Neville at Random House: Book Launch party for
Like most published authors of fiction, I’ve been writing since I was really young. I was writing about anything and everything that one could take in through the senses: vignettes about locales, character descriptions, food, travels, sights, sounds, aromas, tastes, textures–even writing down my dreams, if they were interesting. Having been an artist first, I used my writing notebook like an artist’s sketchbook–something to scribble in, and dive into later, if I needed fresh material.
But like most students of fiction, I was taught in school that great writing was “Literary,” while everything else (mystery, thriller, horror, crime, sci-fi, fantasy, historic romance…anything ‘popular’) was merely “Fiction.” These two categories of books were even located on separate shelving in bookstores and libraries!
Fiction was ephemeral. Literature was eternal.
There was just one problem:
The works being taught as Literature were all about life in a small town, in a suburb, in a ghetto, in rural England or New England or the South–writers like Thornton Wilder, John Updike, Virginia Woolf. Stories filled with angst or boredom or depression.
Attack on a Galleon,
But the books I loved to read were swashbuckling adventure novels, like Rafael Sabatini’s pirate stories–Sea Hawk and Captain Blood; Alexandre Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo; Lord Byron’s Don Juan; Homer’s Odyssey. The authors I loved were Voltaire, Rider Haggard, Wilkie Collins, Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Thomas Malory’s Arthurian tales. (Of course, today many of these are called ‘Literature,’ since the authors are all dead. But when they’d first appeared, the stories were wildly popular Fiction.)
I wanted to write the kind of stories that I loved to read. Complex stories with interwoven tales, with intrigue, adventure, twists and turns, love and lust. Stories like Scheherazade’s–a woman who, over One Thousand and One Nights, never lost her head!
For the past thirty years I’ve been traveling the world, gathering material so I can keep telling enchanting stories.