In part one of my interview with A.R. Williams here at Call of the Siren, she discussed the background of her splendid dystopian novel “The Camellia Resistance.”
But something else happened in the process. She provided two interviews: one about her novel and one about the craft of writing. As all of you consider your own projects, you may find Williams’ perspectives in(con)structive, too. What is her best insight on the craft of writing? For me, it’s this line:
You have to want the story itself, not the outcomes.
That’s a point that’s so easy, in the frenetic publishing marketplace, to forget.
There’s no better inspiration than the perspectives of a writer newly-emerged from a successful project. (Case in point: The letters of Walker Percy and Shelby Foote.) That’s what you’ll find in the Q & A below, and I hope it helps you, my friends!
Posted in Books, Camellia Resistance, Publishing, Reading, Writing
Tagged arts, Chicago, Goodreads, Reading, Short Story, Story arc, Williams, Willow
This fall, Eleanor Catton released a big beast of a novel, The Luminaries, and picked up the highest honor in literature, the Man Booker Prize (more important than the Pulitzer or the Nobel, in my humble opinion).
At the time of the prize announcement, I was spending a lot of time in hospital waiting rooms because of a sick family member. So I turned to my iPhone and decided to read the reviews and find out what this prize-winning book is all about.
What I found was very unexpected. Weird, too.
Almost all of the reviews sounded the same ambivalent notes. A grudging admiration. Confusion. The routine Jamesian reference to bagginess. Shock over the novel’s page count (more than 800). Fault finding. Impatience. Some, like the reviewer at Salon, wrote more about herself than the book. Others seemed tentative and overcautious, like Kirsty Gunn in the Guardian.
(My old haunt, the L.A. Times, didn’t even review the book — wonder how their critics managed to miss it).
I’ll just say it again, my friends. It was weird. Plain weird.
And yet, and yet. In spite of the mixed response from critics, the publisher Little, Brown once again demonstrated why it is one of the few perches in publishing where lucky birds land.
The novel The Camellia Resistance by A.R. Williams starts off in a comforting place, a warm bed, as the narrator watches her lover dress. But the world outside is far from a comfort — a future landscape, painted in apocalyptic tones and colors. It’s become a familiar world in the past decade or so, thanks to writers like Suzanne Collins, Cormac McCarthy, Margaret Atwood, Justin Cronin and big- and small-screen entertainments like The Walking Dead and Elysium.
But Williams’ story — which is part of a trilogy — manages to find its own niche in this crowded genre, drawing on aspects of today’s politico-socio climate to project a plausible future — a world in which intimacy and love are threatened at the national, and viral, levels … where latex, body condoms, and SaniCheck have become the norm. Government muscle is flexed to a suffocating degree, ranging from government agents to the little tattoo that marks infected people, and Williams shows its full effect with compelling style.
She’s also a thoughtful interviewee, and I asked her a few questions about her novel — presented in this post — and about what she learned about the craft of writing as she finished this novel (coming soon in Part II of the interview).
I’d recommend that you print out this post, pour yourself the beverage of your choice, and sit back and listen to what Williams has to say about her novel and her experiences: It just might provide unexpected insights for you as you push ahead with your own project. Enjoy, my friends.
The book opens with an intimate description of Willow’s lovemaking with Zacharias Vendelin—her beloved “Ven.” She savors their time together because such intimacy isn’t allowed in their society, isn’t that right? Why not?
Posted in A.R. Williams, Books, Camellia Revolution, Writing
Tagged Cormac McCarthy, Intimate relationship, Justin Cronin, Margaret Atwood, National Novel Writing Month, Suzanne Collins, Walking Dead, Williams