Lavish Praise, Scathing Reviews, Prestigious Awards, and One Lunch That Launched A Thriving Career

The Manuscript Academy Podcast

With Bestselling Author Karen Joy Fowler

Karen Joy Fowler didn’t want to write a novel. But an editor had asked her to lunch. She should take the meeting to be polite, she thought. She’d just end the lunch with a “No, thank you, I don’t want to write a book,” and that would be that.

Instead, she ended up agreeing to a multi-book deal and launching a thriving career of award-winners and bestsellers, including The Jane Austen Book Club, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and, her most recent, Booth.

All because she said yes to lunch.

In her latest work, Karen explores the people around a villain—and how to humanize them, their level of responsibility, and all of the “what ifs” around the family of John Wilkes Booth.

We talk about writing groups and who makes it, lavish praise and scathing reviews, and how to make a career in this publishing climate.

Learn more about her work here:

From the Man Booker finalist and bestselling author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves comes an epic novel about the family behind one of the most infamous figures in American history: John Wilkes Booth.

In 1822, a secret family moves into a secret cabin some thirty miles northeast of Baltimore, to farm, to hide, and to bear ten children over the course of the next sixteen years. Junius Booth—breadwinner, celebrated Shakespearean actor and master of the house in all ways—is at once a mesmerizing talent and a man of terrifying instability. One by one the children arrive, as year by year, the country draws closer to the boiling point of secession and civil war.

As the children grow and the tenor of the world shifts, the Booths cement their place as one of the country’s leading theatrical families. But behind the curtains of the many stages they have graced, multiple scandals, family triumphs, and disasters begin to take their toll. A startling portrait of a country in the throes of change and a vivid exploration of brother- and sisterhood, Booth is a riveting historical novel focused on the very things that bind, and break, a family.

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