In The New York Times, Alexandra Alternov writes about a new breed of poet: Tyler Knott Gregson, a web poet whose found success with his viral verse: “Seven years ago, Mr. Gregson, 34, was scraping by as a freelance copywriter, churning out descriptions of exercise equipment, hair products and medical imaging devices. Now, thanks to his 560,000 Instagram and Tumblr followers, he has become the literary equivalent of a unicorn: a best-selling celebrity poet.” Check out the unheard-of-before success of his first book of poetry, Chasers of Light, here.
Lit mags, so I am learning, have been on Twitter for quite a while, offering the latest submissions and publication info, as well as links to their essays, stories, poems, and interviews. Here’s a small sampling:
The Black Warrior Review
The Iowa Review
The Kenyon Review
The Normal School
Jonathan Mahler’s New York Times‘ article, “The Invisible Hand Behind Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,'” offers a glimpse into the interdependent process of creating a masterpiece.
“In the spring of 1957,” Mahler writes, “a 31-year-old aspiring novelist named Harper Lee — everyone called her Nelle — delivered the manuscript for “Go Set a Watchman” to her agent [Tay Hohoff] [but] the manuscript was by no means fit for publication. It was [. . .] ‘more a series of anecdotes than a fully conceived novel.’ During the next couple of years, she led Ms. Lee from one draft to the next until the book finally achieved its finished form and was retitled ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’”
Read the article here.
And for kicks, check out this wonderful interview with Harper Lee.
What is young adult fiction? Is it all fantasy and romance? How fast is it selling? Who’s buying it?
CBS news reported last December, “With sales up 24 percent, the fastest-growing market for publishers are young adult books. Long given less attention by big publishers, these books are suddenly bigger than ever, as young adult literature has become more popular among adults.”
You might be thinking of Harry Potter or Twilight, but realistic fiction for young adults has also grown in popularity, and this has caused a rash of articles questioning the merits of adults reading YA (“Against YA,” Slate), the differences in the YA and adult fiction, the best examples of realistic YA writing, and if YA dives as deep as adult fiction (“Of Course YA Books Can Be Complex” and “The Adult Lessons of YA Fiction,” both from The Atlantic).
Imagine you write a novel, your first, it gets published, is modestly received, and your life goes on, really, as though nothing has changed . . . and then you get a call from Japan. Your book has won three prestigious awards there and you’re somehow a big deal. Konnichiwa, Japan!
This happened to debut novelist David Gordon when his novel The Serialist went big in Japan. He tells the amazing story of what happened in The New York Times.
He’s asked to go to Japan for the premiere of the movie adapted from his book (now called “Niryuu Shousetsuka” or the “Second-Rate Novelist.” Guided by handlers and booked into a hotel suite James Bond might occupy, he meets the director, the stars of the movie, and his adoring public. He’s trapped by his language, alone on the other side of the world, living a surreal dream of the recognized artist all before he’s rushed back home to his tiny apartment, his friends, and his normal life.
Below is an excerpt of Gordon’s article, “Big in Japan.” I hope he pens his Japan story into a novel. I’d read it and then go see the movie (Zach Galifianakis could play the title role).
In a daze, I was paraded before the press, blinded by flashbulbs and tracked by TV cameras. But because I couldn’t understand the directions, I often talked to the wrong camera, stared into space or even leaned on the scenery — until my intrepid and glamorous young translator told the reporters to wave if they wanted David-san to look at their cameras, like a baby at a birthday party. I watched the film with her whispering in my ear: “He is the detective.” It was as if I had fallen asleep and had a weird dream about my own book. At the end, when the lights came up and I stood to leave, she tapped my shoulder and pointed. The audience was clapping wildly. For me. I took a few deep bows and fled.
Imagine if your dad once made editorial suggestions to Flannery O’Connor.
Novelist Elizabeth Stuckey-French claims this in her blog post, “My First Editorial Confab.” Elizabeth teaches at Florida State University. Her most recent work is The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady, a comedy about a whacked-out 77-year-old woman set on murdering the doctor who poisoned her with a government-issued radioactive cocktail.
I did not learn of Elizabeth’s literary heritage until I happened upon her post on the literary blog, The Quivering Pen. Her essay was part of a series on that blog entitled “My First Time,” in which writers talk about their first experiences with things like having a story published, signing a book deal, earning money from writing, etc. Elizabeth writes about working with an editor and realizing that the biggest illusion of a good story is that it appears “to be effortlessly formed, springing right out of the ether like a gift from a benevolent goddess.”
My First Editorial Confab
Before my father died, he told me an amazing story. When he was younger he’d been a student of the novelist Caroline Gordon, and as the years went by he and Ms. Gordon became good friends. When I was a child, she was hired as a visiting writer at Purdue, where my father also taught in the English Department. (She was a frosty woman who disliked children, so she’ll always be Ms. Gordon to me, even though my father named me after her—my middle name is Caroline.) While Ms. Gordon was at Purdue, another of Ms. Gordon’s mentees, Flannery O’Conner, living in Milledgeville, Georgia, was revising her short story “Revelation,” and had sent a copy to Ms. Gordon to be critiqued. She was an amazingly generous and helpful reader, and her letters to Flannery contain some of the most useful bits of advice about fiction writing I’ve ever read.
Ms. Gordon showed my father Flannery’s story “Revelation” and asked him to read it and offer some suggestions to Flannery, which he did. And, he informed me, after the story was published he noticed that Flannery had taken his suggestion and changed some of her wording and used his!
(read the rest at The Quivering Pen)
To answer that question, a number of literary agents have contributed their ideas to a tumbler wish list of books they would like to see. Most of their ideas are for novels, though some agents mention memoir and non-fiction. If you have a book, one you are working on, or a book you are about to embark on, the list will interest you. There are some generic wishes, but many are specific. Some maybe even surprising. Here are some examples:
I like YA contemporary with a lot of pathos. I want MCs with big adult-sized problems that they’ve got to figure out on their own.
Also, I’d love a mystery/thriller/horror with a strong anti-hero. Think Dexter or Lost
A touching, heartwarming mother/daughter story with a fresh hook. And a side of tissues.
YA contemp. w/ unique hook (less “coming of age because of life” & more “no choice but to come of age because THIS HAPPENS”).
In their wish list, some agents mention stories they don’t want–because they probably get them all the time. Follow the link, and at the bottom, click the next arrow. There’s quite a few posts.