Thursday, December 5, 2013

James McBride

James McBride is an author, musician and screenwriter. His landmark memoir, The Color of Water, rested on the New York Times bestseller list for two years. It is considered an American classic and is read in schools and universities across the United States. His debut novel, Miracle at St. Anna was translated into a major motion picture directed by Spike Lee. It was released by Disney/Touchstone in September 2008. McBride wrote the script for Miracle at St. Anna and co-wrote Spike Lee's 2012 Red Hook Summer.

McBride's latest novel, The Good Lord Bird, is about American revolutionary John Brown.

From his Q & A with Noah Charney for The Daily Beast:

Describe your routine when conceiving of a book and its plot, before the writing begins. Do you like to map out your books ahead of time, or just let it flow?

I usually research it deep. Whatever I need to do to get to the mainland. Sometimes I use index cards. Sometimes I’ll draw a map of the place. Once I did that, put it over my desk. I usually absorb so much of it, that it just stores in my mind. But the amorphous blend of character and character motivation somehow morphs into plot. So I spend a lot of time on my characters. Writing their biographies, deciding who they are, what they would do, what they would say…

Even though that might not make it into the book?

Most of it doesn’t make it onto the page. Maybe 10 percent does. You just can’t do more in today’s world. I don’t think you can spend 4-5 pages doing back story on a character in this reading environment.

What is guaranteed to make you laugh?

Ha! When...
Read about James McBride's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue