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Interviewer: Good afternoon everyone and here we are in the studio talking to Alice Black, a young writer who has just published her first novel ‘Stars,’ and it has already become an international best seller. Hello Alice.
Alice: Good afternoon. It’s such a pleasure being here. Thank you for inviting me.
Interviewer: Before we start to discuss your novel, will you please tell the listeners a bit about yourself?
Alice: Of course. I grew up in Michigan and received my BA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan. In my freshman year, I won a Hopwood Award for my fiction. Then, my short fiction appeared in various publications. I live in Washington DC and I work for the National Geographic Society library.
Interviewer: Some of our listeners might not know much about your novel ‘Stars.’ Could you please tell us about it in brief?
Alice: Well, the novel is written as a series of e-mails from the narrator, a botany professor and mother of two named Jessica, who is married to the chief of a space tourism company. When the novel opens, a tragic accident has just happened. One of the company’s shuttles has just exploded shortly after liftoff, and everyone on board has been killed. So in her e-mails, Jessica narrates what follows the tragedy. The media frenzy that follows the accident’s aftermath, the impact on her marriage, the revelations about the company, the fact that she doesn’t know her husband Liam as well as she thought she did. The person she is e-mailing is a man named Arthur, her friend and colleague who is out of the country on sabbatical. But as the novel goes on, the reader slowly realizes that Jess and Arthur’s relationship has its own complicated history.
Interviewer: The format of your novel is quite unusual. Was it your original plan to write the novel in this way?
Alice: Definitely not. It was never part of my plan to write an epistolary novel. When I started writing the novel, it was just Jessica’s voice in my head, and she was confiding to someone. I hadn’t made a concrete decision about the form I was going to use. The idea to structure the story as a private e-mail communication came later, but it seemed to fit the intimate tone perfectly.
Interviewer: Once that decision has been made to use this style, was it a challenge to maintain it, or was it something you adapted to?
Alice: There were certainly challenges. The biggest one is that you have to leave your readers enough clues so that they can figure out what’s going on. To follow what the letter, or in this case e-mail, writers are referring to. But you also don’t want to have the narrator over explaining things. You need to maintain the allusion of eavesdropping on a conversation, which is one of the appeals of the epistolary form.
Interview: I’ve always been very interested in a writer’s daily routine. What’s a typical writing day for you?
Alice: I work a 9 to 5 job, and I try to squeeze some writing time after work a couple of nights during the week, but the solid majority of my writing takes place at the weekend. I typically get up in the morning, drink an unhealthy amount of coffee, and try to get to my desk before I get distracted by other things I have to do. I work until lunch, and if I’m feeling motivated, I’ll try to get another hour or two of writing in the afternoon.
Interviewer: Thank you Alice, it has been very interesting talking with you.
Alice: Thank you. I’ll be happy to come to your program once more, really.
3. Which of the following is NOT true about Alice’s novel Stars?
3) It’s published all over the world.
4. What do we learn about Alice at the beginning of the interview?
3) Writing is not her only occupation.
5. What’s the name of the main character of the novel Stars?
6. Alice’s novel starts with a …
3) a catastrophe.
7. What is unusual about the format of Alice’s novel?
2) It’s a number of e-mail messages.
8. According to Alice, what was the biggest difficulty in writing her novel?
2) Leaving the reader enough indications on what’s happening.
9. When does Alice do most of her writing?
3) At the weekends.