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Saturday, October 31, 2015

That Halloween candy ritual


“I'm a great lover of visual art and I will happily discuss the color and texture of Van Gogh's Starry Night. But I can think of nothing on earth so beautiful as the final haul on Halloween night, which, for me, was . . . pounds of candy, a riot of colored wrappers and hopeful fonts, snub-nosed chocolate bars and SweeTARTS, the seductive rattle of Jujyfruits and Good & Plenty and lollipop sticks all akimbo, the foil ends of mini LifeSavers packs twinkling like dimes, and a thick sugary perfume rising up from the pillowcase.

     “And more so, the pleasure of pouring out the contents onto the rug in the TV room . . . calling for all chocolate products to be immediately quarantined, sorted, and closely guarded, with higher-quality fruit chews and caramels next, then hard candies, and last of all anything organic (the loathsome raisins).  A brief period of barter with my brothers might ensue. For the most part, I simply lay amid my trove and occasionally massed the candy into a pile which I could sort of dive into, à la Scrooge McDuck and his gold ducats.” – Steve Almond

And so are writer’s moments begun.  Happy Halloween – and happy writing – everyone.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Nerve-wracking, but satisfying

“Writing one's first novel, getting it sold, and shepherding it through the labyrinths of editing, production, marketing, journalism, and social media is an arduous and nerve-wracking process.” – Paul Di Filippo

Di Filippo – whose 61st birthday was yesterday – is the author of hundreds of short stories and numerous novels and “collections.”   Unlike some authors who find second or third novels to be problematical, Di Filippo believes that once you master the labyrinth of “processes” in getting that first book out there, it becomes easier in subsequent efforts.
 And as his “process” has grown so have his awards and rewards for those efforts.  In the past 15 years he’s been a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, BSFA, Philip K. Dick, Wired Magazine, and World Fantasy awards.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Di Filippo has not only become one of America’s leading science fiction and fantasy writers but also a highly respected reviewer, writing for such magazines as Asimov's Science Fiction, The New York Review of Science Fiction and the online Science Fiction Weekly.  He also is co-author (with Damien Broderick) of Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels 1985-2010. 
Paul Di Filippo

While he has had success with series' of books, including the highly praised Steampunk Trilogy, he said readers and writers alike shouldn’t always expect a repeat of what a writer first produces, because it’s usually not possible.  Although, he noted wryly, “The impossibility of a sequel ever recapturing everything - or anything - about its ancestor never stopped legions of writers from trying, or hordes of readers and publishers from demanding more of what they previously enjoyed.”

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Chronicling others' lives

“No one sits on the stoop when she's a kid and thinks, 'I want to be a biographer when I grow up.” – Stacy Schiff

But, that career path has been a good one for Schiff, who won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography for Vera, a biography of Vera Nabokov, wife and muse of Vladimir Nabokov.  She was also a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Saint-Exupéry: A Biography about French writer and adventurer Antoine de Saint Exupéry.

A native of Massachusetts, Schiff (whose birthday was earlier this week) also has won a number of other awards for her biographical works on Benjamin Franklin and Cleopatra, and this summer she was presented with the Newberry Library Award for her body of writing.  But, despite her many awards, she said that biographers, including herself, aren’t always objective in their work.

“Oh, I don't think there is ever objective biography,” she insisted.  “Our vision of our subject is always shaped by who we are. So I do, of course, think the biographer's view is always something to keep in mind.”

Stacy Schiff

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