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Festival of Books: T.C. Boyle, on his newest novel about gun violence

Festival of Books: T.C. Boyle, on his newest novel about gun violence
T.C. Boyle, author of "The Harder They Come," right, in conversation with Times book critic David L. Ulin at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

T.C. Boyle is no stranger to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, nor to its campus venue.

"I recognize everybody here," the author, who has taught at USC since 1978, joked at a festival's panel Saturday.

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In his latest conversation with Times book critic David L. Ulin, Boyle generated audience laughter while talking about and reading from his latest novel, "The Harder They Come."

His 15th novel (and 25th book), which came out in March, follows Sten Stensen, a former teacher and ex-Marine; his son Adam, a twentysomething who runs around tending his drug farm; and Sarah Jennings, Adam's former substitute teacher.

Like several of his other books, Boyle's latest novel touches on a social issue. This time around, Boyle focused on gun violence in America.

"My object is to create a work of art and then give it to you .... I happen to be a writer that is very socially conscious," Boyle said. "I have concerns and I write about them."

For Boyle, writing fiction, is "organic." His other include "The Women," "Drop City," "The Tortilla Curtain," "East Is East" and "The Road to Wellville." The author recently received the Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement,

"I get into a dream state and I follow it," he said of his writing process. "I never know what it will be, but it's so thrilling when I finally get there."

How do you learn how to write? Boyle said it's simple:

"You read a lot of novels ... you write one, and you find your own way."

Check out the Festival of Books schedule for this weekend.

MORE FROM THE FESTIVAL OF BOOKS:

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