Wesley Brown knows dialogue and he knows jazz. His latest collection of stories, Dance of the Infidels, brings the two together and I learned so much from talking about music and writing with him. In addition, Wesley is Professor Emeritus at Rutgers University and teaches literature and creative writing at Bard College. He is the author of plays, fiction, and nonfiction so there is something here for every genre of writer.
As someone who has long struggled with bringing scenes to life with dialogue, that topic was of particular interest to me. If this is a tricky point for you, or if you struggle with hearing a character's voice come to life, this episode will help. We also hear about Wesley's current collection of stories and its fascinating concept. I am happy to be the new owner of a copy and I know everyone listening will want to read it as well.
This is immediately obvious when reading her first novel, Startup, out now and gracing more and more must-read lists every week. It's laugh out loud funny as well as a well-observed critique of the tech culture we follow as closely as celebrity news these days. Doree and I spoke about Startup on the show, as well as her experience in the tech world, her surprise at realizing she wanted to write a novel instead of a non-fiction book and much more. She's a smart cookie and I was thrilled to learn that she's already dreaming up more books so those who fall in love with Startup hopefully wont' have long to wait before we read more from her.
We also got into character, the ways it feels different to write fiction than journalism, writing a story from multiple character perspectives, and the blow by blow process of writing and selling Startup to a publisher. If you want to know what it's really like to sit down with an idea and turn it into a book, this is your episode.
Thanks to Autumn coming on the show, this doesn't have to be a terrifying process. Every writer who has come on the show has emphasized book contracts as something you need to understand before you sign. I don't know about you, but despite the fact that the majority of my friends are lawyers, I wouldn't feel comfortable reading and signing a contract without some help. Autumn speaks in simple language in this episode and clarifies all the areas you'd need to understand and the areas you need to consider before signing a contract.
In this day and age of eCourses, eBooks, and spin-off options for books, there is a lot more to a contract than just royalties and hardbacks and paperbacks. This is the beginning of a conversation you'll want to have with a lawyer yourself when it comes time to publish your book. This can apply as well if you're self-publishing as it's possible you will get picked up from there for print rights or if there is a movie in the offing, a la The Martian. I promise this episode is just as fun to listen to, even if the content is more practical. Autumn is delightful and very passionate about supporting authors. Get ready to feel a whole lot more confident when you sell that book one day. Hopefully, you can feel that day getting closer already.
She gets to the heart of the matter: why don't writers get paid like other professions? Why does everyone expect to read content for free or very little money these days? Why don't we value writing the same way we value other work? And why is making a decent living considered "selling out" in some arenas. Manjula has been exploring the topic of money and writing in numerous forums, from her blog "Who Pays Writers?" a collection of rates that writers can submit anonymously about writing jobs they have worked, to her anthology "Scratch" that collects thoughts from a who's who of today's writers on the topic.
This has been a taboo conversation for ages. People were expected to feel grateful to get their work published at all, whether or not they got money for it. But why is writing a career that is so undervalued? Manjula and I dive in to some of these topics and hopefully get you excited to read her book, which collects essays and pieces from both prominent and new writers on the topic of making money from the written word. It's a must-read and this episode is a must-listen if you want writing to be a career, rather than just a fun hobby.
This is just one of the many miraculous things about her. While the rest of us were running around like maniacs and freaking out, Jade started to see an idea come into form. What if a family lost everything in that crash? What would that look like? What if this character she had in her head was a self-made man who was crushed under the weight of what happened at that time? The answers to these and many other questions became The Wangs vs. The World, out in paperback this week and one of the most noteworthy books of last year.
I knew I had to speak to Jade after reading the book and laughing, feeling touched, amused, and heartbroken throughout reading it. It is a very special book for certain. So when I was lucky enough to meet her at a book event she led the q+a for, I grabbed the chance to invite her. I know I say all the episodes of the show are my favorite, but this one is absolutely my favorite as I share it with you. I had been dreaming about a discussion on character, and this one got so deeply into all of the aspects of character I find fascinating. I hope you all love Jade as much as I did. She's a wonder.