and the youngest author ever to be signed by her publisher). Her debut novel is Blue's Prophecy (Title Town). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by our guest, Emily Rose Ross. When Emily and Diane were half way through the editing process, they decided it would be a good idea to lay out the story of Blue’s Prophecy in such a way that the book’s motive and their goals were always visible to them. They went to Home Depot and bought a huge strip of landscaping paper. They hung it on the wall in such a way that, standing on chairs, they could write down information about individual chapters, about characters, about maps and other details. The paper kept them organized and helped them find the story arc. Emily says it helped them a lot. Her suggestion is that listeners who write do a similar thing with paper, or a whiteboard, possibly a bulletin board. I’ve also heard of writers who like to use sticky notes on a wall. All of which offers a unique new way to see your work and possibly help you plan next steps, solve problems, and stay organized.

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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New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff, whose latest novel is The Orphan's Tale (MIRA).

For today's Write the Book Prompt, Pam Jenoff kindly suggested that writers check out Nathalie Goldberg's "First Thoughts" freewriting exercise. I found a copy of the exercise online here, but investing in the original book,Writing Down the Bones, would be a good idea for any writer. It's a wonder, full of great ideas.

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 Joseph Kertes, whose new novel is The Afterlife of Stars (Little Brown). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by our guest, Joseph Kertes, who has used it in his classes. He was once asked by a ten-year-old in his daughter’s class - where he led the after-school writing club - “How do you know if you’re a comic writer or a tragic writer?” He answered, "Well, I guess if you start writing and it’s funny, you’re a comic writer." Then he brought them this prompt, which resulted in both very sad and very funny writing outcomes.

My best friend in elementary school was born without a head. At recess, she ran like the wind.

So that’s our prompt for this week. Write in response to that sentence, and see if what you come up with is comic or tragic.

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

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Award-Winning French Novelist Camille Laurens, author of who you think i am (Other Press). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt comes from Camille Laurens' book, who you think i am. At one point, the character Camille, who is a writing workshop leader, suggests an exercise called “Changing the Premise.” Here is how it’s described in the narrative:

Camille suggested we work on the theme "Changing the Premise.” The idea was to take our own experience as a starting point, a disappointing, unhappy or tragic experience …  to imagine a different version, a new development, a possible ending, to invent a narrative that would reorient the actual course of our lives.

This week, our prompt is to do this exercise. Rewrite a moment in your life that was disappointing in some way. Revise it, and see where it goes.

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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British author Jane Corry, on her debut thriller, My Husband's Wife (Pamela Dorman Books). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest, Jane Corry. In fact, it was something she mentioned during the interview. Characters go through change in the progression of a narrative. To help you relate to the many ways in which a life can change, make a list of the larger events that have changed your life. Perhaps you’ll include births, deaths, and other lifecycle events. Did you ever experience an accident? A fire? An inheritance? Think about these larger events. Then make a list of the somewhat smaller things that have happened in the last month or even the last week. For example, if you missed a train, what did that change about your day? Did it impact some larger truth for you? What was the result? How might some similar events, small or large, change the lives of your characters?

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 Andrew Goldstein, author of The Bookie's Son, published by 617 Books.

Andrew Goldstein's book was inspired by events in his own life. This week's Write the Book Prompt is to notice how you react in situations with family, friends, co-workers. Where you might normally become upset or frustrated in a certain situation, try instead to focus on how you might reinterpret the moment for a poem or a scene in a book of prose. How would you convey your own emotions, but also, how would you get across the experience of being with these people? Could you write it so that someone who's never been around your cousin Adelaide might understand JUST how manipulative she is? Or how kind? Or how deeply in denial? Pay attention to yourself in the moment, and try instead to focus on how you might reinterpret that interaction for the page. Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

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

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Interview from the archives with the novelist Carol Anshaw. We discussed her book, Carry The One, published in 2012 by Simon and Schuster.

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write about an accident. Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

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

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Author Maggie Kast, whose 2015 novel, A Free Unsullied Land (Fomite Press), recently won a Wordwrite Book Award. 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is generously suggested by Maggie Kast, who uses it when she teaches workshops on "Writing Your Family Story." Identify an object that was important in your family (either your family of origin, or the family you’ve since come to be a part of), and then contemplate that object, draw it if you want to, identify sensory details connected with it (looks, smells, feels, tastes, makes sounds?) and then put that object into a scene--into a place--if you want, draw that place. And then ask yourself what happened in that place that made the object so important. Did it involve something contentious, nostalgic. Was there a fearful memory, or did the object get broken, perhaps? Write as you remember.

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

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

N.B. Maggie wrote to offer the precise William Gass quote she tried to recall when we spoke. Here's her follow-up: ... a quote from William Gass' wonderful book, On Being Blue. Subtitled "a philosophical inquiry," it deals mostly with writing about sex. The passage I was attempting to quote is: "I should like to suggest that at least on the face of it a stroke by stroke story of a copulation is exactly as absurd as a chew by chew account of the consumption of a chicken's wing." It's on page 20 of the edition brought out by New York Review of Books in 2014, with introduction by Michael Gorra. Original publication was 1976, and that's when I first encountered it. - MK

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Vermont Author Castle Freeman, Jr., whose novel The Devil in the Valley comes out this week as a paperback (Overlook Duckworth).

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to experiment with rhythm and repetition in your own work.

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

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

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