Saturday, April 22, 2017

Nicole Helget

Nicole Helget is the multigenre author of The Summer of Ordinary Ways, The Turtle Catcher, Horse Camp, Stillwater, Wonder at the Edge of the World and The End of the Wild.

Recently I asked Helget about what she was reading. Her reply:
I have a different book or reading device in every area of the house, in the car, and on the porch. Next to my bed, I keep Sarah Kendzior’s essay collection, The View From Flyover Country. She’s a fantastic journalist, who has spent her career studying totalitarianist regimes and whose twitter feed is the first thing I consult in the morning before I turn on the news and get my morning fix of rage and inspiration to be a better writer, teacher, neighbor, and citizen. Her book is a collection of some of her best works on the economy, globalization, academics, and culture. I am daily in contact with rural people, many of whom voted for Trump, and I’m also working on my own essay collection, Requiem, a book that hopefully tells a national story through the tight lens of the life of a rural woman, me, and that comes out with Minneopa Valley Press sometime next year. The project often feels too large, overwhelming, and Kendzior keeps me motivated and reminds me that there’s room for voices from flyover country.

In the car (while parked and waiting for the kids to get out of school), I’m reading Louise Erdrich’s LaRose again. I already read it, but the first time through, I absorbed it like a reader. Now, I’m going back and examining it as a writer. I randomly select paragraphs here and there and really scrutinize her sentences, everything from their length and construction to their detail, diction, and music, and then I just sit back and appreciate the cumulative effect. One word, one sentence, one paragraph at a time, Erdrich demonstrates her artfulness.

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes is my porch reading. Even though I have now written two middle grade novels, I am still learning a lot about the craft of writing for children. While writing, I lean toward long sentences that wax on and on, usually about setting. I also tend to interrupt my forward-motion with back story. I do many other things that work better in adult fiction than in stories for young people. Middle-grade is very story focused. I think Parker Rhodes is one of the best MG writers out there, so I’m immersed in the world of Deja, the main character, as she navigates family, friends, school, community, and nation in a post-9/11 world, learning how to be a better writer for this population of readers.
Visit Nicole Helget's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Turtle Catcher.

The Page 69 Test: The End of the Wild.

--Marshal Zeringue