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The Secret Library Podcast

The truth about writing books. By speaking to authors and other book lovers, I'm diving into the mystery that is the book world today. From writing to editing to publishing and all that goes into the creation of a book – all of it is open for discussion on the show.
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Now displaying: July, 2018
Jul 26, 2018

Donal Ryan is the best argument for staying hopeful about writing.

In this conversation, we discuss how Donal Ryan stayed optimistic as his first few books were rejected nearly 50 times before he broke in to get one published.

Once he did, he was long listed for the Booker Prize.

We have all heard these stories: of Stephen King impaling rejection letters on a nail driven into the wall by his desk, and writers who just kept sending in their work dozens – and sometimes hundreds– of times.

While these stories are meant to motivate, they rarely explore the heartbreak that is experienced along the way. In this conversation, Donal Ryan shares what kept him going, as well as his thoughts on structure and craft related to his latest book, From a Low and Quiet Sea.

Spoiler Alert: it's a knockout. You won't want to miss this episode! I predict repeat listening...

Jul 26, 2018

Donal Ryan is the best argument for staying hopeful about writing.

In this conversation, we discuss how Donal Ryan stayed optimistic as his first few books were rejected nearly 50 times before he broke in to get one published.

Once he did, he was long listed for the Booker Prize.

We have all heard these stories: of Stephen King impaling rejection letters on a nail driven into the wall by his desk, and writers who just kept sending in their work dozens – and sometimes hundreds– of times.

While these stories are meant to motivate, they rarely explore the heartbreak that is experienced along the way. In this conversation, Donal Ryan shares what kept him going, as well as his thoughts on structure and craft related to his latest book, From a Low and Quiet Sea.

Spoiler Alert: it's a knockout. You won't want to miss this episode! I predict repeat listening...

Jul 19, 2018
How I love speaking to writers who also teach writing!
 
Lucy Tan is that delightful hybrid: a novelist who also knows how to speak about the process of writing so clearly you can follow along in her footsteps. She is so smart, both in her writing and her advice about how to get it done.
 
Lucy began her novel, What We Were Promised, inside the safety of her MFA program, and was relieved to be protected from thinking about agents, publishing, and the outside world as she spent time on what was most important: learning how to finish the book and get it how she wanted it to be.
 
In this episode, we get to follow along in the path that she took to find the story that is the novel today. Learn how a personal experience formed a kernel for one of the main characters of her book, why she chose to use multiple points of view, and which parts of her novel were the most challenging to write. It's a thought-provoking episode that dives into culture, memory, and where stories come from. I know you will love it as much as we loved creating it for you. Enjoy!
Jul 17, 2018

We're going steady on a podcast! 

So... we've had Mary-Laura Philpott (or MLP as we like to call her around here) on recommending books seasonally for the past few seasons and we decided it was time to give her a bonus episode slot. We know you are all busy and want a quick listen, so here it is!

All your July reading recommendations in one convenient in-between-isode. That's a word now - I just decided. Also coming this week: the video version! We know you want to see the covers.

Full show notes with links to the books we discussed here.

Jul 12, 2018

Sometimes the line between memoir and novel is thinner than others.

Keith Gessen came on the show this week to discuss his latest novel, A Terrible Country. Drawing on his own experience caring for his grandmother in Russia after graduating from college, Keith originally set out to write a much bigger book than the one he ended up with. He had fantasies of covering aspects of Russian culture in between the narrative sections, and coming up with – essentially – the Russian equivalent of A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth.

He won a fellowship to work out of the New York Public Library and had access to every book in the system and wrote with this vision of a large book in mind for the year he was in residence there.

And then he sat down and read the result and was horrified to find that it bored him. In our conversation, we discuss how he pared it down into the final manuscript and the things that scared him along the way to a final novel. Keith is very open about his experience in a way that will make everyone listening remember that, even though you write a novel by yourself, you aren't alone in how scary it can feel to do it. This will be a great comfort if you feel any doubt about reaching the end. Let Keith be the voice from the light at the end of the tunnel.

Jul 5, 2018

The best books don't center around perfect characters doing easy things.

I am so excited to share this week's episode as each of these conversations was so much fun to record. Edan has been on the show before, but I wanted to have her back to talk about her love of writing difficult characters within the framework of her latest novel, Woman No. 17. Edan delights in creating tension by revealing her character's flaws for the reader's view and puts these characters in situations sure to highlight these flaws and bring them to a head. So many books create tension through plot and action, but the suspense in Edan's books is just as much about pushing flawed characters to their edge, all the while leaving us asking "Oh my god, what will they do now??"

Jim Butcher has written so many novels that I wouldn't be shocked to learn that he doesn't sleep at all. He admitted that he has trouble keeping track of the exact details of former books after having revised them numerous times, so he relies on his fanbase Wiki to keep track, a detail I found both charming and extremely practical. In addition, we dove into the beauty of throwing your characters into sticky situations and the necessity to write scenes so things go from bad to worse. This chat helped me feel much braver about putting my character into tough spots to see how she will navigate rocky territory.

I hope both these conversations inspire you to investigate the less savory corners of your story and take your books into riskier places. May we all send our characters down a dark alley, metaphorically, after taking both of these writers' advice!

Sponsored by the SLP Patreon | Show notes with links

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