TNBBC Presents-- Audrey Niffenegger Author Q&A discussion

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The Time Traveler's Wife > Questions for The Time Traveler's Wife - Novel

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Lori (TNBBC) | 38 comments Mod
This is the folder where you can post any questions you would like Audrey to answer about The Time Traveler's Wife- the novel.


Mandy Hi Audrey,

One question that springs to mind is to do with how you wrote the book. I loved the time switching but imagine it could have been quite a headache to write.

When you wrote The Time Traveler's Wife did you write it in chronological order and then mix things up later on or did you write it as the book presents, with the time switching throughout?


Stacie Hi Audrey,

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. I am interested to know what your inspiration was for writing the book, as well as how you decided what parts of time you chose to have him go back to, or allude to. One moment that comes to mind is the brief reflection of 9/11.


Audrey Niffenegger | 61 comments Mod
Mandy wrote: "Hi Audrey,

One question that springs to mind is to do with how you wrote the book. I loved the time switching but imagine it could have been quite a headache to write.

When you wrote The Tim..."


I wrote it out of order, and it had a couple different orders before it arrived at the present configuration. When I was writing I simply started scenes as I thought of them, somewhat as though I was building a wall out of bricks, but some of the bricks were floating unsupported in air until I figured out where they belonged in the overall scheme. It wasn't a headache, it was a pleasure.

Lori wrote: "This is the folder where you can post any questions you would like Audrey to answer about The Time Traveler's Wife- the novel."




Audrey Niffenegger | 61 comments Mod
Stacie wrote: "Hi Audrey,

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. I am interested to know what your inspiration was for writing the book, as well as how you decided what parts of time you chose ..."


The inspiration was simply the title, which popped into my head one day while I was drawing. As to choosing times for Henry to visit, most of the book is a tightly enclosed domestic world, but when 9/11 happened I knew I should include it in the book because it was too overpowering to ignore. Readers have occasionally asked why Henry did not prevent 9/11, not realising that Nothing Can Be Changed is one of the rules of time travel in the book. Henry is as powerless to prevent the terrorist attacks as the rest of us were.



Petra Hi Audrey, thank you for your visit and time.

I found Alba to be a wonderful character. Do you see a continuation of Alba's story for the future?





Audrey Niffenegger | 61 comments Mod
Petra wrote: "Hi Audrey, thank you for your visit and time.

I found Alba to be a wonderful character. Do you see a continuation of Alba's story for the future?


"


Thank you. I am very fond of Alba too, but I am not planning to write a sequel at the moment.




message 8: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 25, 2009 07:49PM) (new)

Hi Audrey!
First, I'd like to thank you for writing this wonderful book and taking the time to answer our questions.

I find Clare's character fascinating. You made her strong even at her younger age. What are your inspirations in creating her character and her family background?


Audrey Niffenegger | 61 comments Mod
Beng wrote: "Hi Audrey!
First, I'd like to thank you for writing this wonderful book and taking the time to answer our questions.

I find Clare's character fascinating. You made her strong even at her younger ..."


Clare's salient characteristics are patience and good sense. This helps her stay grounded even when extraordinary things are happening to her and around her. Her family is based on families of other kids I knew when I was growing up.



Jan Hi, Audrey. I'm delighted that you're a Goodreads author and thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions about TTTW. I loved this thought provoking book and the concept that time travel was a genetic abnormality. What inspired you to make that decision? Also, being from Chicago, what made you choose the Newberry Library as Henry's place of employment?


Audrey Niffenegger | 61 comments Mod
Jan wrote: "Hi, Audrey. I'm delighted that you're a Goodreads author and thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions about TTTW. I loved this thought provoking book and the concept that ti..."

In 1997, when I began to work on TTW, genetics was much in the news, scientists were racing to sequence the entire human genome. So the idea developed from that.

I have worked at the Newberry myself, as an instructor in their old Lyceum program. It's a marvellous place. In my next life I'm going to be a Special Collections librarian.


Meghan Hi Audrey. I am a big fan of your work.

One of our discussions was about the relationship between Clare and Henry. Some people see Clare as almost having no choice in falling in love with Henry as she met him when she was young and impressionable. Someone else saw it was Henry who had no "choice" as Clare found and pursued him at the age where he was ignorant of who she was. One could argue that it was simply destiny that they belonged together and fate would have brought them together regardless.

I was wondering if this was a statement on your thoughts about destiny/fate? Do you believe that we have control over our choices or do you believe that somethings are predestined? Or maybe a good mix of both?

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions and much success on all future endeavors!


Meghan Being from the Midwest, did you use that location because it was familiar (and maybe easier)? Or does that even matter?

(I'm from Michigan, so part of the fun of reading this book was being able to recognize all the different locations mentioned in the story. I especially liked your nod to Frankenmuth and Bronner's.)


Meghan I just saw on your website that you first considered making the TTTW a graphic novel, but decided against it due to the difficulty in presenting the time shifting in still form. Now that the story is in novel form, do you think you would ever be interested in going back and "remaking" this story as a graphic novel? Or do the difficulties still remain?


Audrey Niffenegger | 61 comments Mod
Meghan wrote: "Hi Audrey. I am a big fan of your work.

One of our discussions was about the relationship between Clare and Henry. Some people see Clare as almost having no choice in falling in love with Henry ..."


Most elements of TTW can be seen both as positive and negative. So you can see Henry and Clare as being fated for each other, or as having no choice. Henry spells out his idea about this when he says that there is free will in the present. The characters struggle to decide how much free will they actually have, and come to various conclusions as the story moves along.


Audrey Niffenegger | 61 comments Mod
Meghan wrote: "Being from the Midwest, did you use that location because it was familiar (and maybe easier)? Or does that even matter?

(I'm from Michigan, so part of the fun of reading this book was being able..."


I wanted to write about Chicago because I know it well, and because it's interesting and underused in fiction.


Audrey Niffenegger | 61 comments Mod
Meghan wrote: "I just saw on your website that you first considered making the TTTW a graphic novel, but decided against it due to the difficulty in presenting the time shifting in still form. Now that the story ..."

The basic problem remains, which is the difficulty of representing time travel/time flow in still images. Also, I would like to tell new stories instead of reworking a story I'm happy with in its current form. But thanks for asking. I do want to make some new graphic novels.


Mandy Audrey, do you see yourself reading The Time Traveler's Wife in years to come or is it something you have now put to bed?


Jeane Hi Audrey, related to Mandy her question above, I was wondering if authors read their own books always or not. How is it for you? And if you read your own book, do you read it as it is written by someone else?


Bridgit There has been a lot of discussion about Clare and Henry's friend Gomez and whether or not he was a despicable person or a more positive one. He had the dual role of both trying to sabotage Henry's relationship with Clare as well as being his best friend. How do you see him? Did you envision him as a true friend to Henry? Or just someone who was using Henry to stay close with Clare? And what are your overall impressions of him - is he a positive or negative character - or neither?


Lori (TNBBC) | 38 comments Mod
Oh Bridgit, I have mulling over how to word that question, so thank you for taking it on!


Audrey Niffenegger | 61 comments Mod
Mandy wrote: "Audrey, do you see yourself reading The Time Traveler's Wife in years to come or is it something you have now put to bed?"

IT's been quite a while since I read the whole novel, but I imagine some day I might like to read it again.


Audrey Niffenegger | 61 comments Mod
Jeane wrote: "Hi Audrey, related to Mandy her question above, I was wondering if authors read their own books always or not. How is it for you? And if you read your own book, do you read it as it is written by s..."

I don't know how other writers approach their own older work. Generally one needs to let go of work in order to do new work. But my experience with my artwork is that it always seems like my own, it isn't like encountering another artist's work. I remember making it, which changes the experience of seeing or reading it.


Audrey Niffenegger | 61 comments Mod
Bridgit wrote: "There has been a lot of discussion about Clare and Henry's friend Gomez and whether or not he was a despicable person or a more positive one. He had the dual role of both trying to sabotage Henry's..."

Gomez is complicated. He has to compromise, especially as he gets older. He does love Charisse, Clare represents something he can never have. I think of him as a tragic character. He's one of my own favourites, I am always a little surprised when readers dislike him. He's a regular guy, as we say in Chicago.


Fran | 1 comments It is sort of dumb of me to ask a "technical question" about something that is as obviously fictional as time travel. But here goes. . . . .
I could sort of get the idea of Henry accidentally traveling wherever and however, but I never understood how one Henry could meet himself at a different age. Do I just have to completely suspend belief, period?

I did love the book though.


Audrey Niffenegger | 61 comments Mod
Fran wrote: "It is sort of dumb of me to ask a "technical question" about something that is as obviously fictional as time travel. But here goes. . . . .
I could sort of get the idea of Henry accidentally tra..."


Let's see if I can explain it more clearly. Imagine that we are standing at point A. Henry comes to point A from point B. Then another, older Henry also comes to point A from point C. Even though Henry is always the same person, he is coming to point A from various other points in time. Since he is potentially able to time travel from any moment in his life to any other moment, there is no reason why two Henrys should not be at point A from any other point in his life, just as you are able to remember an experience you had as a child from any later moment in your life. There is no rule that prevents it.


Meghan It's like with Michael J Fox saw his older self in Back to the Future 2. hee


Kristin | 1 comments I'm a little late to the party, here, but I just finished TTW yesterday. I am deeply moved by this lovely story and I will follow you, Ms. Niffeneger, in any other writings that you should ever honor us with.

As I couldn't sleep in the wee hours, replaying many parts of the book in my head, one question is plaguing me endlessly...

When Clare is 13 (I think) and wakes up in the middle of the night because she heard Henry call her name, she discovers Henry in the field with her father and brother. Why did Henry time travel there THAT time? What was he discussing with Clare's family, who did not yet know him? Did he tell them something?

I suspect that Mark and Mr. Abshire never put two-and-two together to discover they were there when Henry is shot many years later. Clare may never associate the two different time travels to the same night with Henry's death either. Why was he there when she woke up? What transpires and why?

Please forgive this wordy post and thank you for your insight!


message 29: by Leo Martin (last edited Jun 05, 2010 01:09AM) (new)

Leo Martin (500daysofkisingmypillow) | 1 comments This is definitely my favorite book for the rest of my life.
I just have this technical Question, what really happened in the subchapter Sunday, December 10, 1978 (Henry is 15, and 15).
Is he what? Having sex with himself or just doing a handjob or what?
It completely baffled me.
I mean. If you went back in time and had sex with yourself, then technically speaking, wouldn't you just be masturbating?


Sarah | 1 comments I was wondering the same thing! Was specifically was Henry engaging in with himself, I have a bet against my friend on what really happened.


Ross | 1 comments Hi Audrey, I have just finished TTW, I'm in absolute awe. Never has any book or any film had such a profound effect on me. Not being a big reader myself, your novel was recommended to me and from start to finish I was completely engrossed. So thank you so much for that.

I too wanted to know what Kristin queried, when Clare runs from her house to find her brother and father in the field with their guns and Henry puts his finger to his lips as if to say 'Shhh', is that the present Henry, or a past or future one? Because we know one of the future Henrys has just been shot and is lying bleeding on the floor of his house in 2006, having traveled back from the meadow near Clare's house in the past. This is the only thing that confused me.

Also, I just wanted to commend you on the writing style of TTW, it really is unique and never gets old or tired. During the sequences when something happens suddenly (Henry gets Frostbite and is rushed to the ER and has his feet amputated, or when Clare has sex with Gomez towards the end), I felt as though it read much faster. Was this a conscious choice of yours, and did you therefore edit these sections to make it read faster, or did this come naturally?

Thank you again for enlightening us regarding these questions, I shall forever remember The Time Traveler's Wife as the first book to ever make me cry.

Thank you.


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