Bold new essays on how to craft a thrilling read—in any genre—from the best-selling author of The Dead Lands
Essays on Fiction
- “[Percy] provides precise advice concerning basics like suspense, setting, and style. . . . Beyond craft or theory, and perhaps more helpful than any advice, this book serves as a reminder that writing is hard work.”—The New York Times Book Review
Anyone familiar with the meteoric rise of Benjamin Percy’s career will surely have noticed a certain shift: After writing two short-story collections and a literary novel, he delivered the werewolf thriller Red Moon and the postapocalyptic epic The Dead Lands. Now, in his first book of nonfiction, Benjamin Percy challenges the notion that literary and genre fiction are somehow mutually exclusive. The title essay is an ode to the kinds of books that make many first love fiction: science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, horror, from J. R. R. Tolkien to Anne Rice, Ursula K. Le Guin to Stephen King. Percy’s own academic experience banished many of these writers in the name of what is “literary” and what is “genre.” Then he discovered Michael Chabon, Aimee Bender, Cormac McCarthy, Margaret Atwood, and others who employ techniques of genre fiction while remaining literary writers. In fifteen essays on the craft of fiction, Percy looks to disparate sources such as Jaws, Blood Meridian, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to discover how contemporary writers engage issues of plot, suspense, momentum, and the speculative, as well as character, setting, and dialogue. An urgent and entertaining missive on craft, Thrill Me brims with Percy’s distinctive blend of anecdotes, advice, and close reading, all in the service of one dictum: Thrill the reader.
- “[Benjamin Percy] talks bluntly and amiably about how stories work and why they matter, an approach that doesn't take a fellow writer to appreciate.”—NPR.org
- “[Benjamin Percy] demonstrates he’s one of contemporary fiction’s sharper critical minds, an author with a rare talent for explaining his craft.”—Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
- “Thrill Me is comprehensive in its scope, touching on most of the important pieces of storycraft . . . with character and vigor, and with a joyful populist tone.”—Electric Literature
- “What sets [Thrill Me] apart from other similar books on the subject is Percy’s generosity and ego-free frankness in exploring practical aspects of writing frequently glossed over or—worse—ignored.”—Library Journal, starred review