The Spider in the Wind

Posted in Moments of Clarity with tags , , , , , on 10/15/2017 by Janet Fitch

It’s been an anxious season, an anxious year. Too many things have been going wrong on too many levels, too much progress that had been built, slowly and with much labor, wiped away with the sweep of a pen. The fires we’ve been experiencing in the American West and the hurricanes in the Southeast and the Caribbean seem like metaphors for even greater changes. I know I’m not the only one who’s been having a difficult time concentrating, trying to adjust to each new blow. How do you work? How do you think? How do you live in times like this?

This week, when the anxiety became unbearable following the announcement of some new round of Trumpian madness, I went for a walk in search of the miraculous. It’s something I do to get back in touch with the wonder of the world….

Read the full post at www.janetfitchwrites.com .  My new site is still under construction, but didn’t want to wait to use my brand new blog!  

Hope to see you over there.

All best, Janet

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THE REVOLUTION OF MARINA M. NEW WEBPAGE IS LIVE!

Posted in The Literateria, Upcoming Events with tags , , , on 05/31/2017 by Janet Fitch

My shiny new webpage, at www.janetfitchwrites.com is live! It’s all about THE REVOLUTION OF MARINA M. and it’s a beauty.  Step into the world of the Russian Revolution and my adventurous young heroine.  It’s a work in progress but it certainly gives you a sense of the book. There’ll be excerpts, more photo galleries, but you’ll get a taste.

I’ll continue to blog here about writing and life, and the writing life, putting up my stories and observations, but the website will be all about the books.

Stop by, tell me what you think of it!

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PAINT IT BLACK THE MOVIE PREMIERES TODAY (LA+NY) !

Posted in Moments of Clarity, The Literateria, Upcoming Events with tags , , , , , , , , on 05/19/2017 by Janet Fitch

It’s here!  The film based on my book PAINT IT BLACK is opening theatrically at long last in LA, at the Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills, and at the Village East Cinema in NYC this week! I will be doing the Q and A tonight In Los Angeles with former student Lindsay Miller, now at Popsugar, and the powerhouse director Amber Tamblyn will be appearing three times this week, doing Q and A tonight with Amy Schumer, tomorrow night, the 20th, with America Ferrara, and the 23rd with Ira Glass.

The reviews have been a dream come true. Peter Travers in Rolling Stone, the New York Times, Nylon, Village Voice/LA Weekly  have all weighed in and the news is GREAT.

To celebrate the film’s release, I’ve been doing an Instagram takeover at my publisher’ Little Brown, giving some looks behind the book and into my world, exploring my  muses, disappointments, writing life and inspiration.

It has been a huge week–I just got married too… It’s all good but what an avalanche.  More soon!

 

 

PAINT IT BLACK MOVIE Trailer goes LIVE

Posted in Moments of Clarity, Upcoming Events with tags , , , , , , , , , on 04/11/2017 by Janet Fitch

Pure dark drama, the gorgeous and intense Paint It Black Movie, directed by multi-talented Amber Tamblyn, cowritten by Tamblyn and Ed Dougherty and starring Alia Shawkat, Janet McTeer and Alfred Molina is coming to theaters in LA and New York on May 19. Mark your calendars, and take a peek here!  More news when I get it.

The Revolution of Marina M. Book Cover

Posted in Moments of Clarity on 03/26/2017 by Janet Fitch

After all these years living deep in the labyrinths of my imagination, The Revolution of Marina M. has a book cover and a publication date!  It’s November 7. Set in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) Russia, the book follows the coming of age of Marina Makarova during the Russian Revolution. A young poet, we see her transformation from from idealistic daughter of the intellectual bourgeoisie to an independent, passionate woman navigating her course through some of the most extreme political changes of the twentieth Century. You saw it here first!The Revolution of Marina M.jpg

The Shape of Fiction: Structuring the Novel

Posted in The Literateria, Upcoming Events with tags , , , , , on 02/03/2017 by Janet Fitch

On Feb. 10, I was invited to speak on a panel about the Shape of the Novel with Christian Kiefer (The Animals), with whom I frequently teach at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers,  also Jeff Jackson (Mira Corpora) , Esme Weijun Wang  (the Border of Paradise) and Kirsten Chen (Soy Sauce for Beginners).

Like most writers, I am fascinated by the shapes the novel can take. What a commodious form it is.  It encompasses everything from straightforward chronological  stories– from the 19th Century novel in third person, Anna Karenina say, to the more contemporary and voice driven version first person variety, like Sapphire’s Push, to braided narratives like Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible–where the story is handed off between stories or characters, each advancing the work further. It’s a shape popular among writers, because it’s so useful. It gives us somewhere to go when we’ve exhausted  a certain narrative burst–we can hand it off to the next character’s story line.

There’s the retelling of a story from the point of view of a minor character (The Wind Done Gone, Grendel) and the Rashomon-style narrative, where the same territory is readdressed by  a number of different points of view.  A work like the Alexandria Quartet involves many of these shapes. The first book, Justine, is Darley’s story,  but the second book, Balthazar, interlineates the first one, “here’s what you didn’t know at the time”–like Rashomon. The third book , Mountolive, goes back and describes how the situation came to be (prequel), and the fourth, Clea, moves the narrative forward again.

There are novels made up of single sentences, like Markson’s work–Readers Block is my favorite–and Carole Maso’s Ava, and novels that are one single sentence, like Marquez’s Autumn of the Patriarch. There are novels that are closed universes (Pynchon’s novels, especially Gravity’s Rainbow) where everything comes around again, and there is no ‘outside’ the system.  There are epistolatory novels–novels in letters like Les Liaisons Dangereuses and The White Tiger, and novels in diary form, like Diary of a Madman and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and novels with framing devices (an older character thinking back in time, say, like Evening by Susan Minot) or a past story and a present story like A.S. Byatt’s Possession.

Then there are novels which begin with shape as a game.  Mark Danielewski’s genre-breaking visual novels  the multivolume The Familiar,  House of Leaves and Only Revolutions all contain literary and visual games.  Only Revolutions, for example,  has 360 pages, 36 lines per page, and eliminates whole categories of vocabulary in support of its protagonists, young his-and-her gods in the making. So no religious words, no structural words, no interior words. I loved the way that the two narratives begin, his and hers, one at either end of the novel, and cross in the middle.  You read through and then you flip the book over and start again.

The ultimate gamester is the Oulipo group’s Georges Perec, the one who eliminated the letter e from his novel A Void–which called for a tremendous discipline, as e is the most used letter in the French alphabet, and precludes the use of “the”(le) or “I” (Je.) The Void was not only  the absence of ‘e’ but also the story of an absent person the others search for. The obstruction absolutely shaped the story. In his novel Life a User’s Manual, stories arise from the examination of the contents of a French apartment house, rooms visited on a grid via the knight’s move, with hundreds of obstructions–which he saw as “a machine for inspiration.”

So the shapes and obstructions and rules writers set themselves  aren’t there to frustrate themselves but as challenges and  prompts to the imagination.  In Joyce’s Ulysses–very loosely based on the Odyssey–each chapter was written in an entirely different style.  Rabih Alameddine’s I, The Divine is a novel comprised all of opening chapters as a woman tries and fails to tell her story in various ways.  On the flip side, John Fowles’ French Lieutenant’s Woman gives us three different endings.

With many of the more innovative shapes of novel, the reader has to learn how to read the novel as they go.  That is certainly the case with Danielewski’s typographically intricate works, and notoriously with David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, where the reader must decide whether to read the text and the footnotes concurrently, or get to the end of a chapter and go back for the footnote, or read all the way through, and then go back and read the footnotes all the way through.

There’s the nested novel, like Cloud Atlas, stories within stories–I call this the Sargasso Manuscript novel, from the movie where each character tells a story, and then that story is interrupted by the tale of a character within that story–going down seven layers and coming back out. Michael Cunningham’s Specimen Days was an interesting example of the same-ish story being told three times, in three different genres–ghost story, noir thriller and sci fi. His novel The Hours was more a braided story, but elements of each story bleed into the others.

And don’t forget the novel in verse, which I think is enjoying a comeback due to the openness of young adult fiction to new genres and mashups–many popular young adult novels are written in verse such as Ellen Hopkins’ Crank which will result in an adult audience which isn’t as doctrinaire about genre as past generations. In the adult category, novels in verse can be anything from the tight meter and rhyme of Vikram Seth’s San Francisco novel Golden Gate–Onegin stanzas they’re called, in homage to the greatest of all novels in verse, Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin–but there’s also the looser, more narrative free-verse werewolf novel Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow.

And I’m reaching to describe the brilliant motival technique of Malcolm Lowry’s masterpiece Under the Volcano, which I’ve always called the Spiral Novel. This novel is shaped by the buildup of images (motifs), like a Beethoven concerto–you get the image or phrase once, then it comes around again and gains power with each repetition, as more emotion and resonance adheres to it. (Like the first time Oaxaca is mentioned, it’s just a place. Then 40 pages later, he says, “Oaxaca meant divorce.” after which every time it’s mentioned, it gains more gravity.) There are hundreds of images and phrases like this whirling around in the book–the feral dogs, the barranca or crevasse which runs unpredictably through the landscape, the Peter Lorre movie Los Manos d’Orlac ) repeating and repeating as it whirls tighter and the images grow ever more dense with meaning  until the whole thing explodes inside your head.

For myself, I’m working to shape the reader’s emotional experience. So I work mostly on what I call the symphonic level–like a longer piece of music, or an opera. I want to have big thunderous moments and quiet ones. I want to have the full chorus singing their lungs out, and then a solo, a duet, a trio. Then chorus again. I like to follow an interior scene with an exterior one, day with night, active with meditative-and keep changing it up.  I’m mostly thinking, how is the reader experiencing this?

Wish you good writing!

 

Paint It Black the Movie–Coming to the Big Screen!

Posted in Moments of Clarity, Upcoming Events with tags , , , , , , , on 02/01/2017 by Janet Fitch

After many ups and downs, and a successful tour of film festivals last winter, Paint It Black the Movie will at last be coming to a theater near you!  It was picked up for distribution by Imagination Worldwide.  after the Houston Film Festival, and it’s going to get the royal treatment, the whole nine yards–theatrical, streaming, you name it.

Though it seems like movies take less time to shoot than novels take to write, Paint It Black was a four-year novel, while Amber Tamblyn has been working almost ten on this project–first trying to get the rights from me (sorry!) then writing the script with her writing partner, Ed Daugherty, the long road to casting–like herding kittens.  This one was on, then that one fell out.  Her decision to direct the film herself.  Then the final casting, the securing the locations–all within ten minutes of my house–getting the money together, that girl is a powerhouse.  The shooting only took 20 days, but it looks like it was 40.

She’s expecting a baby this month, and I’m putting finishing touches on my Russian novel, due out in November–and we’re going to celebrate the release of the movie this April! Nice to have some good things to look forward to.

Said the female CEO of Imagination Worldwide, Michelle Mower: “IWW could not be more excited to be working with Amber Tamblyn on the release of her directorial debut feature Paint It Black. Amber’s approach to the Janet Fitch novel is both visually poetic and features strong female characters in complex relationships. It’s the perfect film for relaunching our company in 2017.”

It sure is poetic and gorgeous and a touch surrealistic… Hope you enjoy it!