AUTHORS TALK!

Christopher Moore, author of several humorous novels such as Sacre Bleu and Lamb, tells us what makes him tick:

“My inspiration, in a general sense, comes from discovery; that is, I read, travel, and watch media, and from time to time I stumble across a story, a field, or a place that interests me, and in coming to those things, often with fresh eyes, I find inspiration. Inspiration is something you have to look for, not something you can wait to come to you. Certainly, if you write in a disciplined manner, you will come across inspiration on the page, by exploring your own capabilities, but for the big ideas, you have to experience life and pay attention. “

Author of How to Eat a Cupcake and All the Summer Girls, Meg Donohue speaks a little to where inspiration comes from:

“I find much of my inspiration in place, or setting. All of my work, while fictional, is grounded by real places with which I have deep familiarity. My first novel, How to Eat a Cupcake, is set in San Francisco, where I’ve lived for six years. My latest novel, All the Summer Girls, is mostly set in a beach town called Avalon, New Jersey, where I spend time every summer. The settings for those books are integral to their plots — the stories could not unfold in the way that they do anywhere else.”

Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy, opens up to us:

“I don’t know why I write.  I do have theories, of course, but they are only theories.  I had a very solitary childhood and a vivid imaginary life but I think you can experience those things without necessarily gravitating towards the very delayed gratification of writing novels.  If any single event propelled me towards writing fiction it was the year I spent travelling after university.  My boyfriend of the time was writing a book and, largely out of boredom – writing is not a good spectator sport – I started writing my own book.  The novel that resulted was truly terrible.  I was baffled by my utter failure to be influenced by the many wonderful books I had read at university.  I spent my twenties waitressing and learning the craft of writing, learning – as Francine Prose so brilliantly discusses in her book of more or less that title – to read like a writer.  Eventually I began to improve.  Eventually some of the stories I wrote were published in small magazines.  But for years I thought I should do something more useful – work for Amnesty or Oxfam.  Now I’ve come to think that writing is my way of being useful in the world. “

“My inspiration comes from books, from the world around me, and from my own preoccupations.  I was walking to teach at Emerson College one evening when I saw in the distance some people holding up posters of babies at a bus-stop.  Between one step and the next I thought I’ll write a novel about someone who finds a baby at a bus-stop.  Then I thought who should the finder be?  Someone like me?  No, someone who’s the opposite of me: a banker.  When I came into my classroom I sat down and wrote in my notebook “Banker finds baby at bus station.”  A month later, at the Macdowell Colony, I wrote most of the novel. Another novel idea came from an article in People magazine about a woman who’d lost several years of memory in an accident.  Her fiancee described how, realising she didn’t remember him, he had courted her for the second time.  He talked about how odd it was to e.g. go to what had been their favourite restaurant and have it be a new experience for her.  In The Missing World I turned this idea around: my woman character has broken off with her fiancee and lost all memory of the break up. I think both of these are good ideas for novels but I wouldn’t have pursued them if they hadn’t connected with my own deep interests.  Growing up with a difficult step-mother, I am fascinated by how people make families if they don’t have a biological family.  And living a long way from my native Scotland, I am aware of how much I rely on my memory and how there’s often no one around to correct me if I mis-remember.  Sadly one of the most crucial people in my life, my mother Eva, is someone I don’t remember; she died when I was two and a half.  My novel, Eva Moves The Furniture, is a love song to her.”

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