Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Amaryllis in Blueberry: A Few Questions

I haven't started Amaryllis in Blueberry just yet, but after reading an interview with the author, I am so intrigued with this novel I may just have to start it today!  Here are a few questions I found on the Simon & Schuster website for book club questions and interviews with the author:


A CONVERSATION WITH CHRISTINA MELDRUM 

Amaryllis in Blueberry takes place in Michigan and West Africa. What personal significance do these landscapes have for you? What appealed to you about using two such dramatically different locations in the novel?

I grew up in Michigan and continue to spend time there every summer. Although I no longer live in Michigan year-round, it will always be home to me at some level. Michigan represents family to me. It represents summers on the lake. It represents holidays. While the characters in Amaryllis in Blueberry are purely fictional, the Danish Landing is very real. My family has owned property on the Danish Landing for over a hundred years. Nearly all of my most poignant childhood memories take place on the Danish Landing. I remember my grandmother standing at the stove flipping blueberry pancakes. I remember exploring the Old Trail. The Danish Landing gave me my first campfire, my first sunburn, my first leech! To the degree any place on earth makes me feel grounded, the Danish Landing does. I imagine Yllis would find part of my soul on the Danish Landing.

And I imagine she'd find another part of my soul in West Africa. I worked for a short time in West Africa during my twenties, and I continue to have ties to West Africa through my nonprofit work. To the degree the Danish Landing is my place of peace, West Africa is my place of prodding. West Africa nudges me, with its energy and rituals, its colors and smells. As a twenty-something living in West Africa, I did not feel peaceful, but I sure felt alive. I did not feel grounded; I felt flung from Addae's slingshot. And when I landed, I had a different perspective, one that was far more nuanced. I was drawn to writing about these two places because on the surface they are so very different, but beneath the surface of each, there's another world. And these beneath-the-surface worlds are surprising—and surprisingly similar in many ways.

Why did you decide to begin the narrative with The End, rather than have the story unfold along a more linear time line?

I find perspective fascinating. What if we could begin at The End? Or what if we could take the knowledge of The End and revisit our lives? Would we see ourselves differently? Would we see our lives differently? Would we become different people altogether—are we merely the sum of our choices? Or are we who we are at our core, indelible at some level no matter our choices? Would Seena or Yllis, Tessa or Mary Catherine, Grace or Dick or Clara or Heimdall be the same person to the reader if I had started at the beginning and moved straight to the end? Or did each become a different person to the reader because the reader had foreknowledge of certain outcomes? Did the reader's altered perspective change each character in some fundamental way? I don't know the answer to any of these questions, but I think the questions are worth asking, worth exploring.





Have you started it yet?  I'm interested in how Michigan, West Africa, Greek Mythology, and this family all tie together.  

1 comment:

L Harris said...

I have started the book. It's pretty good. The author does a great job of description and character development. It's great so far.