Is writing an inherently performative medium? Scott McClanahan thinks so. “I think my favorite writers are hams,” he said in an interview for The Rumpus. He also discussed staying at hotels with pimps during his book tour, indie presses, his book Crapalachia (which our own Nick Moran recommends), and his aversion to tote bags.
World-building is an essential part of any story, but what about map-making? At Book Riot, two cartographers explain how they create the maps we see inside books. One cartographer’s perspective: “I really wanted to make a map that could easily be an artifact from the world of the book…. I came up with the idea that the map could be a page ripped from an atlas, and someone had written notes on it.” See also: Rob Goodman’s essay for the reader on world-building and its relationship to reality.
“The first sentence, itself described as a ‘decoy for attention’ in a 1930 story on the new art, is a lure within a lure, created in a new economy increasingly predicated on commercial diversification and instant appeal, in a book market that had never been so populated.” Electric Lit takes us through the history of the novel’s first sentence. Pair with our essay on the art of the opening sentence.
Chances are you’ve heard that in a recent interview, Claire Messud responded to a patronizing question about one of her characters — “I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you?” — by giving her interviewer a smackdown that resonated across the blogosphere. At Page-Turner, several authors (including Rivka Galchen, Jonathan Franzen and Year in Reading alumna Margaret Atwood) offer their own takes on the matter of “likeability.” (There’s also this piece by our own Emily St. John Mandel to consider.)
In an interview with The Atlantic, Zone One author Colson Whitehead says the distinction between “literary” and “fantasy” genres “have no use for me in my day-to-day work experience.” Whitehead is just one of the recent high-profile authors to foray into genre fiction, however, as Kim Wright explored in a piece for us last month.