NightoftheCometby George Bishop, author of The Night of the Comet: A Novel (Ballantine Books, July 2013)

In my new novel The Night of the Comet, the protagonist is a high school science teacher in a small Louisiana town, circa 1973.  Frustrated in his work, belittled by his family, mocked by his students, he hitches his aspirations to what he believes will be the astronomical event of the century: the coming of Comet Kohoutek.

For my portrayal of Alan Broussard, the teacher, I drew on my own experience in the classroom.  I’ve taught English for most of the last two decades—enough time, certainly, to give me a sense of the rigors and rewards of teaching, and also to raise my esteem of those who have been doing it even longer, and in more difficult circumstances, than I have.

I was also inspired, in my story of Alan, by movies I’ve seen that feature teachers as heroes—but not in the way you might expect.   (more…)

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Letter to My Daughter by George Bishop

by George Bishop, author of Letter to My Daughter: A Novel

In my novel Letter to My Daughter, Laura, a middle-aged mother, writes a long letter to her runaway daughter.  Early on in the story, she bemoans the fact that letter writing seems to be a dying art:  “In this hyperactive age of emails and text messages, the kind of correspondence that Tim [her boyfriend] and I shared must seem like an anachronism to you . . . But I sincerely hope, dear Elizabeth, that someday you might have the pleasure of such an anachronism; that one day you’ll experience for yourself the irreplaceable joy of receiving letters from a lover.”  Much like my protagonist, I too appreciate the value of letters as a form of communication, and for this reason I’m always looking for ways to incorporate letter-writing activities in my English classes. 

Unlike an electronic message, a letter’s a tangible thing; it’s got heft and substance.  We can hold it in our hands, turn it over, smell it even.  We appreciate the extra time it took the sender to write out their thoughts on paper, put the paper in an envelope, address, stamp, and mail it.  A letter says, Listen to me.  I’ve got something important to tell you. (more…)