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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 710)...

    Was there a difference for you in the writing process when you wrote Dreamer versus writing something like The Holy or After Dachau? There are books like your Dreamer and all the many, many Stephen King and Peter Straub mass market paperbacks that you find on the shelves and then there are books like After Dachau and The Holy--books that it seems like the author put more of himself into, that were more personal to the author. Is there a difference in the writing process when you're imagining up things for a novel like Dreamer and your more recent fiction, which seems like a different kind of thing altogether?

    ...and the response:

    It's an interesting question. I think you'll see the answer for yourself if you put it in a different setting--does a good architect (like, say, Frank Lloyd Wright) think about designing a house in a way that is different from designing a skyscraper? No, there are just different problems to solve. If an architect does less than his best with a house (because it's "just a house"), then he's a hack.

    The personal history and convictions of author should not obtrude in an entertainment (which is what Dreamer was), though you may have a distinct impression of him as a person. For example, you have a distinct impression of P.G. Wodehouse from his books, but you would not suppose that Bertie Wooster's terror of his aunt (and of marriage) was an expression of Wodehouse's personal experience.

    You may be surprised to learn that The Holy began as an entry into the same field as Dreamer. As it developed over a decade and a half, however, it gradually became a different and more serious kind of book--as it became "more personal" to me.

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