ESSENTIAL READING

From Scratch

by Bill Cheng

 

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." "Call me Ishmael." Every story needs a beginning, but finding the perfect opener can be tough. In this craft post, our new writing instructor Bill Cheng (Southern Cross the Dog) talks about tricks for starting stories, and why beginnings are so important. read

 

And if you like this essay, don't miss out on Cheng's course, Short Stories: Beginnings, starting on October 26th (the deadline for enrollment is Oct. 24th). 

 

Dialogue or Conversation?

by Jason Starr

 

 

In this post, bestselling crime novelist Jason Starr writes about what he learned about crafting speech from his days as a playwright. 

 

"Conversation is the two people talking next to you at a coffee bar, while dialogue tells a story." read  

 

Don't miss Jason Starr's new workshop, Get Your Crime Novel Ready for Publication, starting on November 13th. 

Author Picks: Josh Kendall's Pay It Forward Book List

 

In this special edition of our Author Picks column, Joshua Kendall, editorial director of Mulholland Books, recommends five novels that were recommended to him that are sure to keep you up all night reading. Continue the tradition and send this list on to another book lover in your life.


"This book gets my award for #1 Driftiest Crime Novel. There is little suspense, but instead a kind of queer anticipatory doom that keeps you gnashing your teeth, trembling, and turning the pages." READ

The Model Short Story: 

Josh Weil on "My Aeschylus” by Jim Shepard

 

Josh Weil, author of the new collection The Age of Perpetual Light, shares one of his favorite stories—“My Aeschylus” by Jim Shepard—in this Model Short Story. Here, he discusses how short stories are mystical experiences and why Shepard's is so powerful.

 

"The best short stories are simultaneously the least understandable and most fully felt. They hits us with undeniable force, a concrete impact, but why they do, how they cause us such hurt or buoy us or knock us flat isn’t immediately clear. They operate like a kind of magic. They are mystical experiences." READ

Interviewing for Fiction

by Min Jin Lee

 

Who was your favorite teacher growing up? What do you like eating for breakfast? What do you do on an average Sunday? In this craft post, Min Jin Lee, author of the National Book Award shortlisted novel Pachinko, writes about the benefits of conducting "pointless" interviews to improve your fiction.

 

"If you are fortunate enough to spend time with strangers who will tell you very harmless facts about their lives, very often, you will be allowed to enter their intimate space as they remember their lives. I am not a smart journalist when I am interviewing my subjects; I am more like a curious old aunt who is just interested in getting to know you better." read

Our Other Futures

by Malka Older

 

In this essay, author Malka Older reflects on her time as an aid worker in Darfur and how it influenced her near-future political thriller series, The Centenal Cycle. Null States, the follow-up to her groundbreaking debut Infomocracy, is out now.

 

"At the time I was there, Darfur was in the news occasionally, and none of it was good. None of it even suggested that there was life there beyond attacks and atrocities. Yet there I was, going for milk in the market after dark, and imagining a desert future of isolated settlements and itinerant traders." read

Shelf Life

by Sophie McManus

 

We asked the author of The Unfortunates and our new workshop instructor, Sophie McManus, to give us some insight into her disordered book collection and the importance of searching the shelves.

 

"I love photos of authors sitting in front of their books. These photos always convey a hint of pride, but also a sense that the author is laying herself bare to the viewer. However distinguished or enigmatic her half-smile, the story behind the author offers all her secrets. It says: these books are who I am." READ

JUNIOR EDITION: New Fiction for Younger Readers #34

by Celia McGee

 

We're headed back to school with JUNIOR EDITION: New Fiction for Younger Readers which searches recent releases to discover the best kids' fiction out there. Writer, editor, and Center for Fiction board member Celia McGee covers four fantastic titles in this month's column. Kids learn what makes a book a book (and a few lessons about getting along) in Give Me Back My Book! New York provides adventure for Cricket and her grandmother who take off across the city in The Half-True Lies of Cricket CohenA much more dangerous adventure awaits Reza in the gripping Lost Boys about child soldiers in Iran. And finally The Wood hides many secrets including portals to lands across time. We hope Celia's terrific choices inspire the kids in your life to pick up a book (and you may even find yourself flipping through these pages!) read



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Please join us for our Annual Benefit & Awards Dinner on December 5th honoring this year's Maxwell E. Perkins Award Winner, Morgan Entrekin of Grove Atlantic, and announcing the winner of the 2017 First Novel Prize.

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