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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Helping 'rationalize' those strange times

“The process of writing a book is so removed in my mind from the process of publishing it that I often forget for great stretches that I eventually hope to do the latter.”  – Karen Joy Fowler

Best known, perhaps, for her award-winning and movie-adapted novel The Jane Austen Book Club, Fowler once said that her “process” of writing a book involves both “being” her characters and “saying what they say out loud.”  She said that worked well when her husband was still working full time, but now that he’s retired it’s a bit more cumbersome, especially when it comes to “the shouty parts.”

Born on this date in 1950, Fowler has won multiple awards for her fiction, whether that be short stories or full-length novels.  But she said she often disdains the reactions of her characters while she’s at work. 
“I hear so many writers say - and these are writers                      
 that I trust completely - 'I just started hearing a voice,' or, 'The characters came to life.'  I am filled with loathing for my own characters when I hear that because they do nothing of the sort. Left to their own devices, they do nothing but drink coffee and complain about their lives.”

Among her varied works are pieces that provide a new way of looking at history, often from “odd corners” of the historical universe or with a “fantastical” or “eccentric” point of view.
“Often, when you look at history, at least through the lens that many of us have looked at history - high school and college courses - a lot of the color gets bled out of it,” Fowler said.  “You're left with a time period that does not look as strange and irrational as the time you're actually living through.”     Hmmm, today’s world should provide a wonderful palette for generations of writers to come.   

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