We enjoyed reading the recent blog post of Francisco Stork, a YA novelist who has also had a long career as an attorney. In it, Stork imagines how Larsson might have approached the self-motivation to write his novels, having never before published a novel…and tries to extend the same “Larsson Approach” to any writer who wants to follow their passion to write novels. We don’t know Stork, but we like what he has to say. Looking at his biography on Amazon, we also note he is of the same global generation as Stieg Larsson. Stork was born in Mexico in 1953; Larsson in Sweden in 1954.
The Larsson Approach
Authored by Francisco Stork
Here’s the story of how the Larsson Approach was conceived. You’re at the Gardens Mall in West Palm Beach three months ago. You volunteer to stroll baby Charlotte around while your wife and daughter and daughter-in-law make their way from Abercrombie to Zappos. They’ll meet you by the Starbucks in an hour and a half. Baby Charlotte falls asleep the first five minutes after they leave and there you are with 85 minutes left. You find a padded bench and sit. In back of the stroller you see your daughter-in-law’s book: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. You’re a bit of a snob and don’t ordinarily read any book that has sold more than the Bible, but you’re desperate. After a few pages you discover that the boy can write. He’s no Marcel Proust, but still he has something. A certain honesty. You can feel the fire behind his words.
Three months later you’ve read his three books. You have found out that he died of a heart attack soon after he submitted the three books to a publisher. You are intrigued about his life and pick up a biography by his life-long partner, Eva Gabrielsson. Here’s how she answers a question about how much planning went into the books: “Well, the books weren’t planned out at all. Everything started out with Stieg’s boredom during our summer vacation in 2002. He began writing the project that would turn into The Millennium Trilogy just to pass the time when he had nothing else to do, but he kept going because his newfound enthusiasm kept growing.”
You’re hopelessly stuck in a deadly funk. The revisions you need to make are albatrossian. There are no words to describe how you feel so you make up new ones. At your lowest point, help comes. It always does. You just wish it didn’t take so long to get there. And you sure as hell don’t expect it to come from Sweden. So the Larsson Approach is conceived during one of these bleak nights. It goes like this. You have been practicing law for thirty years. You say: I’m a lawyer not a writer. What if I write a book to pass the time, for fun. Other people do puzzles. So you write for an hour or so after you come home from your legal job, after dinner. You write on weekends. When new found enthusiasm comes, you wake up a couple of hours before you go to work and write. There are no expectations. No need to be better than your last book. No need to sell more books than someone else. No need to read reviews. No need for that nothing-pleases-him-inner-editor. You’re a lawyer not a writer. This is not your whole life, it’s a hobby. But, you write with honesty. You write with your life and from your life’s joys and aches, just like Larsson. You take that lump in your throat and try to give it words. Just because it’s fun doesn’t mean it can’t be serious. A hobby can still be essential, a matter of life and death. How you pass the time is important. It counts. Larsson had a fire burning inside of him. You’ve read his books, you know what mattered to him, what consumed him. You say: What fire burns inside of me? I’m going to make it burn bright, with beauty and passion, just to pass the time.
Francisco X. Stork is the author of The Way of the Jaguar (Bilingual Review Press- 2000); and Behind the Eyes (Dutton: June 2006.) He was born in Monterrey, Mexico in 1953, but moved to El Paso, Texas with his adoptive father when he was nine. He attended Spring Hill College (a Jesuit College in Mobile Alabama). He received a Danforth Fellowship to Harvard University where he studied Latin American Literature for four years before changing courses and attending Columbia Law School. He makes his living as a lawyer working for a state agency in charge of developing affordable housing. He writes novels, working on them every day in the early morning before work and in the evenings. Novel writing is not a hobby for him. It is a duty and joy all wrapped up in one. His hope is that people, especially young people, will see in his Mexican American characters the hopes, fears, nobility, faults and limitations inherent in all people. The Way of the Jaguar (his first novel)takes place in a prison and part of the story in Behind the Eyes (his second novel)takes place in a reform school for young men. However, he has never been in prison other than as a visitor. Despite the rich symbolical value of prisons, there will not be any more prison novels. As far as he can tell.