James McBride

Literary Birthday – 11 September – James McBride

Happy Birthday, James McBride, born 11 September 1957.


  1. As a journalist, the details always tell the story.
  2. I type most of my books for the first chapter or two – I use a manual typewriter for the first 50 pages or so – and then I move to the computer. It helps me keep the work lean so I don’t end up spending 10 pages describing a leaf.
  3. Be a member of the human race. Love somebody. Change the world.
  4. As a writer, you have to be near people and hear stuff. I’m a hamburger and cheese kind of fellow; I’m not Henry David Thoreau.
  5. First person narrative is a very effective tool but you have to know as a writer how to make it work.
  6. Writing for me is cutting out the fat and getting to the meaning.
  7. I’m not one of those who can listen to music and write. I need the door closed. Windows shut. Facing the wall. No birds tweeting, views of nature, and so forth.
  8. You can’t write just anything. Your story needs structure.
  9. My main problem with fiction is that once my characters get moving, you just have to follow them along and get out of the way of the story, but sometimes they pull me in too many directions, and I need to focus.
  10. Writing teaches writing.

James McBride is an American writer and musician. He won the 2013 National Book Award for fiction for his novel The Good Lord Bird. He is also the author of The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother.

Source for image: Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:James_mcbride_2013.jpg

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 11th September 2017