March 20, 2020 § Leave a comment
Working on a novel? Not too late to join me for these live-remote classes, part of Grub Street’s acclaimed Novel Revision Series!
March 21, 2020. Genre, Concept, Premise, Theme – in which we’ll come up with answers to an essential question: What’s your novel-in-progress “about”?
April 18, 2020. Dramatic Structure & Narrative Drive – in which we’ll explore the hidden structures common to all good novels and the secrets to creating a page-turning read.
Keep tabs on all my upcoming classes and events here.
September 9, 2019 § 3 Comments
December 10, 2018 § 2 Comments
Very enjoyable conversation this morning with Olga Peters of the Green Mountain Mornings radio show on WKVT Radio 100.03 FM about the local landmark and the historical characters that inspired my novel-in-progress, The Confession of Michael Martin, one of fifteen works selected for the 2018 long list of the Historical Novel Society’s New Novel Award. HNS describes it as “A novel of adventure, friendship, and immigrant life inspired by the true story of early American outlaws that is intriguingly different from Hollywood mythologies.”
The history behind the story is also of local interest because it represents a landmark in early Vermont and Brattleboro publishing. It’s of general interest because it’s an early entry in the great American outlaw myth, and because of what it tells us about the power of narrative to grip the human imagination and about the blurred lines between what we call history and what we call fiction. I’ll be presenting the research in a roundtable discussion sponsored by the Brattleboro Words Project at 6pm this Thursday, December 13, at 118 Elliot Street in Brattleboro. If you’re in the neighborhood, please come by!
If you’re interested in the topic but can’t make the discussion, listen to the 10 minute interview here. My heartfelt thanks to Lissa Weinmann of The Brattleboro Words Project and Olga Peters (feel better soon, Olga)!
August 21, 2018 § 4 Comments
Pleased to note that the Historical Novel Society has named my novel-in-progress, The Confession of Michael Martin, to the Long List for their 2018 New Novel Award. This is a great honor, and I take it as a positive sign for the ultimate success of the book, which I’ve been working on for a number of years but very few people have read. The HNS listing reads, in part: “A novel of adventure, friendship, and immigrant life inspired by the true story of early American outlaws, intriguingly different from Hollywood mythologies.”
February 8, 2018 § Leave a comment
Honored to be on this list, which also includes Laurie Halse Anderson’s Fever 1793, Christopher Paul Curtis’ Bud, Not Buddy, and Ann Rinaldi’s Numbering All the Bones. An excerpt of the review on Homeschooling Teen website, the list’s publisher:
“This novel has everything a teen could hope for in a historical fiction book, including elements of magic, a journey across the sea and enough conflict and suspense to keep the pages turning. Moreover, the novel provides excellent, although indirect, commentary on current events.”
Find out everything you need to know about Will Poole’s Island here.
August 29, 2017 § Leave a comment
Really enjoyed my conversation with James Scott on the latest episode of his terrific series of literary conversations known as the TK Podcast. James is a bestselling novelist (The Kept) and an excellent interviewer, with a real knack for asking questions about writing and life that lead to interesting places.
We talked about travel, the writing life, the binary nature of solitude, National Geographic, short fiction, how to sequence stories in a short fiction collection, the Cuba Writers Program, Ingmar Bergman, drug writing, Green Writers Press, Denis Johnson, The Grateful Dead, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Paul Bowles, and much, much more. Highly recommended if you’re a writer and/or a fan of literary podcasts! Here’s the link.
April 24, 2017 § Leave a comment
Take a look at Crystal King’s recent article at Literary Hub regarding the relevance of historical fiction to contemporary society. Crystal, the author of Feast of Sorrow, a gripping new novel on ancient Rome, makes some excellent points about the ways in which the visceral experience of history that comes from reading novels based in the past can inform our understanding of the present. The article also presents the perspectives of ten contemporary historical novelists in whose company I’m quite honored to be included, including Jenna Blum, Anjali Mitter Duva, Margaret George, Heather Webb, and Marjan Kamali. Our current political leaders would do well to read this one!
April 9, 2017 § Leave a comment
“As a species, we’re ruled and dominated by our over-developed hominid imaginations. Setting is what propels us into the dream of story, because its lucidity — its sensory concreteness — activates our imaginations on a subconscious level, irresistibly, without our knowledge or permission.” — from “Research Notes: A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing,” an illustrated meditation on place and the writing process at Necessary Fiction
“We read novels and stories for distraction, for entertainment, yet the best fiction also gives us something life itself cannot: direct exposure to the internal life of another human being. It is this unique backstage access that makes good fiction more immersive and emotionally gripping than any other narrative medium.” — from “What Are Writers For? A Fiction Writer’s Perspective,” at GrubWrites.
March 21, 2017 § Leave a comment
Yet another new article up, this one at Talking Writing. Here’s a quick excerpt:
Novels act like beacons in stormy weather. Even when they promise an escape from the daily onslaught, novels light a path forward in ways nonfiction can’t. They allow readers to live out life’s worst-case scenarios from within the safety of their own imaginations so that when something terrible actually happens—a personal tragedy, a natural catastrophe, a deadly plague—it’s not a complete surprise. As a reader, I’m an easy mark for dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction, and I’m often struck by the unique way such novels deliver not only practical strategies for surviving the unthinkable but emotional strategies, too—which ultimately may be more important. It’s hard to overstate the solace good fiction can provide even in the darkest of times.
So, if you’re stocking the shelves of your survival shelter, don’t forget to throw in a few gripping novels. Here are eight that strike me as especially pertinent right now.
Read the full article here!
March 21, 2017 § Leave a comment
New essay up up at The Millions, in which I trace Hemingway’s 30 year love affair with Havana and try to get to the bottom of what his lingering influence says about both the writer and the city. Read the whole thing here. A brief excerpt:
In Havana, Ernest Hemingway’s restless ghost lingers more palpably than in any of the other places in the world that can legitimately claim him: Paris, Madrid, Sun Valley, Key West. Havana was his principal home for more than three decades, and its physical aspect has changed very little since he left it, for the last time, in the spring of 1960.
I’ve been traveling to the city with some regularity since 1999, when I directed one of the first officially sanctioned programs for U.S. students in Cuba since the triumph of Fidel Castro’s 1959 Revolution. As an aspiring novelist, I’ve long been interested in Hemingway’s work, but I had no idea how prominently Havana figured in the author’s life — nor how prominently the author figured in the city’s defining iconography — until I began spending time there.