Advice from the Masters: Colleen McCullough

Feb 4, 2015 | Writing A Book

Colleen McCullough died on January 29, 2015 at the age of seventy-seven. She left behind some great interviews and almost two dozen books. They include a series of historical novels about Rome, five murder mysteries, and several novels. One of them, The Thorn Birds, has sold more than 30 million copies and was adapted into one of the most-watched television mini-series ever.

Her interviews have all manner of spicy and quotable bits, but my choice for her advice comes from what she did, not what she said. It’s taken from her obituary in the New York Times.

“In 1970, Ms. McCullough’s Yale colleague, the classicist Erich Segal, had scored spectacular success with his novel ‘Love Story.’ Inspired, Ms. McCullough interviewed Yale students to discover what they liked about it. Their answers — romance, characters, plot — combined with her own Australian background, spawned ‘The Thorn Birds.'”

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