Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter was at the Tattered Cover in Denver last week to promote his latest, Jericho's Fall. He gave a great talk, funny and interesting, about his background and his work.

If you'd like to win a Jericho's Fall t-shirt, enter contest in post below.

Here are a few of the quotes I jotted down:

"I always begin with the characters I want to write about."

Then he picks the setting. Then he writes the last chapter of the book first and goes back to figure out how those characters in that setting came to that ending.

"My writing is largely about the abuse of power. Though first and foremost I'm trying to entertain and have fun."

On the subject of the protagonist's unspecified race: "In the age of Obama, what difference does it really make [what race she is]?" However, he said he has given enough clues in this book and previous work that readers could figure it out if they cared to. He also talked about how maddening it is that authors (white usually) have white people as the default and only describe race if a character is something other than white.

On writing a woman's point of view: "Of course it was hard to write a woman's point of view, but it's always hard to sustain a character's voice and point of view."

Carter said he always has 5 or 6 projects going at once (!) so he's never bored. And when he hits a rough spot in one project or needs a break, he opens another file and works on something else. He writes nonfiction and fiction and believes they use different parts of the brain.

On why so many lawyers write thrillers: "In law school you're trained to think about contingencies. That's what a thriller is, what if after what if after what if." Carter said the thriller writer owes his reader constant run of surprises. I'd continue the thought and say any type of novelist owes his reader twists in the story.

Carter's hoping to write a book about why books (physical, real books) are important to democracy. Here he is giving a lecture at Yale on the topic.

1 comment:

Toni Campbell said...

I haven't read his new one yet, but he is in my top 10 favorite authors. I totally embarrassed myself when he came to the store a few months ago, like a book groupie!