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Jo Nesbø (b. March 29): “It’s impossible to write anything without being political.”

29 Mar

Jo Nesbø, born 29 March 1960, is an Edgar Award nominated Norwegian author and musician. He is well-known for his crime novels featuring Inspector Harry Hole. He is also the vocalist and songwriter for the Norwegian rock band Di Derre.

Writing quotes:

  1. I read. And I read. I basically put off writing as long as I could, that was until I was 37. Then I started writing like a madman.
  2. For me, the best places to write are on planes, trains and at airports. I’m really happy when I’m waiting for a plane and the message comes that it’s three hours late. Great, I’ll get to write!
  3. Music for me is more like releasing tension, I don’t really have a method. Writing is about dreaming things up, using your imagination and instantly knowing whether you’re onto something. Writing music has taken the back seat to writing fiction now.
  4. It’s impossible to write anything without being political. You have to make political choices in description. You make choices about what to write and what not to write and those choices are bound to be political. But I see myself as an entertainer. I don’t start with a political agenda. I start with something human, whether evil, love, hate. I’m a vulture. I will use anything to drive the story forward.

Jonathan Ames (b. March 23): “I don’t know what’s more difficult, life or the English language.”

23 Mar

Jonathan Ames, born 23 March 1964, is an American author of novels and comic memoirs, which include Wake Up, Sir! And The Extra Man. He was also a columnist for the New York Press. He created the HBO television series Bored to Death.

Quotes on writing:

  1. I don’t know what’s more difficult, life or the English language.
  2. A lot of writing is a form of seeing – putting down what you see in terms of action and landscape.
  3. People don’t expect too much from literature. They just want to know they’re not alone with being confused.
  4. A lot of writers, probably because they’re sensitive and that makes them want to be writers, have fears about their masculinity, so they overcompensate by having an interest in boxing and tough-guy things.
  5. When I was in college, I had the good fortune to have Joyce Carol Oates as my writing teacher. She told me that I could take an aspect of myself, and from that one bit of personality, I can create a character. This is what I have done, particularly in my novels.

Richard Condon (b. March 18): “Writers are too self-centered to be lonely.”

18 Mar

Richard Condon (born 18 March 1915, died 9 April 1996) was a prolific and popular American political novelist whose satiric works were generally presented in the form of thrillers or semi-thrillers, including Prizzi’s Honor and The Manchurian Candidate.

Five quotes on writing:

  1. Writers are too self-centered to be lonely.
  2. I’m a man of the marketplace as well as an artist. I’m a pawnbroker of myth.
  3. Amateur psychiatric prognosis can be fascinating when there’s absolutely nothing else to do.
  4. I think the most important part of storytelling is tension. It’s the constant tension of suspense that in a sense mirrors life, because nobody knows what’s going to happen three hours from now.
  5. Although the paranoiacs make the great leaders, it’s the resenters who make their best instruments because the resenters, those men with cancer of the psyche, make the great assassins.

Alice Hoffman (b. March 16): “Books may well be the only true magic.”

16 Mar

Alice Hoffman, born 16 March 1952, is an American novelist best known for her novel Practical Magic, which was adapted for a film of the same name. Many of her works fall into the genre of magic realism.

Quotes on writing:

  1. Books may well be the only true magic.
  2. No one knows how to write a novel until it’s been written.
  3. You can’t dispute the ridiculous. You can’t argue reasonably with evil.
  4. I think love is a huge factor in fiction and in real life. Is there a risk? Always. In fiction and in life.
  5. That is the joy of reading fiction: when all is said and done, the novel belongs to the reader and his or her imagination.
  6. After a while, the characters I’m writing begin to feel real to me. That’s when I know I’m heading in the right direction.
  7. I’ve been a screenwriter for twenty-five years. Every one of my books have been optioned for movies and I have written a few of those screenplays.
  8. All the characters in my books are imagined, but all have a bit of who I am in them – much like the characters in your dreams are all formed by who you are.
  9. The original fairy tale was about the youngest sister going into a room in the castle and finding all the bodies of the wives that came before her – she is confronted with truth, thinking about how often we think we know people and we really don’t.
  10. My theory is that everyone, at one time or another, has been at the fringe of society in some way: an outcast in high school, a stranger in a foreign country, the best at something, the worst at something, the one who’s different. Being an outsider is the one thing we all have in common.


Ralph Ellison (b. March 1st): “Writing requires plunging back into the shadow of the past…”

1 Mar


“The act of writing requires a constant plunging back into the shadow of the past where time hovers ghostlike.”

~ Ralph Ellison, b. 1 March 1914


Elizabeth George (b. February 26): “I have to know the killer…”

26 Feb

Elizabeth George, born 26 February 1949, is an American author of mystery novels set in Great Britain. 11 of her novels have been adapted for television by the BBC as The Inspector Lynley Mysteries.

Quotes on writing:

  1. It is the job of the novelist to touch the reader.
  2. I wish that I’d known back then that a mastery of process would lead to a product. Then I probably wouldn’t have found it so frightening to write.
  3. I find it both fascinating and disconcerting when I discover yet another person who believes that writing can’t be taught. Frankly, I don’t understand this point of view.
  4. I have to know the killer, the victim and the motive when I begin. Then I start to create the characters and see how the novel takes shape based on what these people are like.
  5. Essentially and most simply put, plot is what the characters do to deal with the situation they’re in. It’s a logical sequence of events that grow from an initial incident that alters the status quo of the characters.
  6. Plotting is difficult for me, and always has been. I do that before I actually start writing, but I always do characters, and the arc of the story, first… You can’t do anything without a story arc. Where is it going to begin, where will it end.
  7. Lots of people want to have written; they don’t want to write. In other words, they want to see their name on the front cover of a book and their grinning picture on the back. But this is what comes at the end of a job, not at the beginning.

Richard North Patterson (b. February 22): “There’s a wonderful freedom to being a novelist.”

22 Feb


Richard North Patterson, born 22 February 1947, is an American best-selling fiction writer of 22 novels. Before he wrote full time, he studied creative writing at the University of Alabama. He was also a lawyer. He served as Ohio’s Assistant Attorney General, a Watergate prosecutor, and as an attorney for the Securities and Exchange Commission. His first novel, The Lasko Tangent, won an Edgar Allen Poe Award in 1979.

10 quotes on writing:

  1. The business of writing is empathizing with situations that aren’t your own.
  2. Writing seems like the only job where what you think and feel really matters.
  3. I was 29 when I wrote my first novel. But I was 45 when I quit for good. I was a 16-year overnight success.
  4. There is a wonderful freedom to being a novelist – it’s self-assigned work. For someone who’s curious by nature, it’s a perfect job.
  5. The manuscript you submit [should not] contain any flaws that you can identify – it is up to the writer to do the work, rather than counting on some stranger in Manhattan to do it for him.
  6. Writing is re-writing. A writer must learn to deepen characters, trim writing, intensify scenes. To fall in love with the first draft where one cannot change it is to greatly enhance the prospect of never publishing.
  7. Trial lawyers have to be story tellers. They have to arrange complex facts in attractive narratives; grasp character; understand judges, juries, make clients appealing, understandable. They do have a lot of stories to tell – vivid and interesting things to talk about.
  8. Write what you care about and understand. Writers should never try to outguess the marketplace in search of a saleable idea; the simple truth is that all good books will eventually find a publisher if the writer tries hard enough, and a central secret to writing a good book is to write one that people like you will enjoy.
  9. Monday through Friday, I get up at five, read The New York Times and begin writing by seven. I work with an outline of the chapter or scenes from each day and typically finish with original writing by noon. Throughout the afternoon my assistant and I work the draft over until it’s as good as it can be. Typically we’re not happy until late afternoon.
  10. The writer must always leave room for the characters to grow and change. If you move your characters from plot point to plot point, like painting by the numbers, they often remain stick figures. They will never take on a life of their own. The most exciting thing is when you find a character doing something surprising or unplanned. Like a character saying to me: “Hey, Richard, you may think I work for you, but I don’t. I’m my own person.”


Anais Nin (b. February 21): “If you don’t cry out or sing, then don’t write.”

21 Feb


“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.”

~ Anais Nin, b. 21 February 1903


Toni Morrison (b. February 18): “The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self… is the test of their power.”

18 Feb


“The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power.”  

~ Toni Morrison, b. 18 February 1931


Carl Bernstein (b. February 14): “Weird, stupid and coarse are becoming cultural norms…”

14 Feb


“For the first time, the weird and the stupid and the coarse are becoming our cultural norms, even our cultural ideal.”

~ Carl Bernstein, b. 14 February 1944


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