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INTERVIEW: Amy Bloom

Friday, August 03, 2018

 
Photo by Elena Seibert 2017

This week we welcome Amy Bloom, author of White Houses, to the blog.

Are you a daydreamer too?
I am not much of a daydreamer, except when writing. Most of writing is daydreaming the actions and words of your characters.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
No. I wanted to be a professional reader (not an editor, just a reader.) when it became clear, that wasn't a thing, I gave up. I found my way back to writing in my mid-30s.

Tell me a little about yourself – where were you born, where do you live, what do you like to do?

I was born in New York City, NY and grew up in the suburbs--lovely and sometimes loathsome--right outside the city. Now, I live in what seems to be a transplanted, eccentric seaside English village, complete with people in pyjamas happily walking their corgis. I like to do pretty much what I get to do: garden, waste time, write, read, go out for pizza, see action films, chill with my family.

How did you get the first flash of inspiration for this book?
I was researching the 30s and 40s in America and kept stumbling over the Roosevelts, who so dominate that period in our country. This lead to Blanch Weisen Cook's great bio of Eleanor Roosevelt, which led me to the 3,000 letters between Mrs. Roosevelt and her lover and dear friend, Lorena Hickok, who actually lived IN the White House for all of their love affair and some years after. I thought: what an extraordinary love story and how hard people worked to hide it.

How extensively do you plan your novels?
I hope for the best. Sometimes I have a map. Sometimes I follow it. My life is easier when I plan.

Do you ever use dreams as a source of inspiration?

I love my dream life but it rarely features characters from my novels. My late parents and extended family show up in eveything from costume drama to Sondheim musicals.

Did you make any astonishing serendipitous discoveries while writing this book?

I felt deeply, that no love is wasted--which is a good way to find oneself feeling, in mid-life. But, no, no serendipity. Also, since coincidence doesn't matter much to me, I wasn't looking.

Where do you write, and when?
I write 5-6 days a week, at my desk, in my dinky office with a beautiful view of the harbor.

What is your favourite part of writing?
Like most other writers--after. I do appreciate, and cherish, the opportunity for revision.

What do you do when you get blocked?
Watch TV, read poetry, call my sister--but all while sitting near my desk. Cant give up entirely, even if it's going horribly.

How do you keep your well of inspiration full?
I wish I could. Sometimes, one stares at a blank, unyielding wall. I do some laundry, cook dinner and keep staring, studying the cracks, while fooling myself that I'm not.

Do you have any rituals that help you to write?

I take a nap almost every day that I write. Maybe it's helpful--it's certainly a fact.

Who are ten of your favourite writers?

Auden, Austen, Kenyon, Hirshfield, Roberston Davies, Carol Shields, Val McDermid, Colwin, Wilde, Percival Everett.

What do you consider to be good writing?

Please see the above exemplars.

What is your advice for someone dreaming of being a writer too?

Welcome the chance to re-write that first, awful draft. Get that first awful draft written. Rememebr that no one cares about your writing except you; if you dont protect it and support it, no one will.

What are you working on now?
ARGH! Getting the research done for a novel and doing some TV work as well, without letting my right hand bump into my left hand.

You can read my review of White Houses here.
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