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OUT TAKES from this novelist's cutting room floor...bits and pieces of story, research, and process
November 27, 2014
I’m thinking on this Thanksgiving Day that writing is like a complicated recipe.
First you need to gather the ingredients (ideas) and envision the final product; you have to have a general vision for the end result and know what it is you’re making. Then you combine the first batch of ingredients (more…)
November 22, 2014
Take 5 from my novel-in-progress...in which Thea meets an unexpected member of her new household.
October 12, 1936
By the time we fell into bed last night we'd received our luggage, made a preliminary appearance at the club -- we seem to be the youngest members by at least a decade -- and (more…)
November 15, 2014
Out Take #4 is a sketch of Ross Island, headquarters of the Colonial administration of the Andaman Islands in the early 1900s. Ross is also where Shep and Thea live before disaster strikes. [See earlier blog posts to catch up with the story.]
Ross bazaar, in stark contrast to the spacious bungalows of the European Zone, consisted of two rows of brick shop houses that plunged down the incline in the southern -- Indian -- end of the island to land at the Hindu temple. The bazaar and temple, as well as a small shark-netted beach farther along the shore, served the ministerial staff, Indian clerks, doctors, and military police quartered in the Native Zone, as well as the servants from the European residences and barracks on the upper end of the island. (more…)
November 8, 2014
Out take #3 is from the latest draft of my novel-in-progress...
In which Thea and Shep sail from Calcutta in 1936 to their new home: the Andaman Islands.
The weather changed for their four-day crossing to the Andamans, and Thea spent most of her time aboard the S.S. Maharaja sick to her stomach. Not until the last morning did the skies clear and the water change from black to iridescent green. She let Shep drag her up on deck as Land Fall Island hove into view. This small pincushion of palm trees was dwarfed by the green monolith of North Andaman behind it.
November 5, 2014
“Our culture trains women to relinquish power over their own body image to others; too often women see themselves only as they think – or are told – others see them. If and when women can own their own sense of their bodies, including the pleasure and comfort and strength and wisdom that their bodies supply, then a positive relationship between body image and creativity can flourish.”
November 2, 2014
Out takes from a novel:
In which Thea and Shep arrive in Calcutta, 1936
In Calcutta Shep was to be briefed by the Director-General, in from Delhi for a meeting of the specialist medical appointees for Bengal. For the week that this induction required they'd been booked into the Fairhaven Hotel, a verdant oasis in the city center run by the redoubtable Mrs. Sark. Ruby, as she insisted they call her, immediately took Thea under her wing. "Don't you worry," she'd shoo Shep off to his meetings each morning. "Your pigeon be safe with me."
Thea was eager to set out and discover the "deep, full-throated boom of life and motion and humanity" that Kipling had promised in his City of Dreadful Night. From the carriage they'd taken to the hotel, she'd smelled India’s famous dung smoke, mustered a smile for the filthy children pleading lugubriously with hands outstretched, and marveled at the spice-tinged colors that seemed to drape the air. But Shep made her promise (more…)
October 27, 2014
The first series of out-takes will come from a novel I've been working on for several years, set primarily in British India circa World War II. But it begins (in this out-take) in 1936 with the whirlwind courtship in New York City of a young American and aspiring anthropologist named Thea March and an only slightly older British doctor named Sheppard Durrell.
Their courtship began in May, 1936, with a chance introduction at the 21 Club. Thea March, Sheppard Durrell. The student and the surgeon. Thea’s first impressions: a boyish mop of gingery hair, devastating sea-glass green eyes, a veil of freckles stretched palely across patrician cheekbones to bridge a delicate nose. He had lanky height, square shoulders, and that worldly British accent, plus a twist of humor tucked inside his smile that promised to keep her hopping. Love at first sight? Not by a yard, but he'd make for a welcome shift from the braggards and drones that had dominated her campus years. (more…)
December 8, 2009
Waiting for the Call
A new old entry! Sweet memory. September 22, 1997. The interview in question is about Cloud Mountain, published the previous spring. The novel-in-waiting is Flash House, then in the earliest stages of gestation. Disaster will indeed strike in the course of writing this novel, and it won't see publication for another five long hard years. Sigh.
I'm expecting a call from a radio interviewer this morning, to discuss the novel I published last spring, publicized last summer, and have half forgotten in the wind-up for the new novel I'm trying to start writing. This is the twilight zone period in writing. (more…)
November 29, 2009
Several years ago I screwed up my courage and did something I'd imagined I could not do. I went to graduate school and earned an MFA in creative writing. I was over 50, and to my surprise, about a third of my class at Bennington also were mid-lifers. We had a lot of living under our collective belt and wanted to hone our writing to better give voice to our experience.
Many of us were already published authors. Since graduation, many of our other classmates have been published in literary journals, small press novels, and chapbooks. In this economy, it's been harder than ever for new authors to get picked up by major houses. But one of the lucky ones is my classmate John Coats.
I am delighted to tell you that John's first book ORIGINAL SINNERS has just been published by the Free Press imprint of Simon & Schuster. (more…)
November 9, 2009
NOW HERE'S A BITTERSWEET ENTRY FROM September 26, 1997, WHEN I WAS STILL A GOOD 3 YEARS FROM A SOLID FULL-LENGTH DRAFT OF MY THIRD NOVEL...WHICH WOULD BE TITLED "FLASH HOUSE" IN THE END -- BUT ONLY AT THE VERY END! WHAT MAKES THESE MUSINGS BITTERSWEET IS THAT I HAVE YET TO GET ANOTHER NOVEL TO LIFT-OFF -- SO I LOOK BACK WITH SOME NOSTALGIA TO THE QUEST FOR THIS NOVEL'S TITLE!
I need a title for my new book. In the usual, and probably ultimate, way of things I would find this title upon reflection and rereading of a finished manuscript. (more…)