Since I moved to Milwaukee in 1995, I’ve seen dozens of authors speak at local bookstores about their work. When people ask me how to learn more about writing and publishing without having to spend a lot of money, I encourage them to do two things: read and attend author events. I have learned something new from every author I have met.
Last night, I heard Geraldine Brooks talk about her latest novel, Caleb’s Crossing, at Boswell Book Company. Brooks began the evening’s talk by telling us that she knows she has come upon a story with substance when she thinks, “Well I couldn’t make that up!” Throughout the evening, as audience members asked her about her books, we heard about some of the places she had found ideas for her books. Caleb’s Crossing came from her life on Martha’s Vineyard and the story of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard. An overheard conversation in a bar at the Holiday Inn in Sarajevo gave her the idea for People of the Book. Visiting Civil War sites with her husband became the basis of her book March.
My takeaway from the night? Pay attention, writers. You never know when an experience or a comment might lead you to your next writing project!