Meg Wolitzer's latest novel is The Interestings.
From her Q & A with Edra Ziesk at Salon:
EZ: I’ve heard you talk about how your books don’t start with the picture of a character, but with an idea. What was the genesis of this book?--Marshal Zeringue
MW: In The Interestings I wanted to write about what happens to talent over time. In some people talent blooms, in others it falls away. And, relatedly, there are other ideas in here, like about the quiet envy people can have even for those they love and what happens to friendship over years and decades.
I’m surprised I hadn’t thought to do this book earlier, because my experience as an adolescent at “this” camp [a similar camp she went to in a similar setting at age 15] was the spark for so many things. There are junctures in life, times when things change. This was one for me.
In the novel you have characters with no real talent, characters with a little, characters who abandon their talent or neglect it and one – Ethan – with a singular, creative mind, a true gift. Ash, Ethan’s wife and a feminist who wants to expand opportunities for women in theatre, isn’t highly talented. Was this intentional?
I think of Ethan as a real creative thinker whose stuff originates with him and who has the ability to go very deeply with it. Ash has a talent, but it’s of a more familiar type. You can’t turn feminism plus a minor talent into a big thing. It’s painful for some of these characters to recognize the ceiling of their talent. If you have money plus a modest talent [as Ash does] and access – that can allow you all kinds of big things.
The book is set – or begins – in the 70s. Why? Could it have been set at another time?
It’s set in the 70s partly because...[read on]