Thursday, April 29, 2010

Caleb J. Ross, On Reading

"The question authors fear, 'Where do you get your ideas?' for me, is answered easily: other books.

Many, if not most, of my ideas for stories and novels come by way of other books. A particular idea or even something as finite as a sentence that I feel the author doesn’t fully explore, I’ll nab and explore on my own. Example: while reading Steve Erickson’s The Sea Came in at Midnight, I fell into a passage about a lone tombstone that, for some reason, attracted the attention of the protagonist. The actual reason for the attraction was never fully explored. To me, the draw is perfect story fodder. Currently, I’m working on a piece about a tombstone that has a similar, though explicit, draw to a group of neighborhood teenagers. For Erickson, this concept was a simple one or two paragraph mention. For me, it will be an entire story.

Reading late at night, when wake and sleep start to overlap, works well for this. When tired enough, a paragraph about a husband searching through want ads for a job can feel more like my unpublished novel, I Didn’t Mean to Be Kevin, in which a mother plants want-ads in hopes of convincing her runaway son to return home.

I read for theft, I suppose."

{Caleb J. Ross is the author of Charactered Pieces: stories (OW Press). His writing has appeared in Pear Noir!, Bust Down The Door And Eat All The Chickens, 3:AM Magazine, and elsewhere. Visit his website here.}

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