Last night’s event at the Vancouver International Writer’s Festival was amazing, despite my embarrassing fangirl moment(s). Jerry Wasserman was a fantastic host who had insightful questions, observations, and genuinely connected with Audrey and her work. I was very pleased that the session didn’t just focus on The Time Traveller’s Wife or Her Fearful Symmetry. In fact, Jerry discussed her beginnings as a visual artist and bookbinder. My only regret is not getting to hear more about her upcoming projects and ideas (besides The Chinchilla Girl which sounds hilarious).
It’s difficult to summarize an hour and a half of conversation between Jerry and Audrey, but I will do my best to mention some of the evening’s highlights:
While discussing Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey mentioned that everything in the novel has an exact opposite or mirror event. Upon first read, this is very interesting in how the characters mirror each other; for example, Elspeth can’t leave her apartment as a ghost and Martin also can’t leave his apartment due to severe OCD, Julia and Elspeth both have strong control issues, and both Marijke and Valentina want to leave their current situations. But apparently the novel’s structure is also symmetrical and all the events also have mirror events. I can’t wait to reread the book to look for these small details.
One of the things we kept coming back to was the “rules” that an author sets up for themselves. Not only does Audrey’s writing have a supernatural element with an underlying love-story, but the supernatural ideas are different than anything else out there. For example, when they were discussing The Time Traveller’s Wife, Audrey set certain rules around Henry’s time travelling to avoid paradox. In The Time Traveller’s Wife, everything can only happen once — even if you go back in time, you cannot change the past. Audrey stressed that she wanted the time travelling element to reflect memories more — Henry keeps returning to places with strong memories.
Jerry Wasserman asked some of her favourite authors and inspirations. She mentioned Kelly Link, Virginia Woolf, and Henry James, among others that I can’t recall. Audrey admitted that she hasn’t yet seen The Time Traveller’s Wife movie because she doesn’t want the actors to replace her vision of the character. One of the audience members also asked who she would have picked to play Henry instead of Eric Bana, and she replied “Egon Schiele, but he died in the early 1900s”. Another audience member asked about the inspiration for Henry’s daughter’s name, Alba. The answer is twofold, Audrey was inspired by Delacorte’s character Alba, and also the name “Alba” means “white, or blank”.
Now for my embarrassing fangirl moments:
My question (the last of the night) was regarding her inspirations for characters. She mentioned that Jessica in Her Fearful Symmetry was inspired by the director of the Friends of Highgate Cemetary (Jean). She also said that Martin’s particular form of OCD was based on a close friend’s condition. Also, several of the minor librarian characters who work at the Newberry Library with Henry in The Time Traveller’s Wife hint to friends of her own at the Newberry Library in Chicago.
I got to meet her and get my copy of Her Fearful Symmetry signed! I would have gotten The Time Traveller’s Wife signed, but my copy is quite beat up after being lent to a number of friends.
I got my photo taken with her! I then told her I was excited about The Chinchilla Girl because I have a chinchilla…