Robert Lamb has taught writing at the University of South Carolina since 1991, when his first novel was published. He is now an adjunct professor in the university’s journalism school. Not only is he an experienced writer, but he’s a publisher who years ago recognized self-publishing as the wave of the future.
1. Tell me briefly about your books – what are they about and what motivated you to write them?
My first novel, Striking Out, is a coming-of-age story set in the South of the 1950s. It was nominated for the PEN/Hemingway Award and, though published in 1991, is still in print. My second, Atlanta Blues, is about the search for a missing coed by a newspaper reporter and two cops. The search leads through the underbelly of urban Atlanta to murder and heartbreak. The book was a Southern Critics Circle Selection and cited in one newspaper’s year-end roundup as “one of the best novels of 2004 by a Southern writer – and maybe the best.”
My third, A Majority of One, came out this past September and is about a high school English teacher who gets into deep trouble when she resists an effort by local preachers to ban some classic American novels from the classroom, foremost among them The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Six of One, Half Dozen of Another (Stories & Poems), also only recently published, represents my writing life (thus far), with stories and poems virtually from yesteryear and yesterday, with an afterword on their origins.
I am motivated in everything I write by the glimmer somewhere in my mind of a good story that wants to be told. I will never live long enough to write all that petition for a hearing – which is strange because until I was about 40 I had not a single idea for a good novel, and no idea how to write it if I did. I’ve often said that I knew how to write long before I knew how to write a novel. Novel-writing does require some know-how, which means it is a craft. Get good enough at the craft and you might elevate what you write to the rarefied level of art.
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