The Light In the Ruins
Author: Chris Bohjalian
Publisher: Doubleday (July, 2013)
This novel is a good read! I thought it even better than his recent Sandcastle Girls. I especially liked the twist and turns in the plot and the multiple voices. It is well structured with plenty of suspense. The characters in this story are interesting. They resist the ordinary.
I’ve enjoyed several of his books. I’m a fan. Skeletons at the Feast and Midwives are two favorites. His next book is expected out in summer of 2014: Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands.
The January issue of Writer’s Digest includes an interview with Mr. Bohjalian. He has some writing tips that, as a struggling writer, I find helpful. He also has something to say to us as readers.
Writing and Reading Tips from Chris Bohjalian:
• In order to write a novel you must be passionately interested in the topic.
• He calls Light In the Ruins his Romeo and Juliet. If you read it with that in mind, does it change your expectations?
• He begins a novel with a promise of what the book will be about and lets his characters and research show the way. Some novelists think it’s a bad way to work, but since I often work this way, I’m happy to hear him talk about it.
• The processes of research and writing overlap.
• He encourages all writers, even those who are unpublished, to approach strangers with questions to aid their research. Mr. Bohjalian says “in my experience we’re all a little narcissistic about our professions and love sharing information.” (p.45) I agree and offer the proliferation of blogs as evidence.
Bonus outtakes from the interview are available at www.writersdigest.com/jan-14. Some of what he says may surprise you.
His general advice to writers is to write books you love to read. I would add similar advice to readers. Read books you wish you had written. I suggest that Light In the Ruins is a book you will love to read and a book you may well wish you had written.