James LePore: An interview

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Here’s an interview James LePore did with Darrell Pitt:

You were a lawyer for twenty-five years. What made you become a writer?

In 1982 my father died after a twelve-month struggle with lung cancer. I was practicing law then, but reading novels at the rate of two or thee a week, something I had been doing since I was thirteen. My response to my father’s sickness and death was to write a novel, which I titled That Archangels May Come In. The experience was cathartic of course, but the interesting thing to me, looking back, was that I chose to tell a long story (about a fictional young lawyer losing his father to lung cancer) as the means of that catharsis. Why write a novel? Because, I realized, novels had become as much a part of me as my skeletal system, they were the bones of my intellectual and imaginative life.

Archangels was badly written. One professional reviewer said that it was predictable and clichéd, and he was being kind. But it was a start. It got me thinking. I wanted to write a good novel, I wanted what was in my bones to appear on the printed page, the published printed page. In 1999, I sold my law practice so that I could write full time.

Can you describe how you create your novels i.e. do you plot them beforehand or let them evolve?

I start with two things, the name of my central character and a predicament that he or she is in. It may sound odd, but I believe that much of a person’s destiny is in his or her name. I am therefore careful to pick the right name, something that speaks to me of character and the intangibles, like courage and perseverance and hidden complexities.

How do you promote your books?

I am on Facebook and Twitter. I send out a monthly James LePore Fiction eNewsletter. I do readings at bookstores and at people’s homes. I have met many great book bloggers who have been kind enough to review my books.

What does a typical day of writing entail for you?

I get up early and write for four or five hours. After that my brain is worn out so I do something that doesn’t involve too much thinking.

Writers can now self publish their own books if they choose. Where do you see the publishing business heading over the next ten years i.e. are we still going to be reading paperbacks ten years from now?

I believe that the eReader will from now on be accepted as the way to receive their daily bread by readers of both fiction and non-fiction. Packaging is nice, but in the end it’s content, not packaging, that sustains a reader’s soul. Readers will always love to read, but in today’s very hectic world (and very scary economy), I believe they will be willing to sacrifice packaging in exchange for the great pricing and the tremendous simplicity and ease of purchase and delivery that comes with an eReader.

This is not to say that print books will go away. They will, I believe, fall into a different, and more exalted category, that of the prized possession. Remember, I said daily bread, not gourmet meal. There will be readers—many, many of them—who will love a book so much that they will have to own it as an artifact, an icon of their experience of reading it. This desire for the physical thing may arise after reading an e-book, or by simply knowing that certain books have to be on your shelf near the fireplace, Jane Austen, for example, or Hemingway or Stieg Larsson. Publishers may respond by printing limited special editions, beautifully bound, perhaps signed by the author, treasures to be cared for, handed down, read aloud to the children.

As this new model expands, traditional print publishers are going to have to rethink their missions, while at the same time self-publishing and other models—most of them not even thought of at the moment—will have more room to position themselves than ever dreamed possible. I can see five writers getting together, for example, to form their own e-publishing company. I say go for it. Keep all the profits!

 
LePore Author PhotoJames LePore is The Story Plant’s Author of the Month, which means we are offering sensational deals on his work. You can read more about the program here.

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On February 7, 2013
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