Monday, November 15, 2010
Interview with Anne Fortier and book giveaway
**Giveaway is now closed**
Anne Fortier was born and raised in Denmark, where she also had her first novel published. She also has lectured in universities in Europe and the US, addressing a variety of subjects in Classical literature, European history, and creative writing. (One of the schools was Butler University in Indianapolis, where Melissa A's sister attended college.) Her latest book is "Juliet," which has been published in over 30 countries around the world.
Thanks to Lisa Barnes from Random House, we were given the opportunity to do an interview with Ms. Fortier. Lisa has also offered three copies of "Juliet" to some lucky readers in the US and Canada.
MP: What is your usual writing routine?
AF: I write every morning between 8 and 12 and spend the afternoon responding to emails and taking care of more administrative tasks.
MP: What inspired you to write "Juliet"?
AF: It was during a visit to Siena that I decided to write an historical novel about the feud between the great Sienese families, the Tolomeis and the Salimbenis. Only when Mom and I started digging further into Siena history did we discover that, in fact, this was where the very first version of the Romeo and Juliet-story was set. Obviously, I knew right away I had to write that story.
MP: Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer?
AF: I was certainly writing fanciful stories from a very early age. Whenever a teacher would task me with writing an essay, I did everything I could to twist it into a work of fiction. When I finally sat down to actually write "a novel", I was 11 years old. I know this because I put the date on the first page. I wrote with a pencil at the time, and in fact wrote more than 100 pages of that story before getting tired of it and beginning something else ... this time on my grandfather`s old typewriter. Ever since it has been my great dream to be a professional novelist, and I am very happy that my dream has now come true.
MA: How did you feel the first time you saw "Juliet" at a bookstore?
AF: It was a wonderful feeling, even if I was very rushed at the time. It was at Tattered Cover in Denver, Colorado, on the day the book came out, and we were rushing to make some media interviews, so I didn`t even really get to pause and contemplate the moment.
MA: If "Juliet" were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
AF: I`m not sure about Julie Jacobs; perhaps Anne Hathaway or Scarlet Johansson. The character of Alessandro, however, was always intended for the Italian actor, Raoul Bova. Those who know of his career will hopefully be amused by the little hints of it throughout JULIET, especially regarding the Carabinieri in Nassiriyah. I always saw Sophia Loren as Eva Maria Salimbeni, and I think Andy Garcia would make a fabulous Umberto. As for the 1340 narrative, I think it ought to be cast exclusively with Italian actors, speaking Italian.
MA: Do you have any novels planned for the future?
AF: Absolutely. I`m sure I will never run out of ideas. Right now I am hard at work on the next one; also an adventure, but nothing to do with Shakespeare.
MP: How has living in and traveling to different countries helped to shape you as a writer?
AF: My countryman, Hans Christian Andersen, used to say that "to travel is to live", and in my opinion what makes a writer interesting is that he or she has actually *lived*. I am very concerned about all the young people who go directly from high schjool into a college writing program. It is all very well to improve one`s style, but it is even more important to have something to write about, which other people would actually like to read. I always tell students to go out into the world and sample places, people, emotions ... and to not begin a story until they are bursting with it.
MA: What was your favorite experience lecturing at a university?
AF: I have had so many great experiences, so it`s hard to single out one particular moment. However, one of my favorite classes was an honors class at Butler University, in Indianapolis, where my students put the Roman hero Aeneas on trial for abandoning Queen Dido. That was absolutely hilarious, especially when they cross-examined the goddess Venus. Wonderful students - as a full-time writer I miss those moments.
MA: What is the biggest cultural difference you've noticed between Denmark and the USA?
AF: Obviously, the list is endless, but I would have to say that one of the most important differences is the attitude to one`s own destiny. Americans are much more optimistic, and have much more of a can-do attitude, which I love. Danes will usually be less adventurous, and will always foresee all sorts of problems ... resulting in them not even trying. Keep in mind that the Danes live in a socalled welfare state, where the government makes most decisions for them. It is extremely hard to break out and be different when you don`t have the choices of a free market, and in general, Danes tend to have much lower expectations for life in general. That is why they consistently end up being voted "the happiest people in the world". Nothing could be further from the truth. Distortions like that simply reflect the fact that if you don`t dream big, you also don`t fail big.
MP: What would you consider to be your favorite place in the world?
AF: Wherever my family is.
Special thanks to Anne Fortier for answering our questions and to Lisa Barnes for facilitating the interview and giveaway.
How to win "Juliet":
Please comment below with your e-mail address.
(Please note: Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted. You can use AT and DOT to avoid spam. Or provide a link to your facebook page if you can receive messages there.)
1. Please tell us: To which piece of classical literature do you feel the most connected?
2. Please tell us: What would you be most interested in lecturing about at a university?
3. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
4. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
5. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)
US/Canada only. Giveaway ends Thursday, November 18th, at midnight EST.