Chris Bohjalian

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Chris Bohjalian

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born
in White Plains, New York, The United States
gender
male

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member since
November 2007


About this author

Chris Bohjalian is the author of seventeen books, including Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, arriving July 8, 2014 from Doubleday.

His other books include such New York Times bestsellers as The Light in the Ruins, The Sandcastle Girls, The Night Strangers, Secrets of Eden, Skeletons at the Feast, The Double Bind, Before Your Know Kindness, and Midwives.

Chris's awards include the ANCA Arts and Letters Award for The Sandcastle Girls, as well as the Saint Mesrob Mashdots Medal; the New England Society Book Award for The Night Strangers; the New England Book Award; a Boston Public Library Literary Light; and the Anahid Literary Award. His novel, Midwives, was a number one New York Times bestseller, a selection of Oprah's Book Club, and a New Engla
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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: 3.77 · 220,892 ratings · 20,383 reviews · 20 distinct works · Similar authors
Midwives
3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 104,421 ratings — published 1997 — 5 editions
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The Sandcastle Girls
3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 17,583 ratings — published 2012 — 19 editions
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The Double Bind
3.59 of 5 stars 3.59 avg rating — 18,317 ratings — published 2007 — 35 editions
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Skeletons at the Feast
3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 14,211 ratings — published 2008 — 20 editions
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The Light in the Ruins
3.64 of 5 stars 3.64 avg rating — 14,345 ratings — published 2013 — 12 editions
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The Night Strangers
3.17 of 5 stars 3.17 avg rating — 10,858 ratings — published 2011 — 16 editions
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Secrets of Eden
3.4 of 5 stars 3.40 avg rating — 8,758 ratings — published 2010 — 21 editions
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Before You Know Kindness
3.44 of 5 stars 3.44 avg rating — 7,340 ratings — published 2004 — 20 editions
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Trans-Sister Radio
3.7 of 5 stars 3.70 avg rating — 6,682 ratings — published 1998 — 21 editions
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The Buffalo Soldier
3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 4,970 ratings — published 2002 — 15 editions
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More books by Chris Bohjalian…
It was 13 years ago this autumn that I vomited in front of a lovely reading group from Illinois. When I’m with a book club, I hold nothing back.

It was a Friday afternoon and I was on my third plane of the day, this one a Dash 8 turboprop from Denver to Steamboat Springs. The next day I was joining Jacquelyn Mitchard, Andre Dubus III and Sena Jeter Naslund for the Bud Werner Memorial Library’s a... Read more of this blog post »
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Published on October 28, 2014 18:29 • 47 views • Tags: bohjalian, book-groups, bookpage, reading-groups

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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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Skeletons at the Feast (Literature & Fiction)
0 chapters   —   updated Nov 28, 2007 09:13AM
Description: A novel
The Zone of Interest
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The Boys in the B...
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Chris's Recent Updates

Chris Bohjalian wrote a new blog post
It was 13 years ago this autumn that I vomited in front of a lovely reading group from Illinois. When I’m with a book club, I hold nothing back.

It... Read more of this blog post »
" I thank you all for your kind words and well wishes! Truly. Color me very grateful! "
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Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and Cappadocia by Richard G. Hovannisian
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The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis
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Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and Cappadocia by Richard G. Hovannisian
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The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis
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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

“I have lived with magic and without magic, and I can tell you with certainty that a life with magic is better....”
Chris Bohjalian, Secrets of Eden

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Topics Mentioning This Author

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The Next Best Boo...: Jodi Picoult 44 334 Apr 16, 2009 08:11AM  
Pick-a-Shelf: 2009-07 - Realistic Fiction - Post July Reviews Here 65 114 Aug 13, 2009 10:12AM  
Challenge: 50 Books: Mandy's 50 in 2009 34 265 Aug 21, 2009 09:01PM  
The Next Best Boo...: OFFICIAL SUMMER CHALLENGE 2009 6739 10574 Aug 31, 2009 10:23PM  
“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 1-14)    post a comment »
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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 Sarah

Sarah 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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