Friday, January 18, 2008

Making a Literary Life Friday: Watch This Space!

We had an idea to make our blog a little extra special. There are so many fabulous people living this literary life whom we quote and from whom we seek inspiration, that we thought it would be fun to interview them, get their tips and thoughts and experiences. We'll focus on what we and you most want to hear. So, say we were to interview the likes of Carolyn Parkhurst, Dr. Pauline Chen, Hallie Ephron, Chris Bohjalian, Tom Perrotta, Castle Freeman, Nathaniel Fick -- and yes, we will talk with them all! -- what do you most want to know? Who else would you like to hear from? Agents, publishers? We are just as interested as you!

Lisa Marnell
Gregory Maguire said he was lucky, that he knows numerous writers who can put together a more beautiful sentence than he can. I still have a hard time believing that. When I met him last spring and interviewed him for the Grub Street Rag, I did realize, however, he has his writing strengths and weaknesses. THE GREGORY MAGUIRE, of Wicked fame and brilliance, has worked to become the writer he is.

I look forward to interviewing a few people. I'll keep them up my sleeve for now, but if you have any interest in YA and Middle Grade Fiction, stay tuned!

Amy MacKinnon
I feel blessed living in a community rich with literary figures. I attend as many readings as possible at Buttonwood Books, all the literary events sponsored by Grub Street and PEN New England. Each time, I leave reassured, inspired even, when the writer tells the audience just how daunting getting a book published seemed in the beginning. They share stories of overwhelming odds, feelings of desperation, dark days, and then -- finally -- the light came and they were on their way.

Hearing famous writers share their stories over the years helped get me through the hopeless times, a vicarious triumph. It's an embarrassment of literary riches living near Boston, something not all of you are privy to and so we want to share by interviewing amazing people. We're starting with writers, but we'll be sure to include agents, editors, reviewers as well as the unsung heroes: foreign rights directors, publicists, and cover designers. It's our hope that those vicarious triumphs will help light your way.

Hannah Roveto
Things I want to know include process and revision tips, including ones that sounded good and didn't make sense. What comes easy, what's hardest? What's the funniest experience you've had from a career perspective -- authors, agents and publishers -- and what was the most valuable? What's the most real moment to make it into fiction -- and be told was implausible? Is there any way to define "you know it when you see it" more clearly than that? And... and... and...!

Lynne Griffin
I enjoy author readings and conference networking for all the reasons Amy mentioned, and I've always tapped into the thinking--go where the successful people are. What I mean is, if I can put my finger on the ingredients that make a writer an author and an author successful, then I really have something. Learning craft is vital to growing as a writer, so too is knowing the industry, becoming aware of obstacles and learning appropriate etiquette.

This week I interviewed Carolyn Parkhurst, author of The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found. She was generous with her time and insights into living her literary life. You'll want to read her interview, which will be posted next week. We can all learn so much from her story.


Lisa said...

I really look forward to these interviews. I will be posting an interview that I recently did with Nick Arvin, author of Articles of War, In The Electric Eden and a short story that was published in The New Yorker. He's also a graduate of The Iowa Workshop. One of the most interesting answers he gave me was in response to the question, "What's the worst writing advice you've ever gotten"? Stay tuned...

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Sounds like a great interview, Lisa; I can't wait to read it! I love questions that turn things on their heads, teaching you more by what doesn't work than what supposedly does!


Larramie said...

You've plotted together to revise the blog...creativity at work!

Carleen Brice said...

Value-added! I look forward to reading the interviews.

Sustenance Scout said...

Ditto, ladies! Can't wait, K.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Well, it looks like we're heading in the right direction then. First up, Carolyn Parkhurst!