Anthony Varallo On Writing “The Lines”
Doctor Anthony Varallo published his first novel, The Lines, this August. The book, set in the summer of 1979 during a national gas shortage, follows a family facing numerous hardships through the perspective of each character.
Novelist Anthony Varallo wanted a novel that did everything he loves about a short story: has compressed language, emotional stake, and investment in the characters. In his personal life, as well as his academic life, he says, he relies on novels for inspiration; his writing comes from his bookshelf. When writing, he is very mindful of his audience but only imagines a nameless, faceless reader since writing with one specific reader in mind would put too much pressure on his writing.
The process of writing a novel and having it published is rigorous. After completing the novel, Varallo sent it to editors, and it took fourteen months to hear back. The novel went through three drafts with the editors before being published. The editors provided vital feedback that ultimately changed the course of the novel, Varallo says. The original draft was deemed not dark enough by the editors. Dr. Varallo is a self-proclaimed “light writer,” meaning that he does not automatically write dark twists or menacing characters into his texts. After receiving feedback from the editors, he added more sinister characters as well as made the grandmother more troublesome. He also went through the entire novel and removed any instance where a character expressed joy while also changing the ending from happy to everything turning to ruin, thus altering the overall tone of the novel. The title was the final change. The working title of the novel was “The Parents, The Children,” which was indicative of the family the story would be following. While he did not want to share his second title, he is proud of his third and final title, which was coined by his wife. While his original title helped him initially shape the novel, the final title, he says, is a better fit.
The editors helped Dr. Varallo to see the changes necessary for the novel to flourish, and for that, he is thankful. His advice to writers is always to welcome another set of eyes as they will always see something that you are missing.