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Chris Bohjalian

Goodreads Author


Born
in White Plains, New York, The United States
Website

Twitter

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Member Since
November 2007


Lincoln, Vermont’s Chris Bohjalian is the author of 18 books, most of which were New York Times bestsellers. His work has been translated into over 30 languages and three times become movies.

Hi new novel, "The Guest Room," a story of a human trafficking, a marriage in crisis, and two remarkable women, just went on sale.

His books have been chosen as Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Hartford Courant, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Bookpage, and Salon.

His awards include the ANCA Freedom Award for his work educating Americans about the Armenian Genocide; the ANCA Arts and Letters Award for The Sandcastle Girls, as well as the Saint Mesrob Mashdot
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Popular Answered Questions

Chris Bohjalian Okay, here are ten random suggesstions — the last a reference to the fact I was told by a creative writing professor when I was in college that I…moreOkay, here are ten random suggesstions — the last a reference to the fact I was told by a creative writing professor when I was in college that I should become a banker.

1) Don’t merely write what you know. Write what you don’t know. It might be more difficult at first, but – unless you’ve just scaled Mount Everest or found a cure for all cancers – it will also be more interesting.

2) Do some research. Read the letters John Winthrop wrote to his wife, or the letters a Civil War private sent home to his family from Antietam, or the stories the metalworkers told of their experiences on the girders high in the air when they were building the Empire State Building. Good fiction is rich with minutiae – what people wore, how they cooked, how they filled the mattresses on which they slept – and often the details you discover will help you dramatically with your narrative.

3) Interview someone who knows something about your topic. Fiction may be a solitary business when you’re actually writing, but prior to sitting down with your computer (or pencil or pen), it often demands getting out into the real world and learning how (for instance) an ob-gyn spends her day, or what a lawyer does when he isn’t in the courtroom, or exactly what it feels like to a farmer to milk a cow when he’s been doing it for 35 years. Ask questions. . .and listen.

4) Interview someone else. Anyone else. Ask questions that are absolutely none of your business about their childhood, their marriage, their sex life. They don’t have to be interesting (though it helps). They don’t even have to be honest.

5) Read some fiction you wouldn’t normally read: A translation of a Czech novel, a mystery, a book you heard someone in authority dismiss as “genre fiction.”

6) Write for a day without quote marks. It will encourage you to see the conversation differently, and help you to hear in your head more precisely what people are saying and thereby create dialogue that sounds more realistic. You may even decide you don’t need quote marks in the finished story.

7) Skim the thesaurus, flip through the dictionary. Find new words and words you use rarely – lurch, churn, disconsolate, effulgent, intimations, sepulchral, percolate, pallid, reproach – and use them in sentences.

8) Lie. Put down on paper the most interesting lies you can imagine. . .and then make them plausible.

9) Write one terrific sentence. Don’t worry about anything else – not where the story is going, not where it should end. Don’t pressure yourself to write 500 or 1,000 words this morning. Just write 10 or 15 ones that are very, very sound.

10) Pretend you’re a banker, but you write in the night to prove to some writing professor that she was wrong, wrong, wrong. Allow yourself a small dram of righteous anger.(less)
Chris Bohjalian Thank you so much!

Sometimes I think my own house is haunted. That novel was inspired by an actual door in my basement. Not kidding.

The house is an…more
Thank you so much!

Sometimes I think my own house is haunted. That novel was inspired by an actual door in my basement. Not kidding.

The house is an 1898 Victorian and it is the model for the house in the novel -- right down to the mud floor basement, the wallpaper, and the back stairway.

But it was the door in the basement that used to scare me. It was behind a pile of coal and bolted shut when we moved in.

And when I pried it open? Behind it was the sort of crypt I described in the novel.

I bolted it shut again and now keep it sealed.

Not kidding.


(less)
Average rating: 3.79 · 285,433 ratings · 25,804 reviews · 22 distinct works · Similar authors
Midwives

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The Sandcastle Girls

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The Double Bind

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Skeletons at the Feast

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The Light in the Ruins

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The Night Strangers

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Trans-Sister Radio

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More books by Chris Bohjalian…
Dear Friends who Read and Readers who are Friends,

I am now through 5 of the 20 stops on "The Guest Room" book tour, and it has been such a pleasure to meet so many of you on the road. I hope I get to many more of you in the coming two weeks: I am so grateful to all of you for your faith in my work.

And I am deeply appreciative of the way some readers and critics are taking Alexandra -- the Armen... Read more of this blog post »
19 likes ·   •  5 comments  •  flag
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Published on January 09, 2016 12:16 • 251 views

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Interviews

July 2014, Chris Bohjalian
"His Favorite Narrators Who Will Break Your Heart: His new novel, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, follows the chaos of a nuclear meltdown, and these stirring recs will make you melt down!" ...More

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Nothing Very Bad Could Happen to You There (Literature & Fiction)
2 chapters   —   updated Dec 15, 2015 02:07PM
Description: A short story set in Manhattan in the days before The Guest Room (publication date: January 2016) begins.
Skeletons at the Feast (Literature & Fiction)
0 chapters   —   updated Nov 28, 2007 09:13AM
Description: A novel
Cabin Fever: The ...
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More of Chris's books…
“Food is a gift and should be treated reverentially--romanced and ritualized and seasoned with memory.”
Chris Bohjalian, Secrets of Eden
tags: food

“We may talk a good game and write even better ones, but we never outgrow those small wounded things we were when we were five and six and seven.”
Chris Bohjalian, Secrets of Eden

“But history does matter. There is a line connecting the Armenians and the Jews and the Cambodians and the Bosnians and the Rwandans. There are obviously more, but, really, how much genocide can one sentence handle?”
Chris Bohjalian, The Sandcastle Girls

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“And though some days it is very hard, I try not to live for the future. And I try not to dream of the past.”
Chris Bohjalian, The Law of Similars

“As Jeremy Bentham had asked about animals well over two hundred years ago, the question was not whether they could reason or talk, but could they suffer? And yet, somehow, it seemed to take more imagination for humans to identify with animal suffering than it did to conceive of space flight or cloning or nuclear fusion. Yes, she was a fanatic in the eyes of most of the country. . .Mostly, however, she just lacked patience for people who wouldn't accept her belief that humans inflicted needless agony on the animals around them, and they did so in numbers that were absolutely staggering.”
Chris Bohjalian, Before You Know Kindness

“Though angels were easy to finds in cemeteries, she said that she didn't especially care for funereal angels and tombstone cherubs -- she wanted her angels among the living, not watching over the already dead -- and thus she scoured parks and gardens for the angels with whom, on some level, she wanted to commune.”
Chris Bohjalian, Secrets of Eden

“Sara knew that behind its locked front door no home was routine. Not the house of her childhood, not the apartment of her husband's. not the world they were building together with Willow and Patrick. All households had their mysteries, their particular forms of dysfunction.”
Chris Bohjalian, Before You Know Kindness

“He moved quickly away from her through the ring, his whole body starting forward with the big animal in two-point and then -- the horse's legs extended before and behind her, a carousel pony but real, the immense thrust invisible to anyone but the boy on the creature's back -- he was rising, rising, rising. . .
And aloft.”
Chris Bohjalian, The Buffalo Soldier

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Comments (showing 1-17)    post a comment »
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message 17: by Nita

Nita What an honor it is to be your friend on Goodreads. I love your books, and I am looking forward to reading "The Guest Room."
I have been following your writing for years, and you are one of my very favorite authors.


message 16: by Phyllis

Phyllis I started reading your books with Midwives and have read everything I could get my hands on since. To list my favorites would not be a very exclusive list, but my favorite of favorites is Skeletons at the Feast. I just discovered Trans-Sister Radio, and was, once again, blown away by your extraordinary talent.
When are you coming to Nashville again? When I was at Parnassus Books recently, I made a special request for you to come to Salon@615. They pointed out that you had been here before (which I missed out of ignorance), but might come again with your next book. So, write fast!
And, thank you for all the pleasant hours of reading you have given us.


Jennifer Dear Mr Bohjalian,
I just wanted to tell you that I love reading your work. The Double Bind rocked me back on my (mental) heels. Skeletons at the Feast kicked off what would grow to be morbid fascination/disgust/rabid researching of the Holocaust, which had previously been just a small history fact gleaned from a required class in high school.
I just finished The Sandcastle Girls. I note the day I start and finish each book (because I eventually log them on goodreads, you see), and didn't realize until I read your author's note that the day I had begun reading said book on April 24, 2015, coincided with the Armenian genocide's centennial.
I don't believe in coincidences, so do with that what you will.
Thank you for taking the time to read my message, and thank you even more for diligently sharing the fruits of your craft with us readers.
Sincerely,
Jennifer Engh


message 14: by Lisa

Lisa See Chris, How fun to see you here. I'm not terribly active on GoodReads, but I try to stay a bit connected.


message 13: by S

S Chris,
I sooo wanted to see you when you come to Minneapolis July 12 but I checked with the bookstore and I can't afford the cost of the lunch etc. I hope you come again sometime when I'm more able to swing it. I really would love to meet you.


message 12: by Karen

Karen I had a dream the other night that you were doing a reading at the Taco Bell in Janesville, WI. Please don't take this as an insult. I think I just so want to go to one of your readings my mind created one. However, if you should want to come to WI I will be the first in line.


message 11: by Chris

Chris Dan wrote: "Chris
i am almost finished reading the electronic edition advance of LIGHT IN THE RUINS. Once again an example of your masterful storytelling. I love the separation of timelines and the added narra..."


Thanks so much, Dan. I really appreciate your kind words.

Looking forward to seeing you three weeks and three hours from right now!


message 10: by Dan

Dan Radovich Chris
i am almost finished reading the electronic edition advance of LIGHT IN THE RUINS. Once again an example of your masterful storytelling. I love the separation of timelines and the added narrative from the killer, a good touch. The scenes in Florence bring back memories from my trip there, even the smell of the Arno; you make me long to go back.


message 9: by Edik

Edik Baghoumian IT IS MY VERY DISTINCT PLEASURE BECOMING YOUR FRIEND INDEED APPRECIATED !!! WISHING YOU MUCH SUCCESS & HAPPINESS BUT ABOVE ALL GOOD HEALTH !!!
Your True Friend

Edik


message 8: by Chris

Chris Thanks, Susan!


message 7: by Susan

Susan Chris because, I saw your recommendation of Baker's Daughter, reading and loving, and savoring every page.


Sandra Theresa wrote: "Just wanted to say I am a big fan! Hangman was one of the scariest and most suspenseful books I've ever read! Water Witches was a great one too. I own them all and as soon as I finish the book I..."

Theresa, I found Hangman to be scary too, and I thought I had gotten to the point that things in books couldn't scare me anymore! I loved The Double Bind! I liked it even more than Secrets of Eden, & I thought it was great too!


message 5: by Matt

Matt Hoping you can make it to Nonesuch for your new book tour! Would be a huge success :D


message 4: by Matt

Matt It was wonderful meeting you yesterday here at Nonesuch! Lots of people saw your interview on '207' and have come in to buy your books.

Excited to have you here for your next release! We've got a pretty literary crowd - in fact, when you were here, one woman recognized you and was pretty starstruck! She came in again today and was gushing. haha.

Anyway, hope you're well and best of luck with your writing/touring! Enjoy your time at home (assuming you've finished the tour!)

Best,
Matty


message 3: by Keely

Keely Thanks so much for the friendship! I'm such a fan!


message 2: by Eva

Eva Leger I was so happy to find you on here! I just got Midwives and can't wait to start- it looks great! Thanks for everything you do!


Theresa Just wanted to say I am a big fan! Hangman was one of the scariest and most suspenseful books I've ever read! Water Witches was a great one too. I own them all and as soon as I finish the book I'm currently reading I'll start The Double Bind. I actually chose it for my bookclub pick, I am excited to see what everyone thinks of it.


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