One of My Most Embarrassing Moments at Writer's Digest

Author:
Publish date:
Image placeholder title

The first author I ever interviewed for Writer's Digest was Richard Russo.

It stands as the only major author interview I've conducted in-person. Russo was serendipitously stopping in Cincinnati for a book signing at Joseph-Beth, just a couple weeks after he won the Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls.

I prepared extensively and studiously. Aside from reading his books, I also read all previous interviews I could find.

On the day of the interview, when I left Writer's Digest offices to meet him at his downtown hotel, I was nearly out of gas, and had to stop to refill.

It was then that I locked my keys in the car.

And it was pouring rain outside.

And I was wearing a linen suit.

I abandoned the car at the pump, and ran a half mile back to the office so a coworker could drive me to interview Russo. All of my notes, my digital recorder, and his books were still locked in my car.

And so I arrived at The Cincinnatian (the poshest hotel in the city) looking like a drowned rat.

God knows what Russo must've thought when he saw me, but he was one of the most human, kind, and joyful authors I ever recall meeting.

I managed through the interview based on memory, and scribbled his answers as fast as I could manage on a small notepad.

The interview was featured in the February 2003 issue of Writer's Digest, and is now included in the newest edition of The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, just released this month.

Excerpt:

Distraction is exactly what Russo goes after in his writing environment. He prefers to write in diners or busy places, where his mind can wander and make connections. "You can end up where you didn't mean to go, but it's probably more interesting than where you meant to go in the first place."

You can say that again.

I have several other pieces in the handbook, including:

  • Novelists Need Platforms, Too
  • The Future Role of Agents
  • Straight Expectations on Self-Publishing

Plus: Russo himself has a contributed piece, "Location, Location, Location: Depicting Character Through Place."

Go check out the book!

Image placeholder title
WD-Poetry-2020-WinnerGraphic

The 2020 Writer's Digest Poetry Awards Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2020 WD Poetry Awards!

GettyImages-163437242

Your Story #113

Write a short story of 650 words or fewer based on the photo prompt. You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

E.J. Levy: When Your First Draft is Your Best Draft

E.J. Levy: When Your First Draft is Your Best Draft

Author E.J. Levy discusses her journey with drafting and redrafting her historical fiction novel, The Cape Doctor, and why her first draft was her best draft.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 569

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write an "In the Name of Blank" poem.

Writer's Digest July/August 2021 Cover

Writer's Digest July/August 2021 Cover Reveal

The July/August 2021 issue of Writer's Digest features a collection of articles about writing for change plus an interview with Jasmine Guillory about her newest romance, While We Were Dating.

Lacie Waldon: On Writing What You Know ... But Keeping it Interesting

Lacie Waldon: On Writing What You Know ... But Keeping it Interesting

Debut novelist Lacie Waldon discusses how her agent encouraged her to write what she knew, but then her editor made her realize that what she thought was boring might not be the case.

Pedal vs. Peddle (Grammar Rules)

Pedal vs. Peddle (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use pedal and peddle with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Marissa Levien: On Pinning Down Your Novel's Middle

Marissa Levien: On Pinning Down Your Novel's Middle

Debut author Marissa Levien discusses how she always knew what the beginning and the end of her science fiction novel The World Gives Way would be, but that the middle remained elusive.