Capital Area District Library is sponsoring a reading and signing with Audrey Niffenegger, author of TheÂ Time Travelerâ€™s Wife, Tuesday March 23 at 7 p.m. at the Holt Junior High School. Tickets are free but only handfuls of will call are left. Call 517-367-6355
1. Itâ€™s been nearly seven years since you wrote â€œTime Travelerâ€™s Wifeâ€ and last year a movie based on the book was released. Are you tired about talking about your book?
No, I am fine with talking about my books. I donâ€™t usually talk about the film, since I wasnâ€™t Â involved with making it.Â
2. Librarians and arists have important roles in your book. Is the intersection of words and art your first love?
Yes, I am especially interested in comics, opera, childrenâ€™s books and all forms in which the Â Â Â Â Â Â words and the visuals work together.Â
3. Your characters are unusual? When you first meet a person do you try to figure out what is strange about them?
I am just frantically trying to remember their name. I figure if I end up knowing them for more Â Â Â Â Â Â than ten minutes I will eventually find out all that other stuff.Â
4. I think Jane Austen when I read your books-did you read her?
Yes, I have read Jane Austenâ€™s books, I admire her. My models for Her Fearful Symmetry were Wilkie Collins (The Woman in White) and Henry James (Portrait of a Lady and The Turn of the Screw).Â
5. I also think Tim Burton and Neil Gaiman. Are they your creative soulmates?
I am interested in their work; both Tim Burton and Neil are very playful and adventurous as well as unafraid to mix light and dark.Â Â
6. Your new book â€œHer Fearful Symmetryâ€ is peppered with 19th century spiritualism. Itâ€™s a mystery tinged with paranormal. How did you research the era?
I have been interested in Spiritualism and the late 19th century for a long time, and have made aÂ lot of art that refers to that era. So I have been researching for decades. Her Fearful Symmetry is set in modern London, and most of my research for this book involved spending time there, as well as working as a volunteer in Highgate Cemetery.Â
7. Since childhood, Â your first love has always been, it seems, book arts where you create both the package and the content. Where did that come from? Itâ€™s unusual to find both skills in one person?
I know a surprising number of artists who write well, but few writers who have the skills to Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â make art. I blame this on our educational system. If we taught art in the schools we would have more artists. My mother is an artistÂ who majored in English in college, and she always encouraged me to draw and to write.Â
8. You clearly love books as objects did you have any say in the design of your two books?
Yes, my publishers have been very collaborative and the designers of my books haveÂ made wonderful covers that I am very happy with.Â Â
9. Are you saddened by the e-book development? What is your opinion about where books are going?
The Time Travelerâ€™s Wife does not yet exist as an e-book, so if you are downloading it you are downloading an illegal bootleg. I think e-books have enormous potential. At the moment there is a lot of confusion, so I am waiting to see what shakes out before turning TTW into an e-book. However, Her Fearful Symmetry is an e-book.
I imagine that books whose format does not matter much will continue to be published both as physical books and electronically. Books that people want to experience as objects (art books, comics, certain childrenâ€™s books) will continue to be mostly published as physical books. There are advantages to both formats.Â
10. Iâ€™ve read you collect books?Â Who (authors) and what topics are your favorites?
I collect books with unusual bindings, medical books, typography and design books, art and photography books, sculptural books, artists books, comics, all sorts of fiction, etc.Â Â
11. No question you are fascinated by the dark, death and the supernatural? Where do you think this will take you next?
I am starting to work on a novel about a young girl who has hypertrichosis (she is covered with hair). Itâ€™s a coming of age story about the difficultiies of growing up looking odd.
12. You also collect taxidermy and medical books. Do you have a Cabinet of Curiosities?
No, Iâ€™m afraid I donâ€™t. I just have a lot of stuff.Â
13. The Highgate Cemetery is integral element to Fearful â€“whatâ€™s your most visual memory from the many times you have spent there? Do you visit a Chicago Cemetery? Anything memorable? What would be the first thing you would show a companion who had Â not beenÂ to Highgate?
The main impression is always of stone vs. green; the trees and ivy are always trying to overwhelm the graves.
I am especially fond of Bohemian, Graceland, and Lake Forest Cemeteries, all are nice places to wander when one is stuck on a bit of writing.Â
14. Is London the most perfect place for a book setting?
Yes, I think so, although Chicago is also very good because it has not been written about as much and is therefore more up for grabs.Â
15. Can you imagine yourself reading Dickens and wondering if little Nell was dead?
No, all of Dickens is so well known that even when reading for the first time itâ€™s like youâ€™ve already read it. Shakespeare is the same.Â
16. And from the pop psych era, finally, what time era would you live in and who would you invite to dinner?
I am quite happy in the here and now. I like not knowing what is about to happen. A cross-era dinner party might include Isabella Blow, Patti Smith, Aubrey Beardsley, Jessica Mitford, and William Kentridge.