A little arrogance (or even a lot) isn’t such a bad thing, although your mother undoubtedly told you different. Mine did. “Pride goeth before a fall, Stephen”, she said… and then I found out – right around the age that is 19 x 2 – that eventually you fall down, anyway.
Terrifying. A Dark Matter is populated with vivid, sympathetic characters, and driven by terrors both human and supernatural. It’s the kind of book that’s impossible to put down once it has been picked up. It kept me reading far into the night. Straub builds otherworldly terror without ever losing touch with his attractive cast of youngsters, who age beautifully. Put this one high on your list.
The age of the book is not over. No way… But maybe the age of some books is over. People say to me sometimes ‘Steve, are you ever going to write a straight novel, a serious novel’ and by that they mean a novel about college professors who are having impotence problems or something like that. And I have to say those things just don’t interest me. Why? I don’t know. But it took me about twenty years to get over that question, and not be kind of ashamed about what I do, of the books I write.
You couldn’t get hold of the things you’d done and turn them right again. Such a power might be given to the gods, but it was not given to women and men, and that was probably a good thing. Had it been otherwise, people would probably die of old age still trying to rewrite their teens.
Dreams age faster than dreamers.
Little kids’ minds are very, very strong. They bend. There’s a lot of tensile strength and they don’t break. We start our kids off on things like “Hansel and Gretel,” which features child abandonment, kidnapping, attempted murder, forcible detention, cannibalism, and finally murder by cremation. And the kids love it.
One night when my longing for her was like a fire burning out of control in my heart and my head, I wrote her a letter that just seemed to go on and on. I poured out my whole heart in it, never looking back to see what I’d said because I was afraid cowardice would make me stop. I didn’t stop, and when a voice in my head clamoured that it would be madness to mail such a letter, that I would be giving her my naked heart to hold in her hand, I ignored it with a child’s breathless disregard of the consequences.
For every mother who ever cursed God for her child dead in the road, for every father who ever cursed the man who sent him away from the factory with no job, for every child who was ever born to pain and asked why, this is the answer. Our lives are like these things I build. Sometimes they fall down for a reason, sometimes they fall down for no reason at all.
When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.
The essential and defining characteristic of childhood is not the effortless merging of dream and reality, but only alienation. There are no words for childhood’s dark turns and exhalations. A wise child recognizes it and submits to the necessary consequences. A child who counts the cost is a child no longer.
Schizoid behaviour is a pretty common thing in children. It’s accepted, because all we adults have this unspoken agreement that children are lunatics.
There are books full of great writing that don’t have very good stories. Read sometimes for the story… don’t be like the book-snobs who won’t do that. Read sometimes for the words–the language. Don’t be like the play-it-safer who won’t do that. But when you find a book that has both a good story and good words, treasure that book.
JK Rowling created seven Horcruxes. She put a part of her soul in every book and now her books will live forever
People think that I must be a very strange person. This is not correct. I have the heart of a small boy. It is in a glass jar on my desk.
Good books don’t give up all their secrets at once.
Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn’t carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.
Books are a uniquely portable magic.