FPP asked acclaimed novelist Michael Thomas about the risk of memoir, who is mad about his forthcoming book, and what urgent advice he’s given young writers.
Please tell us about your forthcoming memoir The Broken King. It’s a 6-part memoir about Thomas men. Each section contains a central event, commentary, and meditation.
Are their risks in telling these stories? Yes: you could hurt those you love, or, simply, tell the stories poorly and injure your readers.
How would you describe the memoir-writing experience? Awful. It nearly ruined me.
Did you bust any myths in the process? Yes. I once believed I was an efficient and disciplined writer.
Is anyone mad at you right now because of this book? Yes, my mother and brother.
Did you always know you would write a memoir and/or was their convincing involved? From drafting the initial proposal to now I’ve had doubts about this book: I’m sure—even after it’s publication—I’ll have doubts about it; conception to completion.
When do you feel most part of a “We”? Do you tend to embrace or resist this? When I’m alone. I embrace it.
What’s the most urgent advice you have for young writers trying to make their way? Focus on what you’re writing and not your identity as a writer. Avoid textbooks and workshops. “And do not think of the fruit of action.”