The first thing I did when I was asked to write this piece (on ”anything I wished,” were my very generous instructions) was to read the three stories that comprise Anyone Can Die, something I hadn’t done since I wrote them over a year ago. My reaction was an emotional one. I remembered conceiving and living with the characters (Pat Nolan, Megan Nolan, Max French) over the course of the twelve months it took to write A World I Never Made. I remembered writing the stories. I remembered, with a jolt, how much I loved these fictional (but very real to me) people. That jolt opened my eyes to something that had never quite come into focus for me before: the emotional connection between me and my characters that is absolutely essential in order for me to write to the level of credibility, and drama, that I believe makes for good fiction. At the core of my writing is what I feel for my characters and what I hope my readers will feel for them.
As I write to this end, I also read to this end. I read in order to experience what it’s like to enter the lives of others, to see the world from their perspective. That experience is to me primarily an emotional one. For this reason I am not drawn to novels or stories that are primarily plot-driven, no matter how intricate the puzzle may be. I need real life in what I read: people hurting, working through their pain; people pulled in opposite directions, working through their conflicts; people in trouble and trying to figure out how they got themselves into it. Plot is important of course. I do love action and pace. But the thing for me is what I feel.
The human heart is a strange thing. It opens and closes on commands from a source that will always be a mystery to us. I do hope that the hearts of the people who read the stories in Anyone Can Die, as well of course as my novels, will hear the hidden command to open, will love Pat and Megan and Max and my other characters as much, if not more than, I do. I would be happy to sell a monstrous number of books, but happier by far if my writing can be said to touch people—to open hearts—this way.Thank you, Mr. LePore!!! If you'd like to know more about James LePore, or his books, please visit his website --- his book Sons and Princes is due out in May, 2011.