Ritual question to start my interviews, can you define you in three words, just three?
No. Oh, Is that the wrong answer? Even if I could define myself in three words, which would be very challenging, I couldn’t define myself in three words which will then be translated into three French words. Absolutely impossible. I’m impressed that anyone can.
Your novel is a real love letter to the golden age of SF, and to literature overall…
Yes. I wanted to write about the way teenagers read — the specific way that they find themselves and their possibilities in what they’re reading.
Through your novel appears a nice evidence that reading isn’t a solitary pleasure, but a pretty vector of sharing…
Well, it’s both. That’s one of the great things about it. You can read on your own, and then you can talk to others about what you’ve read.
The fantasy bits are really subtle in your novel, which make it very amenable for a large audience. What do you think about it?
I wanted to write a story set in the real world and based in some part on my life and experiences, and I wanted to make it a fantasy novel because that way it was possible to be more truthful than by telling the story in any other way. But if a story is set in the real world and it has fantasy elements, then there’s a problem, because if this kind of thing was real, why wouldn’t we have noticed it? Are we stupid or what? When I read a book with a wizard in Seatle or elves in Minneapolis, I want to know why I haven’t noticed them. I want a good explanation within the book for why this could be real and I could not know about it. And so for _Among Others_ I made up a magic system that is non-falsifiable. If it really existed, you couldn’t prove it. It works by changing the past, by coincidence, and through the ways we connect to the world. I wanted a magic system with plausible deniability.
It never occurred to me that anyone would think it wasn’t real. I wasn’t thinking at all about « a large audience » in terms of mainstream readers. This was my ninth novel. No mainstream readers had shown any interest in the other eight. Why would this one be different? It never crossed my mind. I wanted the subtlety, the non-falsifiability, but I wanted the reader to be able to think it was real within the world of the book.
This story seems to be partly autobiographical…
Yes, that’s right. Parts of it are taken from my own experience, and other parts are fiction, or fictionalised.
Morwenna is a lonely but attaching character, which seems to touch many people emotionally…
Yes. That was one of the very surprising things about people’s reactions to this book.
I like the way you handle handicap in your story…
Thank you. I don’t deserve any praise for that, that’s part of what’s autobiographical.
The main message of your novel is rather positive and not devoid of hope, to the contrary of many SF and fantasy stories today…
I’m a hopeful positive person.
Why did you decide to write this story in a diary format?
I wanted the immediacy of writing it that way.
The lord of the rings has a big meaning in the novel. Was it the same in your life?
Yes, pretty much. It’s hard for people today who are surrounded by fantasy in all media to understand how significant it was when there was almost nothing else like it.
Your book has won numerous prizes. How do you feel regarding that? Why this book in particular, according to your own author’s feelings?
I think this book connected with a lot of readers because it’s talking about a female intellectual coming of age, in a way that resonated. And it’s a book about a reader, I suppose it’s not surprising that readers like it.
I’m delighted that lots of people like it, and I was very excited about the awards. especially the Hugo which as fandom’s premier award means a lot to me.
UK cover US cover French cover
The french title and cover aren’t the same as the original version. What do you think about it?
My comment on the French cover is that we definitely had colour photography in 1979! But generally, I tend to hate all my covers. I’m glad the publishers deal with that and I don’t have to worry about it.
As for the title, I would not have chosen to call the book « Morwenna ». I did something I thought was interesting with the character’s name, where she’s Mor or Mori, and so is her dead twin. So in settling one of those names as the title it takes away from that. I don’t know why it couldn’t have been called « Entre les autres ». But again, this is something the publisher decides, and probably had a good reason, from understanding French readers and the French market.
This blog is made of words and sounds. Is music involved in your creative process?
Yes, very much. I tend to write to Bach, which really helps me focus. And I use the music of Sassafrass, www.sassafrass.com for inspiration and energy.
You have the choice between give us your final word or talk about your favorite dessert …
My favourite dessert is cheese and fruit, mostly great Quebec French-style cheeses and whatever fruit is in season. I especially like a really ripe goat brie with cherries!
Catégories :Interviews littéraires