I'm recovering from the weird, weird world of Salem MA after attending the literary festival last weekend. I'm surprised there aren't thousands of novels set in that town. Interesting characters haunt every corner. History and tragedy and cheesy tourism come together in a rich slurry. It reminds me a tiny bit of New Orleans, though I'm sure I'd get a lot of flack from either set of locals about that.
I can't imagine actually being one of those locals, or spending enough time there to use it as a primary setting.
But it could be a place where one of my characters goes for the day and encounters...
I'm particularly excited to read Katherine Howe's debut novel (The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane), which I picked up after hearing her talk as part of a panel on creating strong female characters. Katherine is an intriguing, articulate, and informed presenter which makes me think her writing should be similarly compelling. The book centers around a figure from the Salem witch trials which is sure to be fascinating. It was a New York Times best seller, and received great reviews from many sources.
Last night Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog (an Oprah Book Club pick) gave a reading and Q&A session here in Newburyport.
I love this town.
The charming Andre is a local who grew up in nearby Haverhill, and is pitching his new memoir Townie.
Instead of reading from the new book, Andre shared passages from his work in progress; a set of 4 novellas which he claims will not be marketable. (We'll see about that, with Oprah in his his contact list.)
He spoke to the audience about the process of writing, and the need to seek for the truth of the story despite an author's preconceptions.
A difficult task.
We want to write what we WANT to write, not what the story wants us to put down. And sometimes tales take us places we don't intend to go.
The Newburyport Public Library hosted this great event. I'm grateful to them. Guess I'd better join the Friends. And so should you.