Do you have a favourite novel of the 16? Or is that like asking if you have a favourite child?
Anita assured me that she did not have a favourite, but some were commercially successful than others, like The Pilot’s Wife which obviously pleased her, her publisher and her bank balance! Although during our interview she never once mentioned the enormous success she has had or any financial or monetary gains that she may have reaped through her literacy success. For such a successful novelist she was amazingly humble and looks upon her life as a writer a constant and yet evolving challenge that she relishes and respects. After 16 novels one might expect writers to have certain shortcuts, or for the process to become quicker and easier, but Anita told me that sadly the process does not get any easier from one novel to another and after 16 – well, she should know!
Do relationships fascinate you? The exploration of marriages and long-term emotional commitments seem to be a constant theme in many of your novels. For example in Light On Snow that I just read recently most of the novel is about what a family is and the consequences of one action…plus the relationship between Nicky the daughter and the Robert, the heart-broken father. Or in Rescue? The relationship between Peter and Sheila is central to the story but how they meet is from a car crash and then the other major tumultuous relationship is between Peter the father and Rowan the rebellious teenager…
Yes, Anita is an avid people-watcher; human frailty and relationships fascinate her. “I’m interested in the consequences of a single, reckless act,” Shreve says. “If a driver kills a pedestrian, or if a woman looks across a crowded room at the wrong man, there’s a ripple-effect on the lives of the people around them.” The secret of her popularity seems to be that she writes about ordinary people reacting to extraordinary events.
“I could hardly be called experimental,” she says. “But I do take pleasure in structural high jinks – can I find a way to tell that has an edge to it?”
How do you see technology impacting on our reading habits? Do you have an iPad, e-reader etc?
Anita said she hates technology and what it is doing to the book/publishing industry. She agreed with me that we can’t hold back the tide of technology, but she laments the closure of the local book stores and is fearful of our children if they only ever learn to read from a piece of technology and not from a physical book. Even though she admitted to me that her husband had just given her a Kindle for this trip to Australia and New Zealand, which she read on the plane.
She felt however that she still needed to go and purchase the book when she gets back home to Boston to satisfy herself that she has actually read the book. We discussed how I need to see a cover of a book to know that I have read it. She agreed with me that touching and feeling a book was one of our favourite things.
Tomorrow we’ll be featuring our reader questions to Anita!
Enjoy part 1 of our interview with Anita Shreve here.