20 Minutes with Justin Landon

Justin Landon knows stories. As host of the fabulous Tor.com podcast “RocketTalk“, co-editor of the “Speculative Fiction 2012: The Year’s Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary” compilation, and maestro of the now-quiescent “Staffer’s Book Review” blog, Justin has reviewed hundreds of books and read thousands more. Guided by a critical eye and a storyteller’s heart, he has delved into what distinguishes good stories from “meh”, exploring narratives and character arcs from scifi to fantasy, thrillers to YA, and all the genre stops in between.

Joined by co-host Katharina Bordet, we are delighted to have Justin take the Big Chair at the Roundtable for 20(ish… no really, VERY “ish”) minutes of fabulous writerly discourse. Justin shares his thoughts on what makes a good story, what writers should and shouldn’t take from their book reviews, how to cultivate a critical eye for fiction and more. SO MUCH writerly goodness awaits you on the the other side of that “PLAY” button, so make with the clicky-click and dive in! (and definitely make the scene at Justin’s Workshop Episode).

PROMO:  “The Parsec Awards”, a message from Alasdair Stuart

Showcase Episode: 20 Minutes with Justin Landon

[caution: mature language – listener discretion is advised]

We have a NEW FORUM! Share your comments to this (or any) episode over at the RTP Forum!

Check out this and all our episodes on iTunes and on Stitcher Radio!

Justin keeps bringing awesomeness to the web…

Katharina is making some storytelling magic of her own…

Katharina Bordet
Katharina Bordet

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Comments (5)

Very good – thanks, guys!

Glad you liked it, sir! I thought there was, if nothing else, an excellent “defining of the playing field” and a clarification of terms and the questions they engender. Definitely some thought-provoking discussion.


Will someone like David Foster Wallace be read for probably another hundred years, and conversely, will James Patterson, who has sold a billion books, likely be forgotten ten years after he buys the farm?


I know you addressed that to Justin, Joe, but I’ll jump in with my two cents (and then ask for change)…

My big thought is this… does it matter? Shakespeare was just tryin’ to pay the bills, baby. I don’t think he was writing for posterity but rather beer money. Patterson maybe forgotten after he passes, but does that invalidate the delight people had in reading his books?

The burden of legacy and the cultural endurance of one’s work may be the most paralyzing impulse for new writers. As many before me have quoted, “Perfect is the enemy of Done”. You write what you want to write, whether you pander to the masses or aim for literary immortality.

The estimated “quality” of a literary endeavor is highly subjective and, while “taste-makers” can influence the immediate public’s impressions thereof, the ultimate gauge of a literary work is in the individual readers response (and, to quote Justin, the most damning referendum is “meh”).

The goal of “write the next great novel” is doomed to failure. The goal of “write the best novel I can about stuff that is important to me”, now THAT is attainable and vital.


Good question. I wonder if the literati of their day thought Charles Dickens or Jane Austin would be remembered forever? As Dave says, Shakespeare was very much a ‘pay the bills’ kind of writer. Will we remember James Patterson? I don’t know, honestly. I suspect we might. Just as Tom Clancy, and John Grisham will be. If not for their prose, then certainly for their cultural significance and impact on film.

David Foster Wallace, by comparison, is likely to have a much smaller group of people remembering him and his work. Will it be lionized in graduate classes? Almost certainly. Does that mean he was more successful? I wonder.


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