Meet the Author: Geraldine Brooks
Geraldine Brooks was born in Australia and attended Bethlehem College Ashfield and the University of Sydney. She worked as a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and won the Greg Shackleton Australian News Correspondents scholarship to the journalism masterís program at Columbia University in New York City. Later she worked for The Wall Street Journal as well. In 2006 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for her novel March. As of 2012 she has written 4 Fiction books and 2 Non-fiction books. Brooks is married to author Tony Horwitz and they have two sons, Nathaniel and Bizuayehu, and two dogs. They divide their time between homes in Marthaís Vineyard, Massachusetts, and Sydney, Australia.
Q&A with Geraldine Brooks
Q: All of your fiction books explore different historical events or time-periods. Where do you get your inspiration?
A: Each inspiration has been different. Year of Wonders came out of a ramble in the English countryside, when I happened on a sign to "Eyam-Plague Village" and learned the remarkable story of what had happened there March was inspired by musing on a union soldier's Civil War belt buckle that had been unearthed near the old well by our Virginia Quaker cottage. People of the Book was inspired by a remark I overheard in a bar in Sarajevo about a missing Hebrew manuscript, and Caleb's Crossing came from a notation on a Wampanoag map of Martha's Vineyard pointing out the birthplace of the first Native American graduate of Harvard, 1665
Q: How much time do you spend researching before starting to write a book?
A: Except for a brief period of investigation, to see where the historical record leads, and where it falls silent, I research and write concurrently. I try to tell let the story tell me what I need to know.
Q: Your non-fiction books have been based on your personal experiences. Is writing fiction easier or harder for you?
A: Perhaps it is less stressful in some ways. My first book, Nine Parts of Desire, was the product of six years of very intense, often quite difficult reporting under sometimes dangerous conditions. It is generally much easier to sit quietly in my study and make it all up.
Q: Besides writing, what are some of the other passions in your life?
A: The ebb and flow of family life - we have two sons, 14 and eight. Reading, cooking, gardening, nature, and dogs. I wouldn't be without a dog.
Q: Do you have a favorite book or author? What kinds of books do you read for enjoyment?
A: Many - Marilynn Robinson's Gilead is a perfect novel, in my opinion. I love Tim Winton's writing. Jane Austen's Emma. Annie Dillard's non-fiction, especially A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. I read a lot of poetry for pleasure, and because it primes the pump for writing.
Q: If you were to give a fledgling writer some advice, what would it be?
A: When there's no wind, row.
Q: If you could have lunch with anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?
A: Shakespeare, of course. I would love to know the man behind so many glorious words.
Interview Date: July 2012
Profile and questions compiled by Jessica B.