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There's an expectation these days that novels - like any other consumer product - should be made on a production line, with one dropping from the conveyor belt every couple of years.
The storytelling gift is innate: one has it or one doesn't. But style is at least partly a learned thing: one refines it by looking and listening and reading and practice - by work.
The novel is about five students of classics who are studying with a classics professor, and they take the ideas of the things that they're learning from him a bit too seriously, with terrible consequences.
The Little Friend is a long book. It's also completely different from my first novel: different landscape, different characters, different use of language and diction, different approach to story.
The job of the novelist is to invent: to embroider, to color, to embellish, to make things up.
The books I loved in childhood - the first loves - I've read so often that I've internalized them in some really essential way: they are more inside me now than out.
Taking on challenging projects is the way that one grows and extends one's range as a writer, one's technical command, so I consider the time well-spent.
Storytelling and elegant style don't always go hand in hand.
Sometimes you can do all the right things and not succeed. And that's a hard lesson of reality.
So I'm not a Southern writer in the commonly held sense of the term, like Faulkner or Eudora Welty, who took the South for their entire literary environment and subject matter.
On the other hand, I mean, that is what writers have always been supposed to do, was to rely on their own devices and to - I mean, writing is a lonely business.
My novels aren't really generated by a single conceptual spark; it's more a process of many different elements that come together unexpectedly over a long period of time.
It's hard for me to show work while I'm writing, because other people's comments will influence what happens.
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