On Writing And Foster Care with ‘Warm Bodies’ Author Issac Marion

From Shelfari:

Isaac Marion was born in north-western Washington in 1981 and has lived in and around Seattle his whole life, working a variety of strange jobs like delivering deathbeds to hospice patients and supervising parental visits for foster-kids. He is not married, has no children, and did not go to college or win any prizes. Warm Bodies is his first novel.

You can also find the author on his blog: http://burningbuilding.blogspot.com/

Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear –
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.’

~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

From Wikipedia:

Percy Bysshe Shelley (pron.: /ˈpɜrsi ˈbɪʃ ˈʃɛli/; 4 August 1792 – 8 July 1822) was one of the major English Romantic poets and is critically regarded as among the finest lyric poets in the English language. Considered too radical in his poetry and his political and social views to achieve fame during his lifetime, recognition of his significance grew steadily following his death. Percy Shelley was a key member of a close circle of visionary poets and writers that included Lord Byron; Leigh Hunt; Thomas Love Peacock; and his second wife, Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.

Putting Pen to Paper with Ken Follett

Ken Follett

Ken Follett

You then have to elaborate your basic idea. I write down my one sentence on a piece of paper and I try and make it two. I begin to imagine the people in the story, where they came from and what their motivations are. I think about how they will approach this problem, whether it be losing all their money or trying to catch a German spy.

I am trying to create interesting characters and show how their lives are devastated by a series of events, how they fight against adversity and how they triumph. I elaborate more and more. Two sentences become three, and before too long I’ve got three paragraphs, a page, two pages and so on as I constantly rewrite and tease out the story, trying to create extra dramatic situations out of this basic idea. Eventually, I get to the stage where it takes me all day to write a summary of the novel. As I go through, I look at what I wrote the day before, sentence by sentence, trying to improve it by, for example, making it more dramatic or a character more interesting.

You have to ask yourself questions all the time about these people that you have created and the problems they are confronted with. You ask about how clever they are, how courageous and you must always ask, in every situation they confront, what are they afraid of? I then see that any little changes have consequences later in the story and I have to change the story to adjust it.

Every change suggests new opportunities and new notions. If a character triumphs or has some kind of success, I plant earlier in the story the notion that this is the kind of triumph or success that they have always longed for. Any time they are confronted with something scary, I plant earlier in the story the notion that this is what they have been terrified of all their lives. This technique heightens the emotion and raises the stakes.

In creating these stories the writer must always be aware of raising the stakes. Think of a German spy in wartime England. He’s not just trying to get home with some information, he is trying to get home with information that will change the course of the war. The people who are trying to catch him must know that he’s got that information and then for them the stakes are higher. Preferably there should also be some personal thing that makes this the most important thing that has ever happened in their lives. Perhaps one of the people who is trying to catch him failed to catch a spy a year earlier and is terribly ashamed of having failed. So not only does he want to catch this spy but he wants to in order to vindicate his whole life.

From Wikipedia:

Ken Follett (born 5 June 1949) is a Welsh author of thrillers and historical novels. He has sold more than 100 million copies of his works. Four of his books have reached the number 1 ranking on the New York Times best-seller list: The Key to Rebecca, Lie Down with Lions, Triple, and World Without End.

 

How Dave Barry Writes

Dave Barry

Dave Barry

Why: The most logical profession for me, based on my natural gifts, would be male underwear model. But I’ve always loved to write, because it gives me a chance to express my ideas. Unfortunately, I ran out of ideas in 1987, but by then I’d been a writer for 15 years and had no useful skills. So here I am.

Where: I write in an office in my home. My desk is a few feet from that of my wife, Michelle, a sportswriter who also works mostly at home. We can hear each other chewing.

How: I use a computer. Unfortunately, this computer also has the Internet on it, so I spend a lot of time looking at sites that have nothing to do with what I am allegedly writing about.

Ideas: I scrawl notes when I think of something. My house has scrawled notes all over. They say things like “snail rocket,” and when I look at them later on, they serve as a reminder to me that when I wrote them down, I had consumed a lot of beer. So I throw them away and go into a state of panicky despair and then write a column. Panicky despair is an underrated element of writing.

Influences: Robert Benchley is my idol. I’ve been reading him since I was a kid, and still return to his essays regularly for inspiration. My mom was pretty funny, too.

Writer’s block: I believe “writer’s block” is the normal state of writing; that is, you rarely have anything just flow easily from your brain to the keyboard. And if it does, it’s usually pretty bad. Good writing is almost always hard, and what I think sometimes happens is that writers forget how hard it is, or don’t want to do the work anymore, and they call this “writer’s block.”

Writing novels vs. columns: The hard part of novel-writing is the plot; you have to make so many decisions, and each can affect what can and can’t happen later. So I had to do a whole lot more planning than when I write columns, and planning is not one of my strengths, the way underwear modeling is. What I liked best about the novel was making up characters, and watching them develop and turn into people whom I did not totally control.

The challenge of humor writing: Overcoming the fear that whatever you think is funny really isn’t.

Advice to writers: Don’t be boring. Don’t assume every thought you have is fascinating to others. Your job is to give people a reason to keep reading.

From Wikipedia:

David “Dave” Barry (born July 3, 1947) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author and columnist, who wrote a nationally syndicated humor column for The Miami Herald from 1983 to 2005. He has also written numerous books of humor and parody, as well as comedic novels.

Successful Schizophrenia: Why Jodi Picoult Writes and Other Advice

Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult

I write because I can’t not write. Just ask my husband. If I have an idea circling in my brain and I can’t get it out, it begins to poison my waking existence, until I’m unable to function in polite company or even hold a simple conversation.

When I’m actively writing, in the thick of a book, I’ll find myself hiding up in my attic office to get just one more scene down on the page before I go downstairs to dinner. A lot of times, that one scene will turn into two or three.

But beyond the itchiness I’d feel if I weren’t able to write, I write because it’s a way of puzzling out answers to situations in the world that I don’t understand. The act of writing a book gives me the same experience that I hope reading it gives readers. It forces me to sort through the various points of view on a given issue or situation and ultimately come to a conclusion. Doing that might not change my mind, but it almost always gives me a stronger sense of why my opinion is what it is—a question we rarely ask ourselves.

Riding a bike down a hill

The way I feel about writing changes on a daily—or an hourly—basis. Sometimes it’s like riding a bicycle down a hill, with the wind whipping through my hair and my hands in the air. And then there are the times when writing feels like slogging through the mud that was left behind after Hurricane Irene.

I’ve always seen writing as a job. Granted, it’s one I love to do, but it requires me to park my butt in a chair even when I don’t feel particularly motivated.

Sometimes, it’s magical. The characters seem to breathe and take over. I hear their voices very clearly in my head. That’s why I’ve always called writing “successful schizophrenia”: I get paid to hear those voices. But at a certain point in every book, something happens that I never saw coming—at least, not consciously—and it’s exactly the puzzle piece the story is missing, the element that ties the threads of the book together. Characters seem to pick their own paths. They have an agenda that I don’t even know about until the conversation or the plot begins inching its way across the typed page. Even though I know the end of my books before writing a single word, I often find that the middle section—how I get from point A to point Z—is a delightful surprise.

I’m often asked if I cry when I write. Of course I do! There are some scenes I’ve written, often between moms and kids, where I find myself sobbing at the keyboard. I know the characters better than I know anyone else, so it stands to reason that I’m emotionally invested in them.

Physically, when I write, I feel the years. I’ve been a writer for two decades and like every other writer I know, I have tendinitis. A good day writing can mean a very bad day for my arm or shoulder. I remind myself it’s a pretty sweet problem to have.

Home Depot time

My hardest time as a writer was when I realized that I’d grabbed the brass ring. I’d published a bunch of books, and I still wasn’t a success.

A lot of writers think of the publishing contract as the Holy Grail, but it’s not. It’s a huge mistake to think that just because your book is being printed, your publisher will publicize it. If you’re a new author, it’s much more likely that they won’t. You have to stump yourself and find book clubs to talk to and go to book fairs and set up signings at bookstores and libraries—anything to get word of mouth going. Your publisher’s more likely to pay attention to your book if it starts magically selling. Then they might put some money into promoting it. It’s a vicious cycle.

That’s why I was really disheartened when I was a young mom of three kids, and I’d had multiple books published, but I was still toying with the idea of getting a job application from Home Depot so I could help support my family.

Can’t beat number one

The best time I’ve had as a writer is every time I’ve found out that a book of mine is debuting at number one on the New York Times bestseller list. It’s happened a few times, and it never gets old. I have to pinch myself to say, Wow, look how far I’ve come. When I’m number one, I know it’s not just my mom and her friends buying the book. I can remember the precise moment when my editor called with the good news. I’d write even if no one ever read my stuff, but it’s so gratifying to know that people do.

Another amazing moment was when I did an event at the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta. Gone with the Wind is the book that made me want to be a writer. To sit at the desk where it was written had me trembling.

Jodi Picoult’s Wisdom for Writers:

  • Take a writing course. It’s how you’ll learn to get and give feedback, and it’ll teach you to write on demand.
  • There’s no magic bullet that’ll make you a success. If you write because you want to be rich, you’re in the wrong business. Write because you can’t not write, or don’t write at all.
  • Write even when you don’t feel like writing. There is no muse. It’s hard work. You can always edit a bad page, but you can’t edit a blank page.
  • Read. It’ll inspire you to write as well as the authors who came before you.

From Wikipedia:

Jodi Lynn Picoult (pron.: /ˈdʒoʊdi piːˈkoʊ/;[1] born May 19, 1966) is an American author. She was awarded the New England Bookseller Award for fiction in 2003. Picoult currently has some 14 million copies of her books in print worldwide.

Picoult became the writer of DC Comics’ Wonder Woman (vol. 3) series following the departure of fellow writer Allan Heinberg. Her first issue (#6) was released on March 28, 2007, and her last was issue #10 (released on June 27, 2007).

Nineteen Minutes, Picoult’s novel about the aftermath of a school shooting in a small town, has become her first book to debut at #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list. Her book Change Of Heart was published on March 4, 2008, and became Picoult’s second novel to debut at #1 on the NYT Best Seller list.

 

On the Subject of Dry Spells with Erskine Caldwell

Erskine Caldwell

Erskine Caldwell

INTERVIEWERS

Do you ever have to overcome inertia to get yourself writing in the morning?

CALDWELL

No, I wouldn’t say so at all. Now, I might have the feeling coming in here that I don’t know what I’m going to do. I might be worried about that. But I’ll come in anyway and sit here until something happens. You see, it’s something I wanted to do to begin with and so I’ll still have that urge to see it through. I guess that talent is just a part of being a writer. You’ve got to have desire in order to make it all work.

INTERVIEWERS

Have you ever had any long dry spells?

CALDWELL

No. You can always write something. You write limericks. You write a love letter. You do something to get you in the habit of writing again, to bring back the desire.

From Wikipedia:

Erskine Preston Caldwell (December 17, 1903 – April 11, 1987) was an American author. His writings about poverty, racism and social problems in his native South in novels such as Tobacco Road and God’s Little Acre won him critical acclaim, but also made him controversial among fellow Southerners of the time who felt he was deprecating the people of the region.

 

Sidney Sheldon Interview

From Wikipedia:

Sidney Sheldon (February 11, 1917 – January 30, 2007) was an Academy Award-winning American writer. His TV works spanned a 20-year period during which he created The Patty Duke Show (1963–66), I Dream of Jeannie (1965–70) and Hart to Hart (1979–84), but he became most famous after he turned 50 and began writing best-selling novels, such as Master of the Game (1982), The Other Side of Midnight (1973) and Rage of Angels (1980). He is the seventh best selling writer of all time.