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Electric Lit Presents: The Craft of Covid in Fiction

The dynamic, unpredictable nature of the pandemic has forced novelists to become pundits, predicting what the world will look like when their novels are published.

They also face unique craft challenges: how do masks affect dialogue, character descriptions, and scene? How do social distancing and quarantine warp relationship dynamics?

Rebecca Makkai chose to move the events of I Have Some Questions for You to 2018, but still had to negotiate Covid protocol for courtroom scenes set in 2022. The protagonist of Weike Wang’s Joan Is Okay is an emergency room doctor in New York City; when Covid hit, Wang revised the novel to feature overwhelmed hospitals. A deadly flu ravages the globe in Phase Six by Jim Shepard, and the lessons of the Covid pandemic are in the distant past.

These three novelists will discuss the drafting and revision process of their novels and explain how they tackled the ever-changing question of how Covid should factor into their work.  Moderated by Halimah Marcus.

This year’s Masquerade of the Red Death is celebrating excellence in pandemic fiction with special guests and book giveaways at our party in Brooklyn on Friday, October 21, as well as related virtual salons. This salon is free for Masquerade ticket-holders*, $10 for the general public, and $5 for EL members.

*Masquerade ticket holders will receive an email with a discount code to register for free.

on October 6 2022· Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Northwestern Summer Writers’ Conference: The Origins of The Original

The Northwestern University Summer Writers’ Conference is back! This year, the conference is entirely online again so you can join us from anywhere in the world. Details are forthcoming. In the meantime, please save the dates!

The conference is hosted by the Northwestern University School of Professional Studies MA in Writing and  MFA in Prose and Poetry programs.

July 9th, 2022 11:00am – noon CST
The Origins of the Original
Featuring Rebecca Makkai

For writing to succeed, it must be both well-executed and original. But when we sit down to write, the first words, scenes, characters, conflicts, and settings we come up with are often the least original ones of which we’re capable. Digging past the obvious, the stock (and even the products of the collective unconscious), we might finally arrive at stories that are strikingly new and memorable. In this class we’ll cover some key elements of originality — specificity, idiosyncrasy, complexity, repetition, and change — and talk about accessing them in both drafting and revision. While originality might seem intuitive, or even a product of the writer’s personality, it’s in fact a skill that can be sharpened. That’s what we’ll be doing.

on July 9 2022· Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Porch: The Origins of the Original with Visiting Writer Rebecca Makkai

When we sit down to write, the first words, scenes, characters, conflicts, and settings we come up with are often the least original ones of which we’re capable. Digging past the obvious, the stock (and even the products of the collective unconscious), we might finally arrive at stories that are strikingly new and memorable. In this class we’ll cover some key elements of originality — specificity, idiosyncrasy, complexity, repetition, and change — and talk about accessing them both in drafting and revision.

For writing to succeed, it must be both well-executed and original. While originality might seem intuitive, or even a product of the writer’s personality, it’s in fact a skill that can be sharpened. That’s what we’ll be doing.

Online Workshop Via Zoom

Saturday, April 30th, 2022 | 2:00pm – 4:00pm CT

$68 for members

$75 for non members

on April 30 2022· Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friends of the Bronxville Public Library Presents: Lan Samantha Changin conversation with Rebecca Makkai (Zoom)

Lan Samantha Chang, author of The Family Chao,
in conversation with
Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers

The Friends of the Bronxville Public Library (FOBPL) is pleased to host award-winning author Lan Samantha Chang, who will discuss her new novel, The Family Chao.  FOBPL is equally thrilled to host acclaimed author Rebecca Makkai to moderate this event.

For the recent MyHometownBronxville article, click here


Thursday, April 21, 2022
7:00-8:00 p.m. via Zoom

This event is free, but registration is required.

To register, please click here.

Registration closes on April 21, 12:00 p.m.
(Zoom link will be provided through Eventbrite Registration on April 21.)

THE FAMILY CHAO is an electrifying and devastating portrait of a Chinese American family grappling with trauma, grief, race, love, and longing. Brimming with comedy, suspense, and heartbreak, Lan Samantha Chang’s masterpiece is one of the most ambitious novels about America in recent years.

Lan Samantha Chang is the award-winning author of a collection of short fiction, Hunger, and novels The Family Chao, Inheritance and All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost.  A recent Berlin Prize Fellow, she also has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.  Chang is the first Asian American and the first female director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Iowa City.  For more on Lan Samantha Chang and The Family Chao, click here.

Moderator Rebecca Makkai is the Chicago-based author of the novels The Great Believers, The Hundred-Year House, and The Borrower, as well as the short story collection Music for Wartime. The Great Believerswas a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and received the ALA Carnegie Medal and the LA Times Book Prize, among other honors.  Makkai is on the MFA faculties of Sierra Nevada College and Northwestern University, and she is Artistic Director of StoryStudio Chicago.  For more on Rebecca Makkai, click here.

Signed copies of The Family Chao are available for sale now at Womrath Bookshop. 

The FOBPL appreciates your donations.  Thank you! 

on April 21 2022· Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Joshua Ferris in conversation with Rebecca Makkai: A Calling for Charlie Barnes

The Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome New York Times bestselling author Joshua Ferris as he discusses his new novel, A CALLING FOR CHARLIE BARNES. Ferris will be in conversation with bestselling author Rebecca Makkai.

This event is free and open to the public, with registration. Signed, first edition copies are available for purchase through the Midtown Scholar Bookstore.

About the Book:

Someone is telling the story of the life of Charlie Barnes, and it doesn’t appear to be going well. Too often divorced, discontent with life’s compromises and in a house he hates, this lifelong schemer and eternal romantic would like out of his present circumstances and into the American dream. But when the twin calamities of the Great Recession and a cancer scare come along to compound his troubles, his dreams dwindle further, and an infinite past full of forking paths quickly tapers to a black dot.

Then, against all odds, something goes right for a change: Charlie is granted a second act. With help from his storyteller son, he surveys the facts of his life and finds his true calling where he least expects it—in a sacrifice that redounds with selflessness and love—at last becoming the man his son always knew he could be.

A Calling for Charlie Barnes is a profound and tender portrait of a man whose desperate need to be loved is his downfall, and a brutally funny account of how that love is ultimately earned.

About the Authors:

Joshua Ferris is the author of three previous novels, Then We Came to the End, The Unnamed and To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, and a collection of stories, The Dinner Party. He was a finalist for the National Book Award, winner of the Barnes and Noble Discover Award and the PEN/Hemingway Award, and was named one of The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” writers in 2010. To Rise Again at a Decent Hour won the Dylan Thomas Prize and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, and Best American Short Stories. He lives in New York.

Rebecca Makkai latest novel, The Great Believers, was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award; it was the winner of the ALA Carnegie Medal, the Stonewall Book Award, the LA Times Book Prize, the Clark Fiction Prize, the Midwest Independent Booksellers Award, and the Chicago Review of Books Award; and it was one of the New York Times' Ten Best Books of 2018. Her other books are the novels The Borrower and The Hundred-Year House, and the collection Music for Wartime — four stories from which appeared in The Best American Short Stories. Rebecca is on the MFA faculties of Sierra Nevada College and Northwestern University. She is Artistic Director of StoryStudio Chicago. Visit her at RebeccaMakkai.com or on twitter @rebeccamakkai.

on September 30 2021· Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Exile in Bookville Presents: Authors on Tap: Nick Flynn and Rebecca Makkai

Authors on Tap: Nick Flynn and Rebecca Makkai
Thursday August 26, 2021 | 7:00PM – 8:00PM CT

Join us on August 26th at 7:00pm to help celebrate the paperback release of Nick Flynn‘s memoir, This Is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire.  Nick will be in conversation with Exile VIP Rebecca Makkai!

Nick Flynn is a writer, playwright, and poet. His most recent books are This Is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire (2020), a hybrid memoir, and Stay: threads, collaborations, and conversations (2020), which documents twenty-five years of his collaborations with artists, filmmakers, and composers. He is also the author of five collections of poetry, including I Will Destroy You (2019). He has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Library of Congress, and is on the creative writing faculty at the University of Houston. His acclaimed memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, was made into a film starring Robert DeNiro, and has been translated into fifteen languages.

Rebecca Makkai is the Chicago-based author of the novels The Great Believers, The Hundred-Year House, and The Borrower, as well as the short story collection Music for Wartime. The Great Believerswas a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and received the ALA Carnegie Medal and the LA Times Book Prize, among other honors. Makkai is on the MFA faculties of Sierra Nevada College
and Northwestern University, and she is Artistic Director of StoryStudio Chicago.
You can purchase their books through the respective links and each book comes with a signed bookplate!
This is administered as a free event through Eventrbrite. Should you wish to donate to Exile in Bookville’s cause there is an option on the registration page.

Click here to register for this free event!

on August 26 2021· Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

Society For The Study Of Midwestern Literature Celebrates Mark Twain Award Winners Marilynne Robinson and Rebecca Makkai

Marilynne Robinson and Rebecca Makkai, winners of the 2020 and 2021 Mark Twain Award for Distinguished Contributions to Midwestern Literature, in conversation with Phil Christman, author of Midwest Futures. (Free for current SSML members; open to non-members for a $5 registration fee.)

SSML Members Register HERE

Non-Members Register HERE

on June 14 2021· Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lighthouse Lit Fest: Interiority Complex

The great advantage of prose (over theater, film, and life) is that we’re privy to characters’ interior states. But how can a writer get thoughts and emotions across, other than by stating them flat-out or by updating us constantly on breathing and heart rate? We’ll explore ways to use tangent, gesture, backstory, action, association, and more to give characters a rich internal life without resorting to the old cardiopulmonary check-in.

This class accommodates 25+ writers.

on June 10 2021· Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

Speakeasy Workshop: This Will Be Character-Building

Join Rebecca Makkai for an intimate workshop designed to help you write an original short story or the first chapter of a novel or memoir — or to continue work on one in progress. In each session, Rebecca will teach a different aspect of writing craft: backstory, motivation, dialogue, and character evolution. This event has four sessions.

E. M. Forster wrote that “incident springs out of character, and having occurred it alters that character.” How do we create characters who will both cause interesting things to happen and be changed by their world? How do we get a whole lifetime across without an awkward backstory dump? What differences should we consider when crafting characters for novels versus short stories? How can a memoirist get real-life characters onto the page?

This workshop is designed to help participants write an original short story or the first chapter of a novel or memoir — or to continue work on one in progress. Participants will work on their projects outside of the workshop sessions.

In each session, Rebecca will teach a different aspect of writing craft. (In our four sessions, we’ll focus on backstory, motivation, dialogue, and character evolution.) There will be discussion of what we’re writing and what we’re reading, but sessions will primarily focus on Rebecca’s craft lessons. Because you won’t be workshopping each other, this class will be a friendly and challenging learning environment for writers at all levels of education and experience.

?After the fourth session, participants will submit their projects (no more than 12 pages) to Rebecca, and she will provide feedback to each person in the form of a marked-up manuscript and a brief feedback letter.

Details
Mondays: April 5 – April 26, 2021
5pm PT / 8pm ET – 90 min
Limited to 15 participants
$500.00 for all four sessions

Code of Conduct

We look forward to building an inclusive, supportive community of writers during our workshop and will not tolerate racist, sexist, or homophobic views. By signing up for this workshop, you’re agreeing to uphold these norms. Though we don’t expect this to happen, if someone violates these norms, they will be removed from the workshop without a refund.

Written feedback from Rebecca is contingent on the writing sample you submit being coherent. You don’t need to be an experienced (or published!) writer by any means, nor do you need to have perfect command of all aspects of English grammar, but your writing should be comprehensible.

on April 26 2021· Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Speakeasy Workshop: This Will Be Character-Building

Join Rebecca Makkai for an intimate workshop designed to help you write an original short story or the first chapter of a novel or memoir — or to continue work on one in progress. In each session, Rebecca will teach a different aspect of writing craft: backstory, motivation, dialogue, and character evolution. This event has four sessions.

E. M. Forster wrote that “incident springs out of character, and having occurred it alters that character.” How do we create characters who will both cause interesting things to happen and be changed by their world? How do we get a whole lifetime across without an awkward backstory dump? What differences should we consider when crafting characters for novels versus short stories? How can a memoirist get real-life characters onto the page?

This workshop is designed to help participants write an original short story or the first chapter of a novel or memoir — or to continue work on one in progress. Participants will work on their projects outside of the workshop sessions.

In each session, Rebecca will teach a different aspect of writing craft. (In our four sessions, we’ll focus on backstory, motivation, dialogue, and character evolution.) There will be discussion of what we’re writing and what we’re reading, but sessions will primarily focus on Rebecca’s craft lessons. Because you won’t be workshopping each other, this class will be a friendly and challenging learning environment for writers at all levels of education and experience.

?After the fourth session, participants will submit their projects (no more than 12 pages) to Rebecca, and she will provide feedback to each person in the form of a marked-up manuscript and a brief feedback letter.

Details
Mondays: April 5 – April 26, 2021
5pm PT / 8pm ET – 90 min
Limited to 15 participants
$500.00 for all four sessions

Code of Conduct

We look forward to building an inclusive, supportive community of writers during our workshop and will not tolerate racist, sexist, or homophobic views. By signing up for this workshop, you’re agreeing to uphold these norms. Though we don’t expect this to happen, if someone violates these norms, they will be removed from the workshop without a refund.

Written feedback from Rebecca is contingent on the writing sample you submit being coherent. You don’t need to be an experienced (or published!) writer by any means, nor do you need to have perfect command of all aspects of English grammar, but your writing should be comprehensible.

on April 19 2021· Tagged: , , , , , , ,

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