Tag Archives: Riverhead Books

BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert: Inspiration + Galley Giveaway

Posted by September 16th, 2015

Elizabeth Gilbert, the hugely popular author of the mega-bestseller Eat Pray Love and other literary fiction and memoir titles, is back this fall with an incredible new book about creativity. The new book is called BIG MAGIC: Creative Living Beyond Fear and we could *not* be more excited for it to go on sale next Tuesday, September 22.

BIG MAGIC cover

To celebrate BIG MAGIC, Book Country is giving away five galleys of the book. You can enter the galley giveaway here.

All summer, Elizabeth Gilbert has been stoking the conversation about creativity on her Facebook page with beautiful inspirational quotes (our favorites are below) and on her awesome podcast, Magic Lessons, which features writers like Ann Patchett, Rob Bell, Cheryl Strayed, and others offering advice for how to keep that creative fire burning. You’ll be itching to get back to your WIP after just one episode.

Click through each of these images to share them on your own Facebook wall.

5.18-Motivation-Monday Continue reading

Share Button

On My Way to the Heart of Wuthering Heights by Susan M. Wyler

Posted by April 30th, 2014

SOLSBURY HILL coverToday our blog guest is Riverhead author Susan M. Wyler, whose new book SOLSBURY HILL is one of the books I am most looking forward to reading this spring. She dove deep into Emily Brontë’s classic romance Wuthering Heights to extract a passionate, satisfying resolution to this story loved by millions.

***

It’s easy to imagine oneself the Creator when one seems to wring human beings and landscapes from mere pen and ink, but I wonder if writers aren’t tapping into something that already exists, like our dream world seems to exist. At any rate, that’s what writing for me has always been like. And when I began writing SOLSBURY HILL, when I sat down to that first empty page, Eleanor Abbott (the heroine of the novel) was already there, sitting in a Manhattan cafe sipping coffee. Continue reading

Share Button

In Another World: A Writing Residency in Antarctica with Jynne Martin

Posted by March 14th, 2014

I’ve been obsessed with Antarctica since I was a child: it represented a colossal, prismatic space of mystery and unanswered questions, the final wilderness on our planet, where men wearing ill-fitting reindeer skins took teams of sled dogs over glaciers for years at a time, through miserable conditions that are beyond imagination. So when I learned the National Science Foundation offered an Antarctica Artists and Writers Residency, I immediately applied. The NSF selects one or two artists or writers from any discipline – filmmaking, puppetry, painting, photography and poetry, to name just a few – to travel to Antarctica during the austral summer and embed with science teams.

The application process is rigorous, requiring extensive research about the existing science on the continent, permission from any field team that you propose to embed with, and justification of why your art requires a trip to Antarctica. I contacted four different field teams that work with Antarctic animals: from the largest animals, the seals, down to the smallest, the soil microbes. I wanted to spend weeks immersed in the vernacular of the scientists, and to better understand how these myriad animals had adapted to not just survive, but thrive, in the most strange and barren circumstances, and to write poetry and nonfiction about these experiences.

Jynne Martin Penguins

Jynne observes penguins in their natural habitat.

Continue reading

Share Button

Literary Author-Editor Collaboration: Riverhead’s Manuel Gonzales and Megan Lynch

Posted by February 27th, 2014

THE MINIATURE WIFE coverThis weekend, Megan Lynch, a senior editor at Riverhead Books, will be joining her author Manuel Gonzales at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Seattle. They’ll be there for “Celebrating 20 Years of Extraordinary Fiction from Riverhead Books,” an unmissable reading on Saturday afternoon at the conference (Find more details here). Manuel will be reading from his short story collection THE MINIATURE WIFE, which Megan edited.

***

LS: Why shouldn’t aspiring writers give up on the short story form or on the prospect of putting together their own short story collections?

Manuel Gonzales: The beauty of the short story is that everything has been done to the short story. It’s been turned into a shopping list, a set of twitter posts, a menu (Roxane Gay‘s “Contrapasso”), and a PowerPoint presentation. It’s been minimalized and maximalized; it can be as short as 500 or 100 words or as long as whatever Alice Munro wants to write and call a story. So there’s nothing you can’t do with the short story. As a writer, you’re free to do practically anything, can experiment or not, and there’s something exciting about all the possibilities open to you as a writer. But truthfully, if you write short stories, if you can’t help but write short stories, if that’s how narrative spills out of you–not as a poem or a novel or a script, but as a story–then that is reason enough not to give up on the form.

Megan Lynch: As a reader, I love short stories and always have. As an editor, their appeal is simple: they can be perfect in a way that even the most polished novel can’t touch. And getting to really perfect something in the editorial process is a true joy; plus it works different creative muscles than the kind of structural edit you might do on a novel. So I hope writers will absolutely continue to write brilliant short stories, but they should also be aware that not only can stories be perfect, they pretty much should be. I take on plenty of novels that need significant work, but can’t do that with stories. Continue reading

Share Button

Writing Prompts: Finding Inspiration with Manuel Gonzales

Posted by February 26th, 2014

the amazing story generator by manuel gonzalesMy own stories start—as most stories do, I’m  sure—with a voice, or an image, or a normal annoyance extrapolated into something severe and outlandish. Lately, though, I’ve found myself drawn to story starters, which I give to students as writing exercises. Most of these I’ve pulled from THE AMAZING STORY GENERATOR, a flip-book that offers three story elements with which to start a story. They’re often ridiculous and rarely produce workable stories. For example: 1) Upon winning the lottery, 2) a reformed hit man, 3) meets the ghost of Ernest Hemingway.

As ludicrous as the prompts might be, they make for good writing exercises, though, forcing the students to write something new every week and giving them constraints, which are good for writers. Whenever possible, I like to hem writers in with constraints.

I am refreshed, too, by the expansive variance that comes out of these exercises. It is less that no two stories are alike and more that there is such a wide gulf between each writer’s crack at the prompt that time and again my faith in the wicked, cruel, sorrowful, and hilarious minds of new writers is renewed. And every so often, a writer will tackle a prompt and something compelling—to the readers, but most importantly to the writer—will emerge and a true story will have been started. Continue reading

Share Button

For the Love of Friends: Author Interview with Memoirist Julie Klam

Posted by February 6th, 2014

Julie Klam author photoAuthor Julie Klam is well-known for writing about her love of dogs: not one but two of her books chronicle her experiences rescuing Boston terriers in New York City. However, Julie’s newest book, FRIENDKEEPING, explores her relationships with her friends, many of whom who are also writers. I went to her to find out more about how to support friends who write, and how to write memoir about those you love most.

LS: So, do you consider yourself a memoir writer? How is the memoir genre changing?

JK: I definitely consider myself a memoirist. Even when I’m not telling about an event in my life, I still manage to insert my big butt into whatever I’m writing. I think the genre has exploded in the past several years. People realize it’s a way to tell a personal story, but it doesn’t have to be a whole life. When I wrote my first memoir (PLEASE EXCUSE MY DAUGHTER) in 2008, a lot of people said, “Aren’t you a little young to write a memoir?” Now people seem to get it more. It’s not an autobiography, it’s a certain aspect of a life and can take place over one year or 30 years. Of course, no one thinks I’m too young to do anything anymore, because, you know, I’m old.

LS: You write about your loved ones with affectionate candor. How do they react? Continue reading

Share Button

Loving You: Writing in the Second Person by Mohsin Hamid

Posted by February 5th, 2014

Mohsin HamidWas there ever a more intimate way to narrate a novel than to use the second person? Riverhead Literary Fiction author Mohsin Hamid has written three award-winning novels in the second person, and all to great effect. Here he tells us why he loves using “you.” This post will inspire you to try “you” in your own writing, too.

**

I think I’ve always been drawn to the second person. When I was growing up and playing with my friends, the usual way we interacted with imaginary worlds was as characters: a bench was “your” boat, leaves on a lawn were the fins of sharks out to get “you.” Make-believe storytelling, which is to say fiction, wasn’t exclusively about being an observer—not for me, at least. There was this other strand as well, of being a participant.

As a nine-year-old in California, just before my family moved back to Pakistan, I encountered Dungeons & Dragons. That fantasy game was spellbinding for me. To understand the rules, you had to read books. But then you were free to create. It was collective imagining with a shared narrative. The Dungeon Master—a figure somewhere between an author and a referee—set in motion a tale that players spun together. It was as a DM, I’m pretty sure, that my proto-novelistic skills were first honed. Continue reading

Share Button

Behind the Scenes of a Literary Dystopia with Chang-rae Lee, Author of ON SUCH A FULL SEA

Posted by November 21st, 2013

 Chang-rae Lee (c) Annika LeeAward-winning Riverhead Books author Chang-rae Lee took the time to answer a few behind-the-scenes question for us about his new literary dystopia, ON SUCH A FULL SEA, which comes out in January 2014.

Lucy: The titles of your books (NATIVE SPEAKER, THE SURRENDERED, ALOFT) are easy to remember, but also poetic, evocative. Tell us how you choose titles in general, and how this title was chosen.

Chang-rae Lee: Choosing a title is rarely easy. I start thinking about possible titles early on in the writing, testing out candidates as I go along, for meaning and a certain ‘music’ – both have to feel right. ON SUCH A FULL SEA was especially difficult, and came quite late in the process. I happened to be reading JULIUS CAESAR by Shakespeare and came across the phrase in a famous quote by Brutus, in which he advocates via metaphor the seizing of an opportunity. I simply liked the ring of it, too, immediately picturing my heroine on the ‘tide’ of her adventure, and so leaped on it. Continue reading

Share Button

What Could Have Been: Re-writing History with Jillian Cantor, author of MARGOT

Posted by October 2nd, 2013

MARGOT, a recent Riverhead book by Jillian Cantor, is a historical re-imagining of the life of Margot Frank, the older sister to the world-famous diarist, Anne Frank. Although the sisters died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during the Holocaust, in Cantor’s MARGOT, the elder Frank sister escapes the Nazis and begins a new life in America. No one knows her past and she plans to keep it that way — until the movie version of “The Diary of Anne Frank” debuts in theatres and Margot must confront what she thought she left behind.

Margot cover“Writers of historical fiction worry about getting the facts right, especially when they are writing about real life figures,” Brandi said to me during a conversation we had about this book. “What struck me about Jillian Cantor’s book is how she was able to use historical fiction ” to carve out a world that I wish could have been reality.”

As writers, what’s the takeaway from a book like MARGOT, besides, of course, a compelling read from a young breakout author? For us at Book Country, it serves as an inspiring example of the power of historical fiction: “You can’t change the past,” Brandi says. “But as a writer, you can.” Margot’s fictional experiences as an immigrant to the US also underscore the value of writing a well-known history from a creative angle, which allows a writer to accomplish much more than a straight retelling–it’s also “a retort” to what we think we already know.

In the following essay, Cantor explains why she felt pulled to write about Margot, and the greater themes she was able to write about using Margot as her main character.

Continue reading

Share Button