Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Morning Reading: Stories of How Writers Get Started

Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters, hosts this blog: 1st Books: Stories of How Writers Get Started.

It's an inspiring mix of interview, profile and bits and pieces of what she discovers in her reading - and it's also habit forming.

This week she profiles first time author Valerie Laken whose debut novel is Dream House.


Stories emerge when people make mistakes, when they make bad choices or get tangled up in somebody else’s bad choice. The drunk who sideswipes you in a parking lot goes home (or to jail) with a story to tell, and he gives one to you too. Go about your business doing everything right, surrounded by others who do everything right, and you’ll go home happy but without too much to tell.

In the winter of 1996, I made one hell of a mistake. I fell in love with a terrible old house, a dump by any sane person’s standards, and I talked my innocent husband into buying it. We had foolishly watched too many episodes of This Old House, and I convinced myself that really, it wouldn’t be too hard to work, go to grad school, and in our free time completely gut and remodel this place with our bare hands. My husband, who had worked as a carpenter in the past, knew better.

What he didn’t know, what neither of us knew, was that the home had once been the site of a homicide. This nugget of information didn’t make its way to us until two weeks after we’d moved in. A neighbor came over to ask if he could put his old couch on the giant pile of garbage we were collecting at the foot of our driveway, and he mentioned the murder in passing, with a devious glint in his eyes.

For the rest, click here.

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