This weekend at Triangle Reads I interviewed author Elin Hilderbrand about her latest novel The Rumor.
Hilderbrand is known for her fun, well-written summer novels, but The Rumor was fun for me on a different level. One of the main characters in her book is Madeline King, a novelist who is on deadline to submit her next novel but is completely, totally blocked. She has nothing to write about, but then her best friend starts up a steamy affair with her gardener … and her next novel begins to write itself.
Authors are instructed to write what you know. Hilderbrand knows publishing inside and out, and The Rumor is packed with authentic nuggets from that world: the heated conversations with her agent, the favor-trading between parties, the manuscript that gets passed around before the author is ready. She references the notoriously cranky Kirkus reviews and authors who plagiarize their teenage children. If you’re a serious reader, you’ll eat it up.
Hilderbrand’s book got me thinking about other novels that are enjoyably self-aware about the writing process, whether their end product is fiction, history, or memoir. This is my list; I’d love to hear yours in comments.
Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan graduates from Old Miss in the 1960s and returns home to Jackson, looking for a topic to write about. She decides to tell the story of the Help. Skeeter was raised by a kindly black maid, as were many of her friends. Now they’re having babies and hiring black maids of their own. Skeeter interviews the maids of Jackson to find out what it’s really like to be a black woman who leaves her own babies at home so she can earn a living raising white women’s babies.More info →
I can't do better than The New York Times, which wrote, "Ian McEwan's remarkable novel Atonement is a love story, a war story and a story about the destructive powers of the imagination." The story hinges on a horrible, life-altering lie told by a 13-year-old girl and its devastating ripple effects. I can't say too much about how the writing process plays into this story without spoiling it. But in a novel that's all about the dangerous power of the imagination, the characters' revealed imaginings for their own futures are breathtaking.More info →
If you’ve read these, what did you think of the books? What would YOU add to this list?