Tag Archives: fiction research

GREAT ARTISTS STEAL: In the Distance by Hernan Diaz

In the Distance takes place during the second half of the nineteenth century in what was known, at the time, as the unorganized territories—vast expanses not yet part of the Union. To achieve a reality effect, more than westerns, I read travel narratives and essays by naturalists. I steered away from archaisms, colloquialisms, and technical terms, knowing that fetishizing certain words would make the narrator sound like a tourist or an anthropologist. In fact, I did not want the novel to feel researched at all. My main goal was to be inconspicuously accurate. Continue reading

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GREAT ARTISTS STEAL: #gods by Matthew Gallaway

In writing #gods, probably my most important research material (loosely defined), given that most of the book is set in Harlem and Washington Heights (in upper Manhattan), was the neighborhood where I’ve lived for the past twenty years. I specifically live east of Broadway in the lower 160s, just north and west of an area traditionally known as Sugar Hill, which is famous for its role in the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s as the home of African-American artists and writers including Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, and many others. Today, the neighborhood remains (demographically speaking) nonwhite, which I mention because, as a white person, I think it’s important to have an understanding of what it means (to some small extent) to be a minority in our country, and living in a nonwhite neighborhood, along with being gay, has I hope given me some perspective—or at least sensitivity—that I tried to incorporate into the book.

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