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After finishing a draft, no matter how rough, I almost always put it aside for a while. It doesn't matter if it's a story or a novel, I find that when it's still fresh in my mind I'm either thoroughly sick of its flaws or completely blind to them. Either way, I'm unable to make substantive edits of any value.
When readers close the covers on 'Running the Rift,' I want them to understand that it is not a genocide novel but rather a story of hope and rebirth.
I'm a great believer in gathering together all your obsessions and seeing if you can make a novel out of them.
The novel that's contemporary in the sense of being wholly 'of now' is an impossibility, if only because novels may take years to write, so the 'now' with which they begin will be defunct by the time they're finished.
Writing a novel is not at all like riding a bike. Writing a novel is like having to redesign a bike, based on laws of physics that you don't understand, in a new universe. So having written one novel does nothing for you when you have to write the second one.
A lot of people have trouble with their second novel - the dreaded sophomore jinx. I wrote three books in between the two novels, and they just weren't very good.
I read everything. I'll read a John Grisham novel, I'll sit and read a whole book of poems by Maya Angelou, or I'll just read some Mary Oliver - this is a book that was given to me for Christmas. No particular genre. And I read in French, and I read in German, and I read in English. I love to see how other people use language.
I teach a lecture course on American poetry to as many as 150 students. For a lot of them, it's their only elective, so this is their one shot. They'll take the Russian Novel or American Poetry, so I want to give them the high points, the inescapable poets.
I read a lot. I am an inveterate reader. I always have a novel going.
The fact that I have always been deeply invested in politics, and African politics in particular, inevitably played a role in my first novel and, of course, in my decision to write about a handful of particular conflicts in Africa as a journalist.
I think predictability is built into any good novel in some way - you begin reading Anna Karenina and you know pretty much what's going to happen at the end. But that doesn't mean you know what's going to happen in the middle. For me, it's that sense of what happens in the middle that's important.
The fundamental purpose of a novel like Count Julian is to achieve the unity of object and means of representation, the fusion of treason as scheme and treason as language.
I've always felt that the traditional novel doesn't give you enough information about the narrator, and I think it's important to know the point of view from which these tales are told: the moral makeup of the teller.
W. G. Sebald
I didn't fit the typical profile of a trader. I was an English major working on a novel at night. Most everyone else was a maths or economics major; most everyone else had relatives or family in banking.
You would go mad if you began to speculate about the impact your novel might have while you were still writing it.
The function of the novel is the exploration of the human condition. Really, that's what it's all about.
My English teachers gave me a copy of Atwood's 'The Handmaid's Tale' when I left high school, which has always been very special to me - it was the novel that introduced me to dystopian fiction. I'm also influenced by Edgar Allan Poe, Dickens, John Wyndham and Middle English dream-visions.
And you can tell the writers who do it - Robert Stone, for example, who with each new novel is doing something new. I appreciate that in other writers.
I believe that the short story is as different a form from the novel as poetry is, and the best stories seem to me to be perhaps closer in spirit to poetry than to novels.
My first novel, 'The Tiger's Daughter,' embodies the loneliness I felt but could not acknowledge, even to myself, as I negotiated the no man's land between the country of my past and the continent of my present.
I have likened writing a novel to going on a journey, with some notion of the destination I will arrive at, but not the whole picture - which emerges gradually as a series of revelations, as the journey goes along.
My advice to anyone adapting a novel is that once they've read it and learnt to understand it, then they must throw it away and never look at it again!
One of the things I've been most excited by is U.S. television drama. For my money, it's some of the greatest narrative art of our time. Each series is like a 19th-century Russian novel: you need to do a lot of work in the first few episodes, just as you do in the first 50-60 pages of those books.
Like any good spy novel, the Cox Report alleges that Chinese spies penetrated four U.S. weapons research labs and stole important information on seven nuclear warhead designs.
There are certainly stories that I used to tell myself as a kid that did influence 'The Cabinet of Wonders.' There's a scene in the novel where there's a flood that bursts through the castle, and one of my favorite things to do when I was a kid at school was imagine what school would be like if there was a sudden flood.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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