Sarah Addison Allen on writing

Photo by Amber S. Wallace

Photo by Amber S. Wallace

“I don’t think Garden Spells would have come about if I’d thought, ‘I’m going to write a romance,’ or ‘I’m going to write chick-lit,’” says Asheville-based author Sarah Addison Allen. “You have to encapsulate your novel into a sellable point, but when you’re writing it, it has to be your story, not the story you think will sell.”

Her new novel, First Frost, revisits the Waverly family from Garden Spells, her initial foray into magical realism. First Frost will be released on Tuesday, Jan. 20. Read the full story here.

Ron Rash on writing

Ron Rash on writing

I recently published an article on the film The World Made Straight, which was adapted from the Ron Rash novel of the same name. The article is about how the film was shot in the areas of Western North Carolina where the book was set. You can read about it here.

In the process of writing the story, I got to interview Rash, who is a literary hero of mine. I’ve curated his quotes that, as a writer, I found inspiring. So, in his own words, Ron Rash on technique, process, inspiration and continuation:

“Whenever I write a novel that’s set in the past, I always order a Sears Roebuck catalog from that year. That’s such an amazing source because if you have a question about what kind of candy would a kid buy in a  store in 1929, or what kind of hat would a woman wear, all sorts of small details — it’s those sorts of small details that make a story feel true.”

“I never outline, I never plot. I just kind of go with it. If  surprise myself, I think the reader is probably going to be surprised.”

“The more I write, the more mysterious it is. I don’t know where the stories come from. Obviously, sometimes I’ve done research in a particular area, or I’m interested in something. But ultimately the characters and the voices — I don’t know how it happens, I’m just glad when it does.”

“I do think I come to care about [my characters]. The World Made Straight is a novel where a lot of bad things happen, but I also think it’s a book about redemption.”

“I usually do 14 to 16 drafts of every book. Those drafts are very intense. I’m finishing up one now, and I’m looking purely at the language, to the point where one syllable or vowel or consonant rubs up against another. When the book reads well, and people [say] it’s really smooth, that’s when the writer’s spent a lot of time making sure there aren’t those jarring moment. Those sentences that go too long or [too many] hard syllables in a row. Those things, to me, are where there magic comes from.”

“When you write fiction, you’re doing your best to make it as accurate as possible, but you’re not going to get everything right. I can’t know about everything. So you do your best. The other thing that happens occasionally is I’ll very deliberately change something geographically because I need it to be truer to the book. Ultimately it is fiction.”

“I’m not a cynical writer. I put my characters in tough situations, but very often they’re admirable and they do the best they can.”

“It will always be about sitting down and getting the next sentence right.”