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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Immersed in the heart of the story

“The thing that makes vivid writing is when the reader is in the body of the story, the body of the character. Things smell like something; there's weather, there's texture, there's light.” – Janet Fitch

Born on this date in 1955, Fitch grew up in a family of voracious readers, but didn’t thonk about writing until she had completed her education at Reed College in Oregon.  As an undergraduate at Reed, she had decided to become a historian, attracted to its powerful narratives, the scope of events, the colossal personalities, and the potency and breadth of its themes.

But when she won a student exchange to Keele University in England, where her passion for Russian history led her, she awoke in the middle of the night on her 21st birthday with the revelation she wanted to write fiction, and that’s what she’s done.  Among her award-winning works are the wonderful (and intense) White Oleander, an Oprah Book Club selection and a really terrific film, too.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Fitch has now gravitated back to her old stomping grounds and is a faculty member in the Master of Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California, where she teaches fiction.
Among her ongoing words of advice to her                     
students is to remember that the protagonist is the reader's portal into the story. “The more observant he or she can be, the more vivid will be the world you're creating,” she said.    

 As for what serves as her personal muse?  “I always read poetry before I write, to sensitize me to the rhythms and music of language.”

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