Question: After the tremendous success of your debut novel, White Oleander, what was it like to sit down and write your next book?Read the entire interview.
Janet Fitch: Easy, then hard. I thought that I was handling the success very well -- I was just a writer, doing what I do, just keep on the way I always had.... The book was a separate entity; it went off and did well for itself, groovy. I had no idea what an impact it would have on me.
When you have a big book, there seems to be three stages (if you don't count the 'nothing will change' stage). Stage one -- you think you're Godzilla. You can do anything. You can eat cars, you can crush cities. You take on huge ideas, and make a terrific mess. Stage two -- you shrink to about the size of a single cell. You can do nothing, you stink, you're a fraud. You can't admit to anyone what's happening to you. Stage three -- you go back to basics. You remember that you can do a few things. Then a few more. Gradually, you regain a somewhat human size, and you're working again, scarred and humbled but grateful. It was a bizarre and none-too-comfortable ride.
Q: Los Angeles is the setting for both of your novels, but you treat it as much more than a backdrop. Why does LA have such an important presence in your novels? Do you think you would have written the same novels if you had set the stories in another city?
JF: Los Angeles definitely inspired these stories. When Faulkner was asked why he wrote about Mississippi, he said that it wasn't because Mississippi was so special; it was only the place he knew well enough to write about. LA is my home town, a very specific culture, a very specific landscape -- emotionally, historically, mythologically and physically. LA is for dreamers, people who want to remake themselves, and it's the absolute epicenter of culture clash, the great intersection of the 21st Century.
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