Donna Baier Stein talks with Diane Bonavist about her new book, The Silver Baron’s Wife, inspired by the life of Colorado’s Baby Doe Tabor, as well as the challenges of wrestling with research, how to portray characters with depth, and the ways she approaches writing in different genres.
Bich Minh Nguyen talks to Sarah Layden about her latest novel, Pioneer Girl, and moving from the Midwest to the West Coast: “For me, writing is always about looking back and looking forward in the same moment. It’s living within more than sphere, identity, and place, and trying to understand that—trying to find a few moments of stillness and clarity.”
“Here’s the thing about writing historical fiction: you’re not trying to reconstruct or mimic history, which would be altogether boring even if it weren’t impossible. What you’re trying to do is to create a new version of it that will tell a good story while simultaneously capturing something essential, not only about the period, but also about contemporary life.”
Character likability. “Plot-driven” as pejorative. Research limits in historical fiction. The mail-order-bride as escape route. The double-edged sword of social media. Anna Solomon tells it straight in this conversation with Sara Schaff.
Andrew Krivak spent eight years preparing to become a Jesuit priest before he turned to writing. He talks with Steven Wingate about his debut novel The Sojourn, borrowing from family history, and the spiritual nature of the sniper’s profession.
Erzsebet Bathory gained immortal fame as one of the first female serial killers; known as the “Bloody Countess,” she was accused of brutally torturing and murdering over six-hundred young women. But was she really an unrepentant, psychopathic murderer—or simply a political obstacle to the king? Was she really bathing in the blood of her victims, or was she herself the victim of a witch hunt? Such questions haunt the pages of The Countess (Crown, 2010), Rebecca Johns’s lively historical novel, which reconstructs the complexity of this 17th century scandal and brings alive the woman behind the myth.
In her conversation with novelist Tracy Chevalier, Felicity Librie uncovers how research fuels the process of character development, how the past sheds light on our present moment, and why Chevalier will never tire of getting lost on a journey of discovery.
Michael Shilling’s interview with Percival’s Planet author Michael Byers delves into the fascinating characters – both historical and imagined – that populate Byers’ novel, which deals with the 1930s discovery of Pluto. Shilling says, “Reminiscent of such lightweights as James and Welty, Byers’ work shines with studied and infuried illuminations of the imperfect spirit; he can map out this process of inner grappling with a lovely, intense, and disciplined artistry.”
Brian Bartels talks with David Ebershoff–author, editor-at-large for Random house, and Columbia professor–about such topics as the role research plays in his writing, writing the book you want to read, the advice his gives his students about drafting, and how he approaches revision.
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