If your characters go on a road trip, do you have to take one, too? When Mary Miller wrote The Last Days of California about a family driving from Alabama to California to meet the rapture, she hadn’t even been to the desert herself. To ensure it was accurate, though, she mapped important destinations on the route. “For Western Louisiana, I thought, ‘Is there actually a Waffle House within forty miles of this border?’ because I wanted it to be accurate. So I had maps, and I was tracking mileage,” she told Down & Out.
Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life might well be the only book in history to draw comparisons between creative writers and stunt pilots. At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova calls attention to a description of Dave Rahm, the real-life pilot who inspired Dillard’s analogy.
Here’s a treat for all you literary legal buffs. A judge in the Middle District of Florida denied a request for a continuance in a murder-for-hire trial. But wait, it gets better. The defense attorney, Frank Louderback, is a perennial contestant in Hemingway Look-alike Society’s annual Ernest Hemingway Look-alike Contest, held in Key West each year, and the purpose of Louderback’s continuance was so he could travel to the Conch Republic for the competition. The judge denied the order by citing Big Papa himself. (via Nate Harris)
John McWhorter, linguist and author of What Language is (And What it Isn't and What it Could Be), takes a look at the history of spoken and written language in an effort to understand how text messaging, IMs, and other informal forms of written language impact literacy.
Finalists for the Center For Fiction’s First Novel Prize—including Sophie McManus, Ben Metcalf, Lori Ostlund, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Chigozie Obioma, Tanwi Nandini Islam, and Angela Flournoy—discuss the books that made them the writers they are today. Pair with our own Nick Ripatrazone’s recent article on authors’ favorite childhood books.
Harper Lee may have died earlier this year, but the drama surrounding her final years rages on. Last week, a stage adaptation of Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird was performed in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, as it has for many years. This time, however, things got a bit contentious. Here's a dispatch from Monroeville by Robert Rea for The Millions.