Re: How do you choose what to write about?
Stephen Carter is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale Law School. He has taught at Yale since 1982. Carter is known for his legal and social policy writings, which include Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby, The Culture of Disbelief, and God's Name in Vain: The Wrongs and Rights of Religion in Politics. He has also written novels, including New England White and The Emperor of Ocean Park. Carter's areas of expertise include constitutional law, contracts, intellectual property law, secrets and lying, and law and religion. He clerked for Judge Spottswood W. Robinson III of the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals for and Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was educated at Stanford University and Yale, where he earned his law degree.
Question: How do you choose what to write about?
Stephen Carter: When I’m writing a novel I start with characters. I’m interested in people first of all, characters first of all. I think of people I’d like to write about. In this case, the most recent, people from my earlier novel – minor characters I wanted to write a novel about. I think of people that I wanted to write about . . . that I’d like to write about, and I think about what their family lives are like, where they would live. And then I think about what would strain their family ties. Whatever is normal life to them. However they negotiated the snares and difficulties of everyday living. What would test that? What would pressure that? And that’s how I begin to create the story. So I don’t begin by thinking, “Let me test some theme about race, or religion, or law, or government or something.” I begin by thinking of characters and asking myself, “What kind of setting can I put them in?”
Recorded on: 7/25/07
Carter starts with characters
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