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Novelists

Fall 2017

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 …

Fall 2017

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 …

WSU Emeritus Professor and writer Alex Kuo. Courtesy Alex Kuo
Winter 2015

Triple Shanghai

Alex Kuo’s writing confronts censorship both explicit and hidden

In a pivotal moment from Alex Kuo’s new novel shanghai.shanghai.shanghai, several Chinese card players watch a team of Americans publicly disavow George W. Bush’s administration in front of an international audience. Struck by the brazen criticism, a pickpocket known as Bogota Man questions how such anti-government opinions could ever be voiced openly.

He contends that political dissent in China can mean life in solitary confinement. A friend quickly responds that in America the defiant act of protest is more likely to be completely ignored.

“I’m not sure which is worse,” she says.

» More …

Winter 2009

Yolandé McVey ’07—Taking life back

The heroine of Love’s Secrets puts on perfume, goes to a barbecue, and meets Rod: caramel skin, wavy hair, muscles, and commitment issues.

The author of Love’s Secrets can never do two of those three things. Exposure to perfume or barbecue smoke could kill Yolandé McVey ’07, who suffers from severe asthma and allergies. “I’m so allergic to everything that when I was given an allergy test, I went into shock,” she said. “They had to call an ambulance to take me to a hospital.”

McVey began to lose ground in her lifelong battle with respiratory problems in 1997. She had just moved to Arizona … » More …