Last night, local author Marlon James charmed a national audience on Late Night with Seth Meyers while promoting his latest book, A Brief History of Seven Killings.
The novel chronicles a failed assassination attempt on Bob Marley, referred to in the book only as "the singer." A Brief History has won plenty of critical acclaim since it was released in October, including a spot on the New York Times' Notable Book List along with top spots on best book lists from the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, and the Boston Globe among others.
James revealed that he didn't anticipate the grand scope of the project when he initially started writing. "I had no idea it was a novel. I thought it was a series of failed sketches of all these characters," James said.
Ultimately, A Brief History ended up clocking in at a not-so-brief 704 pages -- and that was after he cut an extra 10,000 words from the final work.
"You did the opposite of what college students do," Meyers joked. "Because you wanted it to be less pages so people didn't open up their Kindle or buy the book and say, 'A thousand pages? No thank you.'"
James also talked about his work at Macalester College, where he's a tenured creative writing professor.
"Are there things you do in your book here that you would allow your students to do or not allow them to do?" Meyers asked.
"You realize they're watching?"
James did give Meyers a brief lesson in some of the things that'll get his students into trouble on their assignments. He's even got a banned words list for his students. One of the offending words? Waft.
"It just sounds like something that comes out that comes out of your body," he explained. As in, "I wafted before I came onstage to talk to Seth Meyers," James joked.
Watch James's interview here:
James also recalled a crazy story from his 38th birthday when he took his passion for Prince all the way to Paisley Park.
"It was a very special birthday," James said. "A friend of mine had this idea, 'Let's break into Prince's house! Let's break into Paisley Park!'"
Needless to say, trying to break into Paisley Park did not go well.
James recalls his colleague at Macalester trying to talk down the cops: "My friend Casey just went, 'We're English professors! We're English professors! We're not thieves!'"
Watch the full clip here: