Books Genre Historical fiction Publishing


I cannot believe it’s the middle of May. My friends: what happened to this spring? I mean, I know what happened — my book came out, I traveled around a bit, I wrote another giant dissertation chapter, I started the next novel (just a wee bit), I started yet another dissertation chapter. But despite all those very good reasons for busy-ness I still feel like this semester has just gone FWOOSH.

Here are some things I learned this spring, in no particular order:

Thing 1: Sarah Waters is brilliant. I knew this; I love her faux-Victorian novels, though I was slightly less enthused about The Night Watch. But The Little Stranger impressed the hell out of me. It’s so cleverly managed and yet reads in so natural a way that the trappings of the haunted house plot seem realistic and psychologically appropriate. This interview with Waters, from last May, is worth watching, and she’s also got a short piece on Angela Carter, here. Every time I read an interview with her or one of her essays about writing I get even more fangirly. I totally want to buy her coffee and talk about pacing.

The Little Stranger was one of the books on my new year’s resolution list — so far, I’ve also read Emma Donoghue’s The Sealed Letter and The Woman in White. You can see brief responses to those books on my Goodreads account, if you’re curious. The Little Stranger was definitely my favorite of these, though I was startled by how much I loved the first two-thirds of The Woman in White (the last third is bit draggy, in my opinion). The Sealed Letter I found readable and interesting but oddly unenchanting; I felt compelled to finish it, but when I was done, my reaction was mostly: “Huh.” Even though it suits my genre interests and contains a lot of things I like. Not sure why that was.

Thing 2: Job interviews for a job you really want to do can be fun. I had a couple, and I actually enjoyed them (even the one that got extended by a day by a snowstorm). The academic job market isn’t at its best right now, and the process of waiting to hear about interviews and offers and all that is always going to be frustrating, but the conversations themselves were entertaining and even MLA wasn’t too stressful.

Thing 3: Doing promo for a book is shockingly time-consuming, especially when you’ve never done it before. It offers far too many ways to procrastinate on other work, too. And, like job interviews, promo can actually be pretty fun, especially when you have the chance to talk to individual readers about your book. (Or even to spy on individual readers, via, for example, Goodreads.)

Thing 4: Apparently my fondness for watching L&O reruns at the gym places me in a recognizable demographic. Note the mention of UT.

Thing 5: It can be a pain to apply for fellowships, jobs, grants, etc., but it’s worth it. (More on this soon.)

Did you learn anything useful or entertaining this spring?

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