Novel Ideas
Contemporary Authors Share the Creative Process

Introduction, interviews, and exercises by Barbara Shoup and Margaret-Love Denman
Second Edition

Conversations with established novelists illuminate the writing process


"Novel Ideas is the real thing: the editors offer an excellent crash course on how to write a novel, and the contemporary novelists they interview offer advice, insight, consolation, inspiration, and (above all) stories about stories. I can't imagine a writer who wouldn't find this book useful, or a reader who wouldn't find it stimulating and provocative."
—Robert Hellenga, author of The Italian Lover

"Many texts exist on writing the short story, but there are few useful ones about its less predictable cousin, the novel. This valuable book includes general fiction principles but then expands to the particular testimony of contemporary authors discussing how they wrote their well-known novels. The result for readers, writers, and writing teachers is not a cookbook but a bountiful literary feast."
—Doris Betts, author of Heading West

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Novel Ideas provides a substantial introduction to the elements of fiction followed by in-depth interviews with successful novelists who speak with candor and insight into the complex process by which a novel is made. This edition includes new and updated interviews as well as writing exercises to enhance its use in the writing classroom.

Dorothy Allison recalls "deliciously self-indulgent" days of writing in her bathrobe, wrapped in misery and exultation; Peter Cameron explains how he made the move from short fiction to the novel with the aid of a music composer's notebook to track the movement of his characters. Writers as different as Ha Jin, Jill McCorkle, Richard Ford, and Michael Chabon describe their unique approaches to their work while consistently affirming the necessity of committing to the hard effort of it while also remaining open to surprise.

Aspiring novelists will find hands-on strategies for beginning, working through, and revising a novel; accomplished novelists will discover new ways to solve the problems they face in process; and serious readers of contemporary fiction will enjoy a glimpse into the way novels are made.

Includes interviews with:

  • Dorothy Allison
  • Larry Brown
  • Peter Cameron
  • Michael Chabon
  • Michael Cunningham
  • Robb Forman Dew
  • Richard Ford
  • Ha Jin
  • Patricia Henley
  • Charles Johnson
  • Wally Lamb
  • Valerie Martin
  • Jill McCorkle
  • Sena Jeter Naslund
  • Lewis Nordan
  • Sheri Reynolds
  • S. J. Rozan
  • Jane Smiley
  • Lee Smith
  • Theodore Weesner
Page count: 344 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $28.95

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Barbara Shoup is the author of six novels, including Everything You Want. She is associate faculty at Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis and program director for the Writers' Center of Indiana. Margaret-Love Denman is the author of two novels, including Daily, Before Your Eyes. She is the coordinator of off-campus writing programs at the University of Mississippi. Denman was the director of the creative writing program at the University of New Hampshire for twelve years.