I am honored that Robert Louis Stevenson came back from the dead to grant me an interview. Some say he is pimping my blog to jack-up his book sales on Amazon, but I know better. He has long been a follower of this humble blog and he wanted to pay homage to a fellow Strong vs Weak Word advocate. Plus, Oprah was busy interviewing Lance-Romance Armstrong.
Without further ado, I present my interview with Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson.
So, Bob, if I may call you that, I understand your unpublished essay, “Books and Reading No. 2. How Books Have to be Written,” was recently discovered in the Syracuse University library.
Don’t call me Bob.
What is your essay about?
Like the title says, you dingbat, the essay is about “how books have to be written.”
No need to start with the name-calling. What was your motivation for writing the essay?
I was bored with the glut of so-called literature of my day. There is such a thing as vampire, werewolf, and bondage over-kill.
Okay, I get that you aren’t into S & M. What did you say to writers about the craft of writing?
Since you were too lazy to read my essay, here is a snippet for you.
“In the trash that I have no doubt you generally read, a vast number of people will probably get shot and stabbed and drowned; and you have only a very slight excitement for your money.”
Your idea of excitement sounds rather violent. Do you have serial killer leanings?
“ . . . if you really want to know what a murder is – to have a murder brought right home to you – you must read of one in the writings of a great writer. Read Macbeth, for example, or still better, get someone to read it aloud to you; and I think I can promise you what people call a ‘sensation.’”
In your writing, you must simulate reality on paper.
Since I haven’t murdered anyone, writing about it would be hard for me. Next question: How do you recommend I make my writing interesting?
“Leave all the dullness out.”
Easy for you to say. Can you give me an example?
“Suppose you were to be asked to write a complete account of a day at school. You would probably begin by saying you rose at a certain hour, dressed and came down to morning school. You would not think of telling how many buttons you had to fasten, nor how long you took to make a parting, nor how many steps you descended. The youngest boy would have too much of what we call ‘literary tact’ to do that. Such a quantity of twaddling detail would simply bore the reader’s head off.”
I understand you wrote the essay while you were working on Treasure Island. Do you think pirate genre will make a comeback?
Outside of romance novels, no. “The famous buccaneers were not chivalrous, but lubbers and downright dunces.”
Thank you, Mr. Stevenson. You may return to your grave now.
All jokes aside, this long-lost essay will be published in Strand Magazine on Friday.
- Long-lost essay by ‘Dr. Jekyll’ author published (sacbee.com)