Reading a novel in which all characters illustrate patience, hard work, chastity, and delayed gratification could be a pretty dull experience.
There is no place so benighted and godforsaken that some moron won't go there on vacation. People could be living in an open sewer and swallowing dirt to stop the hunger, and there'd be a couple from Larchmont wearing comfortable shoes there to take pictures of them.
I don't consciously do anything to maintain a unique voice.
Being comfortable isn't the way to learn to expand your abilities.
I held a variety of jobs - most notably ten years working in universities - and kept on writing.
If I don't have a project going, I sit down and begin to write something - a character sketch, a monologue, a description of some sight, or even just a list of ideas.
If you'll think about various series you've read, can you think of any instance in which, say, the tenth volume of the series is notably better than the first nine? I can't.
It's important, I think, for a writer of fiction to maintain an awareness of the pace and shape of the book as he's writing it. That is, he should be making an object, not chattering.
Once you have invented a character with three dimensions and a voice, you begin to realize that some of the things you'd like him to do to further your plot are things that such a person wouldn't, or couldn't, do.
The characters you refer to as predatory and unsavory are useful. They're the ones who make a novel into a thriller. They're active, and most of the common virtues, the signs of a good person, are not.
What I look for in any character, good or bad, is whether I can hear him speak. If I can imagine him that clearly, then I can write about him.
When I write a book, I'm making it the best book I can.
Yes, in my books I do edit myself to keep from becoming the Village Explainer.
Tod Goldberg has long been one of the most interesting writers around, and Gangsterland is his biggest and best book so far.
I had been writing fiction since I was in eighth grade, because I loved it.
I don't think the problem is that people don't read enough mystery books, but that people don't read.
You have very accurately described the difficulty of presenting my books on film: many of my characters are alone most of the time, and when they do talk, what they say is mostly lies. That can make for a pretty confusing film.
But at the same time, the commonplace statement about them is true: every character is the hero of his own story. Each has a justification for his actions that is convincing to him. It's fun to give these people voices.
All writers are mimics, and I'm not interested in picking up somebody else's style or voice.
Contrary to what many writers imply about the process, nobody forces a writer to sell his work to the film industry.
I do try not to spend much time reading in the suspense genre.
I do want to write about Jane Whitefield again, but only when I have a good enough idea - something I've figured out about her that's news and that's worth a reader's time.
I do like to explore evil characters in my books.
There are days when I intentionally don't write. For instance, I never write when I'm traveling, because travel is a situation where I can learn more by looking and listening than by working.
I do have to earn a living, so I'm conscious of probable reactions from readers, but the most important one is still the awareness that if I'm not enjoying a story, the reader won't either.
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