Bookworm of Edwards to play host to ‘Ohio’ author Markley
Not all books go out into the world and, as Stephen Markley would say, “crash into the zeitgeist.” Then again, not all books are “Ohio.”
Join Markley at the Bookworm in Edwards tonight for a discussion of his bestselling novel, “Ohio,” which explores the after effects of war, addiction and crippling recession on a small Midwestern town.
When Markley set out to write a novel, he knew he wanted to chronicle a small town’s decline and that he wanted to write it with an air of mystery. It was his first foray into fiction. His two previous works were memoirs.
“As a professor once told me, the difference between fiction and nonfiction is that nonfiction can be as bizarre and unrealistic as you want because, you know, the world.” Markley said. “Fiction has to feel real and lived-in.”
He set out to write a story that felt real.
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“I just put the story I had in my head down on paper,” Markley said. “If you try to write something that you think could be marketable, you’re doomed. If you try to ignore the inner voice because you fear the blowback on a particular subject, you’re doomed. You gotta listen to the banshee.”
The banshee didn’t lead him astray. “Ohio” received lots of positive feedback, even in Markley’s own hometown, the basis of the fictional town of New Canaan.
“The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, a little to my surprise sometimes,” Markley said. “The thing that gets me is when I get messages from people who see themselves and their reality reflected in the novel. That is heavy, heavy stuff, especially when you’re signing books and the next person in line tells you about losing their daughter to heroin.”
Markley wanted to reflect current political, economic and social trends, but, he said, “events kind of took over, and now it’s being read within the context of our politics.”
“The thing is you can’t control the reader,” Markley said. “You can’t appear over their shoulder and negotiate with them about meaning or interpretation. All you can do is work to get a book out there and be gracious with praise and try as best you can to ignore any incoming fire and be grateful anyone’s paying attention at all.”