Entries from January 2013

Best Book Trailer Ever

The trailer for my friend John Kenney’s wonderful new debut novel, Truth in Advertising (available January 22). Best book trailer ever.

Categories: Books    Tags: · ·

Three Questions

In her new book, Negotiating With the Dead: A Writer on Writing, Margaret Atwood poses three questions to herself and other novelists: Who are you writing for? Why do you do it? And where does it come from?

Mr. McEwan answered them in quick succession: “I think you could only do it for yourself under the assumption that if you like it, someone else might like it, too. Why do it? I think it’s impossible not to. Not to write seems to me to be a gross rebuke of the gift of consciousness. Where does it come from? You have to dig fairly deeply and relax your control of it … [Fiction] is a random, associative business, just the white noise of daydreaming thought.”

Ian McEwan, 2002

Categories: Writing    Tags: ·

How Writers Write: Roxana Robinson

Roxana Robinson describes how she prepares to write in the morning.

In my study, I set the mug next to my writing chair, across the room from my desk. My computer is at my desk, connected to the internet by a short thick blue cable. I unplug the cable and carry the laptop to my writing chair, where the blue cable does not reach. I sit down, free from the endless electronic niggling of the internet. My computer is now empty of anyone’s thoughts but my own.

Sometimes I read a bit, to enter into a sensibility that’s useful for whatever I’m working on. I read “The Journals of John Cheever” while I wrote “This Is My Daughter.” I read “Anna Karenina” while I wrote “Sweetwater.” I read “The Hours” while I wrote “Cost.” I read “Atonement” while I was writing “Sparta.” I came to know those books very well. I could open them anywhere and know the passage. I broke the spine of Atonement, though I only read one section of it, over and over.

I read a page or two, then close the book.

This is the moment. On a good day I’m now where I need to be, still in that deep dreaming place, where I can listen.

Categories: Writing    Tags: ·


Maurice Sendak’s final interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air, in September 2011, animated by Christoph Niemann. Sendak died seven months later. (via The Dish)

Categories: Writers    Tags: · · ·

2012 Wrap-up

It’s been a while since I posted one of these updates, so here are a few year-end developments for Defending Jacob.

  • The novel was named to several “best of 2012” lists, including AmazonBarnes & NobleKirkus Reviews, Toronto Globe and Mail, Kansas City Star, and my hometown Boston Globe.
  • Stephen King included Defending Jacob on his list of “the best books I read in 2012,” in Entertainment Weekly, calling it “the best crime-and-courtroom drama in years.” Very cool.
  • If that isn’t surreal enough for you, Google’s Zeitgeist 2012 list placed the book at #5 and its author #2 among trending search terms for U.S. books and authors, that is, “search queries with the highest amount of traffic over a sustained period in 2012 as compared to 2011.” Mom, is that you Googling me over and over?
  • The town of Sharon, Massachusetts, chose Defending Jacob for its annual “One Book, One Town” program, which means everyone in town will read the book or face criminal prosecution. Or something. (I will be visiting Sharon as part of the event on Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 7:00 pm at the Sharon Middle School.)
  • And just for fun, my favorite pull-quote from a review: “I am so in love with this book, I would marry it if it asked me.” Now that belongs on the cover of the paperback.

The mass-market paperback edition of Defending Jacob goes on sale February 26. The trade paperback edition (the larger paperback format) is coming in a few more months.

As ever, thanks to all of you for sticking with me. Happy 2013!

Categories: My Books    Tags:

New York, 1950

Walter Sanders - Fog in New York

Walter Sanders
Fog in New York, January 1, 1950

Via Facie Populi

Categories: Photography    Tags: ·

Writing is frustration

I know I’m not going to write as well as I used to. I no longer have the stamina to endure the frustration. Writing is frustration — it’s daily frustration, not to mention humiliation. It’s just like baseball: you fail two-thirds of the time. I can’t face any more days when I write five pages and throw them away. I can’t do that anymore.

Philip Roth

Categories: Writing    Tags: ·