Eight Novels to Prepare You for the End of Civilization at Talking Writing

March 21, 2017 § Leave a comment

9622480490_57c0de302d_zYet 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!

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Hemingway’s Ghost in Havana at The Millions

March 21, 2017 § Leave a comment

hemingwayNew 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.

New craft article out at Fiction Writers Review

March 20, 2017 § 2 Comments

logoI’m a big fan of Fiction Writers Review and it’s an honor to be welcomed home from a trip abroad with the news that they’ve published my article, “Shadow Play: Dreams, Visions, & Hallucinations in Fiction.” Here’s a brief excerpt:

A vibrant inner landscape is something fiction can offer far more fulsomely than any other narrative art, which is the reason novels and stories will never be fully supplanted by movies or TV or video games. Fiction is irresistible because it offers the reader a defamiliarized version of the universal mind, in all its wisdom and agony and strange, conflicted beauty.

For fiction writers, this is where it gets fun. The inner landscape is our native domain, and we have certain freedoms and privileges within it that are not readily available to other artists. Our stories unfold primarily as refracted through our characters’ minds, meaning that we’re uniquely positioned to push against the outer limits of objective reality. We can play around with space and time and perception in really interesting ways—including via dreams, visions, and hallucinations.

Read the full article here.

Brattleboro Literary Festival

September 23, 2016 § Leave a comment

This year's logo is based on a painting by the magnificent Vermont artist Julia Zanes

This year’s logo is based on a painting by the magnificent Vermont artist Julia Zanes

Very much looking forward to this year’s Brattleboro Literary Festival! This has evolved into one of the premier literary events of the year, anywhere in the country, and I’m so pleased to be part of it. As a member of the author committee, I’ll have the great honor and pleasure of introducing fellow writers Sunil Yapa, Nancy Marie Brown, Jonathan Lee, and Meg Little Reilly.

If you’re anywhere near southern Vermont the weekend of October 13 – 16, 2016, you’d be crazy not to stop in. All events are free and open to the public!

Fall Writing Classes at GrubStreet and the Brattleboro Literary Festival

August 28, 2015 § Leave a comment

grubstreet-logoVery excited for this fall’s fiction classes. At Grub Street, I’ll be teaching four installments of a brand new eight part Novel Revision series. If you’re working on a novel, it would be great to have you in Boston for a class!  Here’s the link. Check ’em out!

BLF2014Poster3ptrTo kick off this year’s Brattleboro Literary Festival on Friday, October 2, I’ll be joining two very talented fellow writers, my Grub Street colleague Howard Axelrod and my good friend and local Salonista shaman, Suzanne Kingsbury, in offering these exciting workshops. For a podcast of a radio interview with Festival director Sandy Rouse and yours truly discussing the workshops, click here. If you’re planning to be anywhere near Vermont on that day—and it’s a great time to be here—I highly recommend that you take one!

 

Summer writing seminars at GrubStreet

May 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

grubstreet-logoLooking forward to teaching three intensive one-day seminars on critical aspects of the fiction writing craft this summer: descriptive writing, the novel opening, and point of view/psychic distance. I’m very much enjoying my association with GrubStreet, a Boston-based organization run by kind and wonderful people and frequented by many talented aspiring and established writers. If you’re within striking distance of downtown Boston, come join us!

Here’s a link to all of my upcoming GrubStreet workshops.

Author interview: Inside Historical Fiction

April 21, 2015 § 2 Comments

cropped-screen-shot-2015-01-26-at-4-57-33-pmIt was a pleasure to be interviewed recently by the author M.K. Tod for her Inside Historical Fiction series. We had a nice talk about the ingredients that go into the making of great historical fiction, the research process, recent trends in the genre, and more. Here’s an excerpt:

MKT: Are historical novels inherently different from contemporary novels, and if so, in what ways?

TW: There’s a quote that I love from Andrew Miller, writing in The New York Times Book Review a few years ago, about the appeal of distance, and of “the strangeness such distance produces and of the lives lived recognizably in the midst of that strangeness.” He compared historical fiction to science fiction, pointing out that both genres require the writer to depict the only world he or she can possibly know—“the here and now”—in other terms.

To me, this notion captures much of what I love about historical fiction, both in the writing and in the reading: it’s at once a dream we have to enter and an oblique reflection of ourselves. In my experience, this kind of mind-altering immersion is harder to find in contemporary novels—if by “contemporary” we mean novels that are set in times and places very similar to the quotidian spheres in which we tend to live out our lives.

Read the full interview here.

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