Everyone knows that novelists rely on other people’s books for information, but in fact we draw on the work of others for far more than that: for examples of how to tackle a subject, period or structural challenge; for insight into a certain type of character. So in writing FROG MUSIC, I was inspired by the approach of some great novels about nineteenth-century America, yes, but also by other fiction that rises to similar challenges.
(1) E. L. Doctorow, THE MARCH, a brilliantly revisionist tale of the American Civil War, features an almost vaudeville-style duo of hapless soldiers trying to get home in one piece through a broken country.
(2) Charles Frazier, COLD MOUNTAIN. I think it’s the structure – the cutting back and forward between the endlessly divided experience of a husband and wife trying to find each other after the Civil War – that makes…
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