One Question October 22, 2009
Filed under: Wordpress — --Deb @ 1:38 am
If you could ask your favorite author (alive or dead) one question … who would you ask, and what would the question be?
A terrific question. I actually had the chance this spring to ask a question of one of my favorite authors, Tony Horwitz. He spoke at a private high school in my hometown, and I went and got my books signed. I asked him about his newest book, and why he didn't have a traveling companion as he did in Confederates in the Attic and Blue Horizons. The answer was mere happenstance. He said that he hadn't planned to travel with the memorable hardcore re-enactor in Attic, it just kind of worked out, and that his liver barely survived his pan-Pacific adventures with Roger.
But I don't know who else I would ask a question of. The real question, "How do you make it all happen?" has proven time and time again to be unanswerable. In interviews, writers say that they can be inspired by virtually anything. A. Manette Ansay wrote Blue Water after giving birth to a child. The child is fine, to this day, as is her marriage, but somehow her mind got on the track of "what if it died? what wild dream might my husband and I fulfill to escape the pain? how might it affect our marriage and our other relationships? what if the person who was responsible was a friend of mine?" All that, just from having a baby, when the majority of people who have babies don't produce a book like that. It's remarkable to see what someone like Alice Munro has done with just a relatively ordinary childhood.
But there is one writer that I'm curious about. I can't even call her my "favorite" writer, because she only wrote one book. Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, wrote a splendid book that's required reading in nearly every junior high and high school across America, which was turned into a top-100 film that's still beloved 40 years after its release, and into a frequently-performed play. Yet, so far, she hasn't written anything else. I'd like to know, why not? Has she tried, and it hadn't gone well? Did the success of her initial book scare her? Did she simply not have anything left? Or does she still write, and simply not seek publication for her books? (This is what I suspect, personally. I don't know why I think this, but I imagine there will be tons of new material released after she passes away). And if so, why not, and what does she write about? So I guess that's what I'd ask her.