Saturday, October 12, 2013


There’s a catchphrase I picked up from Alfred Bester (by way of Gene Wolfe):  “The book is the boss.” Meaning that every book, every story, teaches you how to write it as you go along.

That makes sense to me; so when I write, I try to listen to the book. The Honeythief wanted to be written outside, in the summertime, scratched out longhand in volumes of matching notebooks — and it enhances the effect. The method of composition both suits and informs the elevated, formal tone of the prose. I can’t really say which came first, and in the end it doesn’t matter. All I know is that cracking open another black-bound Moleskine, ritualistically numbering each page, ruling out my charts and tables — these things helped me to slip into the writer’s trance, so that when I sat down in the handmade Adirondack chair on my front porch, I was ready to go to that world and talk with those people.
Judy Obscure will be for a younger audience, more vernacular, more conversational in tone. And to my surprise, it wants to be said aloud — a whim told me to slip my little digital recorder into my pocket, and the pitch came to me in a rush as I walked the dog one night; I talked it as I walked it.

The Orphan Asylum books, I think, want to be banged out fast, straight to the keyboard, single-spaced, with big band swing on the stereo. (I suspect that given their druthers, they would really prefer to be typed, on an Underwood manual, and that I should be wearing a tie and smoking Luckies as I did it.)

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