Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Elizabeth Kostova

When I found out Elizabeth Kostova was having a reading at Powell’s, I was excited. That’s an understatement by the way. “The Historian” is my go-to recommendation for anyone wanting to read a good book. I was also extremely happy that I lived in Portland because I get to go to all kinds of literary events such as this.

I made sure to get there early since I was expecting a full house. In my mind, if you write a great book, they will come. I was disappointed when this was not exactly the case. The important thing was I had my seat. It was nice being with that group of people because I felt surrounded by actual readers and book lovers.

Elizabeth Kostova seemed friendly and intelligent from the get go. I just wanted to be friends with her. She gave a shout-out to independent bookstores before reading a couple of chapters from “The Swan Thieves”. True to the book’s style, she first read a chapter later on in the book and then proceeded with the prologue.

When it was time for the audience Q&A, I was worried no one was going to ask anything and that would be it. Luckily, the questions came- about her writing process, her background and, of course, “The Historian”.

Common to both her novels are the shifts of time and perspective. The way the modern world interacted with the past always fascinated her. She also enjoyed the research process for her projects. It was this passion that made her tell “The Historian” in epistolary form.

With the success of “The Historian”, did she feel pressure on writing a next novel? She had been writing for over 20 years so she wasn’t really worried about it. Reading inspired her to write. She started off imitating the writers she admired until she eventually found her own voice, her own style. She was a fan of the very, very rough draft. The writing process, for her, was “a magic circle” in which everything but the story was forgotten. Her solution to writer’s block? Just move on. Set it aside and move to something else that makes you want to write.

Kostova also shared the fact she was already writing her third novel. What’s more interesting was she dreamed of seeing the book in paperback form with its title along a creased spine. It was similar to how “The Historian” came about in which scenes just seemed to come to her after a hike. Sweet stuff, if you ask me. But, regardless of how her stories come to be, as long as she shares them, all is good in the world

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