As writer and television producer Noah Hawley puts it, with Emmy, Golden Globe, PEN, Critics Choice, and Peabody Awards under his belt, “I certainly don’t have to write another book if I don’t want to, but I find it’s a very important thing to me to be a novelist. Writing fiction clarifies how I think about the world and is a way for me to explore things I don’t understand, characters or themes or issues. And it’s a wholly unique form of storytelling that allows you to be inside the minds of people and play with structure in a way that you can’t really in film and television. And I love it.”
His fifth novel, Before the Fall (Grand Central, May), showcases two survivors of a small plane crash who are strangers to each other, a painter and a four-year-old boy. In it, Hawley explores the theme of decency in people and what we owe each other as strangers. “Our definition of heroism has become so extreme in what you have to do to be heroic that I like the idea of exploring the daily heroism of all our lives on some level.”
Hawley is currently the executive producer, writer, and show runner for Fargo, the award-winning television series on FX. In the midst of that he was able to write his latest book. “I wrote the first half of Before the Fall before the first season of Fargo, and then it went in the drawer. The show was successful and my agent very smartly sent out the partial manuscript; we sold it and then suddenly I had to finish it while we were making the second year of Fargo. Most people get a couple weeks off for Christmas. I had to write a book or as much of a book as I could write in two weeks. Luckily, I’m a very prolific writer and a first-draft writer—I tend to be happy with the first pass on things and then just set about refining the words. But I don’t recommend doing as much as I’m doing. There are moments when you realize you’ve overcommitted yourself, but I never want to do anything badly, so I end up in a situation where you don’t sleep.”
This is the author’s first time at Book Expo. “I know it will be good,” Hawley says. “I love meeting people, and people who love books are dear to my heart, so we’ll have a grand old time.”
He signs ARCs at the Hachette booth (1716, 1717) today at 10 a.m., and will also talk about his book at the AAP Annual Librarians Author Lunch in room W185, at noon.
This article appeared in the May 12, 2016 edition of PW BEA Show Daily.