Q and A with Geraldine Brooks

How much of yourself exists in your characters ?   Occasionally I hear my own voice a little…Marmee’s thoughts on war, Hanna Heath’s description of working to glimpse the past before the genie fogs it over again, Bethia’s love of the landscape and avidity for learning…When Anna describes her boys in year of Wonders, most of it was about my own young son…

With so many differences in terms of the books you have written, what is it about the subject matter that appeals to you to write a novel about it/ on the subject matter ?  – The books are set in different times and different places, but the themes are fairly constant, I think:  how are people changed by catastrophe/  What does faith do for people, what does it do to people?

What was it that made you or persuaded you to write novels after being a journalist for so long ? –  I wanted to have a baby, and the kind of mother I wanted to be wasn’t all that compatible with the kind of journalist I wanted to be…so I took a chance on a career change, and, happily, it has worked out… so far.

Who are your favorite authors? What have they instilled in you? –   Too long of a list to enumerate.  But I would say Mary Renault’s fiction set in the ancient world is a model for what I try to do.  Marilynne Robinson’s books, Home and Gilead also have been inspirational.  And Jane Austen, of course…

If you were to die, what would you like to come back as, and why? –   An osprey–they have it all–the gift of flight, waterfront real estate, an endless summer and a nice family life.

I am wondering how Caleb would see this world now, do you think he would like it? –  I think he would love the access to information and lament our irresponsible treatment of our environment.

Is there a historical figure you most identify with? Why? –   No, but I would like to be Rachel Carson or Harriet Beecher Stowe, and write a book that changed the world for the better.

Are there and phrases you use/overuse? –   Dessicated. Gnarled.

Besides you talent for writing, what other talent(s) do you have/ wish you had?   I wish I could sing, and I wish I could speak at least six languages.

What is your idea of perfect happiness ? –  In nature, with family (including the dog of course) by water, with something scrumptious to eat and someone telling a hilarious story.

What in your mind is considered the most over-rated virtue? – If it is a virtue, then it can’t be overrated. We need all the virtue we can have in this rather un-virtuous world.

Thank you so much Geraldine for such great answers to the questions I asked ! I hope everyone enjoys them as well.

For my review of People of The Book or  Caleb’s Crossing just click on the titles.



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