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Daniel A. Olivas Recommends...

Writers Recommend

Posted 4.13.11

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“As with most fiction writers, I can be inspired by virtually anything: a song, a kiss, a cup of coffee, an overheard conversation. And in writing three short story collections, those and many other inspirations sparked a rather diverse number of plots and characters. When I decided to move from writing short stories to a full-length novel, I wanted to find an overarching (or thematic) inspiration that would help me move forward in completing the manuscript and, at the same time, allow me to revel in the creative joy I experience when writing a short story. So, I first decided that I needed to examine who I was and what types of stories I tended to write. My fiction often revolves around my multiple identities as a Chicano (the grandson of Mexican immigrants), a former Roman Catholic, a Jew-by-choice (I converted in 1988; my wife is the granddaughter of Russian Jewish immigrants), a husband, father, and Los Angeles native. After a few weeks of pondering, it came to me: My novel would be based on the Ten Commandments, with each chapter inspired by a commandment. Once I decided upon this structure, I felt liberated to create characters and plots that seemed to grow naturally out of the commandments. Over the course of two years (in which I also wrote short stories, poetry, essays, and book reviews), my novel grew until I had ten chapters I really liked. After reading and editing it several times, I decided to add a short prologue and epilogue. My novel eventually found a home and  received a very nice review in Publishers Weekly. So, on March 24, 2011 (the official release date), I became a novelist. If Moses only knew.…”
Daniel A. Olivas, author of The Book of Want (University of Arizona Press, 2011)

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