By the time I got out of the Derek Johns session the queue for Audrey Niffenegger was filling up the bookshop. Anxious people in line texted friends and waved like excited children when they showed. Lynn Freeman’s introduction laid a great foundation for the discussion ahead – Niffenegger creates “worlds as recognizable to us as our own, but which follow slightly different rules of the universe”.
My elegant colleague Robyn has covered the substantial detail of the session, so I wanted to touch on some of the other aspects that appealed.
I admire Niffenegger’s pursuit of originality and her DIY approach. Speaking of Her fearful symmetry, she said:
… Everything started to acquire opposites and pairs … [there was ] no rhyme or reason, it was a little thing that multiplied. The way you grow things creatively is ask questions; they prompt answers and you ask more questions … and seven years later you have a 463-page novel. That’s how you do it, you don’t have to take MFA course…
Sneaky technology: She cleverly observed how when new technology comes along it imitates the old technology. Book; E-book.
“They will look primitive to us soon,” she said. “I hope they are well designed, I hope typography and page design are done well – we had perfected them on the page …”
She was also optimistic about the possibilities technology offers writers – something I suspect publishers might prefer we didn’t think about. They can do things books can’t like enlarge type and make allowances for people who have limited hand movement. A new “killer diller” art form will eventuate. “Bolder and sexier”, we will eventually make material for it and they will be “stupendous”. She also said she though it won’t be the end of the physical book – the two will live in symbiosis.
Finally she also mentioned a couple of authors worth following up: