Friday, January 27, 2012

Kathryn Stockett

Kathryn Stockett is the author of the novel The Help. From her Q & A with Elizabeth Day at the Observer:

You started writing The Help the day after 9/11. How did that affect you?

It can be really powerful to write something when you're sad. I've always felt that Aibileen [one of the main characters in the book] had this really deep sadness that I would never understand, being a privileged, spoilt little white girl. Maybe when 9/11 occurred and I was in downtown New York, maybe that's the closest I'll ever be to understanding that sadness.

As a child of divorced parents growing up in Mississippi in the 1970s, you were partly raised by a black maid employed by your grandparents.

Yes, she was called Demetrie. I started writing in her voice because it felt really soothing. It was like talking directly to her, showing her that I was trying to understand, even though I would never claim to know what that experience was like. It's impossible to know what she felt like, going home to her house, turning on her black-and-white TV. And I'm not saying I feel sorry for her, because she was a very proud woman.

Did you have to think long and hard about writing in a black voice?

I...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue