Stephen Carter on Writing

Stephen Carter on Writing, Robert
Birnbaum, Identity Theory
Stephen Carter’s law career has been satisfying enough, but
recently the Yale Law School graduate professor–also a public
policy analyst and frequent guest on shows such as Nightline, The
News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and Face the Nation–has fulfilled
another lifelong dream: completing and publishing his first work of
fiction. The new novelist discusses with Robert Birnbaum in
Identity Theory the differences in approaching the
writing of fiction versus the more scholarly writing that branded
him ‘a leading public intellectual.’ Carter’s novel, The Emperor of
Ocean Park, takes place in the upper crust African-American society
of Washington, D.C., and follows a character that is like Carter
himself in his profession and race. But Carter gives his
protagonist a very different view of the world than his, and he
explores issues ranging from God, love, chess, and race. The shift
to writing fiction was difficult, and the author describes the
years-long process of writing the book. ‘What everybody says about
writing turned out to be true,’ says Carter, ‘but reading about and
having it happen to you is different.’
–Julie
Madsen
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