5 Questions With… Author Scott Turow

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Scott Turow, author of ten best-selling novels that have sold more than 30 million copies world-wide, will visit the Lecture Hall at 7 pm on May 17th. We caught up with Turow as he prepares to embark on a national tour to launch his new book Testimony, which the New York Times calls “spellbinding.” Testimony comes out on May 16th, and a copy of the book is included with every ticket purchase for the event on the 17th.

What is the most challenging thing about writing for you? The easiest?  
Dialogue has always come pretty freely to me, because I hear the characters talking. On the other hand, these days the early stages, when a story is first coming to form, require a lot of discipline to keep my butt in the chair.

What do you hope people will take away from your book(s)?
Whatever they like. I’ve always been proud that I have a diverse readership, who, frankly, come to my books with different expectations.  Some readers are there for basic thriller stuff, an intriguing plot with hairpin turns.  Others want that, but something more substantial in addition, more sophisticated character development or reflections about the law.  My attitude has always been, “Come one, come all”.

Tell us about your favorite library experience or memory.
I’d probably go back to my days in college at Amherst, when I would lay on the floor of the reading room in Frost Library and read through several little literary magazines in the course of an evening.  My principal interest was in contemporary short stories, trying to decide what was great and what wasn’t.

What interview question do you wish you were asked more often, and what’s the answer?
Gee whiz.  Now I have to your job, too!  I do like to talk about literary theory more often than I’m asked to, whether I regard the mystery as a lesser literary form, compared to the straight literary novel.  I understand the point of the question (since I asked it) because the mystery depends on providing a certainty about what happened and why that life often cannot.  On the other hand, all literature depends on learning the characters’ motives, which may be every bit as artificial a convention as the ones the mystery depends on.  Do human beings ever know why they do anything?

What three books should every human read and why?
Anna Karenina.  Still the greatest novel ever.  The Old Testament and the New Testament, as a cultural baseline. (I imagine that’s almost a standard response.) The Complete Works of Shakespeare, since no one has ever used language as well.

Don’t forget to put Testimony on hold now, and check out Mr. Turow’s backlist.

-Kelly

author Scott Turow

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Kelly reads, writes and sometimes sews, always with a large mug of tea. She is the Managing Editor of Eleventh Stack and Clerical Specialist at CLP – West End, both of which give her plenty of ideas for stories that find homes in obscure literary magazines.