HEAR YE! HEAR YE! Welcome to Free Book Sunday.
This week's newsletter begins a new feature: author interviews. Today, I'm interviewing F.L. Rose, author of The Point of Us, a featured titled in BookFunnel's Classy Reads literary fiction expo.
Rose lives on the east coast of Australia and writes across a range of genres, including under the pen name Fallacious Rose.
We connected after she read my new book, Death Magnanimous, and I read one of her essays, No More Running and Jumping, a powerful and moving examination of an athletic young man suddenly paralyzed faced with the decision to live with extreme disability -- or die by his own hand.
Death Magnanimous -- also featured in today's Classy Reads lineup -- is about a young attorney burned beyond recognition in a light-aircraft accident faced with the same choice.
As always, click the links for the titles, ALL free this week.
Without further ado, here's Part One of my FL Rose Question (MM, Mike Martin) and Answer (ROSE).
MM: On the surface, the four main characters in The Point of Us are quite different: Paul, a Catholic school teacher losing his faith in God who signs up to visit a notorious hit man in prison; Dave, a school bus driver accused of racism; Emma, a mom who finds a long-lost brother doing life in prison; and Terentia, an award-winning novelist who may not be on top of her game anymore.
What brought them together in your mind as you crafted and wrote the story? Other than each person arriving at a critical crossroads, what other qualities, especially subtle ones, do they share?
ROSE: In The Point of Us, it’s not so much qualities that the four characters share, but a destiny as humans – that of being bound by the limitations and possibilities of the kind of people we are.
We all look for purpose, but depending on who we are – stubborn, principled, creative, nurturing – we seek it and achieve it in different ways. Dave, for instance, is an idealist, and that brings his world crashing down. On the other hand, it also offers the possibility of positive change.
Terentia, the rejected novelist, has a critical, rather selfish outlook shaped by her identity as a creator. But the rejection itself, and her daughter’s crisis, is a catalyst for growth.
I guess the point is, nobody changes who they are, but through challenging circumstances, we do grow and learn.
MM: You have an unusually-frank style. You don't mince words, as a trip through your site, Butimbeautiful, reveals. You also tackle some tough subjects: loss, grief, death, sex, and humor (which is so NOT easy).
Mincing words, however, has become something of a political and even economic necessity in many countries, especially democracies grappling with the language behind the --isms: racism, sexism, feminism, genderism, and so forth. In short, honest words can get you into trouble, especially in certain areas, like academe and business.
What advice do you have for writers in a world where honest words have become so charged? Do you ever worry that careful wording could wreck quality writing, which as Hemingway famously noted, is all about writing the truest sentence you can?
ROSE: You’re so right: these days it’s hard to walk a line between artistic truthfulness and the possibility of causing offence. I think the purpose of art is to show truth and beauty. So if you censor art, you kill it.
Ironically I find writing commercial fiction has a similar chilling effect; you find yourself thinking, ‘oh, my character had better not say that, people won’t like it!’. In this respect it’s great being obscure; if you say something politically incorrect, nobody notices or cares.
I wouldn’t presume to advise another writer on how to deal with this; it’s about whether you want to be true to your art (god, that sounds pretentious!) or quite reasonably prioritise some other principle such as caution, politeness or whatever. Be understanding, kind, truthful and skilful? Something like that.
MM: It's pretty easy to tell what books qualify as genre fiction: crime, mystery, fantasy, romance, science fiction, and so forth. It's not as easy to describe literary fiction.
What are the qualities of literary fiction?
ROSE: Not being a fan of rules and labels in general, I’m not sure what qualifies as literary fiction. But I think there is a class of books I’d classify as ‘literature’.
Literature, of whatever genre, uses words carefully and with a sense of their power and beauty. It possesses originality, but reveals something true about the universe we live in (you see, I’m not being too prescriptive here, in terms of specifying ‘humanity’ or ‘our world’).
In the real world, literary is often shorthand for pretentious, boring and inaccessible – which is NOT something I aim for.
FL Rose also enjoys writing song lyrics and paddling at the beach with her Australian Kelpie, Darcy. You can find out more about Rose’s books at www.fallaciousrose.com