Interviews with masters of the writing craft have been a feature of Daily (w)rite for a long while. An interview with a bestselling or award-winning author inspires and instructs on many levels, from the writing craft, to the writing career and the writing life.
Many an interview has given me the wherewithal to go on when I’ve been in the pits of despair. Here are a few interviews that have inspired me over the years.
(a) An open mind (b) A sense of humor (c) An interest in the imagination (d) An engagement with language (e) Respect for others. A student also needs to have a willingness to share opinions and the products of their writing… Read More
Be specific. Specificity is key as well. Is it a Mies van der Rohe coffee table, or a rickety board set on orange crates? Is it a banged up four-door Chevy sedan, or a British racing green jaguar? Why? Those items are setting, too, because each element picture is important, and does more work than just being there—it is why the story moves forward… Read More
I’m currently teaching creative writing to prison inmates, and my background in criminal defense has helped immeasurably. I know how easy it is to find oneself on the wrong side of the law. And it reminded me of something I always tell my students, and which I’m reminded of every time I step into that prison: “Justify, don’t judge your characters.”… Read more
What makes a successful short story?
Many ingredients go into a successful story—plot, narration, details, voice, setting, etc. Every story is different. Every reader takes something different away and feels something unique when they read. But for those stories that are most successful and get read over decades, what they all have in common is they have captured some part of our collective humanity and illuminated it in a way that is new and refreshing… Read More
To an aspiring writer submitting to magazines, what would be your advice?
Advice on how to get published, submitting, and submitting a lot, is the only answer. After a story exceeds a certain level of quality, getting accepted is basically a random process. Good stories get rejected all the time for reasons that have nothing to do with their quality—they are too long or short, they didn’t fit thematically with other stories in the issue, the slush pile reader was hungover and in a bad mood that day—the whole process feels like playing roulette a lot of the time… Read More
Your novels grab the reader on the first page, and never let go. What tricks can a writer use to write a riveting first page?
First lines are always a struggle for me — I can spend days or weeks stuck with a blank page and no matter how much I try to force it, I can’t without the first line. But once the right first line comes to me, it’s like a starting pistol — I’m out of the gate running. That was one of the benefits of working on Trapper Road: the first line was already written for me!
For me the goal with any opening to a book is starting someplace interesting and not over-explaining. Give the reader only what they need to not be confused and want to put the book down. Also, an editor once told me to never start a book with a bored character. All so much easier said than done! Read More…
Do you like to read author interviews? Which author interview has inspired you? Who is an author you’d like to interview?
My lit crime novel, The Blue Bar will be out this October with Thomas & Mercer. It is already available for preorders. Add it to Goodreads or pre-order it to make my day.
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