Rohan Quine is the 11th author to participate in my interview series with independent authors of literary fiction. If you publish independently and wish to participate, please click through the image on the right column of the screen that reads “Call for Survey Respondents: Indie Authors of Literary Fiction”. If you wish to receive email notices when future interviews are published, click the link toward the bottom of this post, just above the bio.
Last week, I saw Bruce Springsteen in concert in Washington, DC. It was my third time at a Springsteen concert. My first time was in Syracuse, NY in 1992 (road trip from SUNY Binghamton). Then it was Los Angeles in 2009 (during a brief visit to my brother-in-law at the time).
One of my favorite Springsteen songs is a little-known tune called “New York City Serenade” that closes out his second album, The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle.
I’ve never known Springsteen to play the song live and I wasn’t quite sure, going into last week’s concert, why he should. It’s not, like, one of his greatest hits. I mean, you know “Rosalita” will make an appearance and “Spirit in the Night” will have everyone raising the roof.
But against all laws of probability, and with the kind of stunned good luck that might come from walking down the street and finding a dropped $100 bill at your feet, Springsteen opened last Thursday’s concert with “New York City Serenade”.
The first line? “Billy, he’s down by the railway tracks….”
I’m not saying the name of the protagonist from my novel, Billy Maddox Takes His Shot, was inspired by one of Springsteen’s characters. But I can’t say for sure that it WASN’T inspired by Springsteen either.
EJ Runyon doesn’t believe she could write genre fiction even if she tried. She has read and admired several authors of genre fiction but knows unequivocably that she is a writer of literary fiction.
She believes the most impactful parts of people’s lives, as written, are conveyed via literary fiction and, at least the way she writes, she believes that writing from the heart rather than from some carefully orchestrated outline or planning perspective, provides the writer the opportunity to find a great theme hidden in the story and bring it to life.
She also happens to be a sensory writer, taking issue with my question about images as the starting point of a story. “Any sense memory can include something you see, as well as something heard or a smell, or something tasted,” she explains.
It has been a while since I blogged. My interview series with authors of literary fiction is going strong thanks largely to the contributions of the many talented members of the Alliance of Independent Authors and other committed authors. Those interviews have done a good job of keeping my blog busy.
I have been planning a post nevertheless, which, when I publish it in the not-too-distant future, will share some interesting insights from the literary fiction survey I have conducted over the past few months with the above-mentioned authors.
Before then, though, I have to publish this post. And THIS post is born from the fact that I need to eat some humble pie.
When asked if she writes literary or commercial fiction, author Jane Davis leans toward commercial fiction for several reasons. For one thing, commercial sells relatively better than literary fiction and allows her to buy random items like food. She’s also slightly wary of claiming the same status as others writers such as Dickens and winners of the Booker Prize.
The author of six completed novels including, most recently, An Unknown Woman, which won Writing Magazine’s Self-Published Book of the Year Award, Davis does admit to sharing some of the same characteristics as literary writers. Davis writes slow and shudders at the idea of using word count as an effective measure of writing progress.
But, overall, she remains only slightly willing to admit her work is literary. Even if you DO write such fiction, an agent once told her, keep it as commercial as possible.
Sometimes literary fiction can be, simply, that body of writing that doesn’t fall anywhere else. At least that was the predicament faced by Catriona Troth, the eighth indie author in my literary fiction interview series, when she sought to place her novel, Ghost Town, for sale. Powerful language and the ability to deliver something deeper than a superficial plot are equally defining characteristics.
Timing, finally, can play a role in the genre of a story. Troth’s novel, set in 1981 in the British Midlands city of Coventry, doesn’t quite qualify as either historical or contemporary fiction.