Cheltenham Q & A - Audrey Niffenegger

Posted on 2nd October 2015 by Audrey Niffenegger
Waterstones exclusive: Audrey Niffenegger answers our seven questions

We here at Waterstones put our heads together and came up with seven snappy author questions and put them to the authors appearing at Cheltenham Literature Festival (runs from the 2nd - 11th October). The result? Read for yourself.

Fourth in the series: Audrey Niffenegger

Audrey Niffenegger is an American artist, writer and academic. 

On Sat 3 Oct 2015 (6:45pm - 7:45pm), she presents Ghostly at Cheltenham Literature Festival, her edited and illustrated selection of creepy and witty ghost stories: from M. R. James and Neil Gaiman to tales of her own. Chaired by Georgina Godwin. Then, on Sun 4 Oct 2015 4:15pm - 5:30pm, the festival celebrates her bestselling novel, The Time Travellers Wife.


What book do you wish that you had written?

The Secret History, though I am happy that Donna Tartt wrote it and not me. 

Just as your books inspire readers, what authors inspired you to write?

Richard Powers and David Foster Wallace. I read The Goldbug Variations and Infinite Jest in close succession, and thought, I want to do this. Both books are complex and slightly perverse, they were thought provoking and entertaining in odd ways.

Once you've had the initial idea for a book, do you create the plot first or do you begin writing straight away, looking to discover the story and characters along the way?

I write scenes with no idea where I’m headed, who the characters are or why anything is happening. This is why it takes me years to write a book.

Do you read your reviews? How do you respond to them, good or bad? Any advice on how to deal with the bad?


With a shrug; it is unusual for a review to teach me anything about my work.

Pistols at dawn.

If you were trapped on a desert island, which two books would you want to have with you and why?

Little, Big by John Crowley

War and Peace,  Leo Tolstoy

They are both very long, very beautiful and should be read slowly. You could be on an island for a long time and not mind if you had those with you.

Who else do you wish to see while at the Cheltenham festival?

Sarah McIntyre

What was the last book you read?

The Basketball Diaries, Jim Carroll



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