Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘influences’

Shop Talk |

Under the Influence… of Sands Hall

Immersed in a 9-to-5, year-round office job since early 2007, I haven’t led a fiction workshop for some time. But if I should inhabit that particular teaching role again, I’d want to remind myself how the job is best done. Ideally, I’d do that by sitting in on one of Sands Hall’s workshops. I met Sands when I enrolled in her “Tools of the Writer’s Craft: Novel” workshop at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival in 1997. I subsequently returned to Iowa to take other workshops of hers. We’ve stayed in touch, and I’m proud to say that we’re friends. In […]


Shop Talk |

Under the Influence… of prepositions?!

Before submitting stories to workshop in graduate school, I spent hours combing my sentences for inefficiencies. I scrutinized verbs. I wrenched clauses from passive construction. I asked myself some hard questions about adjectives. My classmates often called my writing “clean,” which pleased me. I aspired toward concision. One term workshop was led by an intimidating man largely considered a genius among the graduate students. He introduced us to Chekhov and eviscerated stories with uncanny precision. When my turn came, I was nervous—with good reason. The week my story was up, he sent an email asking everyone to bring three pages […]


Interviews |

The Humpbacked Minaret: An Interview with Mahmoud Saeed

Over the past six decades, Iraqi writer Mahmoud Saeed has used his novels, stories, and nonfiction to deconstruct the political and social turmoil of his beloved homeland. In a wide-ranging conversation with Stephen Morison, Jr., Saeed describes the difficulties Arab authors face in getting published, the institutionalized barriers to freedom of expression, and his constant attempt, through fiction, to “solve the puzzle of man and his actions.”


Interviews |

Bringing the News: An Interview with Richard Ford

In this lively conversation, Travis Holland and author Richard Ford discuss the genesis of Ford’s most famous fictional character, Frank Bascombe, the importance of always remembering the reader, greeting cards, what could well be one of the greatest short stories of the 20th century, and why place in fiction means nothing.


Shop Talk |

Flipbook: "Inspiration"

Every few weeks, we launch a new Fiction Writers Review “Flipbook.” During the past two and a half years, we’ve featured more than 50 interviews with authors established and emerging. They’ve had such valuable insights into the writing life – from thoughts on process and craft to ideas about community and influence – that we wanted to find a way to further these conversations within our community. Each Flipbook highlights some of the very best of the conversations on our site, centered around a particular topic. Our latest Flipbook is now up on the FWR Facebook page, with an exclusive […]


Interviews |

He Was Just There For Me: An Interview with Lily King

Lily King’s three novels stand as testaments to the power and endless variation of familial relationships. King’s latest novel, Father of the Rain, tells the story of a daughter’s life-long, primal loyalty to her charming and manipulative father. Interviewer Joshua Bodwell discusses longhand, autobiographical influence, puppies, and how to depict realistic sex, with a writer whose work remains “a beacon of tenderness and sincerity.”


Shop Talk |

Old Friends

Over on the Huffington Post, Cynthia Ellis has a lovely homage to The Woman in White, the 1859 classic of madness, mystery, romance and juicy hints at the supernatural by Wilkie Collins. The Woman in White was first published in serial form, and the reader feels it. The 600+ pages race by with a kind of terminal velocity from the first haunting scene. Ellis brought the book on her Hawaiian vacation, an experience she describes thus: If you are in Kauai, trapped underwater in a small metal cage being dangled in front of sharks, trying not to stick out your […]


Interviews |

Among Strangers: An Interview with Ruiyan Xu

“Writers can almost be defined as professional outsiders. It’s part of the job. You often have to step outside of a situation to observe it—to choose the right details—to reshape a mess of events into a narrative.”




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