"Worrying the characters through the story"

(Photo credit: Elena Seibert)

I had the chance to interview Wally Lamb over the phone earlier today. He’s coming to Portsmouth as the next speaker for Writer’s on a New England Stage at The Music Hall, to promote his latest novel, The Hour I First Believed. That’s on December 18th at 7:30pm in case you live in the area and want to get some tickets.

You can see my interview with Wally over at the RiverRun Bookstore blog. Here’s just a teaser:

How would you describe your writing style? Do you ever start a novel knowing exactly how the whole story will unfold?

I’ve heard Irving talk about his work. He said at one point of course you have to have the ending in sight. It just does not work that way for me. I start out with a character whose voice intrigues and worries me. I let that character lead me into the story. I have no idea who that person is. Along the way I have to write the person’s back story, discover the persons childhood. It’s sort of a meandering way to write. It certainly has its built in frustrations. The more deeply I care about the character, the more I wonder if the person is going to be okay.

I don’t really love to write. I’m not waking up in the morning and springing up in bed and saying “Oh yeah, here I go!” It’s more like I’m worrying the characters through the story.

I find myself thinking about them when I’m not writing, sometimes waking myself up in the middle of the night wondering what’s next. Sometimes insomnia can be productive. I’ve never been concerned about being a brand name, or marketing, or anything like that. I care more about the story than what’s going to happen with the book afterwards.

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