ST PETER —
“I really feel it’s a story I wanted to tell.”
Maltman said to ensure period authenticity he pored over settlers’ journals and fashioned a chart listing the detailed everyday stuff of life that informed pioneers’ existence.
On whether they determine a book’s main characters before they begin writing:
Geye: “In my mind I call it giving the characters a biography, but I’m never beholden to it.”
Maltman: “In the beginning the characters are blurry to you, and then they emerge, like a Polaroid photo.”
On abandoning a book’s characters who don’t become clear to a writer:
Maltman: “Sometimes, for a character who’s not serving any purpose in a story, you just X them out.”
On the role editors play:
Hart: “When you’re writing a crime novel, what you find is that editors want a character in jeopardy on every single page.”
Geye, whose editor showed him how less was more by whittling his lengthy manuscript: “It was a supreme education ... the book became better and better by getting rid of that first layer of fat.”
On whether authors become famous through luck or skill:
Hart: “Skill at being popular is different than the skill of writing.”
Maltman, alluding to Robert James Waller’s “The Bridges of Madison County,” which was hugely popular but panned by critics: “He had a good story, but the author was a great marketer.”
More than 60 area authors and several representatives of publishing firms took part in Saturday’s event.