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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Secret Miracle

The Secret Miracle

The Novelist's Handbook

Daniel Alarcon, Ed.

St. Martin's Griffin


The world's best contemporary writers—from Michael Chabon and Claire Messud to Jonathan Lethem and Amy Tan—engage in a wide-ranging, insightful, and oft- surprising roundtable discussion on the art of writing fiction

Drawing back the curtain on the mysterious process of writing novels, The Secret Miracle brings together the foremost practitioners of the craft to discuss how they write. Paul Auster, Roddy Doyle, Allegra Goodman, Aleksandar Hemon, Mario Vargas Llosa, Susan Minot, Rick Moody, Haruki Murakami, George Pelecanos, Gary Shteyngart, Daniel Alarcón, and others take us step by step through the alchemy of writing fiction, answering everything from nuts-and-bolts queries—"Do you outline?"—to perennial questions posed by writers and readers alike: "What makes a character compelling?"

From Stephen King's deadpan distinction between novels and short stories ("Novels are longer and have more s**t in them") to Colm Toibin's anti-romanticized take on his characters ("They are just words") to José Manuel Prieto's mature perspective on the anxieties of influence ("Influences are felt or weigh you down more when young"), every page contains insights found nowhere else.

With honesty, humor, and elegance, The Secret Miracle gives both aspiring writers and lovers of literature a master class in the art of writing.

The Secret Miracle


SUSAN MINOT: Transport. Enchantment. Guidance. Pleasure. Beauty. Novelty. Entertainment. Charm. Poetry....

Praise for The Secret Miracle

"The miracle of this book resides in the editing, an invisible art itself. There is specific expertise in corralling disparate writers and writing styles, coordinating an array of opinions, and crafting a cohesive narrative out of the jumble. Alarcon has done just this. He dovetails the author responses one after the other like a well-edited film, and the effect is a seamless literary conversation." - Bookslut -

Reviews from Goodreads

Daniel Alarcon, Ed.

Daniel Alarcón is the author of Lost City Radio, which was named a 2007 Best Book by the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and others.

826 National is a network of youth tutoring, writing, and publishing centers located in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Seattle, and Boston.

St. Martin's Griffin

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