Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Alice Hoffman talks about FAITHFUL, forgiveness, fame, the state of the world, and her dog named Shelby--and more

Portrait of the artist

The gorgeous book cover

Alice's dog Shelby

Okay, here is a truth for you. When I was in my 20s and starting out as a writer, I became obsessed with Alice Hoffman. I saw her first novel Property Of in a bookstore, and when I read that she was just 21, I felt a spark in me and I instantly bought the novel.  Plus, it had all these raves on the back cover. Plus, it was dark. Plus, the first sentence just pulled me in. That novel inspired me. It pushed me to get more serious, to write harder and better, no matter what else was going on in my life.

I'm happy to say that now, I have a bumping-into-you connection with Alice. A few years ago, I met her in person at an Algonquin party and I just felt an instant connection. A few weeks ago, while in a NPR studio waiting to be interviewed,  Alice came out from her interview and we got to hug and talk. And I am so jazzed to host her on my blog.

She's one of our most respected and prolific authors. As I mentioned, her first novel Property Of was published when she was just 21, but 22 other novels have followed, as well as 3 books of shorter fiction, and 8 books for young adults and kids. Here on Earth was an Oprah Book Club choice. Practical Magic was made into a Warner film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Hoffman’s advance from Local Girls, a collection of inter-related fictions about love and loss on Long Island, was donated to help create the Hoffman Breast Center at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA. Her other glorious titles include Blackbird House, Aquamarine, Indigo,  The River King, Blue Diary, The Probable Future, The Ice Queen. Green Angel, The Foretelling, Incantation, The Third Angel, The Story Sisters, Green Witch, The Red Garden, The Dove Keepers, and The Marriage of Opposites.

Faithful, her latest, is about hope and belief and forgiveness--and it's remarkable.

Thank you so much for being here, Alice, and wait, wait, when are we having coffee?

I always am fascinated by how and why a writer writes a particular book at a particular time. What was the why now moment for your extraordinary Faithful?

I wrote about forgiveness as a way of learning about it -- it's such a difficult thing to practice. I think forgiveness is something that flows two ways -- what you give, you receive.

You've written so many, many different kinds of books. You write YA, you write historical novels, you write magical novels--but what is so interesting to me is that they are all Alice Hoffman novels in some way. You recognize that spark. Is there any type of novel you have no interest in doing?

 I think that all writers have a voice that is unique, like a fingerprint. No one can write the way that you can, it's something that's yours alone. And it's true, I write the way I read, and always want to try something new. I can't think of any type of novel I wouldn't want to try. At least once!

How do you handle your huge success? (You seem to do it with the utmost grace.)

Thank you! I feel very lucky. I never though I could be a writer, and certainly not a published one. I was a reader and I still think of myself that way. Although sometimes the book I want to read isn't there, so I have to write it myself.

I have a silly question, but I have to ask. I know you have or had a dog named Shelby, and there is a Shelby, of course, in this novel. How important are names to you and how do you know when you have the right one?

I think names are so important. I loved Shelby, and I guess I didn't want to give her up, and since she's such a "dog person" it seemed a fitting name for my sheepdog. Occasionally, I've changed a name of a character and it never "feels" right.

What's obsessing you now and why?

Oh, the state of the world.

What question didn't I ask that I should have?

You asked them all! Thank you! Lovely to talk writing with you!

No comments: