Sunday, August 30, 2009

Author Interview: Gabrielle Zevin

Gabrielle Zevin is the Author of the adult novel Margarettown and the two YA novels Elsewhere and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac. She graciously obliged to do a short interview and answer a few questions for you readers!

Question #1
Your books Margarettown and Elsewhere incorporate fantasy with real life. Do you think it is important for people to see a little fantasy in their everyday lives?

A: I don’t know if it’s important, but I think we can use fantasy as a way to make sense of reality, if that isn’t too pretentious to say. At least, that’s what I use fantasy for in my writing – Elsewhere is a fantasy about the afterlife, but for me it was really a way to discuss the things that matter to me in this life.

PhotobucketQuestion #2
What helps you develop your female characters Naomi, Margaret and Liz? What about your male characters Owen, Ace, James and N.? Are they somewhat based off of real people you know?
A: The thing that’s helped me most in developing characters of either sex has been just living and having my eyes open to the world and the people around me. I think one of the most useful things in creating characters is to see yourself as clearly as possible. Until I was able to be honest with myself about myself, I wasn’t able to write anyone else particularly honestly either. But yes, I definitely base my characters on aspects of real people… But it’s always just parts – never the whole thing.

Memoir of a Teenage Amnesiac Pictures, Images and Photos
Question #3
In Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac you are constantly referring to different songs and bands. What is some music that really influenced your writing? Do you have any favorite bands?

A: The reason there’s so much music in MEMOIRS was because that book was really about the importance of ”reference” in relationships and what happens when a person no longer shares the same references with another person. I was very Emo in my listening tastes when I was writing that book. James was definitely, like, Bright Eyes for me. Especially “First Day of My Life.”
My favorite artists at the moment: I’m really liking Thao, Arcade Fire, The Mountain Goats, Neutral Milk Hotel, Griffin House, Stars, and Joshua Radin. I definitely enjoyed The Killers latest album. Although pop is not usually my sensibility, I think there’s something really touching about Beyonce’s song “If I Were a Boy.” And Pink’s “So What” is also pop, but it’s remarkably intimate and it’s almost like reading someone’s dairy. I love Thao’s “Bag of Hammers” and I adore Josh Ritter’s album “The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter.”

Question #4
Do you have a special ritual or place you like that enhances your writing? Do you have any advice for some aspiring authors out there?

A: My only advice to young writers is to avoid special rituals and places. Once you get in your head that writing is attached to a certain desk or sofa or a special pen, you start to mystify writing and I’ve found that’s usually creatively destructive. Writing should be able to happen anywhere on anything – in a hospital bed, on a cocktail napkin, on an airplane, in the back of a cab. Writing happens when you’re not really writing, too. It happens in your head – all the time.

Question #5
What are some of your favorite books and literary characters?

A: I love AN EQUAL MUSIC by Vikram Seth. It’s an amazing love story with an intricate classical music backdrop. I recently read a fantastic short story collection by Amanda Eyre Ward, called LOVE STORIES IN THIS TOWN – so good. In terms of literary characters… I’ll tell you some of the ones I still think about. I think about Holden Caulfield pretty often – and I think about his sister Phoebe, too. I feel an odd sympathy for the Dursleys in Harry Potter – my publisher told me I should keep this to myself. I always think about Lily Bart from THE HOUSE OF MIRTH. I think about Humbert Humbert in LOLITA now and again – and that scene at the end where he says he still loves her even though she’s pregnant and married. There are probably others, too, but those are a couple that come to mind.

elsewhere Pictures, Images and Photos
Question #6
In Elsewhere, Liz discovers how to enjoy life (ironically) while she's dead. What do you think are some of the real joys in life?

A: Love, dogs, books, music, winter coats, and dessert.

Question # 7
In Margarettown Margaret seems to be many women at once. Do you have any alter egos?If so, care to name a few?

A: In a way each of my books has been an alter ego. Now that I’m older, I guess I find less need to be different people. I’m mainly myself though there’s definitely a marked difference between Gabrielle with and without espresso.

Question #8
Are you working on any new material? If you are can you give us a little sneak peek?

A: I have another book for adults coming out in March. It’s called “THE HOLE WE’RE IN” and it’s completely different from anything that I’ve done. It’s about faith and politics and just about everything I think is important in the world.

Come back soon to check out another interview from Sephanie Kuenhert author of Ballads of Suburbia!

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