Ann Patchett is the author of six novels, The Patron Saint of Liars, Taft, The Magician’s Assistant, Bel Canto, Run, and State of Wonder. I’ve read each one. She’s one of my favorite authors. I met her in Danville at a reading event for her collection of essays, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Today I heard her interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross.
Ann talked about her dog, Sparky, who works at her bookstore, Parnassus Books, in Nashville, Tennessee. Sparky greets customers with a big tail wag and drops to the floor to show his spotted tummy. He sits on laps, plays with the children, and helps create a positive association with reading and with dogs. Sparky isn’t the only store dog. Ann’s co-owner, Karen Hayes, brings Lexington to help at the store too.
When asked what her work day is like, Patchett said she takes Sparky out for a walk, makes breakfast for her husband and Sparky, and starts to write at around 8:30. Non-fiction is easier for her to write than fiction. When she wrote Bel Canto, she played an aria that the character, Roxanne Coss, sang in a particular scene, otherwise, she doesn’t like to listen to music when she writes or reads.
Ann edited Best American Short Stories 2006. She says “A short story captures the very specific moment in time when things turn. In a novel, that could be many years. In a story, it pulls those years into a single instance.” In 2012, Ann was named by Time Magazine as one of the most influential people in the world.
Here is a link to Ann Patchett on the Colbert Report. Worth watching since she has him speechless. thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/tqad40/ann–patchett
Henry James said, “What is character but the determination of incident? What is incident but the illustration of character?”
James was born in New York City on April 15, 1834. He wrote short stories, plays, and novels. He focused on the consciousness of his characters and his stories were seen as psychological thought-experiments. He often created alternate futures and possibilities for his characters.The Portrait of a Lady is the most popular of his novels.
Do you have a favorite story or novel by Henry James?
Julianna Baggott said, “…each novel teaches me how to write it.”
I agree with her. I have three novels in my computer files. From the first one, I learned the characters limited my reading audience and how to write emotions into scenes. The second one, I learned to love rewriting and polishing it that I don’t think it will ever be ready. The third one is waiting for me to do more work on it and I learned I had to have a little more control of my POV character.
Have you written a novel or novels and learned something different from each one?
The YouTube video is an interview with Elizabeth Strout about truthfulness and her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, OLIVE KITTERIDGE. I met her at a lunch/reading at Town Center Book Store in Pleasanton, California when OLIVE KITTERIDGE was first published in 2008. I told her that my novel, EVA, was almost complete, but I didn’t know who would read it. She said to keep writing and not to worry about who will read the story. It’s more important to write what you want to write. I remember her advice whenever I start a writing project.
Today, I heard a thirty-minute interview on KPFA radio where she discussed her new novel, THE BURGESS BOYS. She said the inspiration for the story came when she cleaned out files from her novel, ABIDE WITH ME. The Burgess boys were minor characters at the end. She had scenes with them as children , which she didn’t use in that story. She thought about what they would be like when they grew up and realized as adults they could be the main characters of a new novel.
She wrote sketches and more sketches about them, then cut, revised, and developed the plot for this new published novel.
Since Elizabeth Strout is one of my favorite authors, I’m looking forward to reading THE BURGESS BOYS.