Ian McEwan on the Novel

“The novel as a literary form was born out of the Enlightenment, out of curiosity about and respect for the individual. Its traditions impel it towards pluralism, openness, a sympathetic desire to inhabit the minds of others. There is no man, woman or child, on earth whose mind the novel cannot reconstruct. Totalitarian systems are…

II. Backstories: Creative Reimagining

Reimagining. That’s what we fiction writers do. We take the stuff of our lives and reimagine it as fictional people, places and stories. Often our places aren’t fictional, but even familiar places may need a writer’s creative touch.   In my novel Absolution, Maggie and Richard live in a Back Bay townhouse on Boston’s Marlboro Street, a very…

Are You Maggie?

I’ve been asked this question a number of times about the protagonist in my novel Absolution. I doubt this is an unusual question for fiction writers, especially when a major character shares the author’s gender, place and time. And it’s a question that can be asked in several ways, such as, how much of you…

V. Publishing a Novel: Self-Publishing

Once upon a time, they called this “vanity” publishing. The implication, of course, was that self-publishing was for people who weren’t particularly good writers but who were willing to pay to see their words in print.   Wow, have things changed! And that’s a really good thing. Amazon and the Internet have provided platforms for…

I. Publishing a Novel: The Value of an Agent

  The first time I submitted a novel manuscript to an agent, I received a phone call a few weeks later, and heard the thrilling words, “I would like to represent you.” Wow, I thought, I’m on my way! Except that I wasn’t. Although that manuscript received positive attention from several New York publishers, it…