Novelist Robert Hicks is a charmer. His presence, and most importantly his stories, weave a magic spell upon his listeners and audience. Those of us who are fans of his novels know this to be true.
One thing that struck me about listening to Robert tonight at Landmark was the power of the words he did NOT say. His delivery is deliberate yet richly interrupted by serendipitous comments or statements that make it clear to everyone in the audience that he is “off the teleprompter”.
That is his charm. He knows when to allow his words to steer off course and take us to places where our hearts and minds find surprise, hope, and even pain.
Robert is vintage Robert when he starts to blush as he digs into the deep well of his personal life experiences and tells us another story (and perhaps even again) of how he found himself in the living room of Shelby Foote one afternoon several years ago; or how he found himself terrified of a dwarf running side-by-side in the Charlotte airport; or how he found his way into the former John Bell Hood home in New Orleans when only minutes before the owner would not even give Robert a modicum of respect or time.
Robert talked about many things tonight in the Q/A time that really spoke to me. I asked him. “Robert, I once heard the writer David McCullough say that on a good day, he’d produce 500 words (which is one good page). What is a good day for you?”
Robert’s reply was poignant and revealed the man. He basically said, “I write at night, not in the day, but a good night (eight hours of work) will usually yield about 120 or so words for me.”
Wow. That means it takes Robert Hicks about 4-5 days to write one good page for a novel. Some days are probably better than others, but I’d surmise that a good month yields the fruit of several solid pages, maybe even a chapter.
Robert read tonight for ten minutes or so. Probably read five pages or so. We all sat enthralled with this writer’s craft, charm and passion, under the tent at Landmark.
When he finished he told us “thank you”.
Wait. Thank us?
No Robert. You just shared a good week of your life, burning the late midnight oil, in the few minutes we listened to you read an excerpt from your novel tonight.
So Robert, we thank you!
If you were there tonight how about leaving your comments and feedback to Robert.
Memphis may have Shelby Foote, but Franklin has Robert Hicks.
Robert will be signing his new book – A Separate Country – in the greater Nashville area:
9/26 at Border’s in Brentwood, 2 pm
9/27 at Costco in Brentwood, 1pm
10/7 Barnes and Noble in Brentwood, 7 pm
10/8 Vanderbilt University Bookstore, 1 pm
10/10 Southern Festival of Books, Nashville, 10:30 am