|Anne Perry and Abbi Waxman|
This past St. Patrick's Day I got lucky, indeed, at the Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach. The Westminster-Fountain Valley-Huntington Beach AAUW branch staged its annual fundraiser Authors Luncheon, so I got to listen as three women novelists revealed what inspired them to write. All three definitely inspired me to continue to explore what I need to write next. I've always known that "waiting for the Muse," doesn't work. Waiting isn't the answer. Writing the first paragraph...and perhaps later eliminating it...opens the door for Ms. Muse.
The memory of the event resurfaced in the author's adulthood. Because she'd worked on a Ph.D. dissertation, she knew how to research and began the task of shaping her novel."Orhan’s Inheritance skillfully plays on the tension between voice and perspective in its references to art, photography, and oral history... At turns both subtle and transcendent, [it] will speak to those familiar with this dark chapter of history, and will be equally appealing readers who want to linger quietly in unfamiliar places and hidden stories of love and family."--Los Angeles Review of Books
Anne Perry's first Victorian mystery, The Cater Street Hangman, riveted my attention when it first appeared in 1979. Perry's inspiration came from a suggestion from her stepfather as to whom Jack the Ripper might have been. Subsequently, Perry has written dozens of the William Pitt and Thomas Monk novels. The societal scope of her books has been compared to the works of Trollope and Thackeray. Perry has said she loved that particular era because "in a way it is the end of history and the beginning of the modern world."
Perry recounted how she saw herself as a magician who uses little squiggles, scribbling marks to convey to anybody in the world a story she wants to tell. John Man's Alpha Beta, which details how the invention of the alphabet shaped the western world, is one of the 50 books she chose to bring with her when she came to the United States to live. "We all have to come to terms with the idea that we will all die," she continued. "So if you're going to put your heart on paper, it's important that you write what you really mean to say, that you create something you really care about."
The book she is working on now will be about a heroine who in 1933d stood up and tried to prevent an assassination. The character is a photographer, modeled on Margaret Bourke White. "We admire those who stand up, no matter what the cost," Perry concluded.
Final speaker for the afternoon, Abbi Waxman described how she began her writing career at only 14 years of age, in her father's advertising agency. Now working on her third novel, Waxman is from southwest England. Her inspiration for The Garden of Small Beginnings, came one day when she felt vexed with her husband. "I'll kill him," she said to herself. Then she speculated at what that would really look like, a young mother, and what she would actually do without him. I felt privileged to thank Waxman for writing a book about grief and mourning that is laugh-out-loud hilarious. I mentioned that it reminded me in a way of Karen Joy Fowler's The Jane Austen Book Club, where a group of very different people gather on a regular basis, and through their interrelationships grow and change.
“A quirky, funny, and deeply thoughtful book…We’re already dying to know if there will be a sequel.”—HelloGiggles
Yes, there indeed is a sequel, and it's set in the same locale as the first poignant and hilarious book, with some of the same characters, Other People's Houses. Waxman contributed a box of the second book, and I received a copy. I can't wait to begin to read it...and to be inspired. And I'm assured to know there's a third in the works, to continue the series.