The Two Sides of Every Heart a Doorway

Every Heart a Doorway

In Seanan McGuire’s brilliant (and now award-winning) short novel Every Heart a Doorway, teens who’d once escaped reality to various fairytale realms find themselves back in our world, attending a special boarding school to help them re-acclimate to “reality.” They’re all desperate to return to those places where they felt accepted for who and what they were, and one of … Read More

The Idiocies of Genius

Genius-Movie-Poster

Recently I watched Genius, the 2016 film about the relationship between Southern novelist Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law) and his editor, Maxwell Perkins (Colin Firth). There are also cameos by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Guy Pearce) and Ernest Hemingway (Dominic West). The moral of the story: genius comes in different packages, and sometimes it isn’t recognized until it’s too late. Or something. I … Read More

The Point of the End of the Tour

Jesse Eisenberg (David Lipsky) and Jason Segel (David Foster Wallace

The End of the Tour is a film adapted from the memoir Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace, by David Lipsky. It begins with news of Wallace’s suicide* reaching Lipsky, who then digs out his audio tapes from the five days he spent with Wallace at the end of his author’s tour … Read More

The Truth About Writers on TV and in the Movies

Modern Family Crazy Train

Last night on Modern Family, a show I love thanks to the entire cast’s impeccable comic timing, regulars Phil and Cameron met a famous novelist on a passenger train. Said novelist, Simon Hastings (played by Simon Templeton, whose real name sounds like a pen name), is writing a mystery novel about a murder on a train, and of course he’s writing … Read More

Writing Novels and Novellas in the Same Series

My friend Deborah Blake has just released her latest “Baba Yaga” novel, Wickedly Powerful.  Last month, she also released a novella in the same series, Wickedly Ever After. Here she explains the challenge of writing different types of stories in the same series. And leave a comment for a chance to win a signed book! Someone asked me in an interview recently what … Read More

Guest blog: Mehitobel Wilson on the Blue Alice

Blue Alice 1

Way back in the last century, when the Internet was still shiny, Mehitobel Wilson became one of my earliest online friends. She’s a great writer (the first story of hers that I read began, “Someone was fucking with the pigeons.”), and she’s just finished a new novella, Last Night at the Blue Alice. I asked her to write a little bit about her … Read More

Inspiration and “Copperhead Road”

Copperhead_road

When I teach writing classes, I often play the song “Copperhead Road,” by Steve Earle for the students. If you don’t know it, here’s the video.   When it’s over, I point out what makes the song so extraordinary. It tells the story of three generations of men named Conlee* Pedimore; grandfather was a moonshiner, father was a bootlegger, and … Read More

Guest Post: Nicole Winters on Writing for Teens

Jock and the Fat Chick cover

My friend Nicole Winters has a new novel, The Jock and the Fat Chick, coming out on October 13. She’s been kind enough to talk about the challenge of writing for contemporary teens in their rapidly-updating world. *** Writing for teens in an ever-changing environment; It’s not as scary as you may think You know that saying, “The more things change, … Read More

Review: Epitaph, a novel of the OK Corral

OK Corral sign

I loved, unreservedly, Mary Doria Russell’s 2012 novel Doc, about the life of Doc Holliday before the infamous events of the OK Corral in Tombstone, AZ. I was just familiar enough with both the history and mythology of the story to really appreciate the way she wove them together. When I saw she’d written a follow-up, Epitaph—subtitled A Novel of … Read More

A Couple of More Questions on Writing

Editorial assistant Sophie

Here are some more questions from readers, with the same caveat at last week: my answers describe my process, which may be totally different from yours. Neither is “right”; what matters is what works for you. From Donald Kirby: When you have two openings that appeal equally, how do you choose? That actually happened to me on Long Black Curl. I wanted … Read More