Tag Archives: Celeste Ng

The Life of a Book

The Life of a Book

The Life of a BookI have always been curious about the birthing process of a novel, especially when I finish one that I adore. How did this bundle of joy come into the world? What is the life of a book?

It starts with a gleam in the author’s eye, of course. What inspires her? How does she take a nugget of an idea and flesh it out? What sparks her imagination when she creates characters and a fictional world that draws us in?

Let’s say she completes the book and is lucky enough to find an agent who loves it and sells it. What happens next? As a novel travels through its own bookish birth canal, from conception through delivery, all kinds of things are happening behind the scenes that most of us are unaware of.

I’ve always been drawn to interviews in which authors can talk about their journey. And now, thanks to Penguin Random House, we can hear from selected authors about just that — as well as the book doctors and nurses critical to the book’s success.

The Life of a Book

Penguin Random House has a fascinating new interview series on its website called The Life of a Book that gives you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the publishing process from start to finish.

If you read my blog last week, you know that I was smitten with Celeste Ng’s latest novel, Little Fires Everywhere. With its absorbing plot, unique and multi-dimensional characters, and modern-day look at complicated issues, Little Fires Everywhere stood out as an exceptionally good read.

So I was delighted to find out that Ng is one of the authors interviewed in a podcast for The Life of a Book series.

I listened to Ng’s interview, and if you’ve read the book (or even if you haven’t) I think you’ll enjoy hearing her musings on different aspects of her writing process. For instance, you’ll find out …

  • Is she a planner or a pantser? (Pantser means a writer who doesn’t rely on an outline but lets her characters lead the way in the story development)
  • Why she chose photography as the artistic persuasion of one of her characters.
  • What she felt the hardest part was to write.

It Takes a Village

I moved on to the interview with Virginia Smith, Senior Editor at Penguin Press, who spoke about the value of a team. Contributions from editors, cover designers, publicists, marketing experts all add up to make the book shine in every way.

Assistant Director of Publicity Juliana Kiyan explained how the publicity strategy for a sophomore novel differs from that of a debut. Her job is to spread book love among a targeted but widespread audience: readers, booksellers, the media and, of course, fans of Ng’s first novel. Sales Manager Megan Sullivan described the fun of getting to read galleys (uncorrected proofs) months in advance so she can start creating a buzz long before the novel is published.

Jaya Miceli, the cover designer, shared what she looks for in cover art; how it must relate to and capture the mood of the writing.

You can find all this on Penguin Random House’s blog, The Perch, along with interviews of other authors and publishing professionals.

Happy reading!

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