BookFox interviewed Tara Ison, author of A Child Out of Alcatraz and, more recently, The List.
The interview opens:
BookFox: The two main characters in "The List", Isabel and Al, both see the world through particular frames – Isabel sees the world through medical spectacles, while Al views the world through a movie camera. How did you prepare yourself to channel such film-centric and medical-centric characters?
Tara Ison: I began with a rough idea of who Isabel and Al were, but they really developed as I researched their backgrounds, specifically the medical workings of the heart/eye/hand, and then a crash course in cinema history/technology. Studying facts and figures, for me, is like a treasure hunt – it provides the foundation for a character’s specific frame of reference and knowledge base, but also offers insight into how a character views the world, that “lens” the characters look through. I like the feeling of a core metaphor for each person, the defining characteristic you then develop and expand outward. Isabel is so frightened by the mess of simply “feeling” things and giving in to that, she really needs the assurance of what can be proven, tested, scientifically observed; Al relies on the more emotional/visceral/visual experience of life, but he’s still stuck in a kind of passivity, he wants to observe life rather than commit to participating. And writing the novel in alternating Isabel/Al chapters helped ground me in each character’s point of view.
Read the entire interview.