In October 2009 I was fortunate to meet, very briefly, one of the smartest and prolific authors of my time, Francine Prose.Â She was in town to talk about her latest book, Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife.Â The format for her visit, she said, was different from her other stops to talk about it.Â She would discuss the book and research for it, read some passages, and then take questions.Â Honestly, itÂ felt like a master class to me and I envied her students.
Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife is not the book she originally set out to write at all.Â Prose wanted to write a novel with a teenager as the main character and what better source could there be but Anne Frank? (I’ve had Prose’s Reading Like A Writer on my TBRÂ pile for years but I promise this is the year I will read it!)Â From there she got so caught up in Anne Frank as a writer that she wrote a different book altogether.Â Many multiple published authors believe if you want to write well that it’s good to know why or how other writersÂ were able to pull off an idea or theme successfully.
The last week or so I’ve been taking mental notes on Kate Atkinson’s One Good Turn. I know this will not be my first reading of it.Â Back in November 2006 I wrote over 15,000 words of a novel originally titled Untitled 2006 for lack of a better name.Â As always, I thought an appropriate title would spring up along the way.Â In One Good TurnÂ Atkinson has one event happen seen from multiple points of view and then slowly all the people who witnessed the event are tied together.Â They’re strangers so they don’t know they’re connected.Â In Untitled 2006 I had one event happen and then began writing a chapter about each key person who witnessed or was part of the event but overlooked the extraordinary thing about it.Â But I ran out of steam after a whileÂ mainly becauseÂ I didn’t know what that extraordinary thing was.Â After several years I still don’t know but that doesn’t mean the day won’t come when I will have that answer.