Friday, August 3, 2012

Interview with Deb Caletti

1. You write contemporary fiction, have you ever thought of dipping into another genre? 
I write what I like to read, and that’s contemporary fiction. I love that moment in a book, where you’re going along and then suddenly there’s a line where the author just gets you and your life, where they describe something you always felt but never knew there were words for. I read to be understood and to understand, and to me, contemporary fiction provides that. That’s my place, both as a reader and a writer.

2. What do you know now that you wished you knew when you wrote/published Queen of Everything? 
The Queen of Everything was the fifth book I wrote, and the first to be published. When I was writing it, I didn’t know if this dream of mine – to be a writer and a published author – would ever happen. It was a time of great angst for me both personally and professionally. I’d been struggling for years to make the leap over the enormous canyon from unpublished to published, and I was married at the time to a stormy someone who once told me that my writing was a dream that would never amount to anything. I just kept writing and writing, almost afraid to stop, and I had a Nietzsche quote tacked above my desk: “Become who you are.” But then, a crazy-weird and fated thing happened. I finally got “the call” – the thrilling, life-changing call that we got an offer on Queen – just a few weeks after my long, drawn-out divorce was final. What I know now that I didn’t know then was how much a life can shift, even when things feel really dark and impossible. My life is so completely different now that the one I had then doesn’t even seem real. I wish I could have shown that woman who’d been struggling all those years even a tiny glimpse into the future. There was a lot of brightness coming. You never know what great, wondrous things the future has in store, just around that difficult corner. You just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

3. A lot of your stories deal with problems, like a parent dating a married woman, what sort of research do you do? Or do you not have to do any? 
Writing involves a lot of research, from elephant behavior and anxiety (The Nature of Jade) to violin playing and the connection between creativity and madness (Wild Roses). In Stay, I researched obsessive relationships and how a lighthouse works, along with shipwrecks and ghost stories and edible beach plants. But more than research, I rely on my own empathy. I think it’s a writer’s most important tool. For example, I did not research fathers having affairs in Queen. Instead, I imagined what it might be like to feel that things were falling apart all around you.

4. Describe The Queen of Everything in one sentence. 
The Queen of Everything is about a young girl who watches as her normal, everyday father spirals down into a terrible act: committing a crime of passion.

5. What are you working on now? 
I’ve just begun work on my next YA novel (S&S April 2014), which is still untitled. We are also putting the fishing touches on my latest release, an adult novel called He’s Gone (Random House, May 2013).

6. What's a book that you've read recently and loved? 
I finally read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, and I loved it. I couldn’t believe the mixed reviews it got. To come up with something so ingenious – right there, I’m in awe.

7. Anything else you'd like to share with everyone? 
If you have a question of your own, or just want to say hi, I’d love to chat more on my Facebook page: Happy reading!

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