Bookselling This Week has a Q&A up right now with novelist Kent Haruf. His new novel, Benediction, is a must read for lovers of literary fiction. It’s also the #1 Indie Next List pick for March. What does that mean? It means that independent booksellers across the country believe in this book, love this book, and highly, highly recommend you read it. Here’s a sample of the conversation, available in full over on the Bookselling This Week website:
BTW: All of your characters — as well as their motivations, desires, and fears — are fully realized and seamlessly interconnected to one another. What is your process of developing each facet of a character’s story and how they eventually come together?
KH: I hope I have done that — you’re kind in your questions. When I think of a story, I always begin with the characters. I daydream and brood and imagine that character for nearly a year and, of course, they all have to have problems, so I think about their problems. Then I begin to imagine and daydream about the people that would be in their lives, and their problems. It’s my biggest effort to figure out how to bring them together in a way that would move the story forward — not necessarily predictably but certainly inevitably.
In Benediction, an old man is dying, so it was logical to bring his wife and daughter into it. And since he’s lived there a long time, the neighbor woman is part of the story. In a small town like this one, it seemed natural for the preacher to call on him. Those all seem to be inevitable, natural connections, so I’m not forcing anything.
It seems to me in regard to reading about fictional characters, we come to know them better than we know our family or friends. Fiction gives us the sense that we know those people, so we often feel lost or bereft at the end of the novel. Fiction has a special kind of power that way, I think.
We are indeed one of the booksellers highly recommending Benediction. We have a limited number of signed copies available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. It’s a wonderful read.