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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Chat With Roald Dahl, Part Three

Oh, Roald Dahl (1916-1990), how do I love thee? Let me count the ways/posts. One, two…this is my third post (click for Post 1 and Post 2) dedicated to interview questions and answers found in the back of my copy of The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More .

*Yes, I’ve posted this photo before—it’s Mr. Dahl in his inner sanctum.

Since writing the first two posts, I’ve heard more than one agent mention the difficulty of defining the “voice” of a novel. They say that “voice” is not your protagonist’s tone or dialogue patterns, but rather the word choice and word order and something special about the novel’s delivery that makes it distinctive and gives it AUTHORITY. I never feel safer as a reader than when I’m curled up with Roald Dahl and a cup of hot something (coffee, hot chocolate, soup). I immediately feel as though I'm in the hands of a master storyteller and fall submissive to his role as Narrator.

But enough slobbering and blubbering like the fan I am.

The interview was conducted in 1988 by a family friend. Not too many people were allowed to come into his inner sanctum, especially not people from the media. Dahl himself said, “I have worked all my life in a small hut up in our orchard. It is a quiet private place, and no one has been permitted to pry in there.”

Question from Todd McCormack: What is your work routine?

Answer from Roald Dahl: My work routine is very simple and it’s always been so for the last 45 years. The great thing, of course, is never to work too long at a stretch, because after about two hours you are not at your highest peak of concentration, so you have to stop. Some writers choose certain times to write, others choose other times, and it suits me to start rather late. I start at 10 o’clock and I stop at 12. Always. However well I’m going, I will stay there until 12, even if I’m a bit stuck. You have to keep your bottom on the chair and stick it out. Otherwise, if you start getting in the habit of walking away, you’ll never get it done.

I love that even Roald Dahl talked about the importance of butt-in-chair :)

The next segment with Roald Dahl will include his method of creating interesting characters and his thoughts on the subject of chocolate.

Click HERE to read a GalleyCat article about Roald Dahl’s words being distributed on cereal boxes in the UK!

HERE is a link to his official website.

22 comments:

  1. awww! your fangirling is way too cute!!! :)
    and what a great quote! whoohoo for bic!

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  2. Voice is such a hard thing to even understand, let alone achieve. You're right -- Roald Dahl is one of the best.

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  3. Who doesn't love Roald Dahl and have beautiful childhood memories (and a little older) of his fantastic tales? Great post!

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  4. I love it! My son loves Roald Dahl and will read just about anything he writes:) Lovely post and your blubbering is perfect!!!

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  5. Such fan love I need to see what he writes now! I like his take on voice. People try to explain it, but he nailed it! Thanks for letting us peek into his world.

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  6. He totally started butt in chair! Love it. I can't wait til my youngest is in full-time school so that I can claim writing time.

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  7. I read every Roald Dahl book I could get my hands on when I was a kid. I loved it. And he has some great advice for writers, too.

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  8. I was hoping there'd be more of this.

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  9. I tutor a young boy who started with me as a below level reader and he became quickly entranced by the world of Roald Dahl. We read together book after book of his, noting simularities and differences of his characters and plots. We did some author research about him. I really enjoyed working with him on this because it made me a life-long Roald Dahl lover.

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  10. Roald Dahl is awesome! I love his inner sanctum. Do you think Matilda really watched him write?

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  11. So inspirational! Definitely a different attitude towards media than most authors have. I love that he kept his inner sanctum just that--a sanctum. special and private.

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  12. I love your posts about Roald Dahl. Very inspiring. We have a tape (yes, a cassette tape - from the dark ages) of Roald Dahl reading Fantastic Mr. Fox and it has been a family favorite in the car for years! It is so incredible to hear it read in his own actual voice. Looking forward to your next Dahl post :)

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  13. I lurve him.

    He is definitely one of the reasons I write Middle Grade.

    Shelley

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  14. Awesome, BIC from a master! And I love that he kept in mind that we don't stay fresh beyond a certain point. Both are good things to remember.

    -Vicki

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  15. I just love this series that you are doing! Makes me want to go pick up more RD. I love that he wrote late at night like I do. I just wish I could force myself to do it every night. I am consistent during NaNoWriMo, but then I burn out!

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  16. Now I want nothing more than to ransack the Roald Dahl section of my bookshelf and reread all my old favorites.

    Plus, you can't argue with RD! Got to get that BIC...

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  17. What a nice glimpse into Dahl's mind. I love the butt-in-chair advice.

    I recall reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a young child, and my heart breaking because Charlie was so poor but so generous. And it made me better understand true poverty and true generosity.

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  18. I think Roald Dahl is a deity! I love using him as a example of voice in my classroom. I read the section in BOY about Mrs. Pratchett in the candy store and I see light bulbs going on over 10 yr. old heads. I STILL want to go to Wonka's Factory.

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  19. I'm right there in your fangirl club, I adore him! And I love, LOVE that he talked about Butt In Chair. That's brilliant. I'm suddenly so in the mood to find my big Roald Dahl collection and start rereading.

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  20. I would love to have an inner sanctum all to myself. Obviously his routine worked well for him! Something I really need to work on ~ :)

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  21. Oooh where else can I see Ronald Dahl and chocolate? LOL :D

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