Sunday, September 18, 2011

Reading this Week - Communism, Robert Harris and Too Much of My Own Writing!

I've wanted to write a new blog post at multiple points this week, but editing the manuscript for my forthcoming book on Winston Churchill's 'Iron Curtain' speech has me tied up. Not that it's a bad experience - it's quite liberating to receive edits and comments from a fresh set of eyes and someone whose job it is to edit. When you're too close to your own writing (as we all are), you don't see the repetition, the passive voice and the myriad other individual and persistent mistakes.

The key here is humility, and the realization that my editor and I want the same thing - a well-written, engaging story that people will want to read.

Anyway, all that aside, I've had the chance to read a couple of interesting things this week, that weren't composed by my own hand (amazing how un-interesting your own work becomes when you've read each word multiple times, believe me):

First was this wonderful interview with Robert Harris, conducted by Judith Woods over at The Daily Telegraph. In case you're not familiar with him, Harris is the author of all manner of wonderful historical fiction books, including Fatherland, The Ghost (which became the film The Ghost Writer, starring Pierce Brosnan and Ewan MacGregor) and Conspirata (the second part of his Rome trilogy, and a bargain at $6.40 on Amazon). I've bought everything he has created since my good friend, Mr. Jon Manley, lent me a copy of Fatherland more than 10 years ago.

In the interview, which he rarely consents to, Harris talks about his creative process, politics and the story behind his forthcoming book on the financial industry, The Fear Index (my lucky friends in the UK can get it several months before us poor buggers living stateside and yes, if anyone wants to send me a copy, I won't turn them down!). Harris combines historic authenticity with the page-turning suspense of a master novelist, and I'd love to sit down and talk writing with him over a pint of stout.

Other than that, I also read this wonderfully succinct and atmospheric piece on Prague’s Museum of Communism, written by another historical novelist, Thomas Mallon for The Atlantic. As my book has the specter of Communism as a backdrop, I'm always interested to learn what life was like in Eastern Europe before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and to discover what its legacy has been. I implore you to read Mr. Mallon's take. I'm looking forward to reading his forthcoming book, Watergate, in February.

OK, enough slacking. Back to my manuscript and a well-earned glass of Samuel Adams Octoberfest!

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