Monday, October 30, 2006

Texas Book Festival, afternoon session

In the afternoon, I attended the “Springboard from Fact to Fiction” panel with authors Elizabeth Crook, Will Clarke, Stephen Harigan, and Jan Ledgard. These are authors who do extensive research, and then construct a novel based on facts/background/interviews. Discussion points:
  • When do you stop the research and start writing? All the authors agreed this was very difficult. Crook and Clarke do it in parallel, which helps them get started and figure out what they do and do not need to research. Harigan and Ledgard come from a journalism background and do a lot of research and reading first, but then have to force themselves to start writing before they think the research is complete.
  • What to leave out? If it doesn’t move the story along or inform the reader about your character(s), it has to go, even if you spent a very long time researching/writing it.
  • How do you deal with too many ideas? You must focus on the relative merit of one idea vs. others. If there are great metaphor possibilities or an extra something that “lifts it up,” it’s a candidate to pursue. Time is so tight and writing takes so much time, you must be passionate about the subject.
  • Check out the blog for authors on Amazon and various author pages on MySpace.

New books by these authors (they all sound great):

  • The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook: a mystery/historical fiction/domestic fiction novel about revisiting family stories and legacies.
  • The Worthy by Will Clarke: a ghost comedy about a fraternity hazing death. Also check out his other book, Lord Vishnu’s Love Handles.
  • Challenger Park by Stephen Harrigan: The domestic lives of the astronauts in Clear Lake. Deals with the balance between family obligations and career dreams.
  • Giraffe by Jan Ledgard: An exploration of captivity and otherness based on a massacred giraffe herd in Czechoslovakia that was covered up.

Loved this panel, though I don’t know if I can ever get past the research to write the novel!

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