Matthew Pearl, author of The Last Dickens (Oct 5-16)

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Matthew Pearl, author of The Last Dickens (Oct 5-16)

1ablachly
okt 5, 2009, 6:14pm

Please welcome Matthew Pearl, author of The Last Dickens. Matthew will be chatting on Librarything until October 16th.

2QueenAlyss
okt 5, 2009, 9:33pm

What was your favorite part about writing The Dante Club? I thought it was really interesting the plot you weaved around so many different characters and you also made me interested in those authors!

In The Poe Shadow I really loved the mysterious way that Poe was portrayed and how very curious the book was... it's been a few years since I've read it, but I remember loving it!

I haven't gotten around to reading The Last Dickens yet, but what was the centering plot around it? What made you interested in Dickens? After all, so many people have written about him and many ideas have been gathered around his last novel!

Which of your three books is your favorite overall story- wise? Which was the most fun to write and interesting to research?

3matthewpearl
okt 5, 2009, 11:08pm

Thanks to LibraryThing for inviting me over. I'm always happy to answer questions.

QueenAlyss, thanks for your great questions. I've always seen the three literary history novels--The Dante Club, The Poe Shadow, and The Last Dickens--as a thematic set. Of course, a reader doesn't have to read all three or read them in any order, but in my creative vision I see them together.

Dickens's unfinished mystery book is in many ways the ultimate literary mystery. I couldn't resist! I wanted to do something different, though, rather than trying to guess how he would end it, explore the dramatic urge to find the ending. My characters are all on varying quests to understand that final Dickens book.

My favorite part of The Dante Club was definitely breathing life into the poets who formed the club. Their friendships were such fun to explore.

Although Poe isn't still alive when The Last Dickens is set, he plays a crucial role... though I won't say more!

4EclecticEccentric
okt 5, 2009, 12:48am

I've yet to read The Last Dickens, but I've heard wonderful things, particularly regarding your ability to create a scene. How did you go about creating the setting for the novel?

5matthewpearl
okt 5, 2009, 2:23am

Thanks for your post, Eclectic, and I do hope you'll have the chance to pick up The Last Dickens when you have a chance. This novel was a big challenge because I chose to set it in three main settings, India, Boston and London (with a few excursions elsewhere, including New York). It can feel overwhelming to research an entire city or country, so I try to approach it from the characters. I ask myself what part of a subculture or sector of a place a character would be passing through, and try to focus my research on that. I'm lucky that I love doing the research, because boy does it get tedious sometimes! I think the locales provide another rich character for the novel, when fleshed out.

6VetaTorres
okt 5, 2009, 2:35am

I was curious about how you became a writer. As a young person were you always writing or did you one day just have an idea which steadily progressed into a book?

7BooksPlease
okt 6, 2009, 7:16am

I read The Poe Shadow because I've been interested in Edgar Allen Poe since I was a child when I first read some of his Tales of Mystery & Imagination - until my mother saw what I was reading!

How did you become interested in Poe?

8matthewpearl
okt 6, 2009, 5:11pm

Thanks for the question about writing paths, Veta. You know, to be honest, I hadn't really ever thought of being a writer when I was growing up, or at least of being a novelist. I had other artistic ambitions. For instance, I loved cartooning and had a daily comic strip in my college newspaper. Sort of being a writer--but with very few words.

For me, writing fiction came almost accidentally. I had an idea for a story (what would become The Dante Club) and I think I made myself into a writer to tell it.

I didn't have any training. What I take from my own path is that there is no "track" to writing--everyone comes at it from a different direction, and all of the paths might have different obstacles and strengths.

I wrote a blog post about the strangeness I still feel saying I'm a writer, which you might be interested in: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Matthew-Pearl-author/29977879540?v=app_2347471856#...

9matthewpearl
okt 6, 2009, 5:14pm

BooksPlease, thanks for mentioning Poe. I also came to Poe when I was young--although a bit older than you were. I was in high school and we were assigned a few of the short stories and a few poems. It was so different from anything I had read before! Poe at once appalled me and compelled me to read more.

That's part of why The Poe Shadow is from the perspective of a reader. Reading Poe is really a journey and a quest--an adventure in itself!

Did you know Poe and Dickens met once? I just did a post about it if you are interested:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Matthew-Pearl-author/29977879540?v=app_2347471856#...

And I've been ruminating on Poe's drinking, too, always a topic of speculation:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Matthew-Pearl-author/29977879540?v=app_2347471856#...

10VetaTorres
okt 6, 2009, 2:52am

I looked at your blog and I totally see where your coming from. I'm very interested in writing. I have a great idea (well i think it's a great idea) but feel that at my current age (17) I haven't experienced enough. So I'm saving it up until I think I'm ready.

Thanks for answering my question.

11BooksPlease
okt 7, 2009, 8:38am

Thanks for your reply.

I was both horrified and fascinated by Poe when I first read his Tales, but reading them recently I no longer feel the same. The sense of horror in them seems to have gone - to be replaced by repulsion. But as you say there is something compelling about them too.

Thanks for your links - most interesting. It seems Poe was allergic to alcohol? The biographical details are perhaps the things I like best about your book - that research must have been most satisfying.

12supermanboidy
okt 7, 2009, 12:00pm

Hi Mr. Pearl,

I wanted to let you know that I absolutely loved "The Dante Club" and enjoy all of your work. Your mysteries are reader's reads, where the true appreciation is not only the story, but the literary knowledge that comes with it. It's fantastic having classic authors become characters for new pieces of literature. Is Dickens the last in this theme? Will we see more? You've covered everyone from Dickens, Poe, Longfellow, Dante, Holmes, and more, is there a modern author you would enjoy writing about?

13matthewpearl
okt 7, 2009, 12:24pm

Hey Superman, thanks for joining in here. Like all first novels The Dante Club was a very special book to write. It channeled years of creative feelings and ideas for me, and your description of "reader's reads" couldn't be more gratifying to me. If you ever go to Cambridge, make sure you tour the Longfellow house if you haven't, I think you'd love it!

As I often say, I do see The Dante Club, The Poe Shadow and The Last Dickens as a thematic set. My fourth novel, which I'm working on now, will be something different--but no so different as to disorient anyone who enjoyed the other novels, I hope. It will be 19th century set in Boston and a thriller--just not about literary history.

That said, I love literary history and there's no way I'm done with it. In fact--you heard it hear first--I'm cooking up ideas for *two* sequels to The Dante Club, though I can't say any details about them yet.

Writing about a modern writer wouldn't appeal to me quite as much, though I can't put my finger on why. I always like origin stories, so to speak, and so much was just getting going in the 19th century, I think that excites my natural interests.

14matthewpearl
okt 7, 2009, 12:26pm

Veta, definitely be patient! The nice thing about writing is it shouldn't be rushed, and you have lots of years ahead for creative exploration.

15matthewpearl
okt 7, 2009, 12:26pm

BooksPlease, it seems like *something* was strange about Poe's drinking--though you might have noticed in my comments section lots of disagreement about what!

16bohemima
okt 7, 2009, 11:25pm

Mr. Pearl, I don't have a specific question, but I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your work. Your first novel remains one of my favorites. I was drawn to it because of the setting and characters, as I grew up about 20 miles north of Boston and am a fan of 19th-century American Lit. However, it was much, much more than just a read aimed at those already interested.

Your Poe book is excellent as well. I've not read the Dickens book yet, but I'm intrigued by the idea of a thematic set of literary thriller/mysteries.

Thank you for adding quite a lot of pleasure to my recent reading.

17EclecticEccentric
okt 7, 2009, 1:30am

Makes sense. Thanks for answering. The Last Dickens is on my to buy list for my next foray into the wilds of my local bookstore.

18matthewpearl
okt 8, 2009, 12:37pm

Bohemima, thanks for such a nice message. I'm always pleased to hear how many fans of 19th century literature are out there--of course, myself included. I hope you'll enjoy The Last Dickens, and because you've read the other two I think you'll pick up lots of connections (though reading the others isn't required, of course).

19pjjackson
okt 8, 2009, 7:45pm

Mr Pearl...I found your book "The Dante Club" absolutely fascinating and so real I had to remind myself it was a novel. Am looking forward to reading your other two books. Have you thought of doing one on Nathaniel Hawthorne? Polly

20ThomasCWilliams
okt 8, 2009, 2:59am

Hello Matthew, I am just finishing up my first novel. I plan on hiring a lawyer to write a contract with a publishing house rather than using an agent. Would you have any thoughts about going down that route? Many thanks for taking time to do this chat and All Zee Best...

21matthewpearl
Redigeret: okt 13, 2009, 3:41pm

Polly, thanks for the kind words about the book! You know, I've had Hawthorne suggested to me a couple of times, though no specific idea has struck me yet. Maybe it will come to me, you never know! He was certainly an interesting person and brilliant writer.

UPDATE: Some might be interested in my post about how I think of the "next" book each time: http://www.redroom.com/blog/matthew-pearl/whats-next-how-writers-tackle-their-pe...

22matthewpearl
okt 9, 2009, 11:06am

Hi Thomas, thanks for your question. As a writer, by definition I am no expert in publishing, for better or worse. I'm not sure if you mean you want to pursue publication without an agent, or that you hope to get an agent and then a publisher, but then use a lawyer rather than an agent for contracts? Please clarify and I'll give my two cents.

23ThomasCWilliams
okt 9, 2009, 3:26am

I was thinking of the first: pursuit of publication without an agent. Thanks again for providing an experienced perspective.

24matthewpearl
Redigeret: okt 10, 2009, 1:37pm

Hi again Thomas, thanks for the clarification. With the continued qualifier that I'm a writer and not a publisher/agent/editor, my sense is that pursuing publication without an agent is a Herculean task. Could it work? Are there examples of it working? I'm sure it could and there are, but few and far in between. One might argue that the system *should* be different or there should be more access to publishers without agents, but the fact is the system is what it is. Besides, I couldn't imagine my publishing career without an agent, particularly my agent, guiding me at every step, far beyond initial contracts. Remember, your goal with a writing career is a long one, and that's an agent's goal, too. All of this said, I know getting an agent can seem and be very daunting.

Since I get asked about the process from time to time, I have a template for my own advice, whatever it is worth, which I will paste below.

I hope some of this is helpful. It's true that every path to publishing is different (as I say below), but rightly or wrongly that doesn't mean we can reinvent the wheel each time...

----

All paths to publication are different, some short, some long, some frustrating and some smooth -- none of which necessarily speaks to the ultimate success nor actual merit of a project.

Getting an agent should be your sole and narrow focus (UPDATE: All this applies to seeking a certain kind of traditional publication, which was the question, not self-publishing, e-publishing, or other alternative routes, and may not apply to indie publishers, as well... My response is predicated on the questioner asking how one might follow a similar path to publication as mine, since of course that's my only experience! I don't want to sound close-minded, just realistic in relation to this particular scenario). There is no way around it (if anyone tells you there's another first step besides getting an agent, or that you don't need an agent, they're wrong) and it is very difficult and frustrating to try to do. If you don't know much about literary agents (and there's no reason someone should outside that part of the business), start by getting a book like "The Literary Marketplace" which you can find in the "Writing" section of any Borders or Barnes & Noble, etc. or from a library. There are many books like this.

They will having listings of agents and their submission process and also essays of advice from agents, writers, etc. Definitely invest in or check out one of these books.

It all comes down to writing a query letter. In almost all cases, agents don't want you to just send your manuscript. You send a half to one page letter describing your book and yourself. You don't want to be timid, but you don't want to sound silly (don't say "Not since John Grisham has there been a book like this" etc.).

Back to the point. You send query letters to agents who are appropriate. Easiest way to figure out who is appropriate is to simply open to the acknowledgements of your favorite books -- or rather, books that share something in plot, style, spirit or genre with yours. They'll likely say "I'd like to thank my wonderful agent such and such" and you write that name down on your list. You then look it up in the Literary Marketplace-type book you've bought at Borders and find their address (or look them up on the internet at a site like http://agentquery.com/). Some agents let you email their offices, often through their agency's website. The Literary Marketplace should tell you such submission guidelines (many agents now let you email their query letters through a submission form online or to their email). Your goal is for an agent to respond to your query letter and request part or all of your manuscript to look over. Agents are swamped and have too many clients, so most -- even if in a perfect world they would have been interested in your project -- will either not get back to you or get back to you with a form letter. Remember agents receives 100s of letters a day!

Below you'll see my query letter for THE DANTE CLUB from that futuristic year 2000. As you can tell from the end, I enclosed self-addressed stamped envelopes, so I sent the query in a larger envelope that could fit it. Usually, the agencies will enclose form letters in the SASEs that they're not interested, of which I received several, but I also received one in the SASE requesting to read it--five or six months later. Again, there are more electronic friendly agent submission processes these days. As you can see, also, you want to gear the biographical paragraph to "match" the subject of your manuscript. Make it look like you were born to write this book. Remember: be patient and confident and persistent, and do not make the mistake of taking an impersonal process personally.

Also, here are some sites that deal with query letters (there are many more out there):

http://agentquery.com/

http://www.ebookcrossroads.com/query.html

http://www.nicholassparks.com/ForWriters.asp?PageID=6

http://www.soyouwanna.com/site/minis/mini/publishbookMINI/publishbookMINI3.html

-----------------------------
Dear Mr./Ms. Agent,

Please consider reviewing a manuscript of my first novel, THE DANTE CLUB.

THE DANTE CLUB is a mystery set in 1865 Boston. In the burgeoning literary culture of the mid 19th-century, the remarkable works of Dante have yet to reach American soil. Few people in the country speak or study Italian, and no translations of Dante have been produced for the American public. But a small group of literary geniuses is on the verge of initiating a new era as they put the finishing touches on the country's first translation of The Divine Comedy, and prepare to unveil Dante to the New World.

Their plans come to a screeching halt when a series of gruesome murders erupts through Boston. Only the members of the Dante Club realize that the style and form of the killings are stolen from Dante's Inferno and its singular vision of Hell. With the police baffled, lives endangered, and Dante's literary future at stake, the Dante Club must band together and find a way to stop the killer. The novel follows Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and James Russell Lowell as they descend into the dark recesses of Boston Brahmin society and confront their own personal demons.

I graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude in English and American Literature in 1997. In 1998, I won the Dante Prize from the Dante Society of America for my work chronicling the history of America's literary relationship with Dante; my essay "Colossal Cipher: Emerson as the Lost Dantean" will appear in the next edition of the Dante Studies journal. I am currently in my final year of study at Yale Law School.

Please feel free to call, email, or write using the enclosed SASE if you wish to receive the manuscript of THE DANTE CLUB.

Yours truly,

Matthew Pearl
----------------------------------------------------

25ThomasCWilliams
okt 10, 2009, 3:16am

Wow! It's very kind of you, Matthew, to post such a lengthy response. I appreciate your insights and will check out the various links. Thanks again for your time and best regards.

26digifish_books
okt 12, 2009, 3:12am

Hi Matthew,

welcome to LibraryThing. I am something of a fan of Charles Dickens and have read most of his major works, but haven't read The Mystery Edwin Drood, as yet. Do you recommend reading Edwin Drood before tackling The Last Dickens?

thanks

Laura

27matthewpearl
Redigeret: okt 13, 2009, 2:32pm

Great question, Laura, thanks. I wrote The Last Dickens so that none of my readers would need to have read The Mystery of Edwin Drood or, for that matter, any Charles Dickens novels in order to read my book. That's true of The Dante Club and The Poe Shadow, too, in relation to previous knowledge of Dante and Poe. All that said, I'm always happy to hear a reader whose interests are sparked by one of my books to read more of one of the authors that I've enjoyed exploring.

In fact, we've just published a new edition of The Mystery of Edwin Drood from Modern Library for which I served as editor (because Dickens died in the middle, there is no single authoratative text, which means there are editorial decisions to make) and provided an introduction. We also have an appendix with a transcript of wild 1914 mock trial about The Mystery of Edwin Drood that was held in London. You can read more about our edition here: http://www.matthewpearl.com/dickens/edwin.html

UPDATE: new post on why you might want to read The Mystery of Edwin Drood here!: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Matthew-Pearl-author/29977879540#/note.php?note_id...

28BFish
Redigeret: okt 13, 2009, 1:46pm

I'm only halfway through The Last Dickens (posted my review part 1 today: http://bfishreads.blogspot.com/2009/10/review-part-i-last-dickens-by-matthew.htm...), but I am fascinated with the details of the publishing industry.

I am a freelance industry professional and the inside scoop on the companies and personalities and the state of the publishing industry have me chuckling and nodding. Can you say anything about your research into these companies and people? Were your sources the archives of the companies themselves or perhaps newspaper or journal accounts?

I have never heard of Bookaneers, what an interesting lot they were, I'd love to know more.

Beth F

29matthewpearl
okt 13, 2009, 2:31pm

Hi Beth,

Thanks so much for your message here, and also for including The Last Dickens on your blog!

I can't tell you how much fun I had diving into the wilds of 19th century publishing history. I have so much fun with research--well, most research, I should say, and especially with this subject. I had first researched Fields, Osgood & Co. (previously Ticknor and Fields) for my first novel, The Dante Club, in which both Fields and Osgood are characters (although they play larger parts in The Last Dickens). Because that publishing firm does not exist anymore, the archival material is scattered around, mainly at Harvard's Houghton Library and in the Boston Public Library. As for Harper & Brothers, now HarperCollins, the best source was a series of books by Harper family members, and various articles and letters from the time complaining about the Harpers or, as they were known by some, the Harpy brothers!

I actually taught a seminar at Harvard Law School a few years ago called The Literary Vision of Copyright where we looked at 19th century writers through the prism of the lack of copyright protection, and in that class I assigned Poe and Dickens, as well as explored the Harpers.

Here is an image of the Harper Bros. counting room in their massive office building in New York, circa 1855:

http://www.officemuseum.com/1855_Counting_Room_Harper__Brothers_NYC_OM.JPG

Thanks for mentioning the Bookaneers, too! I actually plan to write a novel devoted to an ultimate Bookaneer adventure. I don't know if you saw this guest post I had at Reading Group Guides, but I think you might be interested.

http://www.readinggroupguides.com/blog/2009/10/matthew-pearl-last-dickens-and-ex...

I also do my own bloggish posts on my Facebook author page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Matthew-Pearl-author/29977879540)

Beth, please let me know if I can provide any thoughts or answers to questions on your blog, too.

30BFish
okt 13, 2009, 3:54pm

Thanks, Matthew! Of course, you're always welcome to comment on my blog (Ha!).

The research into the publishing firms sounds addictive. I'm going to take some time to explore the links you provided later this evening -- but thanks so much for posting them.

I definitely have to look into the Dante Club to learn more about Fields & Osgood. And I would LOVE to see a novel that focused on the Bookaneer world.

Thanks again,

Beth F

31matthewpearl
okt 13, 2009, 4:00pm

For those who haven't yet read The Last Dickens, I thought I'd just give a clue as to what Beth and I were talking about with the Bookaneers... This is from the post at Reading Group Guides that I linked to:

"There are moments when doing research when finding a small detail fires your imagination and opens an unexpected window into the past. This time, it was the discovery that the publishing firms would hire covert agents who waited at the ports and harbors of the major American cities waiting for valuable manuscripts to come in. Particularly Dickens. There was at least one specific report of a manuscript successfully pilfered.

I couldn't stop imagining who these literary bounty hunters might be. What were their backgrounds? What techniques did they employ? Were there rivalries?

I wanted to find more. But like much of history, nothing more than a few lines-worth of material had been documented. This isn't surprising, as these were sketchy tactics being used by self-consciously sketchy publishers.

That's where historical fiction can expand on a world that locks out nonfiction. For The Last Dickens, I created a world and avocation for these Bookaneers (as they're known in my book). They were daring literary pirates willing to use almost any tactic to obtain their treasures."

32riverwillow
okt 13, 2009, 5:05pm

Hi Matthew

I just wanted to say that having read your chat I've got a copy of The Last Dickens on order and I'm looking forward to reading it. I enjoyed The Poe Shadow and have to confess that The Dante Club is buried somewhere in my 'to read' mountain - in my defence I wanted to read this close to my rereading Inferno and as I've just started an English MA, this may be some time.

I am fascinated by your Literary Vision of Copyright seminar. I should add that I work in the UK media and spend much of my day acquiring, licensing or fair dealing copyright material. But I'm also fascinated by how Dickens, Eliot and their contemporary British writers struggled to gain some kind of recognition of their rights, especially in the US and how the copyright laws, in the UK at least, demonstrated changing attitudes to writing and I'm assuming that it was similar in the US, with US writers equally as frustrated with British publishers?

I do also have a question, you say that you love the research and try and approach through your characters - do you complete your research before you start writing, or research as you go along, or a combination of the two?

33matthewpearl
Redigeret: okt 13, 2009, 5:37pm

Thanks for the post, Riverwillow. It's true, the lack of international copyright law had far reaching consequences in the U.S. My contention in my class was that you even see these anxieties seep into the writers' literary works. There is a podcast of a talk I gave about the topics I taught in my seminar here:

http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/mediaberkman/2007/02/28/the-literary-vision-of-copy...

As to your question about research, that's a great question. Some writers do have very separate writing and researching stages. I don't. I am researching from day one to the last day of writing. Every time I make a change in what I'm writing, I match it with new research. I'd never want to be limited by research that I did in the planning or outlining stages.

For those interested in reading more about the research process for historical fiction, I've posted on that here:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Matthew-Pearl-author/29977879540?v=app_2347471856#...

34villy83
okt 13, 2009, 8:40pm

Hi Matthew! It's marvellous to have the chance to ask you some questions :). Well, there it goes:

It's six years since you first published The Dante Club (which I have read). Later you wrote The Poe Shadow (which I haven't read) and The Last Dickens (looking forward to buy it). You state that you still feel strange being a writer, but after three novels you have quite an expertise. In which ways do you think your writing has evolved since The Dante Club? Have you noticed any kind of literary "maturity"? Has any relative or close friend given you feedback in that direction?

Thanks and congratulations for your books!

35matthewpearl
okt 13, 2009, 8:57pm

Thanks for your post and your thoughtful questions, Villy. I would say that on the one hand writing can never gets easy. On the other hand, I do feel much more in control of my material. The Last Dickens, for example, required far fewer drafts than The Dante Club for me to feel it was ready. I am able to identify problems or obstacles and address them more quickly than I would have been when I was writing my first novel.

Part of maturing as a writer, also, is having the courage to seek opinions and feedback from friends and fellow writers without simply wanting them to say "It's perfect!" and being able to incorporate suggestions. That's a difficult thing since writing is inherently a very personal and private activity.

Thanks again for your nice comments!

36kylebrough
okt 13, 2009, 10:00pm

Mr. Pearl:
Some of the most humourous moments (for me) in your most recent novel are when characters recount how important Dickens is to them. Everyone idolizes him; everyone is, in some way, personally "touched" by his writing.
Its hard to imagine a writer getting that much attention these days. No one really lines up outside of bookstores anymore... well Harry Potter.

My question is, what happened to the Dickens audience? How did an author with such a huge fan-base become only studied in schools today?

37matthewpearl
okt 13, 2009, 10:07pm

Hi Kyle, great question! First, thanks for reading The Last Dickens. It was very fun for me to write about Dickens's enormous popularity. In fact, I wrote an article about that celebrity culture around Dickens (though for those who haven't read my novel yet, it might give away some elements of the plot):

http://www.slate.com/id/2213159/

As I've said elsewhere, my title refers not only to the last Dickens novel, but also that there will probably never be another Charles Dickens.

In reply to your question, I'd say that there is so much competition to entertain people now, with movies, TV, and internet, that the audience is still out there, but much more splintered. Still, it's heartening that there are as many Dickens enthusiasts out there. Hey, there's even a Charles Dickens action figure!

http://www.accoutrements.com/products/11516.html

38soffitta1
okt 13, 2009, 11:15pm

Evening Matthew,

I read The Dante Club a while back (and recently picked up a copy of The Poe Shadow. I found myself drawn into the dark storyline of your book, the images were disturbing yet gripping, I was compelled to read on. As a reader, a book stays with you, not only while you are reading it, but also afterwards, but I was wondering how, as a writer, you manage to live "outside" the story? Is it hard to switch off from the book you are writing? Or maybe you don't want to?

Thanks and good night! I look forward to reading more of your work.

39matthewpearl
okt 13, 2009, 11:24pm

Soffitta, thanks for your post! That's a great question about shifting between one's writing universe and one's real life. You know, I think there are definitely cross-overs in both directions. Small elements of your life will inevitably creep into your writing, even if you don't intend it, and suddenly parts of your story will materialize around you. Even historical fiction novels reflect the particular time period in your life that you write them.

When I'm really in the groove and immersed in a book, I definitely end up dreaming in the world of the story. That's always the strangest!

40kylebrough
okt 13, 2009, 12:19am

I bet you have five of those action figures.

Thanks for the article! It describes Dickens very visually. I found your descriptions of Dickens in the novel made me feel as if I was sitting right next to him... it was such detailed, researched description. But not just because you knew the clothes he wore or what colour his eyes were... you seem to really know the spirit of Dickens. What it was like to live and breath as Dickens. You say he had exclamation points for eyes... that's just wonderful.

41OneMorePage
okt 14, 2009, 9:45pm

I've enjoyed your books, and I have enjoyed this chat. I was very surprised to learn that you had no training as a writer, that you were "self-trained" because you had this story, The Dante Club, that you felt needed telling. All I have to say is WOW!

I am looking forward to "The Last Dickens".

42matthewpearl
okt 14, 2009, 2:58am

OneMorePage, thanks for such a nice comment! I hope you'll enjoy The Last Dickens.

43mrspenny
okt 15, 2009, 7:44am

Hallo Matthew - thank you sharing your thoughts on your writing life - I enjoyed The Dante Club very much and am waiting for my copy of The Last Dickens to arrive.

44riverwillow
okt 16, 2009, 11:35am

Hi Matthew,

I just wanted to say thank you for the link to your talk, it sounds fascinating, but I won't get a chance to listen to this until after this chat has finished. I also wanted to say that very excitingly my copy of The Last Dickens has arrived, which I am looking forward to reading - I also invested in a copy of The Mystery of Edwin Drood as I haven't read this since I left school and thought it was just about time for a reread.

Also, last and not least, thank you for this fascinating and wide ranging chat.

45matthewpearl
okt 16, 2009, 12:25pm

Thanks MrsPenny, I think you'll notice some crossover characters from The Dante Club appearing in The Last Dickens! I hope you enjoy it.

Riverwillow, so glad you'll also be rereading The Mystery of Edwin Drood, I bet you'll have a blast looking at it again.

46elbakerone
okt 16, 2009, 3:33pm

Thanks so much for chatting with us! I'm a little late to the discussion, but regarding post #8 - is there any chance we can get you to post some of your cartooning work?

Thanks!
lisa :)

47matthewpearl
okt 16, 2009, 12:52am

Lisa, thanks for thinking of that! You know, I don't yet have a scanner but have a plan to get one since I'm refitting my working space. Once I do, I'll post it up on one of my sites!

I guess we've gotten to the end: I want to thank everyone for all your great questions and comments.

To keep up to date on my books and to read posts I put up about writing and publishing, be part of my Facebook page here:
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If you want to receive email updates (I promise very few--1 to 2 per year on average) when I have a new book or project, sign up at my site with your email address:
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And of course, join as a friend to my LibraryThing profile.

Thanks for the opportunity to have this chat!

48novelwhore
okt 23, 2009, 2:03pm

So sad I missed Matthew Pearl chatting, but thanks for the great conversation!