Last night a friend and I went to hear Isabel Allende speak at the beautiful All Saints Catholic church in Beverly Hills [insert joke about me not catching fire here]. I saw her a few years ago when she was promoting a different book and appreciated her wit and candor. Once again she did not fail to disappoint (although the sound system did).
A few highlights:
- Allende says that magical realism is definitely embedded in American writing, it’s just often referred to as either
- Allende says that her writing style has evolved; she no longer enjoys writing like she did for House of the Spirits and "feels bad for kids in schools that have to read it." Sorry, ma'am, but I'm going to have to disagree...
- She starts writing projects on January 8, a superstitious habit that started when she first experienced success.
- She writes for herself; she isn’t writing to give advice.
- That being said, her favorite books are the ones she writes. The woman is as straightforward as they come.
- People wanting to write need to look at novel writing as a sport; you have to do an enormous amount of behind the scenes training before the big game.
- The one type of novel that she is “afraid” to write is an
erotic one, and
- She spoke about the struggles her family has faced- the idea of addiction, prevalent in her most recent novel, Maya’s Notebook, came from losing her two step-children, one just a month ago.
- She also spoke about the memoir she wrote, Paula, after daughter’s death. She spoke of the emotional toll it took on her, and how her son-in-law made her promise that if she were to publish the book she had to make sure to portray Paula accurately and more than “just a daughter.” This one is definitely on my list now.
And, for the record, Allende looks fantastic for 70.