Killing off your characters is never an easy feat. At The New York Times, thriller writer Alex Berenson discusses his reservations on killing the hero of his spy series. “John Wells has markedly enriched my life — an impressive feat for a man who doesn’t exist.” The eighth installment, The Counterfeit Agent, just came out.
Looking for a way to spice up your short story? Add a ghost. “This is going to sound strange, but what your story really needs is a ghost,” Lorrie Moore said in an interview with The New York Times. She discussed her new professorship at Vanderbilt and her new short story collection, Bark, which, yes, does contain a ghost story.
That to me was the rub. A writer freed from the need to calibrate with reality, or even be internally consistent, could put a washing machine into the sky along with a rainbow. So why not put a rhinoceros up there too?
As the evening went on, I sat back and took only an occasional part in the discussion, fascinated to hear what my readers had to say, throwing in a comment now and then to clarify some point or another.
“What’s this guy supposed to represent?” the would-be moderator huffed, referring to a 19th-century New York gangster known — both historically and in “Dreamland” — solely as “the Grabber.”
“Um, I think maybe he’s supposed to stand for Death,” I suggested, cringing inwardly. The others gave me patronizing stares.
“I think the author is much too sophisticated for that,” one of my staunchest defenders gently chided.
With his second book, RADIANCE OF TOMORROW, Mr. Beah attempts a far more trivial but still tricky transformation, from a memoirist to a novelist. And if the results are less successful, he still delivers a glimpse of the hardships of postwar Sierra Leone along with strong and repeated assurances about the redemptive powers of stories themselves.
What’s the best part of writing for Sue Monk Kidd? The solitude. What’s the hardest part for her? The solitude. Kidd acknowledged the challenges of writing in a “By the Book” interview with The New York Times. “For me, writing a novel goes on for years, and the solitude goes on, too. It tends to swallow me at times. I know it’s a problem when my husband sends the dog in to retrieve me.” Her latest novel, The Invention of Wings, came out on Tuesday and was part of our 2014 book preview.