Thursday, December 6, 2012

Debra Dean

From a Q & A with Debra Dean about her latest novel, The Mirrored World:

Q: Your new novel, The Mirrored World, involves the story of St. Xenia, a Russian holy figure. How did you learn about her, and why did you decide to write a novel based on her life?

A: When I finished The Madonnas of Leningrad I thought I was going to follow it with a novel set in my hometown of Seattle. Best laid plans. It was a good idea, but that's where it stayed -- an idea -- and it just wouldn't come to life. You can usually tell by about page 50 if you've got a dead book on the table. I had signed a contract and taken an advance and I was panicked.

And what kept returning to my thoughts was an intriguing little historical footnote I had come across in my research for Madonnas about an 18th century Russian saint. A wealthy young woman on the periphery of the Court, after the death of her husband she renounced material possessions and went to live on the streets of the city's worst slum. I'm not Russian Orthodox or Catholic, I was raised Presbyterian, so I've tended to view saints as being like superheroes. But something about her got under my skin. It was said she went mad with grief, and I kept thinking of Joan Didion's remarkable memoir The Year of Magical Thinking where she talks about...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Debra Dean's website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Debra Dean.

The Page 69 Test: The Mirrored World.

--Marshal Zeringue