House of 8 Orchids
James Thayer ’71
Thomas & Mercer: 2016
Master storyteller James Thayer turns in another winner with House of 8 Orchids. In Chungking in the early twentieth century, Chinese gangsters snatch the two sons of a diplomat—John, five, and his brother William, two—from the care of their amah.
Fast forward to the 1930s. War with Japan is heating up. The boys, now men, have been raised in the eponymous House to … » More …
Where the trouble began
“Fiction is a document of trouble,” says novelist James Thayer ’71. The trouble began for Thayer as a teenager reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula on his father’s wheat farm in Almira.
“The narrator sees the Count leap to a window frame—and then crawl down the exterior of the castle wall like a lizard!” Thayer exclaims. “That scene scared me to death! It was a revelation as to the power of fiction.”
Now, decades later, the Seattle-based author of 14 novels teaches fiction writing through the University of Washington’s continuing education program.
“The main thing that keeps people from writing a novel is that it … » More …
The accidental novelist
What began as a way to avoid going stir crazy while recuperating from a nearly fatal equestrian accident has become an award-winning western genre trilogy that blends suspenseful mystery and the allure of lost fortunes with good old-fashioned frontier fortitude.
Landscape architect STEPHEN B. SMART ’75 calls himself an unlikely novelist. He’s spent most of his life outdoors, designing everything from elaborate gardens and water features to a driveway gate cleverly concealed to appear as a fallen ponderosa pine. And in his free time, he’s more likely to be found atop a favorite mule exploring the Pacific Northwest backcountry than sitting at a keyboard … » More …
James Thayer on the craft of the novel
James Thayer reads from The Boxer and the Poet
James Thayer ‘71 reads the first chapter of his romantic comedy, The Boxer and the Poet.
Tips and Techniques
Thayer started teaching the craft of the novel about ten years ago as a creative writing instructor at the University of Washington. He’s also a regular contributor to Author magazine.
Thayer, a natural storyteller, absorbed his craft through his lifelong voracious reading habit. When he first got the teaching job, he realized he didn’t have enough to say to fill a 90-hour, year-long course. So, as is his wont, he read a bunch of books. … » More …
Jean Hegland ’79
Arcade Publishing: 2015
Still Time, a new novel by Jean Hegland, explores dementia through the eyes of aging Shakespearean scholar John Wilson. Unsettled by life in a residential care facility and a surprise visit from his estranged daughter, Wilson finds solace and structure in the plays and poetry that so captivated his life.
Hegland, who shares poetry at a memory care center near her home in California, says she was inspired by … » More …
Allen Johnson ’85 PhD
Skyhorse Publishing, 2014
The Awakening weaves effortlessly through time, from the battle-scarred streets of Spain in 1936 to nearly 60 years later as it tells the life story of Diego Garcia and his descendants.
In this unconventional romance novel, Diego Garcia dropped everything to be with the Moroccan beauty of his dreams, Lupe. The two newlyweds headed to Granada, Spain, to start a life of their own in the 1930s. The two loved each other immensely, and where there is love there is compassion. The story leaps forward almost 60 years … » More …
New and noteworthy
Digitized Lives: Culture, Power, and Social Change in the Internet Era
T.V. Reed, a WSU English and American studies professor, examines the impact of digital communication and the Internet on how we live.
Whole in the Clouds
Kristine Kibbee ’00
The Zharmae Publishing Press, 2014
Cora Catlin, the unhappy orphan protagonist in Kibbee’s debut novel, and her dog Motley discover the meaning of friendship and a magical world in the clouds.
Two Bits and Odd Days
Thomas A. Springer ’86
Springer, a Tacoma high school teacher and creative writer, offers a selection of his poems from the … » More …
The Slow Regard of Silent Things
Patrick Rothfuss ’02 MA
DAW Books, 2014
A darling of the sci-fi/fantasy set, Pat Rothfuss has diverted from the long-awaited third part of his bestselling Kingkiller trilogy and, instead, taken the time to explore the story of lovely, lonely Auri, one of the secondary Kingkiller characters.
Warning his readers that this book may not be for them, not even for the most serious fans of his first two meaty novels The Name of the Wind and Wise Man’s Fear, Rothfuss nonetheless draws them in to this bittersweet tale of the fair-haired mysterious woman who … » More …