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Author Archive: "Jessica Anthony"

Books That Taught Me How to Get Away with It

Today is my last day blogging, and I would like to say thanks to everyone at Powell's for asking me to participate. Somehow I managed to blog about kittens, Cool Whip, and Coleridge this week. I am a little impressed with myself.

To wrap things up, I want to offer a list of books that taught me how to have fun in fiction and get away with it. The Getting Away With It piece is important because to get away with writing anything, Play must be taken seriously (some confuse experimenting in fiction with writing "experimental fiction"; a weird, false phrase that sticks to the roof of my mouth every time I say it — Friday also is, apparently, "Jess Gets Opinions Day" at Powell's Blog — but there are hundreds of stories that one could call "experimental" for one reason or another, certainly based on the time/place in which they were written — and yet now have secured a place in our large and sticky canon).

And so, for my last, briefest entry, I want to recommend a short list of books (mostly novels)

...


The Writing Dare, Part Two: The Importance of Play

Well, it seems the kitten problem has been eradicated. (Man, they were everywhere). If you are just joining us, the writer Thomas Israel Hopkins and I are discussing the merits of Writing Dares/Challenges/Whatnot. Mr. Hopkins, when asked for brief biography, provided this valuable information:

When Thomas Israel Hopkins first met Jessica Anthony, he was an unpublished, unwed, childless gentile. Now Tom is a married Jewish dad with lots of publication credits. Life is mysterious and wonderful!

JA: Yesterday we were talking about how a great writing dare can be a useful platform for beginning a story, and it can help a writer find a story's form. But there's more going on here with dares, I think. Even though you're being given a restriction, you have no idea where the story will take you.

TIH: Exactly. This means keeping in mind that at some point you might need to shed one or another of those source elements. You might start working on a story, in homage to Updike (as you were talking about in your Monday blog post), about a married woman falling in love with a ...


The Writing Dare, Part 1

Hi, everyone, and welcome back to Jess Anthony Week at the indefatigable Powell's Blog. For those of you just tuning in, we have covered a lot of ground so far, everything from Italo Calvino to dessert toppings....Over the next two days, I have a guest joining me, the writer Thomas...


Origins of Fiction

Day Two of Powell's Blog. What will happen? Promises were made. Will they be kept? Today I'm thinking today about the origins of fiction, and how to answer "where on earth The Convalescent came from."

I just typed "origins of fiction" into Google and this is what appeared.

I am stalling.

I'm avoiding answering this question because it's kind of unanswerable. Like asking a dog why it was born. But I can talk about story development, which is really what happens when fiction writers write. The novel began the same way any short story I write begins, and that's with voice. I sort of muck around for a while, experimenting with voices and sounds and jokes and styles until something eventually sticks that I like. The voice for The Convalescent began with a melding of two of my favorite voices: Mersault from The Stranger and Dostoevsky's "Underground Man." The following sentence emerged, which is no longer a sentence in the novel: "I have just chopped ...


The Biography Problem

I have never written a blog before, so when the good people of Powell's asked me if I would be their guest blogger this week, I agreed. There were also fresh doughnuts involved. Maple glazed with two strips of bacon on top. (Deal, sealed.)

Thank you, Powell's! I am deeply flattered.

I do not typically write non-fiction. When I sit down to write I immediately go into my "So, one day this kid Barnaby pulled down his pants during recess" mode , so I am very pleased to be here, writing about Things That Go Rumbling Around In My Brain this week. I thought I'd begin with the question I am asked most about The Convalescent right now, indeed what I was asked when I launched the book with Robin Romm at a fantastic reading at Powell's last month:

"Where on earth did this story come from?"

To answer that question, I want to zip back to last April. A few months before the publication of the novel, my editor called to discuss the remaining few questions before it went to ...


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