On behalf of The Elegant Variation, Darcy Cosper and Janelle Brown interviewed A. M. Homes about her memoir The Mistress’s Daughter and "the line between fiction and autobiography – and why the crossing over of the two should neither be assumed by readers, or abused by writers."
From the Q & A:
How conscious were you of the parent/child relationship as a theme in your work?Read the full interview.
When I'm writing fiction I am really am making things up. It's about being a good storyteller. But I know that there are pieces within the stories that come from my life, in terms of larger themes and ideas. Looking at authors I admire a lot – Roth or DeLillo or Dostoevsky – writers do tend to work with the same things again and again. You keep writing them until you solve for X – like it's an algebra question.
So how conscious were you of these themes as an autobiographical exploration of your adoption?
I'm not so convinced that you can look at those themes in my work and tie them all to the memoir. The memoir is a fragment of my life, it's about a specific incident and time. The fact of my being adopted permeates my life but it's just a slice of it, like a pathology slice. I'm not as invested in that notion as others might be.
I think we've really lost track of what fiction is. There are an enormous number of writers doing fiction that is based on their lives in an overt way. But there is fiction that is truly fiction and about the imagination, and overall in our culture – especially with reality television and politicians that mispeak – this has become blurry in a way that's inexcusable. There’s no way we should be not knowing the difference between something that's made up and something that's not.