INTERVIEW WITH RANDALL KLEIN
When did you first feel like a writer?
I still don’t. I’m an editor who writes. I love editing above all other tasks. To get to work with authors and their manuscripts is always challenging and joyful for me. I started writing in part because once I write something I get to edit it, with an author who will intermittently listen. But however many books I’m lucky enough to have published, I’ll always think of myself as an editor first.
What's your philosophy about teaching a writing class?
Work with the student in front of you; work with the text in front of you. People are going to bring different levels of experience and different approaches into the class, so the best thing I think I can be is flexible and versatile, to draw the best work from each student in a way that accommodates their approach. I’m also big on opinions being the start, not the end, so I always try to challenge my students to analyze why they liked something, or didn’t, or even just responded to it. To be more articulate about everyone else’s writing I’ve found can help students get better at studying their own writing.
If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Milo, from The Phantom Tollbooth, because he’s my hero. If I need to give an adult answer, then Iris Chase, from The Blind Assassin, because I’d happily listen to her narrate lunch. She’s a masterful storyteller.
Randall Klein worked in publishing for a decade, starting at the literary agency Trident Media Group, then as an editor, first within the Random House Publishing Group, then for Diversion Books, where he acquired and edited over one hundred books across all genres. He is also the author of the novel Little Disasters, published in May of 2018 by Viking Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
WHAT WRITERHOUSE STUDENTS ARE SAYING ABOUT RANDALL
“Randall is receptive to and engaged by the various styles of writing presented, without judgment. He makes each of us think about a comment and we are asked to explain ourselves, which enhances the learning process. Randall has a great sense of humor. We have a lot of laughs too.”
“Randall is an excellent workshop leader. He focuses on the structural level of the novel—pacing, tension, inciting incident, etc.—vs. the line editing type of details. He has good command of the class in the Zoom environment, not allowing us to get sidetracked and making sure everyone gets the time allotted to their work.”
“I would encourage those who are serious about or who want to make a serious commitment to their novel to take this class.”
“Randall brings his background as an editor into the classroom alongside his experience as a novelist. He makes you think and makes you work, and as a result, the class was especially fulfilling.”
“Randall is an amazing teacher! Whenever the discussion seemed to hit a wall, Randall opened up another door. He brought the best out of each one of us. He was supportive of our ideas and pushed us to interact with the stories on a deeper level. His knowledge of the publishing world is vast, and he was more than willing to share his experience and expertise with all of us. I appreciate his willingness to work with all of us both in and out of class.”
“I expected to learn a professional’s view of how to write and complete a novel—the components of a good story. Yes, Randall did that.”
“I would recommend the course to anyone looking for structure and feedback for an ongoing fiction project.”
“Randall is an excellent instructor. He was insightful, with great suggestions about both what was working and what still needed work. I liked the way he moved first to look at the positives of a book, so you could find out what was working, then moved on to things that could be improved.”