|Maggie Shipstead by Michelle Legro|
The artist’s way
April 01, 2014
California-born author Maggie Shipstead returns with a dazzling second novel, Astonish Me. The story of a ballerina that spans decades, it’s as sharply observed as it is entertaining—and was our April 2014 Top Pick in Fiction. We asked Shipstead a few questions about the book.
″I think male authors get the benefit of an assumption of seriousness that their female counterparts don’t.″
For me, writing a novel is such an epic grind that, in order not to be miserable, I have to write about what fascinates and moves me, even if that brings me to subjects and settings that aren’t immediately identifiable as weighty. And, of course, subject matter doesn’t determine the value of a piece of fiction. You can write about something as heavy as, say, the horrors of war without necessarily generating any worthwhile prose or thought. In the end, all I (or anyone else) can do is try to build a story and characters I find compelling and write as attentively and thoughtfully as possible and revise my face off and hope for the best.
“Dancers, I think, have vastly different lives than writers. Their medium is the body and their work is dynamic and almost always collaborative, while writing is solitary and rooted in the mind and is, unless I’ve been going about things all wrong, best done while stationary.”
“I’m concerned with writing the best book I can squeeze out of myself at any given time.”
“We dwell in our imaginations more than we realize, I think. Unreality helps us process reality.”