Wednesday, March 26, 2008
My interview with Audrey Niffenegger was one of the very first I had ever done. We spoke in August of 2006, just before the official release of The Adventuress a novel in pictures. I was, and remain, a big fan of Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife. Because this interview originally ran on the website where I initially began posting, I decided that I wanted to share it with my readers here.
So here goes...
Kelly Hewitt: It has been reported that your novel, The Time Traveler's Wife, received the largest advance that publisher Macadam/Cage had ever paid. Where were you when you found this out? What was your reaction?
Audrey Niffenegger: I'm sure I was standing in my dining room, which is where I conduct most of my telephone conversations. I was afraid they were making a big mistake, and hoping that my book would do okay so they would not regret it. As far as I know, they don't regret it.
Kelly: You are a visual artist and from what I gather, very dedicated to both your work and to teaching the craft. In what way did your experience as an artist help you with your writing? Did you ever find that your artist's instincts hindered you in any way?
Audrey: Being a visual artist helps me to imagine the things I write about. It's easy for me to look at people, places, objects in my head. I don't think there is a down side to the artist/writer dual identity, except that you have twice as much work to do.
Kelly: One of the things many readers say about The Time Traveler's Wife was that it so delicately straddles the fantasy genre. You are able to have characters with the ability to travel through time and yet you are careful with the extent to which this premise is used. Was there ever a time when you thought of increasing the level of fantasy in the novel?
Audrey: No, I was very enamoured of the realist aspects of TTW. I felt that it was essential to buttress the fantastic elements with enough reality that people would be convinced, at least as long as they were in the world of the book.
Kelly: You have called yourself the "person who people date before they get married". With that in mind, does it surprise you that people find such an amazing romantic context to your novel? And in a slightly trashier light, has being a best-selling author improved your personal life?
Audrey: Well, the novel is about a fairly ideal relationship that is formed and tested by a situation outside the control of the couple. So I am not surprised that people would find that attractive. Being a bestselling author is not particularly good for one's love life, I'm afraid. I travel too much and work too hard; there's not much time left over.
Kelly: While doing research for this review I came across The Three Incestuous Sisters I had forgotten that you were the author of that book! I loved it but was confused -- it was a confused love. How have your readers responded to it?
Audrey: I don't think that the audience for the Sisters is the same as the audience for TTW. Some people will like both, some neither, some one but not the other. That's okay. I make things for my own odd reasons. If other people like them too, that's great. If not, I'll live. I am very excited to have the Sisters out in the world where people can see it and form their own opinions.
Kelly: Your new book comes out soon, would you like to give us a quick rundown of what we're in for?
Audrey: The "new" book is The Adventuress, which is the picture novel I made before The Three Incestuous Sisters. So this is actually my first book. I made it between 1983 - 85. It's about a young woman who is the result of a cloning experiment in Napoleonic France, who gets loose and has a number of odd adventures.
Kelly: What kinds of books do you load your shelves with?
Audrey: Among many other things, I collect books about the English illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, who is one of my main influences. My favorite is the book "Aubrey Beardsley" by Brian Reade.