“He has that gift – the first and most important in a novelist – of creating for the reader a world as real as the one in which he lives, a world which the reader enters on the first page and in which he remains until the last.”
Louis Bromfield, Herald Tribune
Louis was writing about the wonderful author Conrad Richter. Probably best known for his moving novel, The Light in the Forest, Conrad wrote more than 20 novels and short story collections over a long lifetime. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1951 for his novel, The Town, and a National Book Award for The Waters of Kronos.
But Conrad’s success didn’t come quickly or easily. He never went to college, was painfully shy and filled with self-doubt, and knocked about doing odd jobs while he struggled to gain a foothold as a writer. He was in his mid-forties before he began receiving recognition as a major American author.
While The Light in the Forest is a classic — Alex studied it in middle school — few of his other books are well known today. And yet, he is regarded as a master of historical fiction. Here’s what the great story teller, Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote of him: “There are in the literature of the world few works of historical fiction that make the reader feel that the writer must have been a witness to what he describes; he was actually there and came back – a transmigrated soul – to tell a story. The Awakening Land is such a work…”
For a writer to appear to be a “transmigrated soul” who actually seems to readers to have lived through what he described — what an incredible achievement that is! The Awakening Land is actually a trilogy and I’m thinking of checking out the first book called The Trees at the library. I have a feeling there might be something I can learn from Conrad that I can use in my YA novel. Wouldn’t it be amazing if one of his works lost on a shelf somewhere inspired me to do something bigger and bolder with my own writing? You never know where a new idea can come from. Write on!