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Every first thing is always a miracle. The first person you fall in love with. The first letter you receive. The first stone you throw. And in my conception of the novel, the letter becomes important. But what's more important is the fact that we need to continue to tell each other stories.
It goes without saying that a good Catholic novel should be good craftsmanship, good writing skills. The creative person must always be engaged in the long labor of perfecting the tools of his art. Yet the work itself need not be explicitly evangelical in its themes and plots.
A journalist also needs to be disciplined, and so do I. I am, essentially, lazy. Without discipline I'd be just a mass of gummy bears on the sofa instead of on book tour with my eighth novel.
I might just write a novel next. I don't know!
I love to read. And right now I'm on my last hundred pages of 'The Corrections' by Jonathan Franzen, and I really enjoyed it. His writing is just - he's one of those writers where you just go, 'There are people just meant to be novel writers.'
Poetry seems to sink into us the way prose doesn't. I can still quote verses I learned when I was very young, but I have trouble remembering one line of a novel I just finished reading.
At the outset, my notion of being a writer was that you would have moments of inspiration and moments of frustration, when you'd crumple up your pages and toss them away. On one side, the dustbin would fill up, and on the other side, pages would rise into a novel.
A romance novel focuses exclusively on two people falling in love. It can't be about a woman caring for her aging mother or something like that. It can have that element, but it has to be primarily about the male-female relationship.
My fellow students there were very smart, but the really novel thing was that they actually seemed to put a lot of effort into their school work. By the end of my first semester there, I began to get into that habit as well.
Eric Allin Cornell
I'm certainly a plot and character man. Themes, structure, style - they're valid components of a novel and you can't complete the book without them. But I think what propels me as a reader is plot and character.
My son, Wolf, was born when I was past 40 and the author of a best-selling novel. That means he has grown up a middle-class child - one who sometimes asks me for stories of my childhood but knows nothing of what it means to grow up poor and afraid. I have worked to make sure of that.
At one point I would read nothing that was not by the great American Jews - Saul Bellow, Philip Roth - which had a disastrous effect of making me think I needed to write the next great Jewish American novel. As a ginger-haired child in the West of Ireland, that didn't work out very well, as you can imagine.
I've always listened to music while I write, but none of my work has been so directly impacted by a song as my new novel, 'So Cold the River,' for which the brilliant strings piece 'Short Trip Home,' composed by Edgar Meyer and featuring the incredible Joshua Bell on violin, inspired much of the story.
Every decade of my life I attempted to write a novel. But I had nothing to say. I was far too self-absorbed, and now I realize I was writing for others, so that they'd applaud me, see my genius, tell me how wonderful I am, or be jealous of my success.
Perhaps, more importantly, I think that most human beings realise only a fraction of the true potential of their minds, so the spiritual or mystical, the things which remain mysterious or unexplained have always drawn me to include them in any scheme for a novel.
Systematic philosophical and practical anti-intellectualism such as we are witnessing appears to be something truly novel in the history of human culture.
I would recommend the short story form, which is a lot harder to write since you have to be so careful with words, until there is plenty of time to doodle through a novel.
The seed for my novel 'Half Brother' was planted in my mind over twenty years ago, but didn't germinate until late 2007 when I came across the obituary for Washoe, an extraordinary chimpanzee who had learned over 250 words of American Sign Language.
No one has a name in 'The Road.' Like Cormac McCarthy's novel from which it's adapted, 'The Road' features characters such as the man, the boy, the wife, the old man and the veteran.
I've had some tremendous adventures, good and bad. It's part of the novel, and a novel isn't interesting if it doesn't have some good and bad. And you don't know what good is if bad hasn't been a part of your life.
I was a bit of a delinquent growing up, a very poor student - I nearly failed several grades before dropping out of high school and getting a G.E.D. But I still read a lot. Thrillers and war novels, mostly, along with the occasional literary novel from my parents' bookshelf.
I think Melbourne is by far and away the most interesting place in Australia, and I thought if I ever wrote a novel or crime novel of any kind, I had to set it here.
My favorite records are, like, The Pretty Things' 'Parachute' and 'S.F. Sorrow' and The Mothers of Invention's 'We're Only in It for the Money' and The Kinks' 'Village Green Preservation Society' - these records that have a story - even if it's not a literal story - because of how they're sequenced and flow. It's like a novel with sound.
Whenever I start a novel, I'm always looking for two things: a bit of science that makes me go 'what if?' and a piece of history that ends in a question mark.
The Butcher Boy is a very great novel indeed and a very important Irish novel. The ambiguity of that is, he's writing a book about an appalling situation and he does it in a hilarious way.
You don't sit up in a cave and write the Great American Novel and know it is utterly superb, and then throw it page by page into the fire. You just don't do that. You send it out. You have to send it out.
A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Image of the Moment
To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.
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