A Conversation With Writer Colm Tóibín on the ‘Close Imagining’ of Fiction

Great insights from Colm Toibin on the writing process. Gives me a lot to think about, thank you, Colm.

Longreads

Jessica Gross | Longreads | February 2015 | 17 minutes (4,283 words)

The Irish writer Colm Tóibín has written eight novels, two books of short stories, and multiple works of nonfiction. His latest novel, Nora Webster, follows a widow in 1970s Ireland as she moves through her mourning toward a new life. That book was almost 15 years in the making, and Tóibín’s previous novel, Brooklyn, which centers on an Irish immigrant to the United States, grew out of Nora Webster’s early pages. Both novels—like all of Tóibín’s work—subtly portray their characters’ complex inner lives, the details accruing slowly to finally reveal an indelible portrait. I spoke with Tóibín, who splits his time between Dublin and New York, by phone about the protagonists he’s compelled to write about and how he goes about creating their worlds.

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