The ‘best living American novelist’ on her mid-life crisis

What sensible person has not fantasised about spending three years of her life reading 100 novels? It’s an imagining of almost unbearable beauty, that sinking, waking dream of leaving this world and entering it again and again through other minds, re-emerging at the end of it all as a better person, or at least a person with a broader view of the world.

It’s also a project of almost incomprehensible self-indulgence for anybody with a serious job, to which they are enslaved by that most modern of masters, productivity. Few proper novelists alive today are more serious and more productive than Jane Smiley, who has written nearly 30 books and who won the Pulitzer Prize for her astonishing King Lear-inspired 1991 novel A Thousand Acres, and who has been described variously as “America’s Tolstoy” and as having “started to look like the best living American novelist”.

Escerpt from Greg Bruce’s article in the NZ Herald- read more

I Need Coffee: Schedule Your Writing Life



Do you remember that song “Respect Yourself” by The Staple Singers? No?

Good gracious go listen to it right now. That song is like the writer’s anthem. Here’s a link to it on Youtube. Starting at 2:21, your life will be changed forever.

Writers have a hard time respecting themselves. We give away our work for free. We fumble when people ask us what we do, worrying if it’s okay to call ourselves “writers.” (Answer: Yes, it is.) We’re basically the most neurotic group of people this side of a Woody Allen character.

WSJ Book Club: Adam Hochschild Shares His Writing and Reading Habits

Portrait of author Adam Hochschild at his home in Berkeley, CA. on February 29, 2016. Published Credit: Winni Wintermeyer for The Wall Street Journal

Adam Hochschild, historical nonfiction author and the most recent host of the WSJ Book Club, takes a special interest in stories of struggle against evil, tackling fascism, slavery and apartheid, among other complex topics. But he steers clear of black and white judgements. “You have to be careful, as a writer, that you don’t divide people too simply into good guys and bad guys,” he writes.

Excerpt from Wall Street Journal Staff- read more- 

YA author Alice Oseman talks about the writing process and life as a professional author

YA author Alice Oseman talks about the writing process and life as a professional author

Alice Oseman is one of the few YA authors who actually began her first novel before she was technically a young adult. After writing her debut novel, Solitaire, at 17, the book was published to wide acclaim, garnering praise from critics, one of whom described it as “The Catcher In The Rye for the digital age.”

Now 21, Alice Oseman recently published her second novel Radio Silence, which is already drawing attention for its stark contemporary realism and writing skill at deconstructing many YA tropes, including a strong emphasis on platonic relationships, diverse characters and, as Alice herself describes it, “sarcastic teenagers on the Internet.”

We were lucky enough to talk with Alice Oseman recently about writing her new book, her writing process, and life since becoming a popular author. Check out what she had to say!

Excerpt from Lydia Suffield’s post in Yahoo! Style- read more

Moving right along


Joe: Good morning Calliope.

Calliope: Good morning Joe. What’s new with you?

Joe: I have been trying to get into gear with my latest book on Violence and Peace. The topic seems most timely. I have been working for several months gathering background information as a backdrop to what I want to say.

Calliope: But that’s not actually writing anything.

Joe: I realize that. I have gathered many ideas but seem to have trouble organizing them. I thought back to previous writers who wrote books in a serial fashion, mostly novelists. I have been able to formulate my thoughts on a few relevant topics and have released them as articles. See them on my website. I have found this a good way to at least get started.

Calliope: Sounds worth a try. How are you going about organizing your thoughts?

Joe: I have been using Scrivener which I have found useful in the past. Many of the ideas are there but not in an organized fashion. Organization into an outline is my next step and after that, filling in the details.

Calliope: At least you have a plan. Good luck with it.

Joe: Thanks. I’ll keep you posted.