Audrey Niffenegger, novelist: 'Rebecca Solnit is incisive and outspoken'

The author discusses Esther Freud, Gwen John, and writing in chaotic surroundings

Thursday 12 November 2015 17:29
Niffenegger: ‘I can easily imagine myself living Daily Alice Drinkwater’s fairy-haunted life'
Niffenegger: ‘I can easily imagine myself living Daily Alice Drinkwater’s fairy-haunted life'

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm at my desk in the room where I write. I am surrounded by piles of paper and books. I am sitting in a corner and the computer screen blocks most of my view. I have my back to a window. There are post-it notes stuck all over my laptop and cords to electronic devices snaking over and under things. It's a bit chaotic.

What are you currently reading?

I've just started reading Mr Mac and Me, by Esther Freud.

Choose a favourite author and say why you admire her

Rebecca Solnit, because she is wide-ranging, incisive, and outspoken. Her book on Edweard Muybridge, River of Shadows, is very fine. She is one of the best and most original essayists writing today (and there are many terrific essayists working just now).

Describe the room where you usually write

It is a large room next to the kitchen in my house in Chicago, which was built in 1904 and was once a boarding house. I was told that the lady who owned the boarding house used this room as her bedroom. Now it has three tall bookcases, a rocking chair and a gigantic desk covered with papers. Also there is some taxidermy and usually two black cats are here lurking or snoozing in the disorder.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Daily Alice Drinkwater, perhaps; she is Smoky Barnable's wife in John Crowley's masterpiece Little, Big. I can easily imagine myself living her fairy-haunted life in that enormous strange house.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Gwen John. I admire her paintings and her quiet intensity.

'Ghostly' is edited and illustrated by Audrey Niffenegger (Vintage Classics)

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